Johnny Winter was hands-down one of the greatest slide guitar players of all time. Period. Not only was he great, but he was cool, too. I know this because I personally met him, and it was easily one of the defining moments of my life. It was only a few months ago, actually. So when I heard the news of his passing, I was extremely shocked and saddened.
Johnny was in poor health, it was really obvious to see, but that didn’t stop him. He toured relentlessly and kept putting out albums, even beyond his death. His newest album “Step Back”, will be released in September and contains guests such as Eric Clapton, Dr. John and Derek Trucks to name just a few. Beyond that, this year he already put out a new record called “Roots” which featured Johnny performing his favorite blues covers, as well as a 4 disk box set.
Johnny did it all. The guy played Woodstock. He jammed with Jimi Hendrix. He revived the career of the great Muddy Waters, who called Johnny his son. He made tons of cool records with great musicians like his brother Edgar, Rick Derringer and many more. Album by album, song by song, Johnny poured his heart and soul into every lick, every note, every phrase. He was as real as it gets.
The world will never know another soul like Mr. Winter. He was one of a kind. A sweet guy who just loved playing the blues, and play them he did. He lived them. He made blues cool, merging it with many sounds and even influencing styles like heavy metal and hard rock. There is a grit you get with a Johnny Winter record that won’t be found anywhere else. I am lucky enough to have seen him play twice, front row both times. He was the meaning of the blues.
RIP Johnny – see you on the other side.