By Damian Fanelli
An incredible piece of blues—and music—history surfaced online recently.
Below, check out a rare video of Stevie Ray Vaughan performing “The Sky Is Crying” at a club in Austin, Texas, in April 1980—before Montreux, before “Let’s Dance,” before his cowboy hats—before anyone in New Jersey or Ohio or Paris had any idea who he was. It’s so early, in fact, that he’s still called “Stevie Vaughan” at this point.
In the clip, Vaughan—who is seen here with bassist Jackie Newhouse and (most likely) drummer Chris Layton—are performing at the Rome Inn, a legendary Austin club that closed its doors in April 1980 (Note: Many sources say this video was filmed April 20, 1980).
The video starts off with Jimmie Vaughan’s band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, finishing up a rocking instrumental number (It sounds a lot like “Jumpin’ Bad,” a track from 1980’s What’s the Word?). This is interesting on its own, since it shows the late Keith Ferguson on bass.
At the :48 mark, an unseen announcer says, “We’ve got a little surprise for you. Stevie Vaughan is gonna come up here and play something with his band.”
After that, there’s a whole lot of square-shaped nothingness, until around 1:31, when Stevie starts playing his fireworks-packed take on Albert King’s version of Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying.” You get to watch him play the entire song, guitar solos and all. He’s even using his “Number One” Strat.
As Vaughan fans know, a live album called In the Beginning captures a full “Stevie Vaughan” set from this period. The album, which was released in 1992, was recorded April 1, 1980, at Austin’s Steamboat 1874. However, that album doesn’t include “The Sky Is Crying.”