Legendary Texas blues guitarist, singer, and producer Johnny Winter has passed away at the age of 70.
News of Winter’s death was first reported by American Blues Scene and the guitarist’s representative, Carla Parisi confirmed Thursday that Winter passed away Wednesday in a hotel room in Zurich.
Johnny, who was the elder brother of fellow music legend Edgar Winter, was engaged in an extensive tour of Europe and last performed on Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria. Winter had been in ill health and was “frail and weak,” according to Jenda Derringer, wife of Winter’s former bandmate Rick Derringer.
It’s hard to estimate how much musical information I gleaned from Johnny Winter. What an inspiration. RIP Johnny
— Greg Koch (@Mansqwatch) July 17, 2014
Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas and exhibited a precocious musical talent from an early age. Appearing often with his brother, Winter joined his first band by 15, and was making records at the age of 18, USA Today notes.
Devastated to learn of the news that Texas Blues guitar legend Johnny Winter has passed away. One of my all time hero’s. Fly on Johnny, RIP. — Virgil McMahon (@Virgil_McMahon) July 17, 2014
Though he released over 25 albums in the course of his career, Winter never won a Grammy for his contributions to the blues, though he produced a trio of Grammy winning albums for fellow blues legend Muddy Waters in the late 70s and early 80s.
“He was the greatest slide blues guitarist that ever lived,” The Blues magazine editor Ed Mitchell proclaimed. “We’ll always have him to thank for pulling Muddy Waters out of his funk in the Seventies and helping him record some of his greatest work: ‘Hard Again’, ‘I’m Ready’ and ‘King Bee’. All essential.”
Winter had battled ill health for years and his struggles with addiction were well known. Speaking to Guitar World in 2010, Johnny openly addressed his struggles:
“I was not in the best shape for a while there. I was going through some really difficult personal issues, and I started taking prescription drugs to help with the problems on the advice of a doctor. But I ended up taking too many prescription drugs for too long. Combined with drinking, the adverse effects just got worse and worse.”
Johnny Winter’s death comes just over a year after the passing of fellow guitarist Alvin Lee. As The Inquisitr reported, Lee was scheduled to perform with Winter last April before complications from surgery took his life. Winter’s final studio album, Step Back, will be posthumously released on Sept. 2nd by Megaforce Records.
— Nick Perri (@NickPerri) July 17, 2014
Speaking to Journalstar just last month, Winter reflected on his roots, saying “When I was about 12, I knew I wanted to be a musician. The blues had so much emotion and so much feeling; if you don’t have that, you’re not going to be good at it.” When asked about what he would like his legacy to be, Johnny Winter said simply “I just hope I’m remembered as a good blues musician.”
[Image via Bing and Journalstar]