Billy Gibbons, Others Remember Johnny Winter

Categories: Miles-tones

Photo courtesy of Cactus Music
Cactus Music GM Quinn Bishop (left) and Johnny Winter
Tributes are pouring in for Texas blues icon Johnny Winter, who passed away overnight Wednesday while on tour in Switzerland. The Beaumont native was found in his hotel room in Zurich, a spokesperson said. He was 70.

The albino Winter, two years older than his rock-star brother Edgar (of "Frankenstein" fame), went from Gulf Coast dives to Woodstock and some of the UK's biggest festivals of the late '60s. With a fiery, fearless technique matched by only Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton among his contemporaries, at one point he reportedly signed the biggest advance in music-business history. But he was a bluesman to the core, eventually helping his idol Muddy Waters get his career on track by producing three albums for the Mississippi legend, Hard Again, I'm Ready and King Bee. In 2011, Winter came in at No. 63 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.

One of his biggest fans was ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, who released this tribute to Winter via the band's publicist Thursday morning.

Photo by Marco Torres
Billy Gibbons at the 2012 Houston rodeo
"When I first saw Johnny perform, I was, maybe 12 or 13, and he was known as 'Johnny Cool Daddy Winter' and we've always thought of him as exactly that: 'One Cool Daddy,'" Gibbons said. "Johnny became a dear and passionate friend as well as the accomplished bluesman we have come to admire.

"It's now a moment for celebration of his brilliance frozen for all time," he added. "We've lost another of the gifted guitar greats and a truly soulful spirit."

Gibbons also discussed Winter when he was featured in Guitar World's "Dear Guitar Hero" fan-letters column in December of last year. A reader named Michael asked if Gibbons had ever "jammed" with Winter's trio, which also included drummer Uncle John Turner and future Double Trouble/Arc Angels bassist Tommy Shannon, when the two guitarists were both "young Texas bucks."

"I was fortunate enough to join the legion of Johnny Winter fans when he first launched the great Johnny Winter trio," Gibbons replied. "We were content to remain in awe and admiration without attempting to crowd the stage."

"We at Cactus were so fortunate to host Johnny for his first fan event in 50 years in celebration of his tremendous Roots album." Cactus music said in its weekly email newsletter. "JW was very gracious and signed autographs for close to a hundred fans."

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Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah topcommenter

In 7th grade I used to ride my bike to Act lll au go go and watch the Winter brothers play through the bay window facing Main St. The  go go dancers dancing in the window didn't hurt at all….

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