Sure, there are scores of stellar live versions of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Texas Flood” online, but there’s simply something magical about this raw performance of the Larry Davis tune from July 17, 1982, at the Montreux Jazz and International Music Festival in Switzerland.
The extended, dynamics-filled rollercoaster ride finds Vaughan reaching into his bag of Albert-King-meets-Jim-Hendrix licks—not to mention behind his back, where his Fender Strat rests for the final quarter of the 10-minute-long performance.
Vaughan floored everyone that night, except for a handful of blues purists who can be heard (and clearly seen in the video below) booing loud and clear.
“We weren’t sure how we’d be accepted,” Vaughan told Guitar World in the early Eighties. But he must’ve known it went well when David Bowie appeared backstage … and important alliance was born.
In the video below, Vaughan puts his guitar behind his back at 8:22, and it stays there for the rest of the song. As for the booing, it starts right away, then picks up during the quiet part of the song (around 6:50 in the clip). You can actually see a group of knuckleheads booing at 10:14.
Although I’m not defending the knuckleheads, I should mention that a good portion of the crowd was expecting the type of music they’d been hearing for most of the day: quiet, acoustic blues guitar (For instance, John Hammond played solo acoustic guitar at the event). When Vaughan and bassist Tommy Shannon turned up the amps and went to work, well, it was a bit of a shock.
By the way, this entire performance is available on DVD right here. As the DVD’s title suggests, Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 also features the band’s 1985 performance at the Montreux Jazz Fest. No one booed him in ’85. No sane people, anyway.
You can find Damian Fanelli’s most recent liner notes in Sony/Legacy’s Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings box set from 2014. Follow him on Twitter.