|Photo of Inside Cover of the Johnny Winter Stpry
|Raised on Rock: cover
Complete Liner Notes:
"I started by playing clarinet, but the stomatologist told me I was likely to get buck-teeth so I stopped. I found a ukulele and Dad taught me a few chards. I had a little rabbit that I loved, and when it died my Grandfather felt so sorry for me that he bought me a baritone ukulele. I played that for a couple of years along with my brother and Dad taught us simple things like "Ain't She Sweet" and "Bye Bye Blackbird". I didn't want to play guitar because my hands were too small, and those fingering positions were so strange... However, one day Dad said to me 'The only two big ukulele guys I can think of are Ukulele Ike and Arthur Godfrey. You're not really made to play ukulele - You ought to try guitar!". And then when rock and roll started to break, and there weren't many ukulele players in rock and roll that I really liked, I thought to myself: "OK, I'll try guitar!!!".
In general, musicians run down Texan music; country & western invaded the sixties and seventies. With little rock and roll around, it was always very difficult for artists to break and only those with a kind of following-cult succeeded in escaping from the ghetto; the rest remained in the back ground. Among the most important can be mentionned: Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison (Lubbock), Dale Hawkins (Tyler), Doug Sahm (San Antonio), Janis Joplin (Port Arthur), Johnny Ace, Dobie Gray and ZZ Top (Houston), Boz Scaggs (Plano), Steve Miller and Kenny & The Casuals (Dallas), 13th Floor Elevators, Ray Campi and the albinos brothers Edgar & Johnny Winter (Austin).
Johnny (2.23.44) and his younger brother Edgar (12.28.46) were brought up in Beaumont, near Austin, in a family devoted to music. Their father played saxophone and banjo and had sung in church choirs since childhood, and their mother played piano at family gatherings. The boys learnt to play several instruments, and formed their first group while still in their teens, which they called "It and Them" and which became on the eve of the sixties: "Johnny Winter & The Black Plague". Meanwhile, in order to earn some extra cash, Johnny did odd jobs, such as garbage-collecting, and in this way was able to get together a huge record collection. On the back cover of records such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, he found forgotten names like Robert Johnson, Blind Leman Jefferson and Leadbelly, and hence discovered the Mississippi Delta Blues. He became friends with Clarence Garlow, DJ of a black radio station in Beaumont, and gradually became familiar with rural blues and cajun music. Clarence taught him a few things, especially new fingering positions. Johnny never took lessons, but attentively watched all the many different guitarists he was able to meet. He was full of admiration for Chet Atkins, but was more into blues than anything else. Gifted with an amazingly good memory, Johnny worked hard at playing note-for¬note all the blues records he could get hold of. "I tried to get the feeling of what I listened to, took what I liked from it and assimilated; and I guess in the end what came out was half copied and half me". Until the age of fifteen he studied guitar from six to eight hours a day. Around this time, the brothers' musical tastes took different direc¬tions. Edgar got more into the jazz of John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck and somewhat let drop the blues: That's not music !It's awful Johnny! The guitar is out of tune, there's no melody and the musicians arn't even all together..." Johnny: "Yeah, but it make me feel so good!". Edgar: "It just makes me feel sick!".
"I was really unique ! Everybody thought I was crazy. Nobody wanted to hear that stuff. I was almost embarrassed to play it. I used to shut my door! I didn't find another blues fan until I was about 23.or 24". After school, Johnny entered Lamar technical college and specialized in a commercial branch. But nearly every week-end he hitch-hiked
to Louisiana to play in small night-clubs. Six months later,.. he gave up his studies and devoted himself to Music. In the early sixties he moved to Chicago in order to meet authentic bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, and managed to survive thanks to the odd bookings and spare jams; in 62 he played more regularly with Mike Bloomfield and Barry Goldberg. Feeling home-sick, he soon missed Texas and returned there for six years touring in bars with different local bands.
One night, late '62, he went to see B.B. King, who was playing in a club called The Raven. Edgar and himself were the only white guys among 1,500 fans of the great bluesman; anxious to play with him, Johnny drank more and more and some of his black friends urged him to go up on the stage. So he asked the King if he could, and he replied cautiously: "Can I see a Union Card?". Johnny whiped it out and B.B. King, most surprised said: "Well, I don't know, you don't know our songs". "Man, I know your songs. I know all your songs". "'Let me think it over'". And suddenly three hundred black people started yelling: "B.B.! Let him play with you!". So the King agreed and Johnny Winter made the audience "flip out". "The people there knew that I was really sincere, really possessed by the blues. I was maybe the first white guy at that time to play the blues with black musicians. I wanted to be friends with them, and loved their music. BH.B. congratulated me and told me I would be successful someday. I met him again years later, and he remembered me immediately. He always said all kinds of great things about me in all of his inter-views. He really helped me a lot - He's a great person".
In '68 Johnny Winter was a local star, but the general public was unaware of his living existence. That year, however, Larry Sepuvaldo wrote in a Rolling Stone issue: "... a hundred-and-thirty-pound crosseyed albino with long fleecy hair, playing some of the gutsiest fluid blues guitar you have ever heard
The lines led Steve Paul, the owner of the club Scene in New York to fly to Houston. There he watched the new prodigy and hired him for his club. Winter became more and more successful there. Meanwhile, he played later some sessions for labels such as Buddah and Janus which later released LP's, when J.W. had reached the top. One of these labels, Sonobeat, directed by Bill Josey & Rim Kelley, released in '68 an interesting album recorded in Austin and distri¬buted in through Liberty; entitled "Progressive Blues Experiment", this album was re-released in '73 with a new sleeve ("Austin, Texas"), and includes some blues classics as well as originals, pieces written by Winter and played by his own band, Tammy Shannon on bass and John Turner on drums. The same band played at the Fillmore East towards the end of december '68, welcomed on stage by Mike Bloom-field, and Winter signed a recording contract with Columbia at the very beginning of the following year. From the first album, entitled "Johnny Winter", recorded in Nashville with Shannon & Turner plus Willie Dixon & Edgar Winter, we have included here "Mean Mistreater" and "Good Morning Little School Girl", these two titles being representative of an album of pure and rough blues. "'Second Winter", released in january '70, has the particularity of having three sides pressed instead of four, and wrapped in a splendid sleeve; too many songs for a single LP, not enough for a double, as explained frankly by Winter in the sleeve notes. Same band plus little brother on keyboards and alto sax. Percy Mayfield's "Memory Pain" dominates the record in which Little Richard and Chuck Berry's rock & roll rubs shoulders with Winter blues songs and a surprising version of Dylan's "Highway 61". Soon after this album, he fired his sidemen and hired three ex-McCoys (of "Hang On Sloopy" fame): Rick Derringer (guitar & vocals), Randy Hobbs (bass guitar) and Randy Z (drums). His repertoire became more varied, and at last he ventured into rock & roll for the best of his first three albums 'Johnny Winter And" released in october '70. Among other titles on this LP: a nice version of Winwood. Capaldi's "No Time To Live", and a Derringer song which was to become his own "mark of recognition": "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo", included here. Thanks to harassing tours his band presented a very attractive show on the eve of the seventies. Johnny, completely exhausted, settled down in '71 near Woodstock, and rather faded away in the eyes of the public for a couple of years due to "health problems". In april of that same year, Columbia released an LP recorded live ("Johnny Winter And - Live") which rapidly became a '71 best-seller, just like the single "Jumpin' Jack Flash". And from the rock & roll medley, we have choosen Berry's "'Johnny B. Goode", a far more better version than the one on "Second Winter'.
In 72, as a nostalgic white bearded man, he went back on stage during a gig of his brother's group " White Trash` (meanwhile Edgar had hired Derringer and Hobbs!, for a rendition of Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo' which won everlasting fame on the double live LP 'Roadwork" (on Epic records). About that time, Winter forsook the Fender Stratocaster in favour of three of the four brand new Gibson Firebird models from which he removed the tremolo and changed the tailpiece.
His playing power increased a great deal, especially in very high tempo songs. For the slower ones, he used his famous National Steel guitar and became more and more involved with slide guitar. At the beginning of '73, he emerged from his retirement . heartened by his friends, Derringer, Marshall Chess, Jagger & Richard who gave him one of their unreleased songs, `Silver Train' Derringer plays here a beautiful slide chorus) and above all by Clive Davis, the Columbia records boss of that era, who sent him back to the studios, helped by Bill Szymczyk, for the recording of the come-back album 'Still Alive And Well (a Derringer song written for him unveiled in 'Roadwork Johnny seemed to have rediscovered in himself a wild energy ("Rock & Roll , 'Let It Bleed"), backed up by the best band he could manage to get together at that time. This LP became his most successful best seller and climbed up almost to the top of the charts.
For Saints & Sinners', recorded with a small band, he only wrote two pieces, the remainder being various new versions of pieces by artists ranging from Allen Toussaint to the Stones passing by Van Morrison, Chuck Berry and Leiber & Stoller. From that record, "'Blinded By Love' and ""Bad Luck Situation" are included here. Towards the end of that same year '74, he gathered together his friends and brother for a much more sophisticated 'John Davison Winter III'. John Lennon offered him 'Rock & Roll People Rick Derringer "Roll With Me" and Allen Toussaint, the famous New Orleans producer, `Mind Over Matter'. Winter also introduced his own nice and simple blues, °Sweet Papa John", of which there exists a longer version in "Captured Live".
During '75 & 76, he did a small tour with his brother Edgar, Derringer, Hobbs, Hughes, Dan Hartman, Floyd Radford and Chuck Ruff (respective bands of both brothers), and 'Together - Live (' Mercy Mercy") was released in '76.
The following year he radically changed his image and his musical style. He returned to his origins, real Blues', and played a great part in Muddy Waters renewed interest in blues by participating in the Blue Sky LP's of this great blueman. His stage show became calmer; he ceased to jump around from one side of the stage to the other, while playing rough guitar riffs. Now he remains seated, close to the mike and applies himself much more. For recordings, he uses the notorious all metallic self-made John Velano guitar with the thin silver neck. He has changed his sidemen once again, and transformed his band in early '79.
Far from being ignored by his old rock fans, he has succeeded in keeping a wide audience, and remains today a leading figure for the blues fans who always speak of him.as a living legend.
These four sides are just a glimpse look at a very prolific recording career. They cannot be seen as a definitive "greatest hits", but much more as a "'critic's choice", a very subjective "best of".
"Divin' Duck" & 'Last Night"' are included in "Nothing But The Blues" LP.
Compilation and liner notes: jean-noel ogouz
- a.1 Good Morning Little School Girl
- a.2 Mean Mistreater
- a.3 Memory Pain
- a.4 Rock'n'Roll Hoochie Koo
- a.5 Jumpin' Jack Flash
- a.6 Johnny B. Goode
- b.1 Rock'n'Roll
- b.2 Silver Train
- b.3 Still Alive and Well
- b.4 Let it Bleed
- b.5 Bad Luck Situation
- c.1 Rock'n'Roll People
- c.2 Raised On Rock
- c.3 Mind Over Matter
- c.4 Sweet Papa John
- c.5 Roll With Me
- c.6 Mercy, Mercy
- d.1 Everybody's blues
- d.2 Good Morning Little School Girl (Muddy's)
- d.3 Divin' Duck
- d.4 Last Night
- d.5 It's All Over Now