Johnny Winter Remembered

Author: Dale Nickey

Johnny Winter, was 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 was a shock would be lying. He had been playing seated for several years prior to his death.


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 great that Stevie Ray Vaughn gained admittance The R&R HOF. However, Johnny Winter should have gone in first. How many Texas blues rockers has he blazed the trail for?  ZZ Top,  StevieThe 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.


11 responses to “Johnny Winter Remembered”

    • Wicked! Sounds like it’s the tune he played when he made a surprise appearance at Janis Joplin’ Madison Square Gardens concert in 1969… “I Just Had to Get Out of Texas, Baby”. Most memorable jam I ever heard!

  1. I was fortunate to have a brother about 7 years older who introduced me to Johnny before I was a teenager. Agreed he’s one of the blues greats-love the voice and the guitar playing is almost always amazing. Was happy to see he re-started his career with Alligator records, some nice work on that label. Thanks for the video!

  2. The first album by Jonnhy 10 1970 ‘i think) contained “Be careful..” ; Then I Had 2 anothers around 85, and “Winter of 88” : all are excellent and Johnny’s style in guitar meet the virtuosity and “speed” feeiling, with the TRUE emotional Blues feeling : Texas rock could be that ?… I don’t enter with this nationwide history, I am not american !… So, I could see BB Kong rock, and Clapton Blues… and Rory Gallagher rock and blues, and irish potion potter filler (excuse my english literature !:)

  3. Was lucky enough to open for Johnny with the band I played in “Roost” in Scotland in 2007 – at The Ferry in Glasgow – Brilliant and his band were pretty amazing also

    • Ah,whatever happened to Roost. You still playing Bill? We’re on at the Ferry Easter Sunday (31st March -Used Blues).One of the perks of the gig is knowing who’s been up there before you – Bonamassa,Southside Johnny,Walter Trout,Robin Trower etc

  4. Not familiar with the person or politics you refer to but heartily agree with anything that will recognise the debt owed to Johnny Winter.Had the good fortune to see the man live at BB Kings in new York last October.The years have taken their toll on the man but jeez he can still play.Your damn right! Let the man know the respect he commands while he’s still around,they’ll be plenty happy to claim him as the greatest when he’s gone ,but let’s hope thats a long time comin’.

  5. I was lucky enough to see Johnny play the Palace Theatre in Manchester UK in 1967 when i was 15 years old possibly the same visit as this video. Already a blues veteran having seen Sonny Terry and Brownie Mcghee a year earlier, I was blown away by this Texas Titan, a powerhouse in pure white.
    You are correct Dale when you say his passing is no surprise when you consider his long term health issues, it was a blessing he lasted so long.
    The second time i saw him was 4 years ago at the Lowry Theatre. So glad that i did. He was frail, hunched and needed his guitar bringing to him once he was seated, but when he fired up the engine all the raw power was still there and once again I felt privileged to be there.
    Thanks for the video post, it brought the memories flooding back. It was obviously a European venue from frame one and the first shot of the audience confirmed it – Keith Relf of the Yardbirds, lapping it up.
    Those two gigs back when i was a kid (the chalk and cheese of the blues) helped plan the musical journey through my life. To this day I play, promote, and write about the blues.
    RIP Johnny Winter we will miss your life force.

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