You Saw The Broken String, But Have You Seen The Handshake?
Imagine one of your buddies showed up to work on a Monday telling the tale of how he got to shake Stevie Ray Vaughan's hand while he was playing the guitar... You'd instantly call shenanigans. It doesn't sound like a situation that would ever happen, even in your own wildest dreams, but there's video proof of such an event happening.
Nobody is denying that Stevie Ray was an incredible royalty to the art of music. I'm sure you've seen the video where he breaks a string mid-solo, swaps to a different scale up the neck and never misses a beat... Furthermore, his guitar tech delivers him a different guitar, and he manages to get it all swapped out before departing on another epic journey up the frets. It's a video that has floated the web for decades to remind people how good he actually was. This hand shake video just further proves it.
While I may not be the biggest SRV fan, I can appreciate and admit he would have been a lasting talent in this world. Even long after his "sound" fell out of favor with people, his shows would be sold out, his new albums would be bought, he'd still find himself atop any number of charts across the world. How many artists can you say that about?
Before you mention Hendrix or Janis Joplin, I'm gonna hit you with a hard truth real quick... There are many artists out there that, if they didn't die in their prime, they'd be on a list of "Where Are They Now?" They would have washed up long ago. Hendrix and Joplin fall on that list for me. I know it's unpopular, and I'm prepared for the impotent rage of hipster fake-fans that are about to email me explaining how I'm wrong, but deep down, you know it's true. Very, very few artists seem to have the talents to last. That doesn't mean they aren't still doing what they do, look at ZZ Top. They still tour, they still sell out every show, and their shows are a blast to be at... but they washed up a long time ago.Take Billie Gibbons for example... arguably the greatest guitar player of his generation as voted by the guitar greats, how long has it been since anyone wanted to hear his newest release with or without ZZ Top? Doesn't mean he doesn't have die-hard fans, just means he's fallen into a niche category. I'd still pay to see him, but he could live and make music for another fifty years and never rise to the level of a SRV... and that's coming from someone who doesn't really enjoy SRV.
It's not even limited to individuals, look at some of the most popular touring bands. KISS, Skynyrd, System of a Down, Nickelback, Aerosmith, AC/DC, and countless others. They all hit peak popularity, and switched over to maintenance mode. They no longer care to make new classic jams, but rather to tour and make money on their past achievements. I know Critter will probably come cuss me for it, but even bands as big as Metallica and Slayer fall into that category. Metallica will never recapture their thrash roots. Money cures angst, and without angst, there's no meaning. Slayer spent a career trying to live up to the song that gave them worldwide fame. I don't think a person like SRV would have stalled quite like that. All the same, if the helicopter crash didn't take him when it did, drugs and booze would have done it somewhere in the 90's, and we still be having this same discussion. Every time I see a biopic show or clip online of that man playing, I slowly become an ever increasing fan of what he accomplished in his short life. He was just before my time, and I'm playing catch-up.
On a side note, if you play guitar and wonder how Stevie managed such a fat sound out of a strat, it's all in the strings. He played on extremely heavy gauge, finger torturing strings.