Stevie Ray Vaughan
The loss of Stevie Ray Vaughan in a 1990 helicopter crash was a rock (and blues) death on par with the loss of Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, so deeply was the public moved. Vaughan had been the catalyst for a massive blues revival in the 1980s, with a distinctive guitar tone and a string of singles that managed to cross over to mainstream rock radio. This was somewhat detrimental to his image, as Vaughan was at heart a pure blues guitarist, and his mainstream success did more to damage any authenticity he might have enjoyed as an obscure axeman, especially with purist blues fans. But in the years since his death Vaughan's music has come to represent a pinnacle of Texas or Modern Blues, and no longer seems like the call to arms for beer-swollen George Thorogood fans that it did at the height of his popularity. All his early studio albums are worth checking out (they're certainly better than Robert Cray's), but the real fun begins with Vaughan's live recordings, on which he repeatedly goes wholly over the top.