In true Texas fashion, four-time Grammy-winner Jimmie Vaughan has helped breathe new life into the music that has been his lifeline all these decades, becoming a hero to those who cherish America’s gift to musical history.
“When I talk about country and blues, they’re the same thing,” Vaughan says. “Muddy Waters and Hank Williams, Webb Pierce and Jimmy Reed. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand the difference. Everybody was always asking me, ‘Why do you want to play blues? Why don’t you play country?’ But I would listen to the country guys and they would be doing a Jimmy Reed song, playing the same lick. And Ray Charles, Little Milton, Guitar Junior, Lonnie Brooks, B.B. King–they all did country songs. Is Bob Wills country blues or jazz? And the answer is, it’s American music. I’m tired of trying to pigeonhole everything. I want to bring it together; it comes from the same place.”
As a young teenager in Oak Cliff, Texas, Jimmie’s father told him to take guitar lessons if he really wanted to learn the instrument. But when Vaughan’s teacher told the student it wasn’t going to work because he “was too far gone” to learn from lesson books, he was on his own. Which was perfect, because the blues would be his teacher for life.
Jimmie Vaughan was first possessed while listening to blues on the Black radio station in Dallas. Since then, there’s been no way out—the pursuit just keeps going deeper. When Vaughan first heard songs like Phil Upchurch’s “You Can’t Sit Down,” The Nightcaps’ “Wine, Wine, Wine” and B.B. King’s many hit songs in the early 1960s, he knew he had found his home. He’s been playing the music he hears in his head and feels in his heart for over a half-century.
The quest began in early 1970s Austin bands like Storm and then the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and later with his brother Stevie Ray Vaughan on their FAMILY STYLE album, and on his own releases throughout the 1990s and in 2001.
Then in 2010 Vaughan had the idea to start recording The Great American Blues Songbook. He assembled an all-star band and began recording his top set list at Top Hat and Wire Studios in Austin. In 2011 Vaughan and the band went back to Top Hat record a second collection of favorites, zeroing in on that music’s ability to light a fuse wherever it was heard.
Last fall, to help celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the first of the BLUES, BALLADS AND FAVOURITES albums, both albums were compiled as THE PLEASURE’S ALL MINE collection, released alongside a vinyl reissue of 2016’s JIMMIE VAUGHAN TRIO featuring Mike Flanigin, LIVE AT C-BOY’S, featuring songs recorded at the venerable Austin nightspot that Vaughan and crew call home when they are in town.
In 2019, his newest release, BABY, PLEASE COME HOME brought Jimmie back into the spotlight with yet another Grammy nomination, and a Blues Foundation Award for Best Male Artist. Roaring into 2023, he shows no signs of slowing.
This year, he celebrates his life in the blues and on the road with THE JIMMIE VAUGHAN STORY, a special limited-edition box set and book including over 200 photos spanning the breadth of his remarkable life and career. And yet, Vaughan still feels like he is just getting started, devoted to making sure he is able to give back to the music that has given him so much. The blues is in Jimmie Vaughan’s blood, has been there since the start, and will remain there forever.