Johnny Winter, one of the all-time giants of blues guitar, passed away back in 2014.
Now, his brother, Edgar Winter, has assembled a jaw-dropping all-star cast to pay tribute to his brother's musical legacy in the form of a tribute album, Brother Johnny.
Featuring 17 tracks hand-picked by Edgar and producer Ross Hogarth – including two new Edgar Winter originals – the album is set for an April 15 release via Quarto Valley Records.
About that all-star cast, though. For Brother Johnny, Edgar Winter recruited a simply astonishing guest list that includes Joe Bonamassa, Doyle Bramhall II, Ringo Starr, Derek Trucks, Robben Ford, Billy Gibbons, David Grissom, Joe Walsh, Phil X, Taylor Hawkins, Warren Haynes, Steve Lukather, Michael McDonald, Keb' Mo', John McFee, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Waddy Wachtel.
The album's first single – a cover of Chuck Berry's rock 'n' roll standard, Johnny B. Goode, featuring some red-hot electric guitar work from David Grissom and vocals from Winter and Joe Walsh – can be heard below.
Edgar chose Johnny B. Goode due to its significance in his and Johnny's story. As children (Johnny was 14 or 15, according to Edgar) the Winters won their first talent contest in Beaumont, Texas with a cover of the Berry classic. The prize? A chance to make their own record, an opportunity that led to the recording of the duo's first single, the Johnny-penned School Day Blues.
Edgar was first approached about making a tribute album for his brother almost immediately following Johnny's passing on July 16, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland.
“Many people immediately started trying to convince me to do a Johnny Winter tribute album," he said. "But I was totally devastated, and the timing just didn't feel right to me. It wasn’t until after I completed the Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest, a tour we were meant to do together with our respective bands, that the idea of a tribute record started to take form.”
“I had naturally expected the whole thing to be cancelled," Edgar continued. "But much to my surprise, the promoters begged me to go on with the tour as planned, asking me to headline. The first night, after playing Frankenstein, I closed the show with Johnny B. Goode, Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo, and Jumpin' Jack Flash, dedicating the end of the set to Johnny.
“I had anticipated the tour to be very emotional, perhaps sad, and possibly difficult, but playing those songs turned out to be a great source of strength and comfort to me. Everyone on the tour was so kind and supportive, getting up to jam, and it became a kind of tradition.
"There was such an overwhelming outpouring of love and respect for Johnny, I began to realize it was not just business people sensing an opportunity here; it was Johnny's true, loyal, and devoted fans and our fellow musicians, many of whom are on this record, who wanted to see this happen as well.
“After the tour, and over the following years as talk of a tribute album continued, my wife Monique, whose intuition I trust more than my own, said, 'I think you have to make this album, both for Johnny, for yourself, and for the world. You owe that acknowledgement to your older brother. If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t be where you are today. There’s no need to worry about it. If it’s meant to happen, it will.'"
For more info on the album, head on over to Edgar Winter's website (opens in new tab).