Thursday, July 17, 2014

Obituary: Johnny Winter

It was a shock to hear that blues and rock musician Johnny Winter, 70, passed away yesterday while on tour in Switzerland. No cause of death was given.

Winter was a huge fan of blues greats like Muddy Waters and sought to emulate them. He and his younger brother Edgar were fixtures on the blues circuit starting from the 1960s. Since both brothers were born with albinism, they were instantly recognizable on stage and in other public venues. They both became interested in music at a very, very young age, with Johnny having started playing the clarinet at age 4. The brothers later formed a band when Johnny was 15.

I used to listen to the brothers quite a bit during my youth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I also have the Muddy Waters album referred to in this article.

This tidbit is funny:

A longtime fan of Muddy Waters, Winter produced and played guitar on Waters' Grammy-winning album Hard Again in 1977, along with three other Grammy-nominated records. The two met when Winter was around 17 — after the teenager bugged the bluesman to let him play with him on stage.

"He gave me his guitar and let me play," Winter said. "I got a standing ovation, and he took his guitar back."

Of Winter, Waters once said, "That guy up there onstage — I got to see him up close. He plays eight notes to my one!"

"Jumpin' Jack Flash":

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