Two Blues Legends: Stevie Ray and Albert King Rip It Up in ’83

by Peter Wendel
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King in '78 with his Gibson Flying V

King in ’78 with his Gibson Flying V

If you love blistering blues guitar – hotter and faster than a fox in a forest fire – it doesn’t get any better than this.

Stevie Ray Vaughan said many times that Albert King was his single biggest influence – a connection that transcended boundaries of geography, race, age and just about anything else you can think of.

Stevie Ray, a white man raised in a modest blue-collar home in Dallas, and Albert, a black man straight off a cotton plantation in Mississippi, were born worlds apart but brought together by their red-hot passion for the blues.

The extraordinary footage (below) from a 1983 session features these two legends, the teacher in King and the student in Stevie Ray – the enormity of their talents coming together like the mighty Mississippi meets the ocean. Witness powerful, churning guitar play weaving seamlessly into one.


SRV with his Strat

Albert – one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar” (with Freddie King and B.B. King) – is known for his unique string-bending style and his soulful, velvety-smooth vocals. He was partial to the Gibson Flying V guitar.

Stevie – a major player in the 1980’s blues revival – took what he learned from legends like Albert King and breathed new life into the genre with his powerhouse, in-your-face style of play. In many ways, he modernized the blues – and the masses ate it up.

SRV was partial to the Fender Stratocaster.

The footage is from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, on December 6, 1983. This is the blues at its very best – from the opening number, “Born Under A Bad Sign” all the way through to the closer, “I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town.”

Born: April 25, 1923
Indianola, MS
Died: December 21, 1992 (age 69)
Memphis, TN

Born: October 3, 1954
Dallas, TX
Died: August 27, 1990 (age 35)
East Troy, WI

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including the Peach, Mountain Jam, the All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at