Austin City Limits celebrates an icon with Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On, an epic hour featuring the guitar giant’s two classic appearances on the ACL stage, on the 30th Anniversary of his tragic death. Widely hailed as one of the premier blues-rock guitarists, the Grammy-winning Vaughan made magic in his ACL outings and the broadcast captures his magnetic performances. The installment premieres October 17 at 9pm ET/8pm CT as part of the live music beacon’s Season 46. With live music still on pause, ACL continues to provide viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance. The series airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at pbs.org/austincitylimits immediately following the initial broadcast.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s two iconic appearances on the ACL stage in 1983 and 1989 rank among the most highly-requested episodes in the program’s archives. Stevie Ray Vaughan 30 Years On, an hourlong special, showcases the pair of performances in a rare broadcast, bookends of an incredible career cut short by the guitar hero’s tragic death in a helicopter crash at age 35 on August 27, 1990. The Texas bluesman’s towering command of the Fender Stratocaster was unparalleled, and Vaughan bridged the gap between blues and rock ‘n’ roll with an excitement that hadn’t been witnessed since Jimi Hendrix’s reign, sparking a rebirth of the blues, and inspiring a new generation of music fans. Three decades later, his lasting influence continues to resonate as countless musicians credit Vaughan’s ACL appearances as their inspiration to pick up the guitar. Vaughan and Double Trouble were inducted into the inaugural class of the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame in 2014 and the hometown legend is forever memorialized with a bronze statue in Austin.
The thrilling hour opens with Vaughan’s December 1983 ACL debut, with the iconic riff of his signature “Pride and Joy,” as the virtuoso captivates with his passion-fueled guitar music and blistering Stratocaster solos. Performing alongside Double Trouble, featuring Chris Layton on drums and Tommy Shannon on bass, the guitar-slinger soars on a pair of inspired covers: the title track to his 1983 debut album Texas Flood, with a slowburn reading of the Lone Star classic, dazzling with his ability to play the guitar behind his back, and an epic interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” that is pure rock ‘n’ roll swagger.
Vaughan made his final ACL appearance on October 10, 1989, less than a year prior to his untimely death, newly sober and at the height of his powers, in a performance for the ages. Delivering back to back highlights from his acclaimed 1989 final album In Step, including “Tightrope,” “Cold Shot” and “Leave My Girl Alone,” Vaughan’s performance is extraordinary, displaying a combination of raw power, deep emotion and technical brilliance with note perfect solos. Augmented by the addition of keyboardist Reese Wynans, Double Trouble and Vaughan sizzle with an exhilarating performance of their 1989 smash “Crossfire,” punctuated by the guitar icon’s scorching runs. “This one goes out to anyone who’s still suffering in any way,” says the all-time great as he launches into the shimmering instrumental “Riviera Paradise,” pushing the guitar to new heights and continuing to explore new boundaries.