WHAT’S BUGGING BUGS?

Legends “There’s been some mighty strange behavior” following STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN’s death, says veteran bluesrocker BUGS HENDERSON. Take, for example, a radio ad for a gig Bugs did in Arkansas. The spot opportunistically touted him as “guitar playing companion” to the recently deceased Vaughan-despite the fact that. Bugs points out, they really didn’t play together very often. The media cried out for profundities from Bugs about Vaughan, though the two weren’t even particularly well acquainted. Almost immediately after the helicopter crash that took Vaughan’s life in late August, Channel 8 came barreling out to Bugs’s house for comment.

“They weren’t really aware of who he was,” Bugs says. “All they knew was, he was somebody, and they were trying to cover it fast as they could. I was standing in the front yard, talking to BYRON HARRIS, they were setting up the camera, and we were talking about the music business. Just before the camera rolled, Harris turned to me and said, ’By the way. Bugs-what instrument do you play?’”

Henderson has heard this tune before. When his poker buddy, blues legend Freddy King, died in 1976, plenty of people turned the bluesman’s passing into an attention-getting bandwagon to jump aboard. Even so. Bugs says, “There wasn’t this almost cultish thing that’s going down with Stevie.”

What disturbs Henderson most are fans who come careening up to him at gigs to make requests (or, sometimes, beery, belligerent demands) for him to perform Vaughan’s material, or eulogize him from the stage.

“I don’t do any of that,” saysBugs. “I don’t think it’s the place for it, for one thing. I didn’t do his songs before [Vaughan’s death], and there’s something a little cold about doing them after he’s gone.” And there’s an irony that bothers him:

“I don’t want to sound sanctimonious, but there’s something real twisted about people being totaled on booze and drugs and staggering up asking me to do tributes to Stevie because they ’loved him so much.’ Hey, you want to do a tribute to Stevie? Straighten up! After all, that’s what he did.”

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