We lost Johnny Winter last week. Johnny, known for his blistering fast guitar playing, burst onto the national scene as a solo act in the late 1960s. A guitar prodigy, Johnny and younger brother Edgar – both albino – had formed a band as they were growing up in Beaumont, Texas, and had a single released when Johnny was just 15 and Edgar 12 or 13. Over the years, Johnny often shared the stage or studio with his brother, but their careers were distinct. Johnny stayed faithful to blues throughout his career, with occasional forays into rock, while Edgar has been more of a rocker. Johnny’s guitar playing ability was astounding, but he also built his legacy by producing several of Muddy Waters’ late-career masterpieces, including Hard Again and King Bee.
The years and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle took their toll on Johnny. When I saw him three years ago, he needed to be helped onto the stage and performed his entire show seated, but the music was still there as he played effortlessly. Below are some memories.
Johnny in his prime:
In 1987, starting to show the years, but still in great playing shape:
This past year on Letterman, very decrepit with apparent vision issues, but the music was still there: