Stevie Ray Vaughan almost single-handedly brought blues to the mainstream in the 1980’s and 90’s with over a dozen Billboard singles and four Grammy awards. He’ll always be considered one of the most original guitar players of all time.
Though musically untrained, he was an astute student of the blues, and much of what he popularized is built on the work of his fellow Texas bluesmen.
If you’re even a casual blues fan there’s a good chance you’ve heard Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1984 recording of “Cold Shot," it’s one of several different “Texas Shuffle” beats that he and his band Double Trouble did better than most anyone.
Here’s Stevie Ray and Double Trouble performing “Cold Shot”:
“Cold Shot” is a tune he learned from his friend bluesman W.C. Clark from Austin, Texas. The two were actually bandmates in the mid 1970’s, in a band called Triple Threat with Lou Ann Barton.
W.C. Clark recorded it in 1993. Notice in this live video how W.C. Clark is really working the rhythm on the low strings of the guitar, a style that was a big influence on SRV:
Mandolinist Kenny Blackwell, and guitarist Mark Thornton gave the song a bluegrass treatment from their 2001 CD “Pickin’ On Stevie Ray Vaughan, a Bluegrass Tribute.” They’ve also worked on bluegrass tributes to The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Dave Matthews band.
The set ends with a Latin treatment of the song with the NYC based group Iguazu, who recorded “Cold Shot” in 2000.
A sure sign of a great song like “Cold Shot” is how it translates to different genres. Some critics call this quality “resilience."
Here are the full versions of “Cold Shot” tracked through time:
Stevie Ray Vaughan: “Cold Shot” 1984
W.C. Clark: “Cold Shot” 1993
Iguazu: “Cold Shot” 2000
Blackwell & Thornton: “Cold Shot” 2001