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Guitar legend inspires book by Sea Cliff resident

Vaughan's recovery path inspires

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Andy Aledort’s Sea Cliff home pays homage to 20th century pop culture. There’s a giant poster of the 1932 film “Scarface,” and Andy and his wife, Tracey, named their dog Mannix after the classic television detective who "always gets his man." There’s also a bookcase stuffed with rock ’n’ roll books and memorabilia, as well as an acoustic guitar hung on one wall and a red electric guitar resting on the couch, waiting to be played.

Farther back in the house, there’s a guitar that means the world to Aledort — an old orange and white Stratocaster that he got in 1973. It’s special, he said, because Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the greatest rock and blues guitarists of all time whom Aledort idolizes, played it in 1989 during one of the jam sessions they shared in the 80s.

Vaughan was the focus of the book “Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan,” written by Aledort and his friend Alan Paul. After three years and more than 400 interviews, the two published the book earlier this year, and will sign copies of it and perform some of Vaughan’s music at Still Partners in Sea Cliff on Saturday.

Aledort said he hoped readers would realize that Vaughan was more than a musician. He overcame serious drug addiction, and used his triumph over adversity to inspire others.

“To me, the story of Stevie Ray Vaughan really is about the strength of the human spirit of overcoming adversity,” Aledort said, “and giving yourself the opportunity to become the best version of yourself that you can become, which is something that every single person can relate to.”

Paul added that Vaughan’s journey through recovery is the most important message in the book. His addiction was so deep and his sobriety so complete that he is often discussed at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as an inspiration.

“He didn’t just look at it as a way to quit his habits,” Paul said, “but to change who he was and become a different person and reach out to others who needed help.”

“That’s the way we should live,” he added. “To help others.”

Born in Little Neck, Queens, in 1956, Aledort has loved music for most of his 63 years. His mother was a singer with a record collection that spanned many genres. When she was pregnant with him, she bought a guitar that Aledort still owns. He started playing when he was 11, inspired by Beatlemania in the mid-1960s, although art was his first love. After graduating from high school a year early, he attended the University of Hartford for a semester before enrolling in the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, where he earned a degree in fine arts.

While in college, Aledort formed a band called Lexis, his first somewhat professional music gig. After graduation, he continued playing guitar while also painting houses and teaching guitar. His career took a leap forward in 1984, when he became interested in a new magazine called Guitar for the Practicing Musician. It was the first in the United States to provide not only written music, but also guitar tablature, instructing guitar students which frets to place their fingers on, making it easy for people who couldn’t read music to learn songs.

Aledort sent a tablature transcription of a song to the magazine’s editors. Shortly afterward, he received a response, saying it was the best transcription they had seen, and by the end of 1984, he was the magazine’s music editor. This was his first foray into music writing.

In 1986, Aledort was assigned to interview Vaughan after a December show at the Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie. Aledort brought his guitar, and after the show he not only interviewed Vaughn backstage, but also jammed with him. He described the guitar legend as “the nicest guy,” and he met him five more times before Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash on Aug. 27, 1990.

Nearly 30 years have passed since Vaughan’s death, but Aledort said the guitarist’s influence on his life has never waned, leading him and fellow Guitar World magazine writer Paul to embark on a three-year journey in 2010 to tell Vaughan’s story.

Paul, who had written “One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band,” was a successful writer, having also published in Revolver magazine in 2000.

The two interviewed hundreds of people, including some of Vaughan’s family members. The mantra for writing the book was, “We can’t lose Stevie ever, even from one page,” Aledort said. “Like if there’s this amazing story, but it doesn’t really have Stevie at the heart of it in some way, it’s going to have to take up, like, less than a page because Stevie has got to be on every page of this book.”

The 400-page book contains 170 photos of Vaughan, most of which have never been published before, cataloging his life from his Texas childhood to his legendary career.

Even more intimate is the epilogue by Vaughan’s brother, Jimmie. Aledort said that he and Paul had a difficult time interviewing Jimmie, because he was still reluctant to discuss his brother publicly. Shortly before the book was finished, Aledort reached Jimmie on the phone, and he opened up about what it was like to grow up in Texas, and how he and his brother fell in love with music.

“Texas Flood” also features quotes from rock legends including Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Carlos Santana and Lucinda Williams, all of whom lauded Aledort’s and Paul’s success in capturing Vaughan’s life.

Dan Roth, the owner of Still Partners, said that having the book signing at his bar was “a no-brainer.” Aledort plays at the bar regularly, Roth said, and knows so much about music and music history. He’s thrilled to see that the book is a success.

“It’s an honor to have Andy play at our bar,” Roth said, “but in this situation, I’m so excited for him. For such a longtime player to have such a huge hit with the book, it’s just great.”