Happy 67th Birthday to music legend Johnny Winter. An incredible artist whose music continues to inspire us. Here’s one of my favorite articles originally featured two years ago with updated tour info… Make sure you add your comments at the end of the post!
Flashback Summer 1969
I recall it well… I was helping The Big F, my brother’s friend/roadie, bring in the gear from last night’s gig… My brother was in his glory admiring his latest acquisition; a red 1964 Gibson SG standard. Then the boys, as they usually did on Saturday afternoons, started to rehearse. This time they were inspired by some tunes they heard on the latest Johnny Winter album…
I hung out for a while and then decided to go to the store for some soda. So I took my bike and starting making my way down the sidewalk… I remember thinking how cool it was that I could still hear them playing Mean Mistreater halfway down the block… I got distracted by my next door neighbor, who said something I didn’t quite hear as I cycled by. I glanced back momentarily to acknowledge her, and then as I turned around, I cycled right into a tree. If that didn’t suck, I fell off my bike and broke my arm.
My neighbor ran to my house and after ringing the doorbell several times, she managed to finally get The Big F’s attention. I still remember that crazed look of concern on his face as he ran down the street telling people to get out of his way. Without hesitation, he picked me up like I was a football. And proceeded to run into the house and let everyone know what happened… Off I went to the hospital. Yes, I guess I ended the rehearsal prematurely that day… Oh well, life is hard sometimes. No wonder I love the blues so much.
Today over 40 years later, I reflect about this while recovering from my ridiculous dirt bike incident over a week ago… Reminiscing, I went downstairs into my home office/gym and found Johnny’s 1969 release… I started a mild walk on the treadmill, did some stretching and listened once again as I got swept away in one of my many reflective moments.
was born in February 23 1944. Playing clarinet at the age of 5, Winter made his first television appearance at 10 years old playing ukulele and singing on a local children’s show with his brother Edgar.
He first recorded with his band Johnny and the Jammers when he was 15 and released the single School Day Blues, which became a local hit. Winter was further inspired at the time by the live performances of classic blues artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Bobby Bland.
After a string of ventures throughout the sixties, Winter released his first album on Sonobeat Records called The Progressive Blues Experiment in 1968. On 1969′s self titled LP, Johnny Winter found himself backed by blues stars such Willie Dixon and “Big” Walter Horton on harp. As well as bass player Tommy Shannon, who would later get recognized as backing Stevie Ray Vaughan in Double Trouble.
The accomplishments and inspiration Johnny Winter has garnered is enormous. His life long dream of playing with Muddy Waters became reality in 1977 when he produced Muddy’s album Hard Again. The following year, he continued that success with Muddy’s I’m Ready, and then one final time in 1980 on King Bee. Together Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter’s partnership produced a number of Grammy Awards.
Winter performed at Woodstock, was on the cover of the first issue of Guitar World in 1980, and in 1988 was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. And if that ain’t cool enough, he even jammed with Jimi Hendrix.
“Like Bloomfield’s band and the Blues Project, Johnny Winter pulled blues classics, like ‘Mean Mistreater’ and ‘When You Got A Good Friend,’ back into the mainstream of rock music and forced rock guitarists once again to pay attention to their musical heritage and draw from it.” ~Gene Santoro
Listening to this album again sort of gave me the shivers. It certainly will go down as the soundtrack to some of my broken bones…. All kidding aside, I love this record. There are some albums that act like a time machine, and this one took me way back. It contains some of the most genuine and memorable blues that I recall then and now.
Johnny Winter On Tour
Here is a brief itinerary of his latest schedule. Times and dates are subject to change, so make sure you double check the Johnny Winter website for updated info:
03/01/13 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
03/02/13 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
03/03/13 Frederick, MD Weinberg Center For The Arts
03/05/13 Chicago, IL City Winery Chicago
03/06/13 Chicago, IL City Winery Chicago
03/07/13 Auburn Hills, MI Callahan’s Music Hall
03/08/13 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater
03/09/13 New Hope, PA New Hope Winery
03/22/13 Southbridge, MA Mill Street Brews
03/23/13 Hackettstown, NJ Centenary Stage Company
04/05/13 Fontaine, France La Source
04/06/13 Brugieres, France Le Bascala
04/07/13 Paris, France Olympia
04/09/13 Munich, Germany Muffathalle
04/10/13 Aschaffenburg, Germany Colos-Saal
04/12/13 Amsterdam, Netherlands Paradiso
04/14/13 London, United Kingdom O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
04/15/13 Bilston, United Kingdom The Robin 2
04/16/13 Gateshead, United Kingdom The Sage Gateshead
04/18/13 Bath, United Kingdom Komedia
04/19/13 Manchester, United Kingdom Royal Northern College Of Music
04/20/13 Holmfirth, United Kingdom Picturedrome
04/25/13 Zaragoza, Spain Teatro De Las Esquinas
04/26/13 Madrid, Spain Sala Arena
04/27/13 Seville, Spain Sala Custom
05/09/13 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
05/10/13 White River Junction, VT Tupelo Music Hall
05/11/13 Londonderry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
05/22/13 Kristianstad, Sweden Yllan
05/23/13 Uddevalla, Sweden Ostraboteatern
05/24/13 Mandal, Norway Mandal Bluesklubb
Appearing at “Dalane Blues Festival”
Sat 05/25/13 Egersund, Norway Egersundshallen
06/05/13 Tel Aviv, Israel Reading 3
06/21/13 Little Rock, AR Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom
Appearing at “Riverfront Blues Festival” Fort Smith
06/22/13 Fort Smith, AR Harry Kelly Park
Appearing at “Osoren Blues Festival”
06/29/13 Bergen, Norway Osoren Blues Festival Grounds
Appearing at “Hook Rock Festival”
07/05/13 Diepenbeek, Belgium Hook Rock Festival Grounds
Appearing at “Jazz A Vienne”
07/06/13 Vienne, France Theatre Antique De Vienne
Appearing at “Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival”
Sat 07/20/13 Winthrop, WA Blues Ranch
08/17/13 Gravenhurst, ON Peter’s Players
08/18/13 Gravenhurst, ON Peter’s Players
08/24/13 Alexandria, VA Birchmere
08/27/13 Porto Alegre, Brazil Teatro do Bourbon Country
08/29/13 Curitiba, Brazil Positivo
During the Course of This Blog
I’ve featured some albums that were released in 1969. Johnny Winter’s self titled release came out almost 40 years ago to the date that I am writing this. If you’re unfamiliar I strongly suggest getting a copy of this. Sony Legacy re-issued this recording with five extra bonus tracks 5 years ago. It’s a great album for any fan old or new who wants a good dose of the blues from a true music legend. Just try not to hurt yourself when you listen.
This post represents only a small portion of Winter’s work. It’s impossible to cover the rich history and his contribution to the music world in just one blog post. Perhaps you can add your comments and help fill in some of the many gaps… Is there any Johnny Winter moments that comes to mind for you? Will you be checking out any of the shows listed above?
The Blues Blogger