Tommy Shannon

Last updated
Tommy Shannon
Tommy Shannon Ron Baker 3.jpg
Tommy Shannon performing on stage in 2006
Background information
Birth nameThomas Lafitte Smedley
Born (1946-04-18) April 18, 1946 (age 74)
Tucson, Arizona, United States
Genres Blues rock, Texas blues
Instruments Bass, guitar
Years active1962–present
Labels Epic, Legacy, Sony, Geffen, Atlantic
Associated acts Stevie Ray Vaughan, Double Trouble, Johnny Winter, Arc Angels, Storyville

Tommy Shannon (born Thomas Lafitte Smedley; April 18, 1946) is an American bass guitarist, who is best known as a member of Double Trouble, a blues rock band led by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Shannon moved to Dumas, Texas when he was nine, where he originally started as a guitarist, though he started playing bass at the age of 21. He appeared with Johnny Winter at Woodstock in 1969. He later joined Double Trouble in 1981 and became a permanent member of Double Trouble until Vaughan's death in 1990. Shannon and bandmate Chris Layton later formed supergroups such as the Arc Angels.


Early life

Shannon was born in Tucson, Arizona, and moved to the Texas Panhandle when he was nine. [1] He grew up mainly in Dumas, Texas, north of Amarillo on Highway 287. Shannon joined his first band, The Avengers, [1] around age 13. The band members were Shannon (guitar), Tim Easley (vocals), Jim Love (guitar) and David Davis (drums). It would be a while before they realized the importance of the bass guitar, but eventually Shannon did. Their first gig paid them $80. That excited them so much, they gave half their paycheck back.

In high school Shannon was in the band Ekos. Soon after high school he moved to Dallas and joined a soul cover band in 1966, initially called The New Breed, [1] and later The Young Lads. Shannon recorded two 45s with this band, which featured Tim Easly on vocals and Uncle John Turner [1] on drums.

Music career

Early career

Shannon had the first of two important meetings at The Fog in Dallas in the late 1960s. There he first saw Johnny Winter. Shannon ended up backing Winter, and they formed a project known as The Progressive Blues Experiment in 1968. They cut one album for Sonobeat Records titled The Progressive Blues Experiment before being signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis for $600,000 in 1969. Shannon appeared on both of these Columbia LPs, each released 1969; Johnny Winter (self-titled), and Second Winter. At Woodstock, Johnny's brother Edgar joined them onstage. Johnny Winter ended up moving to a band featuring Rick Derringer in early 1970 that already had a rhythm section, [2] and there was no room for Shannon or Turner. They landed in a San Francisco band called Krackerjack that comprised Uncle John Turner, drums; Mike Kindred, piano; Shannon, bass; Bruce Bowland, vocals; and John Staehely, guitar. Jesse "Guitar" Taylor played lead guitar with the band as well for a time during 1970 (there is a band photo as proof). According to Tommy's website, Stevie Ray Vaughan, known as "Skeeter," was part of this band in its later Austin incarnation, along with Robin Syler on guitar. Among other personnel changes, Shannon eventually left the group and was replaced by Dwight Davis. Krackerjack remained a group from 1970 to 1973.

During the 1970s, Shannon became involved with drugs, and began a cycle of jail, probation and rehab that would last for some time. [1] He played with the Austin band The Fools briefly. Due to recurring drug arrests and failure of rehab in San Antonio and other locations, Shannon was finally sent to a "farm" in Buda and, as a result of his probation on release, he was not allowed to join any bands because of the pervasiveness of drugs in the music scene. Shannon became a bricklayer for a few years until he was eventually able to return to music in 1977. He played in a few unknown bands, then received a call from Rocky Hill, brother of ZZ Top's Dusty Hill. He moved to Houston to play with Hill and Uncle John, and in the late 1970s went on to play with Alan Haynes in the "Texas Boogie Band" (Shannon later played on Haynes' well received 1994 release, "Wishing Well"). Shannon also toured, opening for Bachman–Turner Overdrive and for KISS at the Warehouse in New Orleans.

With Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (Shannon at right) in 1983. Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble Don Hunstein.jpg
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble (Shannon at right) in 1983.

Shannon moved between Dallas and Austin, and saw Stevie Ray Vaughan at The Fog with Vaughan's group Blackbird. Vaughan later formed a group called Double Trouble, and in 1980 Shannon wound up taking the place of the bass player, Jackie Newhouse, after seeing Double Trouble at Rockefellers in Houston. Vaughan was tapped to do some guitar tracks for David Bowie (including guitar on "Let's Dance"), and was then offered the chance to tour with Bowie, putting the new group's future in doubt. Ultimately, though, Vaughan's manager turned down the offer. Vaughan, Shannon and drummer Chris Layton would stay together as Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble—and become one of the most famous blues bands of all time.

After joining Double Trouble, Shannon met his future wife Kumi and they eventually married in 1986. His drug-use returned, and in increasing volumes, often with the band leader, Vaughan. Eventually both realized a need to change that lifestyle, and both checked into rehabilitation in separate cities, becoming clean and sober. [1] The newly healthy band was on the upswing, making popular music and gaining wider fame, until the helicopter carrying Vaughan crashed into a hillside after a show at Alpine Valley Music Theater, near East Troy, Wisconsin, on August 27, 1990, killing all aboard.

Later career

After a period of mourning, Shannon's musical career eventually continued. He played with Doyle Bramhall, Denny Freeman and Chris Layton in The Mighty Zor. Shannon was asked by The Rolling Stones to audition to replace Bill Wyman, but did not get the role. [3] Other notable projects included the Arc Angels with Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton, and Storyville with Malford Milligan. He toured with Susan Tedeschi and, along with Chris Layton, toured and recorded with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. He and Layton played on Jimmy D. Lane's "It's Time". He has played with other notable musicians, including Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Hubert Sumlin, Mike McCready, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Johnson, David Grissom, Mato Nanji, Jeff Beck, Lou Gramm and John Mayer.

In 1999 Shannon, in company with Chris Layton, provided the rhythm section for the Debbie Davies release Tales From the Austin Motel on Shanachie Records.

In 2001, Double Trouble reformed, releasing their only album without Vaughan. Titled Been a Long Time, it featured many guest performers (including Tedeschi) filling Vaughan's frontman role.

His primary bass was a battered Arctic White 1962 Fender Jazz Bass with a red tortoise shell pickguard. He has been seen playing Yamaha BBs, Music Man StingRays, other Fender Precision and Jazz basses (mostly American, American Deluxe and Custom Shop models) and custom Fodera basses.


Shannon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Double Trouble in 2015. [4]

Related Research Articles

Stevie Ray Vaughan American blues guitarist, songwriter and recording artist

Stephen Ray Vaughan was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the guitarist and frontman of the blues rock band Double Trouble. Although his mainstream career only spanned seven years, he is considered to be one of the most iconic and influential musicians in the history of blues music, and one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

<i>Texas Flood</i> 1983 studio album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

Texas Flood is the debut studio album by the American blues rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, released on June 13, 1983 by Epic Records. The album was named after a cover featured on the album, "Texas Flood", which was first recorded by blues singer Larry Davis in 1958. Produced by the band and recording engineer Richard Mullen, Texas Flood was recorded in the space of three days at Jackson Browne's personal recording studio in Los Angeles. Vaughan wrote six of the album's ten tracks.

<i>In Step</i> 1989 studio album by Stevie Ray Vaughan

In Step is the fourth studio album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released in 1989. The title In Step can be seen as referring to Vaughan's new-found sobriety, following the years of drug and alcohol use that eventually led Vaughan into rehabilitation. It was also Vaughan's final album with Double Trouble, and also Vaughan's last album to be released during his lifetime. In 1990, he recorded a collaboration album with his brother, Jimmie Vaughan, called Family Style; later that year, Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash.

<i>Soul to Soul</i> (album) 1985 studio album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

Soul to Soul is the third studio album by American blues rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released on September 30, 1985 by Epic Records. Recording sessions took place between March and May 1985 at the Dallas Sound Lab in Dallas, Texas. Vaughan wrote four of Soul to Soul's ten tracks; two songs were released as singles. The album went to #34 on the Billboard 200 chart and the music video for "Change It" received regular rotation on MTV. In 1999, a reissue of the album was released, which includes an audio interview segment and two studio outtakes.

Double Trouble (band) American blues rock band

Double Trouble is an American blues rock band from Austin, Texas which served as the backing band for guitarist/singer Stevie Ray Vaughan. The group was active throughout the 1980s and contributed to reviving the blues, inspiring many later blues and rock musicians. Formed in Austin, Texas in 1978, the group went through several early line-up changes before settling on a power trio consisting of Vaughan, Chris Layton (drums), Tommy Shannon (bass). They became a four-piece by 1985 after adding Reese Wynans (keyboards). While with Vaughan the band was billed Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Rooted in blues and rock music, the group worked in many genres ranging from ballads to soul, often incorporating jazz and other elements.

Love Struck Baby

"Love Struck Baby" is a blues rock song performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Vaughan wrote the song about the night that he moved in with his then-wife, Lenny. The track was produced by Vaughan for the band's debut album Texas Flood, recorded in Los Angeles. "Love Struck Baby" was the first single from Texas Flood, released by Epic Records in the United States and United Kingdom. In the song's accompanying music video, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton are shown relaxing at a bar before Vaughan enters and starts performing the song for a crowd. "Love Struck Baby" was a concert favorite for fans of the band; Vaughan would frequently play the guitar behind his head for part of the solo.

Albert Cummings American blues musician

Albert Cummings is an American blues musician who has recorded under Blind Pig Records. He has played alongside B.B. King, Johnny Winter, and Buddy Guy.

Nuno Mindelis, nicknamed "The Beast from Brazil", is an Angolan-born Brazilian blues guitarist and singer-songwriter.

<i>The Sky Is Crying</i> (album) 1991 compilation album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

The Sky Is Crying is a compilation of songs recorded by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble spanning most of their career. Released 14 months after Vaughan's death in 1990, the album features ten previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1984 and 1989. Only one title, "Empty Arms", appeared on any of the group's previous albums. The tracks were compiled by Vaughan's brother, Jimmie Vaughan, and was Vaughan's highest charting album at number 10.

<i>Live at Carnegie Hall</i> (Stevie Ray Vaughan album) 1997 live album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

Live at Carnegie Hall is the ninth album by American blues rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, released by Epic Records in July 1997. The album consists of live selections from their sold-out October 4, 1984 benefit concert at Carnegie Hall for the T.J. Martell Foundation. Backed by a ten-piece big band for the second half of the event, Vaughan had celebrated his thirtieth birthday the night before, and called the concert his "best birthday ever, forever". The band's double-set performance, which included several blues and R&B standards, was highly successful, receiving mostly positive reviews from music critics.

Charlie Sexton American guitarist

Charles Wayne Sexton is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Sexton is best known for the 1985 solo hit "Beat's So Lonely" and for his work with the band Arc Angels. Additionally, he performed as a member of Bob Dylan's backing band from 1999 to 2002, 2009 to 2012, and 2013 to present.

<i>Live Alive</i> 1986 live album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

Live Alive is the first live album compiled from four live performances by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. The performances were recorded on July 15, 1985 at the Montreux Jazz Festival; July 17–18, 1986 at the Austin Opera House; and July 19, 1986 at Dallas Starfest. Much of the album was overdubbed in the studio.

Storyville was a blues-rock band formed in 1993 in Austin, Texas, USA. Drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, former members of Arc Angels and the rhythm section for Stevie Ray Vaughan's band Double Trouble, formed the band with Craig Ross, David Lee Holt and David Grissom after a jam session at Antone's. After releasing an album on November Records in 1993, the band won a total of nine Austin Music awards; they became stalwarts on the local music scene and toured nationally. Malford Milligan replaced Ross in 1994. They subsequently signed to major label Atlantic Records, for whom they recorded two albums before breaking up. The single "Born Without You", from their 1998 release Dog Years, reached #28 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

Arc Angels

Arc Angels were a blues rock band formed in Austin, Texas in the early 1990s. The band was composed of guitarist and singers Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton and two former members of Stevie Ray Vaughan's band Double Trouble, drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon. The 'Arc' in the band's name came from the Austin Rehearsal Complex where the band first started jamming.

Alan Haynes

Alan Haynes, born in Houston, Texas, is an American Texas Blues guitarist. Alan has been playing professionally since the 1970s and has performed with a variety of Blues legends that include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, Albert King, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker, and Otis Rush among others. He now resides in Austin, Texas and plays locally in and around Texas' major cities, especially Houston, occasionally in Dallas and Fort Worth, and also Europe, where he has a large following in Scandinavian countries, Germany, Denmark and Israel.

Texas Flood Tour

The Texas Flood World Tour was a concert tour in North America and Western Europe, undertaken by American blues rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 1983 and 1984. The band had released their debut album, Texas Flood, a week before the tour began.

Couldnt Stand the Weather Tour

The Couldn't Stand the Weather Tour was a worldwide concert tour by blues rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Produced in support of their 1984 album Couldn't Stand the Weather, the tour visited North America, Europe, Australasia and Japan from 1984 to 1985. To reflect the new musical direction that the group took with Couldn't Stand the Weather, the tour was aimed to differ from their past and surpass expectations of the band. In comparison to Vaughan and Double Trouble's modest stage setup from the previous Texas Flood Tour, the Couldn't Stand the Weather Tour involved a slightly more elaborate production. It utilized grander amplifier setups and sound systems to take advantage of the larger venues in which they performed. To avoid their renowned strictly blues material, Vaughan and Double Trouble embodied a more expanded and varied repertoire during performances. In disparity to the previous tour, each of the Couldn't Stand the Weather shows opened with mostly the same three songs before other material was played. The album and the tour were the beginnings of the group's mid-eighties musical development.

<i>Live from Austin, Texas</i> (Stevie Ray Vaughan video) 1995 video by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Live from Austin, Texas is a live video by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. It is a retrospective of the band's two performances on Austin City Limits in 1983 and 1989. The film was released as a DVD on September 3, 1997.

<i>Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985</i> 2001 live album by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

Live at Montreux 1982 & 1985 is the fourth live album of American blues musician Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band Double Trouble, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 17, 1982 and July 15, 1985, and released November 20, 2001 on Epic Records. Neither are complete concerts.

Chris Layton

Christopher Layton, also known as "Whipper", is an American drummer who rose to fame as one of the founding members of Double Trouble, a blues rock band led by Stevie Ray Vaughan.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Moser, Margaret (13 April 2007). "Tommy Shannon: 'I Live in Trios'". Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on 1 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  2. Being former members of The McCoys, as was Derringer. Randy Hobbs (d. 1993) became Winters' bass player.
  3. "Interview:Tommy Shannon (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Johnny Winter)". Hit Channel. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  4. "Rock Hall confirms members of Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Blackhearts and Double Trouble being inducted", Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 4, 2015