Striking the right chord

Stevie Ray Vaughan archive drums up debut at Texas university this spring

Stevie Ray Vaughan archive to debut at Texas university this spring

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Items belonging to Dallas-born blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan will soon join the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. Photo courtesy of GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE

Texas State University in San Marcos is tuning up its commitment to music preservation. The university’s Wittliff Collections recently acquired a sizable archive of items belonging to the late blues guitarist and Dallas native Stevie Ray Vaughan, which are going on display to the public.

The Vaughan archive includes artifacts like the iconic black hat and conch belt he wore during his 1984 Carnegie Hall concert, his tall suede boots with buckskin fringe, his pipe, and his guitar strap. There also are rare photographs, handwritten lyrics, production notes, studio lyric boards, tour books, drawings, personal journals, and tapes.

“The collection offers new insights into Vaughan’s mindset when it comes to understanding how important his recovery and spirituality were near the end of his life, and how overcoming his alcohol and drug addictions wasn’t easy,” the university says in a news release.

According to the release, one Vaughan notepad says, "One of the great values of meditation is that it clears the mind. And as the mind becomes clearer, it becomes more capable and willing to acknowledge the truth."

In another notebook, Vaughan writes: "Today I start anew . . . burdens that I carry around in shame and guilt."

Obtained from an unidentified collector, the Vaughan archive joins archives from music legends such as Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Cindy Walker, Marcia Ball, and Asleep at the Wheel.

A selection of items from the collection will go on display for the first time in the upcoming exhibition “The Songwriters: Sung and Unsung Heroes of the Collection,” which opens this spring at the university’s Texas Music Gallery.

Vaughan was born in Dallas, at Methodist Hospital, on October 3, 1954. He grew up in Oak Cliff. He died in an August 1990 helicopter crash at the age of 35.

The Wittliff Collections is located on the seventh floor of Texas State’s Albert B. Alkek Library in San Marcos. It is open to the public, and admission is free. For more information, visit the website.