By 1982 the band's reputation was spreading and reached the Rolling Stones, who hired Double Trouble to perform at a private party in New York. That same year, veteran producer Jerry Wexler arranged for Vaughan's band to play the Montreux Jazz Festival, the first time an unsigned, group had done so. David Bowie happened to see their performance and invited Vaughan to play on his next album. Vaughan's gritty guitar work became one of the unexpected highlights of Bowie's No.1 hit 'Let's Dance'.
Inspired musically by American and British blues rock, he favored clean amplifiers with high volume and contributed to the popularity of vintage musical equipment. He often combined several different amplifiers together and used minimal effects pedals.
Vaughan received several music awards during his lifetime and posthumously. In 1983, readers of Guitar Player voted him as Best New Talent and Best Electric Blues Guitar Player. In 1984, the Blues Foundation named him Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the Year, and in 1987, Performance Magazine honored him with Rhythm and Blues Act of the Year. Earning six Grammy Awards and ten Austin Music Awards, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2014. Rolling Stone ranked Vaughan as the twelfth greatest guitarist of all time.
Before the last song of the last show of a two-night stand at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, guitar legend Eric Clapton stepped up to the microphone. "I'd like to bring out to join me, in truth, the best guitar players in the entire world: Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray... Jimmie Vaughan." The band played an extended jam of the classic "Sweet Home Chicago," with 40,000 people soaking up blistering guitar licks as the performers traded vocals.
After the show, four helicopters were on site to take people to Chicago. According to interviews in Hopkins' book, Vaughan took the last remaining seat, eager to get to his hotel so he could call his girlfriend.
About 6:30 a.m. Aug. 27, wreckage of the Bell JetRanger was found about three-fourths of the way up the northeast side of the ski hill, a half-mile from the lodge, with the debris scattered across 150 feet. The helicopter had lifted only about 100 feet off the ground and traveled about 3,000 feet before the crash.
Pilot Jeff Brown was experienced, with more than 5,000 hours of flight time, including 4,327 in a helicopter. But the National Transportation Safety Board report that followed in 1992 indicated the pilot didn't gain altitude quickly enough to clear the 150-foot ski hill.
After the crash, Vaughan's music quickly sold out in local record stores, according to the Sentinel, and two subsequent posthumous albums — "Family Style" with his older brother Jimmie in 1990, and studio outtakes collection "The Sky is Falling" in 1991 — debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard charts.
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