Often with an accidental death in the prime of one’s life comes a tendency to remember, or at least speak of publicly, only the best of the person; out of respect if for nothing else. What authors (and musicians, themselves) Alan Paul and Andy Aledort manage to do quite successfully with Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan is maintain the highest level of regard for Vaughan’s undeniably impressive talent, as well for his devotion to late-life sobriety, while not only revealing candidly the near-lethal level of his addictions, but also his true offstage personality. Without a hint of celeb tell-all or drama mining, this is both the rawest and most reverent story of Stevie Ray.
As Paul did with One Way Out, his recent Allman Brothers Band bio, he mostly leaves it to those that lived the story to tell it. Drawing on extensive interviews with all the notable players- from family, friends, and bandmates to personal and professional peers- and including Vaughan, himself, he and Aledort detail from as many relevant perspectives as possible the Texas musician’s escalation from the humble training ground of Lone Star roadhouses to distinguished international fame. It’s also been a suitable amount of time that has passed since the helicopter crash that killed Vaughan following an August 1990 performance in Wisconsin to allow and encourage those participating to be as reflectively honest and forthcoming as possible. Subsequently, there exists a proportionate amount of exposure, and criticism, of the less than pretty parts of Vaughan’s life; comments that are integral in presenting an authentic portrayal, and avoiding hagiography, rendering SRV as much fallible human as guitar hero.
Paul and Aledort lay bare Vaughan’s increasing use of drugs and alcohol that nearly derailed his blossoming career, as well as the (still conflicting) views on his decision to decline a tour with David Bowie following a myth-building breakthrough appearance on Let’s Dance. Even with more light on these areas, it’s the ardent and recurring discussion of Vaughan’s growth as an artist, his virtuosic ability, his adoration and reverence for the blues, and his sweet and gentle disposition that this circle of participants focuses on most. So, when the inevitable tragedy begins to loom as the final pages turn, after Vaughan had kicked his habit, was playing better than ever to larger and larger audiences, selling more albums, and sharing stages with his idols and contemporaries, it’s an infiltrating sadness that resonates deeper and longer because of not just the musician, but the man that the world lost.