Author: Dale Nickey
Johnny Winter, a storm force gail that issued forth from Texas just in the nick of time to bring hard electric blues to the tie dyed Woodstock Nation. He had androgyny, an endless well of virtuosity and blind blues mystique. He was the whole package. To say his passing is a shock would be lying. He had been playing seated for several years. His health has always been in a precarious state.
Imagine the talent agent that first caught wind of Johnny Winter. “Wait, you’re tellin’ me that you got a snow white Texas albino who sings and plays the blues like a mother#$%*%#! and his name is WINTER?……Huh, what?!! Are you shitting me? He’s got a TWIN??!!”
Its unfair that Stevie Ray Vaughn is on the outside of The HOF looking in. However, Johnny Winter has to go in first. How many Texas blues rockers has he blazed the trail for? ZZ Top, Stevie, The Fabulous Thunderbirds to name a few. He’s one of the few blues players who displayed staggering virtuosity without compromising the blues ethos. Substance abuse and bad management blunted his hopes of a commercial crossover. He refused to sign a release allowing his Woodstock performance to be included in the film. And, rumors persist that he shrugged off an offer to replace Duane Allman in the Allman Brothers. No, matter. He was a trailblazer and a hell-raiser. He produced three Grammy winning albums for Muddy Waters when the blues giant was kicked to the curb after Chess Records closed. Now he’s gone, found dead in a hotel room in Zurich. He leaves a void in the universe and a void in The Hall.