Survival Of The Fret-ist

Really?

''I will also f -- -ing hate him,'' he kids. ''I want him to die!''

With that cocky roar, and his moment of doubt long past, Mayer's ready to join his heroes. On stage with Guy and Double Trouble, he's the picture of joy, as if he'd just been transported from that Connecticut bedroom right into this scene. Damn right, he's got the jollies. (Reporting by Tom Sinclair)*

STEVIE RAY'S BEST

[BOX]

STEVIE RAY'S BEST

TEXAS FLOOD (1983) The confident young ax slinger came out swinging on this ripping-good debut, which featured such overheated rave-ups as ''Pride and Joy'' and ''Mary Had a Little Lamb.''

''VOODOO CHILE (SLIGHT RETURN)'' (1984) Few guitarists can make a Hendrix cover anything but an exercise in futility, but Vaughan's raucous take is the undisputed standout on his Couldn't Stand the Weather.

IN STEP (1989) Many view this fiery effort, made after he gave up drugs and alcohol, as his first move toward a fresher, bolder blues-rock; sadly, Vaughan's death in 1990 cut short a promising new chapter.

EVEN HEAVIER THINGS

A BLACK HOLE: Recently, one was estimated at a quadrillion times the earth's weight.

AN ELEPHANT: The average adult male tips the scales at more than 10,000 pounds.

RAPPER FAT JOE: We were afraid to ask, but come on, that's a big dude.

Originally posted Oct 17, 2003 Published in issue #733 Oct 17, 2003 Order article reprints