Remembering Johnny Winter
Remembering Johnny Winter on February 23rd as it would have been his birthday. Johnny Winter was born, 1944 in Beaumont, Texas. He formed his first band at the age of 11, made his first record at 15 and became the protégé of a Zydeco bluesman named Clarence “Bon Ton” Garlow.
By 1968 the guitarist was leading Tommy Shannon (bass) and John Turner (drums) in a trio entitled Winter. This unit recorded a single for the Austin-based Sonobeat label, consigning extra tracks from the same session to a demonstration disc. This was subsequently issued by United Artists Records in 1969 as The Progressive Blues Experiment.
His pale features came from a condition called albinism, which his brother Edgar also had. The following year, Winter played at the famed Woodstock music festival and released his debut album for Columbia Records, which earned him critical acclaim. He also sometimes performed with Janis Joplin, and the pair were an item for a time.
Winter never retired from the music scene, choosing to tour and make records until the end of his life. His remarkable career was the subject of the 2014 documentary Johnny Winters: Down & Dirty. He also released a box set of his music to celebrate his 70th birthday.
That summer, Winter was on a concert tour in Europe when he passed away. He died in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 16, 2014 at the age of 70. Winter’s last album, Step Back, is expected to be released in September 2014.