Wednesday, November 21, 2007
A Man, His Wife, and a Guitar…
…a great love story.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of the greatest guitar players EVER. That was really easy for me to type because I truly believe that.
I don't like the blues very much, but I'll listen with rapt attention to any song by Stevie Ray Vaughan. He's that good, that when someone like me who isn't a big blues fan loves his music, he's something special.
You can hear this man's spirit in everything he plays. Sometimes his playing is gentle and beautiful, sometimes fierce as being attacked by a group of Navy Seals.
Stevie Ray died in a helicopter crash in August of 1990, the loss wasn't just his family's, but the whole world's.
Stevie Ray played Fender Stratocaster guitars. He had two main guitars that were the ones he played almost exclusively.
One guitar was a Strat that he called "Number One" because it was, as you might predict, the guitar he played for the lion's share of all his songs, both on stage and in the studio.
Fender Musical Instruments sometimes makes an exact replica of famous Fender guitars, in limited runs, and sells them for ungodly prices. Only a few people can get their hands on one of these guitars.
In these limited production run guitars like this, Fender will recreate every ding, dent, paint chip, scuff mark, everything, to make the guitar look like, say, Stevie's Number One guitar. It's almost like having his guitar for your own.
Stevie's Number One guitar was reproduced this way a number of years ago, and Fender also presently makes a new, lesser priced Strat called the Stevie Ray Vaughan artist model Strat. They are simply brand new guitars like his Number One with a few of his original "things" thrown in like big SRV stickers on the front. These guitars cost a mere $1500 or so.
That's enough background; here's the story for today.
On December 12, 2007 Fender Musical Instruments will release for sale 185 meticulously recreated, exact copies of Stevie Ray's "other" guitar, that he had named "Lenny" after his wife, Lenora Vaughan.
But the story of this guitar and what Stevie did with it is one that will truly touch your heart.
In 1980, before Stevie Ray became a success, he was simply "Jimmy Vaughan's Little Brother." Jimmy was a known guitarist in Texas, and is most famous for being the guitarist in the band The Fabulous Thunderbirds back when they had their greatest music chart success in the 80s.
Anyway, Stevie was a struggling blues guitar player, and one day he and friends went to a pawn shop where Stevie fell in love with a beat up 1965 Fender Stratocaster they had for sale there.
He told his wife about it, all excited like a little kid, and told her it cost $350. They didn't have anywhere near $350 to spend on anything, much less another guitar.
But his wife Lenny thought about Stevie Ray's birthday that was coming up soon and wanted to get him that guitar.
She thought about it, and finally hit on an idea. She and several friends each put $50 into it and went and bought the guitar. She and his friends presented that guitar to him for his birthday at a gig he and his band played that night.
He was blown away.
That night, like a little kid, he was so excited with his "new" guitar that he stayed up all night sitting on the side of his and Lenny's bed playing.
When she woke up, he said, "Listen to this" and proceeded to play an instrumental song.
When he finished, Lenny told him that the song was beautiful, and he said "That's 'Lenny.'" The first song he wrote on the guitar was an instrumental love song to his wife who'd found a way to get the guitar for him that he had wanted.
Lenny say's that she has never been able to hear that song without crying.
There's a whole lot more to the story, but I'll just point y'all to a link that will be well worth your time in checking out.
But to end my part, again, Fender is releasing a limited production run exact replicas of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Lenny" guitar.
Please check out this link, there's more amazing stuff to this story, including how baseball legend Mickey Mantle's autograph ended up on the guitar.
To read the whole story, go to Fender Musical Instrument's "Lenny" page. Once the page loads, click on "The Story" near the top center of the page.
The Story part that appears has three tabs, the first two are where you can read the story I told a little bit of here, and the third tab is a video of Stevie Ray playing the song Lenny in concert on the guitar Lenny. Over this musical backdrop, Lenny Vaughan, Stevie Ray's wife tells the story, with help from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
This video is way cool, if you only have a few minutes, watch the video on Tab #3.