Johnny Winter died this past week. I admit that I'm a little too young to remember when he and his brother, Edgar, first hit the music scene.
However, I'm happy to report that I was turned on to Johnny at a Blues, Brews and Barbecue concert at the now defunct Riverside Park in Agawam, Ma. I've tried to find pictures or the logo of it, but apparently, there are a lot of BBB festivals around the country. I can't even remember exactly what year it was...but maybe around 1999?
Anyway, the first time I attended, the show was all day both Saturday and Sunday. On the first day, I was mesmerized by Susan Tedeschi (click to hear her version of "Angel From Montgomery and listen yourself), and her sweaty, gritty guitar playing and her better than Joplin herself voice. I think I have a good ear...she's married to Derek Trucks now and if you haven't heard any of their work together, you should check it out.
Later that day, Johnny Winter, introduced as "Johnny Guitar", came out to play. It was something I will never forget. Yes, he was getting old. Yes, someone guided him out to play and he was sitting down. But none of that took away from his fabulous, bluesy performance and forever after I was a fan. (Later that night, I was treated to my first and only performance by KoKo Taylor and I loved that too. (Click HERE to hear Koko's "I'm A Woman".)
Click picture to hear Johnny play "Johnny Guitar". It's not the best sound quality, but it will give you an idea of how well this skinny albino man could play.
The second day of this show I saw my first performance of Buddy Guy. That's a whole 'nother story.
Anyway, Guitar Johnny died this week and I'm sad about it. He was from a school of musicians that performed the blues whenever and wherever they could. Not only because a lot of them were screwed on record contracts and were broke, but also because they loved to play. Everything about them screamed "I love to play!", and because of this, I loved to watch and listen to them. I still do. I will go to see Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Quinn Sullivan or anyone else I can while I can, because their love of life and song is contagious. (Click each name to check 'em out.) Maybe with this post, I have convinced someone else to catch a live show sometime soon. You won't regret it.
Long live the blues!