Johnny Winter, one of the greatest Texas-bred guitarists and singers and a mainstay of the blues-rock world since the 1960s, died of unknown causes on Wednesday in his hotel room in Zurich. He was 70 and had been on tour in Europe.
Imagine a 130-pound, cross-eyed albino with long fleecy hair playing some of the gutsiest, yet fluid blues guitar you’ll ever hear. That was Johnny Winter. I discovered Johnny when I was 15 while strolling the aisle E.J. Korvette’s record section. His appearance reflected in the back of a National steel guitar on the cover of his “Progressive Blues Experiment” album was so intriguing that I had to buy it. From that moment on I was in love with his music and the blues.
In 1977 Johnny began a series of collaborations with Muddy Waters, his idol, producing his album “Hard Again.” That record, and two that followed won acclaim for their raw sound, and each won a Grammy Award. As Winter told Look Magazine, “I love the blues. You can feel that nobody cares about you, and you sing, and it doesn’t make any difference and you don’t care. It’s not a happy feeling, it’s not sad. You can cry, and it’s good.”
Commentators rarely mention the fact that both Johnny and his brother Edgar had albinism, a condition that severely affects the eyes and caused Johnny to become legally blind later in his life. He may have been blind, but he was still one hell of a musician. Rest in peace.
Woodstock 1969: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6kPQLLLYAc
Dust my broom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIpmUroL2D4
Don Kirshner’s Rock show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9srJIjp55Bs
Toronto Concert Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjaFWurTS1U
Highway 61: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvNUTqDJJaI
Mama talk to your daughter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic7k7ZaoE8o
Come on in my kitchen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcC5sp27W8g
Rollin and tumbling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js8bASk_mxE
Red House with Leslie West: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh4zc288ERg
Be careful with a fool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Tyg5SJDpiQ
Goin down slow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1YwVrxC7Hc
Johnny Winter requires a wine with a lot of depth, so I suggest a 2011 Stolpman Vineyards Estate Grown Syrah ($24.00). The wine is 94% Syrah, 3% grenache, 2% roussanne and 1% viognier. Dark ruby red color with aromas of black raspberries and dark plums. This is a dense wine, yet vibrant and with good acidity combined with sweet dark fruits, spices, and pepper flavors. It’s a very juicy wine whose taste and aromas finish long. Pour a glass and toast one of the greatest blues guitar masters to ever pick up the instrument.