Fiery blues guitarist Johnny Winter dead at 70

07.17.14 3 years ago

Legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter, known for his fiery, speedy playing and his long-flowing white hair, died yesterday in Zurich, where he was on tour. He was 70.

Winter, the older brother of Edgar Winter, was a contemporary of Eric Clapton and was one of the first blues guitarists so embraced by rock audiences that he was able to sell out arenas during his hey-day in the ’70s. He was widely influenced by the blues guitarists who came before him, such as Muddy Waters, and he went on to inspire such guitarists as Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Born in Beaumont, Texas in 1944, Winter got his start playing in clubs as a teenager. He signed with Columbia Records in 1969 and appeared at The Woodstock Festival that year.  He performed with Janis Joplin, as well as his brother. He was inducted into The Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988.

Artists including Tom Morello, Kiss”s Paul Stanley and Zakk Wylde took to Twitter today to remember Winter. Matt Sorum noted it has been a rough week for music lovers following the deaths of Tommy Ramone and Charlie Haden, and now Winter.

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In addition to touring behind his 70th birthday, he was preparing for the release of his latest studio album, “Step Back,” which features guest appearances by Clapton, Ben Harper, Joe Perry, Dr. John and others.

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