GENEVA – Texas blues icon Johnny Winter, who rose to fame in the late 1960s and ‘70s for his energetic performances and musical collaborations including with childhood hero Muddy Waters, has died. He was 70.
His representative, Carla Parisi, confirmed Thursday that Winter died in a hotel room in Zurich a day earlier. The statement said his wife, family and bandmates were all saddened by the loss of one of the world’s finest guitarists.
He had been on an extensive tour this year that brought him to Europe. His last performance came Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria.
Winter was one of the most popular live acts of the early 1970s, when his signature fast blues guitar solos attracted a wide following.
His career received a big boost early on when Rolling Stone magazine singled him out as one of the best blues guitarists on the Texas scene. This helped secure a substantial recording contract from Columbia Records and gave him a wide following among college students and young blues fans.
The magazine later named him one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
Winter, who was instantly recognizable for his long white hair, worked with some of the greatest bluesmen, producing several albums for Waters and recording with John Lee Hooker. He paid homage to Waters on “Tribute to Muddy,” a song from his 1969 release “The Progressive Blues Experiment.”
Among the blues classics that Winter played from that era were “Rollin' and Tumblin',” “Bad Luck and Trouble” and “Mississippi Blues.” He also teamed up with his brother Edgar for their 1976 live album “Together.”