Double Trouble Drummer Chris Layton on the Ill-Fated Stevie Ray Vaughan-David Bowie Partnership

Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton talks about David Bowie’s partnership with Texas blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Vaughan and Double Trouble were the first ever unsigned act to play the festival and the band nearly exhausted nearly all its shoestring budget getting to Switzerland in the process. On the festival’s first night, the crowd, expecting an acoustic set, booed the band off the stage. It wasn’t the laidback set attendees were promised and they responded accordingly, but Vaughan’s guitar playing did catch the ear of one attendee: David Bowie.

Bowie sent an emissary to the band’s dressing room after the show requesting an audience at the bar frequented by festival performers.

“Oddly enough, Stevie spent just a couple of minutes talking to him, and then he got up and left and never really returned,” Layton says.

Bowie’s proposition to both Vaughan and the band was simple: Vaughan would play on his new record he was working on with Chic-alum Nile Rodgers, then Vaughan and Double Trouble would open up for him on the tour that would ensue – Bowie’s first tour in five years.

In the liner notes of a DVD of the Montreux set, Bowie wrote that he took his “courage in his hands” and asked him, but wasn’t expecting much:

“And as Stevie’s music was such hard core blues I expected and would have understood a polite ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ You can’t imagine how delighted I was when he accepted the offer on the spot and said he’d love to try out a new kind of record just for the experience. When I asked if touring could also be a possibility he again replied in the affirmative, ‘Hell, yeah,’ he said, ‘I tour real good.’”