American blues guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, harmonica mandolin, singer, and producer Johnny Winter.
Known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s, Johnny also produced 3 Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters. After his time with Waters, Winter recorded many Grammy-nominated blues albums. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the One hundred Greatest Guitarists of All Time and rightfully so.
Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas on February 23, 1944. Johnny, along with his musician brother Edgar (born 1946), were assisted at an early age by their parents in musical pursuits. Johnny and his brother, both of whom were born with albinism, began performing at an early age. When he was ten years old, Winter appeared on a local children’s show, playing ukulele and singing Everly Brothers songs with his brother.
His recording career began at the age of fifteen, when his band Johnny and the Jammers released School Day Blues on a Houston record label.During this same period, he was able to see performances by classic blues artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bobby Bland. In the early days Winter would sometimes sit in with Roy Head and the Traits when they performed in the Beaumont, Texas area, and in 1967, Winter recorded a single with the Traits: Tramp backed with Parchman Farm (Universal Records 30496). In 1968, he released his first album The Progressive Blues Experiment, on Austin’s Sonobeat Records.
Winter was professionally active until the time of his death near Zurich, Switzerland on July 16, 2014. He was found dead in his hotel room two days after his last performance, at the Cahors Blues Festival in France on July 14, at the age of 70. The cause of Winter’s death is not clear. He had for many years exhibited signs of lung disease, likely related to years of cigarette smoking, which he has stated he started at age 15. He was scheduled to begin a United States tour beginning August 1, 2014 at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury in Westbury, New York.
His newest album, Step Back (which features stars including Joe Bonamassa, Eric Clapton, ZZ Top rocker Billy Gibbons and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry), was released on September 2, 2014.
Careful With A Fool
Johnny Winter (guitar & vocals) performs for Gladsaxe Teen Club on Danish TV in 1970 with Tommy Shannon (bass), and Uncle John Turner (drums).
Johnny’s original trio disbanded when his brother Edgar released a solo album Entrance and founded Edgar Winter’s White Trash an R&B/jazz-rock group in 1970. Johnny formed a new band with the remnants of The McCoys—guitarist Rick Derringer, bassist Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Randy Zehringer. Originally to be called Johnny Winter and The McCoys, the name was shortened to Johnny Winter And, which was also the name of their first album. The album included Derringer’s Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo and signaled a more rock-oriented direction for Winter. When Johnny Winter And began to tour, Randy Z was replaced with drummer Bobby Caldwell. Their mixture of the new rock songs with Winter’s blues songs was captured on the live album Live Johnny Winter And. It included a new performance “It’s My Own Fault”, the song which first brought Winter to the attention of Columbia Records.