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Johnny Winter Feb 23, 1944 - July 16, 2014, But ALWAYS Alive & Well!

Guitar Player August 1974 Cover

 1970 Copenhagen show

July 17, 2014
We just learned of Johnny Winter's passing in Switzerland, yesterday.

Johnny was a badass guitar player-- the original Texas rocker! At 70, he was currently touring the world; having just performed at a music fest in Zurich. An upcoming album titled either "Roots 2" or "Step Back" slated for release in September will feature an all star cast of guitar players.

The important thing is that Winter's contributions to Blues & Rock guitar are immense. I first heard of Johnny in the early 70's from Denver guitarist Mitch Chmara covering Johnny's version of "Rock Me Baby" from the Still Alive and Well album, which I promptly procured! My favorite JW album to date, although there are many great recordings.

Still Alive & Well album
(Opening track: Rock Me Baby)

Like many seminal guitar players of his generation, Johnny had trademark licks unique to him, and a crazy vibrato technique that I've seldom heard copied consistently. His slide playing was ferocious as well. In the 70's, guitar geeks would sometimes butt heads on whether Duane Allman or Johnny Winter was the better slide player. I always stood for Johnny, even though I was usually in the minority... Oh well. I still do, but it's just a matter of taste. Duane was a monster, and his passing was way too soon.

Above is an amazingly high quality video from a 1970 Copenhagen, Denmark television studio gig. It's raw and rough. Johnny pretty much plugged straight into the amp. And yes, that's a young, lanky Tommy Shannon on bass!

James Cotton, Johnny Winter & Muddy Waters
Only two days ago, while listening to Muddy Waters' "Hard Again" album, I was laughing with joy at Johnny shoutin' in the background (I'm cryin' right now). Johnny was a champion for the great Fathers of the Blues. He helped reintroduce people to Muddy; producing a few of Muddy's later albums.

Our thoughts go out to Johnny's family- wife Susie and brother Edgar. Special acknowledgement also to manager/band member Paul Nelson who saved Johnny from some bad people a few years back.

Johnny lives on in his music-- Always Alive & Well!

Jimi Hendrix- bass, Johnny Winter- guitar
Few, if any guitar players can claim the honor of this rhythm section.

"I don't play a lot of fancy guitar. I don't want to play it. The kind of guitar I want to play is mean, mean licks." John Lee Hooker

"I'm hungry, let's do this fucker!" Johnny Winter

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