The Blues Dude

Carryin' on the Blues legacy

Johnny Winter, Rest in Peace

Johnny Winter

Legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter passed away on Thursday, July 17th at the age of 70. He was on tour, celebrating his 70th birthday, when he passed away in hotel room in Switzerland. He had just played the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, in Austria, this last weekend.


Winter released his first album, ‘The Progressive Blues Experiment’ in 1968, and things took off. Rolling Stone sang his praises, and the next year he played a great set at Woodstock, followed close by the release of his second album.


Johnny Winter 1969 Mean Town Blues at Woodstock 1969


 In 1977 he’d get to work with one of his boyhood heroes, Muddy Waters. He produced and played on four albums, three of which won Grammy Awards. Several Johnny Winter albums would get Grammy nominations, too, but never won.


Winter started early, in the late 50s. At the age of 15 he had songs on the radio with his band Johnny and the Jammers, with his younger brother Edgar on piano. Winters was hanging out at black blues clubs in Beaumont, TX, occasionally sitting in with Blues legends like Muddy Waters and Bobby Bland.


Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty – SXSW 2014 Accepted Film


A memorable moment came for Johnny Winter at 17, when BB King came to town.


“I went with my band, and I really wanted B.B. to hear me play, because I loved B.B.’s music and I wanted to show him what I could do. So I sent some of my friends over to ask him if it’d be OK,” Winter says. “He was having tax problems at the time, and he thought — us being the only white people in there — that we’d come from the IRS to bust him for his taxes.”
After some prodding, though, King relented and invited Winter onstage to perform.
“He didn’t know whether I could play or not,” Winter says, chuckling. “I think he was just so glad that we didn’t come to mess with him about his taxes, he didn’t care.”


A new Johnny Winter album, ‘Step Back,’ is due out in September, and includes Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Joe Perry from Aerosmith.


Johnny Winter Live Copenhagen 1970 Full Show

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