Johnny Winter: Self Titled Album (1969)

Happy 71st Birthday to blues music legend Johnny Winter. We lost Winter last July, but his music will continue to be an inspiration to all his fans and blues lovers everywhere. Here’s one of my favorite articles originally featured almost six years ago for the 40th Anniversary of his Self Titled Album in 1969…  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.

Present Time

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.

Johnny Winter

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.

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 come to mind for you?

The Blues Blogger


Johnny Winter – Be Careful With A Fool 1970 by JohnDawsonWinter

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Fitzgerald
14 years ago

Good stuff man, I love Johnny Winter esp. his work with Muddy Waters.

marcel lemieux
marcel lemieux
14 years ago

Sure brought back memories…always did like his music..and he became very famous later on…how many bars did we closed with Johnny Winter music playing loud….a legend for sure…thanks for this…

Phil
Phil
14 years ago

Thanks a bunch! (sorry about the earlier partial reply- not used to that format) I saw Johnny at the Chicago Blues Festival last year. He was a little slow and someone had to help him to his chair. But when the music started his fingers were dancing circles around everyone. Great show. Great vids.

Badsanta
Badsanta
14 years ago

Great blog. I never have had the chance to see Johnny play but I’m going to go see him in August at the Mother Lode fair. I have seen Edgar once with Leon Russell and that was a great show. Can’t wait to see him live.

thoughts
14 years ago

Hi I’m Justin not everyday I come across a good article…keep up the good work.

Daniel Lehrman
14 years ago

great post

Suzanne Reed
Suzanne Reed
14 years ago

I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to Mr. Winter backstage at a Leon Russell show on Beale Street in Memphis back a few years ago. I could hear him and the band warming up, and found them all to be incredibly gracious and kind to those of us lucky to be back there that night. His performance was stellar, as was Leon’s. Truly a night I’ll never forget.

Both of the Winters are vastly underappreciated, in my opinion. From blues to jazz to out and out rock and roll, these guys deliver in a big way. I strongly encourage those unfamiliar with this amazing family to check out some of their solo works. I can’t imagine you being disappointed.

Gregorio
14 years ago

Totally glad I came across this post.This brings back so many memories of when I was a little(younger) crazed blues junkie.It sure is nice to see he is still touring.

Arnie
14 years ago

If you look at the personnel on Johnny Winter’s first album (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Winter_(album)), you’ll notice that Norman Ray played baritone sax. I now play keyboards in a 60s-70s band with Norman’s son (also “Norm”). The band is Two-Bit Eddie (http://www.twobiteddie.com/index.html).

Susan
Susan
14 years ago

I first saw Johnny Winters in a small bar in Madison Wisconsin. We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-front. It just didn’t matter — the music was so intense breathing was just not something to be concerned with.

Thanks for bringing back the memories.

Ardwlf
Ardwlf
14 years ago

Saw him at the “Golden Bear” Huntington Beach Cal. along with his brother Edgar Winters in 1968.

Thor
14 years ago

I’ve never seen or heard a guitarist like Johnny Winter at his peak. I have attended every concert I could since 1973 when King Crimson opened up for him at the Montreal Forum. A true talent. I consider myself a lifelong fan since ’68. Every guitarist I know owes a great debt to Johnny.

coolbus18
coolbus18
14 years ago

I remember this article and I like it as much today as then. I heard him in Houston, Tx because I was going to Univ. of Houston at the time. He knocked my socks off then and still does now.If I could play slide guitar at 1% of his talent I’d be as happy as a kid in a candy store.It was quite a time then. Hmmm, only 40 years, seems like yesterday. I think I’m gonna listen to J.W play some mean blues. Thanks BB.

Hermitbikerdarrell_
Hermitbikerdarrell_
14 years ago

…. fantastic memories you are reviving with this previously posted article on Johnny Winter’s birthday !! One of the first stadium concerts I went to in Oakland was Johnny Winter, a truly fantastic concert !! Long before Clapton was a blues icon, the icon was “Johnny Winter” with or without his brother Edgar !! Seemed there was some bad blood between them after Edgar switched to a synthesizer !! I remember some old interviews and I thought Johnny said Edgar “sold out” his blues origin, Edgar had this great idea with a synthesizer, make it sound like a “synthesizer” instead of another instrument…. walaaa…. “Frankenstein” was born !! 🙂 I’d say those two are about the most famous and longest living “albino brothers” in history, and they both made “history” with their music !!

The self-titled “Johnny Winter” was probably the 1st one I remember listening to in the late 60’s I thought, but he’s had so many that my mind just can’t wrap around any of the names at the moment !! I also saw Johnny in the mid-nineties at the Boulder Theatre in Boulder, Co. when I lived there !! I think it was the “Walkin’ By Myself” album tour…. he’s had so many hits up to that point, I swear he played almost all of them that night too…. a most memorable night…. a small theatre setting and he was in a great mood, talking and clowning around with the crowd !!

Well, that’s the way I remember that night at the Boulder Theatre !! I hope the day never comes that he leaves us with “just the memories” !! That will be a very sad day in my life !!

Thanks again Blues Blogger for getting my “old memories” flowing again with this re-posted Johnny Winter special…. Happy Birthday Johnny and many more besides !!

Duane
Duane
13 years ago

Finally, after 40 years or so, I have my tickets already for a hot August Georgia Blues Fest in the North Georgia Mountains near Dahlonega. I am excited to finally catch up with this legendary blues guitarist for the first time.

Andy Stocks Guitar School

Great post, really informative. You can hear his style bleed into so many younger players. I’m a little gutted that he is only playing Southampton and Cardiff in the UK. He must think it’s too cold up north!

Alan Eisenberg
Alan Eisenberg
13 years ago

Hi BB!

Just a note to let you know that you are good for musicians , living and passed, because when you about your memories it makes me go and buy cd’s of music from my past which is still a big part of my music now. TYVM.

Blue Strings
Blue Strings
13 years ago

I’m fortunate enough to live in Houston, so I’ll be catching JW’s show on the 18th. I’m trying to swing a day trip up to Linden as well.

cathompson
cathompson
13 years ago

Saw and heard Johnny tour behind this album at the Guthrie in Mpls. Just wonderful. As a former bassist, Tommy Shannon’s longevity, from 69 with Johnny thru the years with Stevie Ray Vaughn never cease to amaze me as well.

Srdjan Ostric
13 years ago

I really appreciate Johnny Winter for the work he did with Muddy Waters in the late 70’s. They released 3 albums on I think the Big Sky label. As I understand it, that project allowed him (Muddy) to actually make some money in his later years, which he had not made earlier because of contact swindels and the like which were so common among black and also white musicians of those days. I think Johnny is one of those great guitarists who lives for the music and the ideal of what the blues is, and really keeps it a sacred place. A lot of people just want to bash that formula over again, that is the bluesrock of Jimi, Clapton, and many others who have done ti well, to get some commercial succes, and it has turned out some real duds. That what I like about Johnny a lot–he has always been a real disciple of the blues as I see it– in addition to his really kick ass guitar playing.

Hermitbiker
Hermitbiker
13 years ago

PS. …. been a year already, wow…. saw my previous comment… I can’t build on that one…. but I had forgotten to say I had also seen him at the Oakland outdoors with about 90,000 other people in the 1970’s !!

pennyplayersclub
12 years ago

Thank you very much for all these fantastic resources.

Claudia Carpio
12 years ago

I appreciate you sharing this blog article.Thanks Again. Cool.