Johnny 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’.
Johnny Winter plays Woodstock;
A 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.