business of old, when the rock guitar gods of the youth movement were Eric
Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, one American blues guitarist in particular was
held in similar esteem. Sadly, today, as reported by American Blues Scene, that
great musician, Johnny Winter, the
white haired, wild
|Johnny Winter. As most of us remember him
from Beaumont, Texas, has passed on. Johnny, 70, died in Zurich, Switzerland, during a European tour.
Johnny Winter, in the 1970s,
outshone even such great contemporaries as Gerry Garcia and Mike Bloomfield,
when it came to American electric blues guitar-playing status in the 1970s. Jimi
Hendrix, of course, had died at the turn of the decade, just down the road from
where I lived in South Kensington, although I couldn’t afford to live in South
Kensington today. Only rich rock musicians and foreign mega-rich can afford to
live there today.
Unlike today, hardly anyone outside of black America was aware of Muddy Waters in the early 70s, either. (It
took Johnny Winter to reintroduce Muddy Waters to the world, when Johnny
persuaded his record company to sign Muddy in 1977. With Johnny Winter at the
control desk, Muddy Waters returned to the 1950s Chicago sound we now know and
love so well.)
|Two rock legends, sadly now both gone. Johnny Winter with Janis Joplin
become the new torchbearer for American blues-rock (was there any other type of
rock in those days?) although Johnny, himself, always claimed he was a blues,
not a rock, artist.
Fortuitously, Johnny Winter was
with CBS Records in England, where I worked in the press office, parent
Columbia having signed him in 1968, after seeing Johnny open for another of
their acts, Mike Bloomfield.
|Brothers: Edgar and Johnny
catalogue and, immediately, I was hooked on his absolute mastery of electric
blues guitar. Younger brother, Edgar Winter, was just coming into the frame,
and I remember a particularly strong track they did together, with Johnny’s searing
guitar-playing imprinted on my mind to this day. When my sons were boys they
would play this track over and over. No wonder they got such a good grounding playing
blues on the guitar, before moving on to play other things. Why not take a
listen to this late, great American bluesman, the one with the wintery white
Johnny Winter’s latest album, “Step Back” is due for release soon (2 Sept in UK) while a documentary about his life on the road premiered in Texas in April.