Sad news to report this morning: Multiple sources are reporting that legendary Texas blues guitarist Johnny Winter passed away yesterday in Zurich, Switzerland. The news was broken by Jenda Derringer, wife of former Winter band mate Rick Derringer, via her Facebook account.
Winter was born John Dawson Winter III in Beaumont, Texas on February 23, 1944. Both he and his brother Edgar Winter, who would also go on to rock-stardom, suffered from albinism. Winter started playing guitar at a very young age and was recording by the time he was 15. In December of 1968, the guitarist gained widespread fame after friend Mike Bloomfield invited him to jam onstage at the Fillmore East. Johnny brought down the house and, as a result, Columbia Records signed him to what was at the time the largest advance ever paid to an artist ($600,000).
Winter would go on to establish himself as an ambassador of the blues and achieve the highest levels of acclaim as a guitarist. He was ranked 63rd on Rolling Stones “100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time” list. Johnny also produced several other blues artists, including three grammy winning albums for Muddy Waters.
Winters was set to release his 19th album, Step Back, on September 2, 2014 on Megaforce Records. The record features appearances from a ‘who’s who’ of the blues including Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry, Dr. John, Leslie West, Brian Setzer, and Joe Bonnamassa.
No details of his passing are available as yet, but Jenda Derringer noted on Facebook, “…he was not in good health and was very frail and weak.”
And so we say goodbye to another one of the pioneers of guitar driven blues-rock. R.I.P. Mr Winter and thanks for giving us all those wonderful blues!
RIP Johnny Winter
February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014
[Sources: Jenda Derringer via Blabbermouth | Wikipedia]