Born Today in History ›
Getty / Redferns / Robert Knight
Published: 9 months ago
Blues icon Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of the most influential guitar players in music history, despite a mainstream music career lasting just seven years in the 1980s. Vaughan dropped out of high school to pursue the blues, moving to Austin, Texas, where he began playing with various bands around town. He found fame in 1982 at the influential Montreux Jazz Festival and released his debut album the following year. Thanks to its commercial success, Vaughan became a fixture in the blues world, eventually joining nationwide tours with the likes of Jeff Beck and Joe Cocker in the late 1980s. His career was cut short by a helicopter crash at 35, leaving a legacy as one of the most inventive and talented musicians in the history of the blues. We remember Vaughan's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1955: Allan Woody, U.S. bassist known best for playing with the Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule, is born in Tennessee.
Vaughan was raised in the Oak Cliff community of Dallas and remained fiercely proud of the area throughout his life. When battling cocaine and alcohol addictions in 1986, he returned to his hometown to escape temptations. The lyrics to Vaughan's song "Tick Tock" are engraved on a train station in the area. Oak Cliff also boasted the first 7-Eleven store, was the city where Bonnie and Clyde first met, and includes among its famous former residents Edie Brickell, Dennis Rodman, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Read more
1947: Ben Cauley, U.S. trumpet player, singer, and songwriter who was a founder of soul group the Bar-Kays and the only survivor of the plane crash that killed Otis Redding, is born in Memphis, Tennessee.
1940: Alan O'Day, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for his 1977 No. 1 hit song, "Undercover Angel," is born in Hollywood, California.
1938: Eddie Cochran, U.S. rockabilly musician who had hit songs with "Summertime Blues" and "C'mon Everybody," is born in Albert Lea, Minnesota.
Though Cochran died heartbreakingly young, his influence on rock 'n' roll proved as huge as any lifelong rocker's. One of his songs brought the Beatles together. Guitarists who were heavily influenced by his style include Pete Townshend, Marc Bolan, and Brian Setzer. And dozens of superstars have covered his songs, from The Who to Bruce Springsteen to the White Stripes and beyond. His life was short, but he was a giant of rock 'n' roll. Read more.
1925: Gore Vidal, U.S. writer who penned the novel "Myra Breckinridge," co-wrote the screenplay for the movie "Ben-Hur," and was known for his political commentary, is born in West Point, New York.
Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Vidal was among the last generation of literary writers who were also genuine celebrities — fixtures on talk shows and in gossip columns, personalities of such size and appeal that even those who hadn't read their books knew who they were, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His works included hundreds of essays; the best-selling novels "Lincoln" and "Myra Breckenridge;" the groundbreaking "The City and the Pillar," among the first novels about openly gay characters; and the Tony-nominated play "The Best Man," revived on Broadway in 2012. Read more.
1908: Johnny Burke, U.S. songwriter who won an Academy Award for writing "Swinging on a Star," is born in Antioch, California.
1900: Thomas Wolfe, U.S. author who was a major American novelist of the early 20th century whose novels included "Look Homeward, Angel," is born in Asheville, North Carolina.
1898: Leo McCarey, U.S. director, screenwriter, and producer who won three Academy awards, and whose movies included "Duck Soup" and "Going My Way," is born in Los Angeles, California.
1879: Warner Oland, Swedish-born U.S. actor known best for starring as detective Charlie Chan in 16 "Charlie Chan" movies, is born in Nyby, Sweden.
1858: Eleonora Duse, Italian actress better known as Duse, who was a legendary stage actress known for her performances in plays written by Henrik Ibsen, is born in Vigevano, Italy.