Johnny Winter, an acclaimed Texas blues singer-guitarist who helped advance the form in the late-’60s and ’70s and produced three albums for Muddy Waters, has died. He was 70. A rep for Winter confirmed to the AP that he passed away on July 16 in his hotel room in Zurich.
Born in Beaumont, Texas, Winter made his major-label debut on Columbia Records in 1969, and he played at the original Woodstock later that year. He combined blues and rock on albums like 1970′s Live Johnny Winter And, with longtime sideman Rick Derringer of the McCoys. After a struggle with heroin addiction, he returned with records such as 1973′s Still Alive and Well, which featured a song written for him by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and 1974′s John Dawson Winter III, which featured the same by John Lennon. When not performing and recording his own music, Winter went on to produce for Muddy Waters, beginning with 1977′s Grammy-winning Hard Again, which became known as the blues veteran’s comeback record.
Winter was on tour in Europe at the time of his death from as-yet-undisclosed causes and played his final show on July 12 at Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria. In February, Legacy Records released a four-disc career retrospective, True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story. A new album of classic blues covers, Step Back — featuring Eric Clapton, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, Joe Perry and Dr. John — is due in September.
Asked what he’d like his legacy to be, Winter told Lincoln, Nebraska’s Journal Star in June, “I just hope I’m remembered as a good blues musician.”