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JOHNNY WINTER

Johnny WinterJohnny Winter was probably the most consistent Blues-rock player of his generation, pounding the highways of the world, bringing his high-powered Texas style to many generations of fans. From his breakthrough in 1969, he toured and recorded almost without a break, and when he left us in 2014, he was about to launch a new album and a massive tour. Johnny’s skill as a Blues producer was appreciated by some legendary Chicago Blues players, and his collaborations with those guys show that he had some killer chops to show off when he picked up his guitar.

John Dawson Winter III was born in 1944 in Beaumont TX and, like his kid brother Edgar, is albino, which gives the men a striking appearance. Their parents were both into music and were very supportive of the boys’ early bands, including Johnny and the Jammers and Black Plague, as the teenagers played the local club scene. Johnny went to Chicago in 1968, where he played with the young Paul Butterfield and when he returned to Texas he cut an album, ‘The Progressive Blues Experiment’.

While he was visiting London investigating the British Blues Boom, Rolling Stone published a glowing review of the album, and a concert in New York drew the attention of club owner Steve Paul, who became Johnny’s manager and secured a great record deal with Columbia. With Edgar in the band, ‘Johnny Winter’, was released in 1969 with cameos by Willie Dixon and ‘Shakey’ Horton, and became a smash hit. ‘Second Winter’ was arguably even better, with barnstorming versions of Dylan’s ‘Highway 61’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’. Between the two albums came a set at the Woodstock Festival, and the film of that event gave Johnny worldwide exposure.

Johnny Winter plays Woodstock;

Johnny WinterA new band, with Rick Derringer on second guitar, toured the world and recorded a couple of great albums, but Johnny was developing a drug problem and dropped out of performing for a while. On his comeback, Johnny fronted a hard-rocking band, again including Edgar’s sax and keyboards, which played more rock’n’roll than Blues, and this outfit recorded and toured relentlessly. When Chess Records closed in 1977, Johnny produced a series of four albums on Steve Paul’s Blue Sky label with Muddy Waters, which won three Grammy’s. This raised Johnny’s profile in the Blues community and the next three albums he recorded with his own band, especially ‘Nothin’ But the Blues’ with Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton, took Johnny right back to his roots. In 1983, Johnny cut ‘Whoopin”, with Sonny Terry upfront and Willie Dixon on board. Signing with the Chicago label Alligator, Johnny’s ‘Guitarslinger’ was the label’s biggest record up to that date and a series of albums in the same vein were to follow, as he kept on touring the world. In 1991, Johnny joined a host of rock and Blues stars at the tribute concert at Madison Square Gardens for John Lee Hooker.

Johnny rocks out in what has become his theme tune;

Johnny Winter Discography
This album got Johnny a lot of attention. Still raw and rough, Johnny tears down the house with this blast of Texas Blues.

SECOND WINTER

For the next twenty-odd years, Johnny continued to record regularly and tour the world. His total output reached almost forty albums and, as well as his work with Blues greats like John Lee, Muddy, Sonny Terry and James Cotton, Johnny worked with contemporaries Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Susan Tedeschi, George Thorogood and literally scores of others. Johnny just kept on rockin’ out those Texas Blues until he passed away in July 2014, at the age of 70.