His career was just beginning to flourish again when Johnny Winter passed away suddenly on July 16th from natural causes. He was 70 years old. The legendary blues and rock guitarist, producer, and three-time Grammy winner was a huge inspiration to the staff at The Music Zoo; if anybody could shred with a slide, it was Johnny Winter.
Sure, he was a dedicated bluesman, but in a modern way; Winter took the blues are revamped it with hard, driving rock and roll on which he sang—like a bluesman—and wielded a slide like it was nobody’s business. Indeed, Johnny Winter’s slide guitar work was masterful and it dominated nearly every aspect of his musical personality. And while he played electric guitar primarily, almost always using a trusty 1964 Gibson Firebird, he was also drawn to tradition. Winter was a fine acoustic bluesman, something evident when he played a steel-bodied National resonator guitar. Listening to his first two recordings for Columbia Records, 1969’s Johnny Winter and Second Winter (released later the same year) revealed his diversity and they included guest shots from blues legends such as Willie Dixon and Big Walter Horton.
Ultimately, his was a style that ran fiery and hot, with a brashness and confidence that took the blues and rock and roll world by storm. Although he was a bona-fide rock star during the ‘70s, Johnny Winter played electric blues guitar, which would never be the same after his debut. None other than Muddy Waters recognized this, electing to record three Grammy-winning albums with Winter playing guitar and producing. We at the Music Zoo salute the man, his musical greatness, and his legacy.