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 the late 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 education.

The university’s Wittliff Collections recently acquired a sizable archive of items belonging to the late blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Meanwhile, two Austin-area sisters have donated $1 million to help finance construction of a new music school on the San Marcos campus.

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

“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.

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. 

A selection of items from the Vaughan archive 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 died in an August 1990 helicopter crash. He was 35.

Further contributing to Texas State’s roots in music is the $1 million gift made recently by Shannon FitzPatrick of San Marcos and Kathleen FitzPatrick of Georgetown. The money goes toward construction of a new music school, one of the key goals of an ongoing $250 million fundraising campaign.

“The FitzPatrick family has generously supported Texas State through the decades with not only monetary gifts, but through their service and talents,” says Denise Trauth, president of Texas State. “It was their family’s deep ties to Texas State that inspired Kathleen and Shannon to establish this $1 million quasi-endowment that will create the momentum needed to bring our new music building to life.”

The current music building, a converted gym, was initially intended for 200 music students. The university has outgrown that space. The new music school, encompassing nearly 110,000 square feet, will accommodate nearly 600 music students and 80-plus faculty members who are spread across five buildings. It will contain classrooms, studios, faculty offices, rehearsal and practice rooms, music research and innovation labs, and a student lounge.