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Johnny Winter
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Johnny Winter

John Dawson "Johnny" Winter III (born 23 February 1944) is an American blues guitarist, singer and producer.
Johnny and Edgar Winter were nurtured at an early age by their parents in their musical pursuits. Johnny Winter is known for his southern blues and rock and roll style, as well as his physical appearance. Both he and his brother were born with albinism.
In 2003 Winter was ranked 74th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"

Career

Johnny Winter first began performing at an early age with his younger brother, Edgar Winter. Johnny's very first TV appearance was on a local childrens television show that aired in Houston and Beaumont markets called the Don Mahoney and Jeana Claire show. Don Mahoney was a blind singing cowboy/kiddie show host in the Houston area for many years and Jeana Claire was his sidekick. Johnny and Edgar appeared on Mahoney's show when they were about ten years old, playing ukelele and singing.

His recording career began at the age of 15, when their 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, TX area, and in 1967 Winter recorded with The Traits releasing a vinyl 45 under the group's name, Tramp/Parchman Farm, Universal 30496. In 1968, he released his first album on Austin's legendary Sonobeat Records, The Progressive Blues Experiment.

In 1969, he and his band performed at numerous rock festivals including Woodstock. Contrary to urban legend, however, Winter did not perform with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison on the infamous Hendrix bootleg recording "Woke up this Morning and Found Myself Dead" from New York City's Scene Club. In his own words, "...I never even met Jim Morrison! There's a whole album of Jimi and Jim and I'm supposedly on the album but I don't think I am `cause I never met Jim Morrison in my life! I'm sure I never, never played with Jim Morrison at all! I don't know how that [rumour] got started."

Winter struggled with a heroin addiction in the early part of his career. After eventually recovering from the addiction, in 1973, he returned to the music scene in classic form with Still Alive and Well, a song written by Rick Derringer saluting Winter for overcoming his addiction.

In live performances, Winter often tells the story about how, as a child, he dreamed of playing with the blues guitarist Muddy Waters. In 1977, he accomplished this goal and produced the Muddy Waters album Hard Again. In 1978, he experienced continued success with the production of Waters' I'm Ready. He followed this in 1980, by producing Muddy's final effort, the album King Bee. Their partnership produced a number of Grammy Award-winning recordings throughout, and he recorded the album Nothing but the Blues with members from Muddy Waters' band.

There are quite a few Winter albums that are considered "non-official." A majority of these albums were produced by Roy Ames, owner of Home Cooking Records/Clarity Music Publishing. According to an article from the Houston Press [4], Winter left town for the express purpose of getting away from him. Ames died on August 14, 2003 of natural causes at age 66. As Ames left no obvious heirs, the ownership rights of the Ames master recordings remains unclear.

As Winter stated in an interview when the subject of Roy Ames came up, "This guy has screwed so many people it makes me mad to even talk about him."

Current tours

In a recent interview, Winter explained his current approach to music:

"Most of the stuff I do is fairly old," he says, which befits the lifelong bluesman. But don't expect to hear "Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Koo", (even though that was one of his signature songs). On this tour, Winter says firmly, "we're not playing any rock and roll at all."

Despite experiencing several health crises in recent years, rendering him incapable of performing without being seated, Winter still tours regularly. Sitting down, he concentrates on blues numbers and eschews his rock hits.

Fans at an August 23, 2008 show in Bowling Green, Kentucky were therefore surprised when he covered not only blues songs such as Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and Ray Charles' "Blackjack", but also two popular rock and roll songs: The Rolling Stones' "It's All Over Now", and Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited".

Accomplishments and homages

Winter produced two Grammy Award-winning albums by Muddy Waters, Hard Again and I'm Ready. At least three of his own albums were also nominated for Grammy Awards.

He was one of the many acts to perform at the Woodstock Festival, playing a nine song set that featured his brother Edgar, on two of the songs.

He was on the cover of the first issue of Guitar World in 1980.

In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.

The Smashing Pumpkins paid homage to Winter by recording an instrumental song titled "Tribute to Johnny", in which they try to emulate Winter's unique sound. The song was originally intended for their 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness but was rejected and eventually turned as b-side on their "Zero" single and also was included in their box-set The Aeroplane Flies High.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


 

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