Concert Details

26 Aug 90 - Eric Clapton


Venue: Alpine Valley Music Theatre

City: East Troy

State/Province: WI

Country: United States

Band Lineup:

Eric Clapton – guitar / vocals
Phil Palmer – guitar
Greg Phillinganes – keyboards
Alan Clark – keyboards
Nathan East – bass / vocals
Steve Ferrone – drums
Ray Cooper – percussion
Katie Kissoon – backing vocals
Tessa Niles – backing vocals


Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray Band

Show Notes:

The second of two concerts at Alpine Valley Music Theatre which would sadly end in tragedy. Support at both performances was Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and The Robert Cray Band featuring The Memphis Horns. On the 26th, the concert ended with a 20 minute encore jam of "Sweet Home Chicago" featuring Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy and Robert Cray. Shortly before 1AM on 27 August, a helicopter carrying Vaughan and members of Clapton’s crew crashed within seconds after takeoff, killing all instantly. It was enroute to Chicago.

Excerpt from The New York Times (28 August 1990):
EAST TROY, Wis., Aug. 27— Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the nation’s top blues guitarists, and four other people were killed in a helicopter crash here early today after a performance with Eric Clapton at an outdoor theater. Mr. Vaughan was 35 years old.

The helicopter, owned by Omni Flight Helicopters Inc., crashed into a hill shortly after midnight after taking off in dense fog, said Bill Bruce, an investigator with the Naitonal Transportation Safety Board.

The other victims were the pilot and three members of Mr. Clapton’s entourage. There were no survivors. Those killed were Bobby Brooks, Mr. Clapton’s agent; Nigel Browne, his bodyguard; Colin Smythe, one of his tour managers; and the pilot, Jeffrey Brown.

Mr. Vaughan, a native of Dallas, won Grammy Awards this year and in 1985.

Mr. Clapton and another blues performer in the Sunday night show, Robert Cray, were in another helicopter, which landed safely in Chicago. the helicopter that crashed was to have landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport.

The musicians had appeared together at the Alpine Valley Theater, an outdoor auditorium near the alpine Valley Ski Resort in southern Wisconsin, about 75 miles northwest of Chicago.

Mr. Clapton issued a statement through his spokesman, Ronnie Lippin, saying that the victims ”were my companions, my associates and my friends,” and adding, ”This is a tragic loss of some very special people.”

After the helicopter was reported missing, the Civil Air Patrol discovered the wreckage in a field early this morning. The area was cordoned off today. The cause of the crash has not been determined.

Air crashes have killed several prominent rock performers over the years, including Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Otis Redding, Jim Croce and Rick Nelson.

Mr. Vaughans brother, Jimmie, was the guitarist for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, popular Texas band. The brothers ad recently collaborated on an album.

In 1985 Mr. Vaughan shared a Grammy Award with other musicians for the Album, ”Blues Explosion,” in the traditional blues category. He also won a Grammy Award this year inthe contemporary category, for his album, ”In Step.”

Mr. Vaughan is perhaps best known for his album, ”Couldn’t Stand the Weather,” released in 1984. About 25,000 people attended his concert on Sunday night. Besides his brother, Mr. Vaughan is survived by his mother, Martha.

Excerpt from People Magazine (September 1990):
Shortly afterward, at 12:15 A.M. on Aug. 27, the exhilarated musicians left the stage through a rear exit. Vaughan, 35, had planned to make the two-hour drive back to his Chicago hotel with his brother and sister-in-law, Connie, but at the last minute he chose to board a Bell 206B Jet Ranger, one of four helicopters waiting nearby. According to his New York City publicist, Charles Comer, Vaughan had learned from Clapton’s manager that there were seats enough to accommodate all three in his party. When he found only one place was actually available, Vaughan said to Connie and Jimmie, "Do you mind if I take the seat? I really need to get back."

The helicopter took off in fog around 12:40 A.M. with Vaughan and four others aboard. Sweet Chicago would never be reached. Moments later the chopper’s remains lay spread across more than 200 feet of a man-made ski slope in a field dotted with bittersweet and Queen Anne’s lace. All on board were killed instantly in what National Transportation Safety Board investigator William Bruce later described as "a high-energy, high-velocity impact at a shallow angle."

Fans leaving the noisy concert site did not hear the crash, which occurred on the far side of the nearby hill. In fact a search for the lost copter wasn’t begun until 5 A.M. — more than four hours later — after an orbiting search-and-rescue satellite picked up the craft’s emergency-locator transmitter signal. At 7 A.M. searchers found the bodies of Vaughan; Bobby Brooks, Clapton’s Hollywood agent; pilot Jeff Brown (who may have been unfamiliar with the hilly site’s tricky take-off procedures); Clapton’s assistant tour manager, Colin Smythe; and Clapton’s bodyguard, Nigel Browne. Later that morning Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan were summoned by the Walworth County coroner to identify the bodies.

The crash stilled the music of a man that many had considered on the lip of true stardom. Vaughan’s last album, In Step, had gone gold and won a Grammy, and a new LP had already been recorded for release later this month. The latter, titled Family Style, was a pet project of Vaughan and brother Jimmie, 38, who had quit his job as lead guitarist with the Fabulous Thunderbirds to work on the LP.

Special Guest(s):

Buddy Guy – guitar / vocals*
Robert Cray – guitar / vocals*
Stevie Ray Vaughan – guitar / vocals*
Jimmie Vaughan – guitar / vocals*

Set List:

01. Pretending
02. No Alibis
03. Running On Faith
04. I Shot The Sheriff
05. White Room
06. Can’t Find My Way Home
07. Bad Love
08. Before You Accuse Me
09. Old Love
10. Badge
11. Wonderful Tonight
12. Cocaine
13. Layla
14. Sunshine Of Your Love
15. Sweet Home Chicago*

Where’s Eric!
Find us on Facebook