News / Arts & Entertainment

Blues Legend Johnny Winter Found Dead

Johnny Winter performs at the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, May 3, 2014.
Johnny Winter performs at the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, May 3, 2014.
Reuters

Johnny Winter, an American blues rock guitarist, vocalist and band leader known for his virtuoso slide-guitar solos and raspy vocals, was found dead in a hotel room outside Zurich, Swiss police said on Thursday. He was 70.

Along with his brother, Edgar Winter, also a well-known blues musician, the Texas-born Winter revered African-American blues tradition and began performing in his teens.

Johnny, distinctive because he and brother Edgar were albino, broke into national fame in 1968, when Rolling Stone magazine dubbed him the hottest musician outside Janis Joplin.

In 1969, he played the Newport Jazz Festival, where he performed with B.B. King, one of his musical idols, and at Woodstock.

He also produced albums for his idol, Muddy Waters, in the 1970s, helping to burnish the reputation of the legendary bluesman.

Among Winter's best known songs was “Still Alive and Well” -- a blues rock stomper recorded after he resurfaced from heroin addiction in the 1970s.

A new Winter album, on which Eric Clapton and Ben Harper appear as guests, is set to be released on Sept. 2. A boxed collections of his main tracks since the 1960s was released this year, complete with tributes from other performers who said he'd been a seminal influence on their careers.

In an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Winter said he enjoyed touring and working with younger musicians.

“I think about legacy a lot,” he said. “Hopefully at the end of the day they say I was a good bluesman. That's all I want.”

A prosecutor has ordered an autopsy because the cause of death is unclear.

There was no indication of third-party involvement, and  early indications pointed to a medically-related incident.

 

 

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Comment on this forum (1)
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by: Bob Moffit from: Staten Island, N.Y.
July 17, 2014 4:08 PM
Johnny Winter was my favorite performer and recording artist. I saw him over 75 times. In 2009 I was lucky enough to win a signed guitar and my wife and I got to go backstage to meet him, (at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey). I saw him perform with blues men Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry, Willie Dixon, Mighty Joe Young, Son Seals, James Cotton, Junior Wells, and Buddy Guy; (among many others).
I was able to see him at Foghat's Blues Tribute, (for the NYPL); and the John Lee Hooker Tribute at Madison Square Garden. He showed up for the Muddy Waters Tribute at Radio City Music Hall. I was also present for the first Muddy Waters tour, (James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, etc.), at the Palladium.
But most of the gigs were just Johnny and his band. He was the greatest guitar player of them all. I am still amazed by the recordings to this day. I was in awe at his shows.
I bought my first Johnny Winter album in 1973, (Still Alive and Well). I saw him for the first time in 1975, (on a bill with Leslie West and Alice Cooper at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City).
His election into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is now past due. (But they should get it done anyway.)
I will miss Johnny Winter. The world is an emptier place without him.

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