Returning to the Austin, Texas arts and technology event for the first time since 1991, he reminisced about how he had been unable to focus on discovering new bands due to his pal's death aged 35 in a helicopter crash in August 1990.

According to editors at Billboard magazine in Wednesday's (15Mar17) speech he said, "Lemme (let me) just say, I was not present. I was going around trying to hear bands and trying to meet people, but Stevie had just passed away, so I wasn't here. So I'm gonna be present as hell today. I'm gonna make up for lost time."

Nile, who delivered a eulogy at Stevie's funeral, produced Family Style, an album which paired the influential bluesman with his brother Jimmie as The Vaughan Brothers. The record was released a month after Stevie's passing.

The Texan's death alongside three members of the entourage of fellow blues rocker Eric Clapton, who had been performing alongside him in East Troy, Wisconsin, shocked the music world.

The four men and the pilot were all killed when the helicopter crashed into a hill in adverse weather conditions.

Among the mourners at his funeral were Stevie Wonder, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, ZZ Top, Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and Jackson Browne.

Nile recently lost another close collaborator as Joni Sledge, who worked with the musician and producer as a part of Sister Sledge, passed away last Friday (10Mar17).

Despite the downbeat opening to his speech, Nile went on to discuss his storied music career, which in addition to performing with Chic has seen him work with stars including David Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna, and Britney Spears.

In his address promoting the virtues of pop songwriting he spoke of how he knew some acts had star quality.

"Some people just have that magical thing and you can feel the vibe right away," he explained. "Others you can actually work on it and develop that magical thing, but some people, they just have that stardust sprinkled on them and you can feel it."