Dead, John Dawson Winter III, popularly known as Johnny Winter on the 16th of July 2014, he was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer.
Best known for his high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances in the late 1960s and 1970s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters.
Born February 23, 1944 in Beaumont, Texas, on February 23, 1944, Winter, along with his younger brother Edgar (born 1946), were nurtured at an early age by their parents in musical pursuits. Johnny and his brother, both of whom were born with albinism, began performing at an early age.
He produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues singer and guitarist Muddy Waters.
After his time with Waters, Winter recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums.
There’s a famous story about a time in 1962 when Johnny and his brother went to see B.B. King at a Beaumont club called the Raven.
The only whites in the crowd, they no doubt stood out. But Johnny already had his chops down and wanted to play with the revered B.B.”I was about 17,” Johnny remembers, “and B.B. didn’t want to let me on stage at first.
He asked me for a union card, and I had one. Also, I kept sending people over to ask him to let me play.
Finally, he decided that there enough people who wanted to hear me that, no matter if I was good or not, it would be worth it to let me on stage. He gave me his guitar and let me play.
I got a standing ovation, and he took his guitar back!” In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 63rd in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
Winter’s first Columbia album, Johnny Winter, was recorded and released in 1969.
It featured the same backing musicians with whom he had recorded The Progressive Blues Experiment, bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Uncle John Turner, plus Edgar Winter on keyboards and saxophone, and (for his “Mean Mistreater”) Willie Dixon on upright bass and Big Walter Horton on harmonica.
The album featured a few selections that became Winter signature songs, including his composition “Dallas” (an acoustic blues, on which Winter played a steel-bodied, resonator guitar), John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s “Good Morning Little School Girl”, and B.B. King’s “Be Careful with a Fool”.
Johnny joined Alligator Records in 1984. His desire to record nothing but authentic blues made for a perfect fit. When Johnny released Guitar Slinger later that year, it was widely hailed as his best (and bluesiest) album ever; it charted in both Billboard and Cashbox as well as earning a Grammy nomination.
The next year, Johnny followed up Guitar Slinger with Serious Business.
The powerhouse album won Johnny his second Grammy nomination with Alligator Records.
Third Degree, his final Alligator release, came out in 1986. The album featured several special guests and an array of blues styles.
Following a serious fall, illness and family bereavement in 2001, Winter was diagnosed with ‘radial nerve palsy’ leaving him temporarily unable to use his right hand.
He returned to the stage soon afterwards although his physical frailty was readily evident. He bounced back to record 2004’s defiant I’m A Bluesman.