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Over the last two issues, I’ve devoted this column to the incredible playing of John Dawson Winter III, known to most of us as Johnny Winter.
Johnny was a blues-rock guitar legend of the highest order and is regarded worldwide as one of the genre’s greatest and most influential players ever. He was also a wonderfully warm person, and I feel very privileged to have had the chance to get to know him.
Johnny’s initial burst onto the worldwide stage occurred in 1969 with the release of his Columbia debut, Johnny Winter, and, following the release of his critically acclaimed 1971 live album, Live Johnny Winter And, the guitarist briefly retreated from the public eye to deal with heroin addiction.
He returned in 1973 with the stunning Still Alive and Well album, which opens with a positively burning rendition of the B.B. King classic, “Rock Me Baby.” Just as Jimi Hendrix had done at the Monterey Pop Festival with the same song, Johnny took “Rock Me Baby” and completely reworked it into a tour de force of ferocious blues-rock virtuosity.