Central Texas man known as ‘Godfather’ of Texas music stores dies at 91

Ray Hennig, who gave legendary Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan the 1959 Fender Stratocaster that helped propel Vaughan to international fame, has died at the age of 91. (Courtesy photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Ray Hennig, who gave legendary Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan the 1959 Fender Stratocaster that helped propel Vaughan to international fame, has died at the age of 91.

Hennig, a Coryell County native, died Thursday in Austin of natural causes, his son, Steve, said.

Hennig, who got into the music business because of his son’s interest in learning to play the guitar, opened Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music in the late 1960s at 3118 Franklin Ave. in Waco and operated it for 45 years.

He also opened stores in Temple and Austin, where he worked with such musicians as Willie Nelson, Eric Johnson, Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, Christopher Cross, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

But the encounter with Vaughan was a defining moment in his career.

“Dad was a very big part of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s life,” Steve Hennig said Friday.

“He gave him that No. 1 guitar.”

Vaughan, who dubbed the guitar “Number One,” later said the instrument led him in “new creative directions.”

Vaughan was playing that guitar when he and his band, Double Trouble, performed in 1982 at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Their set led to a record contract and recognition that stretched well beyond Texas.

"He reduced the stage to a pile of smoking cinders and, afterward, everyone wanted to know who he was," People magazine’s James McBride wrote.

Vaughan died on Aug. 27, 1990 in a helicopter crash after performing in Wisconsin.

The guitar has been featured in various exhibits including two at the Bob Bullock Museum in Austin.

No services are planned, but a celebration of Hennig’s life will be scheduled after concerns about the coronavirus outbreak ebb.