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“I was like, ‘Man… here’s this little 15-year-old kid playing better than anyone else I’ve seen’”: bassist Tommy Shannon on his first impressions of Stevie Ray Vaughan

“Even back then, Stevie was playing a Strat. That’s really the only guitar I ever saw him play.”

Tommy Shannon has reflected on the first time he met Stevie Ray Vaughan, and why he could tell “he was special”.

Shannon met Vaughan after he left Johnny Winter’s band in 1970, and despite the fact that Vaughan was just a teenager, he was already a strong player.

Shannon and Vaughan famously played together in blues rock band Double Trouble. Shannon joined the outfit as bassist after various line up changes, and they eventually settled with Chris Layton on drums, and later added Reese Wynans into the mix as a keyboard player in 1985.

In an interview with Guitar World, Shannon remembers his first meeting with Vaughan, “I met Stevie the same day I left Johnny’s band. We flew back to Dallas and ended up at The Fog. And that day, at that same club I’d first met Johnny, I met Stevie. We formed a band called Krackerjack, a great band, man. But I was starving; all I had was $2,000 and my bass after I quit Johnny’s band.”

Regarding his first impressions of the blues rock icon, Shannon recalls, “When I met him, he was just a kid, but as soon as we talked, I could tell that Stevie was special. He let it rip, and I listened, and I was like, ‘Man… here’s this little 15-year-old kid playing better than anyone else I’ve seen.’

“And after he got off stage, we talked more and became fast friends. Even back then, Stevie was playing a Strat. That’s really the only guitar I ever saw him play.”

Also in the interview, Shannon discusses how he “went to hell” because of his battle with drug addiction, and even how he was even “thrown in jail”. After various treatment programmes, Shannon was able to get back into music, and went to watch one of Vaughan’s gigs in his group, Blackbird.

“Seeing Stevie that night was like a religious experience,” he says in the interview. “I watched him and thought, ‘That’s where I belong.’”

To follow the latest news from Tommy Shannon, visit his website.

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