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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Jumpin' Jack Flash - Johnny Winter

John Dawson "Johnny" Winter III (born February 23, 1944) is an American blues guitarist, singer, and producer. Best known for his late 1960s and 1970s high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues legend Muddy Waters. Since his time with Waters, Johnny Winter has recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums and continues to tour extensively. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 74th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" John Dawson "Johnny" Winter III (born February 23, 1944) is an American blues guitarist, singer, and producer. Best known for his late 1960s and 1970s high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues legend Muddy Waters. Since his time with Waters, Johnny Winter has recorded several Grammy-nominated blues albums and continues to tour extensively. In 1988, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and in 2003, he was ranked 74th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" Winter caught his biggest break in December 1968, when Mike Bloomfield, whom he met and jammed with in Chicago, invited him to sing and play a song during a Bloomfield and Al Kooper concert at the Fillmore East in New York. As it happened, representatives of Columbia Records (which had released the Top Ten Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills Super Session album) were at the concert. Winter played and sang B.B. King's "It's My Own Fault" to loud applause and, within a few days, was signed to reportedly what was then the largest advance in the history of the recording industry—$600,000. 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") blues legends 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". The album's success coincided with Imperial Records picking up The Progressive Blues Experiment for wider release. The same year, the Winter trio toured and performed at several rock festivals, including Woodstock. With brother Edgar added as a full member of the group, Winter also recorded his second album, Second Winter, in Nashville in 1969. The two-record album, which only had three recorded sides (the fourth was blank), introduced a couple more staples of Winter's concerts, including Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited". Also at this time Johnny entered into an intimate, albeit short-lived affair with Janis Joplin which culminated in a concert at New York's Madison Square Garden where Johnny joined the then reigning Queen of R&R on stage to sing and perform. In 1970, when his brother Edgar released a solo album Entrance and formed Edgar Winter's White Trash, an R&B/jazz-rock group, the original trio disbanded. Johnny Winter then formed a new band with the remnants of The McCoys—guitarist Rick Derringer, bassist Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Randy Z (who was Derringer's brother, their family name being Zehringer). Originally to be called "Johnny Winter and The McCoys", the name was shortened to "Johnny Winter And", which was also the name of their first album. The album included Derringer's "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" and signaled a more rock-oriented direction for Winter. When Johnny Winter And began to tour, Randy Z was replaced with drummer Bobby Caldwell. Their mixture of the new rock songs with Winter's blues songs was captured on the live album Live Johnny Winter And. It included a new performance "It's My Own Fault", the song which brought Winter to the attention of Columbia Records. Winter's momentum was throttled when he sank into heroin addiction during the Johnny Winter And days. After he sought treatment for and recovered from the addiction, manager Steve Paul courageously put Winter in front of the music press to discuss the addiction candidly. By 1973, he returned to the music scene with the release of Still Alive and Well, a basic blend between blues and hard rock, whose title track was written by Rick Derringer. His comeback concert at Long Island, N.Y.'s Nassau Colliseum featured the "And" line-up minus Rick Derringer. Performing on stage was also Johnny's wife Susie. The follow-up album, John Dawson Winter III featured Sweet Papa John, a highly-dubbed slow blues number written by Johnny, which also appeared in an extended version on the later issued "Captured Live." Saints & Sinners, continued the same direction; this was followed by another concert set, the aforementioned Captured Live!, which featured an extended performance of "Highway 61 Revisited". In 1975 Johnny returned to Bogalusa, Louisiana to produce an album for Thunderhead, a local band which included Pat Rush and Bobby "T" Torello, who would later play with Winter. In live performances, Winter often told the story about how, as a child, he dreamed of playing with the blues guitarist Muddy Waters. In 1977, after Waters' long-time label Chess Records went out of business, he got his chance. Winter brought Waters into the studio to record Hard Again for Blue Sky Records, a label set up by Winter's manager and distributed by Columbia. In addition to producing the album, Winter played guitar with Waters veteran James Cotton on harmonica. Winter produced two more studio albums for Waters, I'm Ready (with Big Walter Horton on harmonica) and King Bee and a best-selling live album Muddy "Mississippi" Waters – Live. The partnership produced three Grammy Awards for Waters and an additional Grammy for Winter's own Nothin' But the Blues (Johnny Winter album), with backing by members of Waters' band. Waters told Deep Blues author Robert Palmer that Winter had done remarkable work in reproducing the sound and atmosphere of Waters's vintage Chess Records recordings of the 1950s. The albums gave Waters the highest profile and greatest financial successes of his life. After his time with Blue Sky Records, Winter began recording for several labels, including Alligator, Point Blank, and Virgin, where he focused on blues-oriented material. In 2004, he received a Grammy Award nomination for his I’m a Bluesman album. Beginning in 2007, a series of live Winter albums titled the Live Bootleg Series and a live DVD have all entered the Top 10 Billboard Blues chart. In 2009, The Woodstock Experience album was released, which includes eight songs that Winter performed at the 1969 festival. In 2011, Johnny Winter released a new studio album titled Roots on Megaforce Records. It includes Winter's interpretation of eleven early blues and rock 'n' roll classics and features several guest artists (Vince Gill, Sonny Landreth, Susan Tedeschi, Edgar Winter, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks). Winter has continued to perform live, including at festivals throughout North America and Europe. He has headlined such prestigious events as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, the 2009 Sweden Rock Festival, The Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, and Rockpalast. He also performed with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theater in New York City on the 40th anniversary of their debut. In 2007 and 2010, Winter performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festivals. Two guitar instructional DVDs have been produced by Cherry Lane Music and the Hal Leonard Corporation. The Gibson Guitar Company released the signature Johnny Winter Firebird guitar in a ceremony in Nashville with Slash presenting.
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