East Troy, WI Blues Guitarist Killed, Aug 1990
CHOPPER CRASH SILENCES BUDDING BLUES LEGEND.
East Troy, Wis. -- Tears welled up in Missy Dahlstrom's eyes as she looked up at the hill where blues guitarist STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN and four others died in a helicopter crash.
"I came straight out here when I heard," the 28-year-old Rochester resident said. "I don't know what good it does but I thought I should be out here for the sake of his memory."
Dahlstrom, sitting outside the Alpine Valley Music Theatre near East Troy, Wis., wit her 4-year-old son Monday afternoon, said hearing news of his death took something away that she held dear.
"For me, there's something special about his music. It touches everybody," she said. "It's all we listen to everywhere we go. It's all we play around the house."
VAUGHAN, three members of rock star Eric Clapton's entourage and the pilot were killed in the predawn crash Monday. The helicopter they were riding in crashed into a field shortly after leaving the open-air music grounds.
The group was en route to Chicago after a concert Sunday night that featured Clapton, VAUGHAN and Robert Cray.
The other victims were BOBBY BROOKS, 34, of Los Angeles, Clapton's agent at Creative Artists Agency; NIGEL BROWNE, of London, a Clapton bodyguard; COLIN SMYTHE, of London, one of Clapton's tour managers, and pilot JEFF BROWN, of East Chicago, Ind., Walworth County Coroner John Griebel said.
All died on impact, he said.
As investigators Monday poked through the wreckage that was scattered over the ski hill, officials said it could take months to determine the precise cause of the crash.
Walworth County Sheriff Dean McKenzie said evidence indicated the helicopter crashed after slowing in dense fog. Weather officials said fog had cut visibility to below two miles in parts of southern Wisconsin at the time.
Bill Bruce, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the Bell Jet Ranger helicopter slammed into the hill in "a high energy impact at a shallow angle."
"We had four helicopters and Eric and I were in one directly behind it when it suddenly disappeared from vision," Clapton's manager, Roger Forrester, told Britain's Sky News.
Clapton, who had landed safely in Chicago on another helicopter, said the victims
"were my companions, my associates and my friends. This is a tragic loss of some very special people."
VAUGHAN'S death "is particularly sad, given that he'd cleaned up and was playing the best music of his life," said Jeff Peterson of the "Austin City Limits" television program on which VAUGHAN appeared several times. "We'll miss STEVIE and we'll miss his music."
VAUGHAN, 35, overcame a 1986 drug problem to win two Grammy awards and the musician of the decade honors in his home state of Texas. He gained popularity in the middle 1980s with his guitar jamming and blues sound, reminiscent of music legends B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Albert King.
At the time of his death, VAUGHAN was looking forward to the release of a new record in September with his older brother, Jimmie Vaughan, another well-known musician who formed The Fabulous Thunderbirds blues group, said Andy Schwartz, a spokesman for Epic Records in New York, which owns Vaughan's label.
Jimmie was at the weekend concert, Schwartz said.
In addition to his brother, Vaughan is survived by his mother, Martha.
Vaughan had a platinum album with his band Double Trouble in "Coundn't Stand the Weather," released in 1984. That same year, he won a Grammy Award for best traditional blues recording for a song called "Texas Flood."
This year, he won a Grammy in the contemporary blues category for "In Step," which referred to being "in step" with his alcohol recovery program.
B.B. King said he was "saddened beyond words" after learning of Vaughan's death.
"STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN was like one of my children ... The loss is a great loss for blues music and all fans of music around the world. He was just beginning to be appreciated and develop his potential," King said.
Madison Capital Times Wisconsin 1990-08-28