The Johnny Winter Story

Johnny Winter Hightlights in 2006

Johnny Winter during 2006

This page covers Johnny Winter performances, concerts and tours during the year 2006 , quickly jump to the year: 2000 , 2001 , 2002 , 2003 , 2004 , 2005 , 2006 , 2007 , 2008 , 2009 , 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013  


Highlights of Johnny Winter in 2006 include:

Johnny Winter inducted into the Fargo-Moorhead Convention Bureau's "Celebrity Walk of Fame" in Fargo, North Dakota. Hand and foot prints of celebrities from movies, music, politics and literature like Neil Diamond, The Moody Blues, Trisha Yearwood, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and George W. Bush are displayed in cement outside the Visitors famous walk way.

Johnny signs endorsement deal w/Seymour Duncan pickups!

Johnny Winter Story at:

Johnny reunites with former band members Uncle John Turner (drums) and Tommy Shannon (bass SRV) during the song "Johnny Guitar" at La Zona Rosa's in Austin, TX. The three had not performed together since 1986!!!

Johnny tapes interview for the Woodstock Museum as part of their video display in up state NY.

Johnny Winter also part of an interview for the Library of congress as part of their blue education history department.

Johnny finishes BBC blues documentary on Muddy Waters.

15 April 2006

Reunish Rite Theater in West Reading, PA. This is a historic first with many more such shows scheduled for the futureion show with Johnny, brother Edgar and Rick Derringer scheduled for15 April 2006 at the Scott.

Still Alive and Well
By Dave Rubin | May 2006

“It was just another festival,” Johnny Winter deadpans when queried about his appearance at Woodstock—which is like saying the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show of February 9, 1964 was just another Sunday night. Or that Winter’s The Progressive Blues Experiment—the 1969 release that showcased ferocious chops and speed beyond anything even Clapton was putting down, and that also points the way right up to Stevie Ray Vaughan—was just another blues album.
In the ’70s, Winter’s technique, phrasing, and passionate melding of blues and rock made him a bona fide guitar hero, as well as one of the era’s top arena draws. His fresh, ballsy production of Muddy Waters in the late ’70s exposed the legendary bluesman to a whole new audience. (“The high point of my career was working with Muddy,” says Winter. “Those records were done real quick—mostly in one take.”) During the ’80s, Winter uncorked three very strong Alligator Records releases.

But something went terribly wrong from the ’90s to the 2004 release of his I’m A Bluesman. The late Teddy Slatus—who died in 2005—managed Winter, and allegedly exploited the guitarist’s substance abuse to keep him in a perpetual haze while practically bankrupting his finances and health. Eventually, everything went south, as the gigs and Winter’s health fell into a sharp decline.
But now, the most powerful blues and rock guitarist of his generation is making a comeback with a new man, guitarist Paul Nelson, guiding his career. Nowhere near ready to hang up his guitar, Winter has reconciled with his brother Edgar after a long period of estrangement, has an exciting new album in the works, will soon be honored with a signature Gibson Firebird and a signature Dunlop slide, and, to quote a classic rock tune, is “getting stronger every day.” With Nelson at his side, Winter invited GP to his home for an exclusive sit down to discuss his never-ending journey through the blues.

Who was one of your earliest musical influences as you were growing up in Beaumont, Texas?

Winter: Clarence Garlow. He was a deejay as well as a guitarist, and he played a lot of his own records [laughs]. His style was similar to T-Bone Walker. I first met him when I was about 12 years old. He was one of the first guitar players to use light-gauge strings, and he taught me how to use an unwound 3rd.
Nelson: Garlow was a gutsier T-Bone—less jazzy and more raw.

Who inspired you the most to play?
Winter: Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. I learned to play with my thumb and fingers, because I knew that was what they did. Robert Johnson was the one who turned me on to slide, and then I worked my way back to Son House. I use open D tuning for slide, and I also tune down to D in standard, because it feels better to me.

In the early days, did you find other people like yourself who were into blues?
Winter: No. I was on my own. I was playing mostly soul music, but I put blues licks in everything. The blues thing didn’t really happen until I started playing with Tommy Shannon and Uncle John Turner. Turner knew I was a good blues player, and he wanted me to do it because of the British stuff that was making it.

Were you aware of the young white blues fans in Chicago centered around Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield in the ’60s?
Winter: Yeah. I met Mike in 1963 at a club he had in Chicago called The Fickle Pickle. My first bass player, Dennis Grugin—his daddy taught me some guitar—was playing in a band in Chicago, and they needed a guitar player, so I came up and played with them for several months. I’ve always loved Chicago blues. It’s the Mississippi blues electrified—rawer, with more slide work and the harmonica.
Bloomfield was clearly influenced by B.B. King, but you seem to have assimilated your influences into a style that owes a debt to no one.
Winter: I just listened to everybody, and I incorporated what they did into my own style. It wasn’t a conscious thing. It just happened.
Nelson: Johnny is such a sponge, and he listened “outside of the box.” He traced the blues from Texas to Mississippi to Chicago, and he came up with riffs that no one else was playing, because they were just listening to the big guys from their area in Texas. He also knows the fretboard so well that all he has to do is hear something, and he can visualize it on the neck.

What made you decide to start playing more rock in the 1970s?
Winter: My manager, Steve Paul [son of Les Paul], thought that the big blues revival of the ’60s had overdosed people on the music, and he convinced me to do more rock and roll. I still wanted to stay true to my blues roots, but, looking back, music was changing then, and that was the direction to go in. I did some good stuff in that period, but I wouldn’t do it again.

You and Rick Derringer played well together at that time.

Winter : We did work well together! I don’t like working with two guitars much. That was Steve Paul’s idea, too. But the live album I did with Rick in 1971—Johnny
Winter And—was my biggest-selling album, and my only gold record.

Paul, what have you picked up from playing with Johnny?
Nelson: The beauty of hanging out with him is that I get to pick his brain. When Johnny told me that everyone in his day learned the Eddie Taylor rhythms, I knew what I had to do to make him more comfortable. In fact, one of the most important things I learned was how Taylor played boogie patterns in E, using open chords for the I and IV at fret 2, then playing the V chord at fret 4 with the same fingering as the IV, but leaving the A string open instead of barring at fret 2 to access the B root.
Johnny also told me that if a guitarist was any kind of a player, they had to learn Clarence Gatemouth Brown’s “Okie Dokie Stomp,” just like every cool guitarist had to be able to play Van Halen’s “Eruption” in the late ’70s and beyond. There is actually more of Gatemouth than T-Bone in Johnny’s playing.

Johnny is a great rhythm player.
Nelson: Oh, yes. He said he always listened to the guitar players on Bobby “Blue” Bland records for fills and chords. Johnny knows a multitude of turnarounds. Some players break up the 12-bar blues into
sections where they treat bars 1 through 10 as an open, free jam, and when they get to bars 11 and 12, they throw on a turnaround. To Johnny, it’s almost as if the whole 12 bar is a giant turnaround. He has riffs that are structured to fit the whole progression. It’s like a whole song within itself that connects all the way through. A lot of that comes from Lightnin’ Hopkins—who Johnny appreciated for his gutsy feel—where he does a turnaround right off the bat from the I chord going into the IV chord.
But as good a rhythm player as Johnny is, it’s hard to ignore his amazing speed as a soloist. There’s an interview with B.B. King, and one of the questions they ask him is, “What do you like about Johnny Winter’s playing?” B.B. responds, “He just plays the blues so fast!” Johnny gets that speed from his thumbpick, because it’s located at the crease of the first thumb knuckle—it’s the equivalent of a fusion player’s pick placement. So when he condenses his picking for a rapid-fire bunch of licks, he’s almost making a fist. And, because of the thumbpick, there’s more up picking involved than down picking, which tends to put the accent on the off beats. That’s what makes it swing.

Johnny, what are the main pieces of gear you’re currently using?
Winter: I’m still playing my Erlewine Lazer loaded with DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan pickups, and I also have my ’63 Gibson Firebird V. My amp is a Music Man HD-130 through a 4x10 cabinet with vintage Celestion G10 speakers. I’ve got a MXR Phase 90, a Boss C-E2 chorus, and an Ibanez Tube Screamer, and I use D’Addario XL strings, gauged .010-.046, and Gibson thumbpicks.

I’ve always been amazed at how bright and biting Johnny’s tone is.
Nelson: On his Music Man, he sets the Volume, Master Volume, and Treble at 10, and the Bass and Midrange at 0. He never uses reverb. Now that thing is loud, and he controls it all from his guitar. He can get the same tone out of a Fender Twin using the same settings, but the 10" Celestions in the Music Man cabinet break up a little better, and they cover more air. He changes his speakers around every six months, and he has the amps overhauled once a year.

Is there any early information available on Johnny’s new album?
Nelson: The tentative title of the album is Roots, and the premise is to pay tribute to the traditional songs Johnny listened to as he was growing up. Bob Cutarella—who co-produced the recent Les Paul & Friends album—is currently assembling guest artists for the project. Right now, we’re expecting Billy Gibbons, Dr. John, and Johnny’s brother Edgar.

Johnny’s career has been a little shaky the past few years, so I’m happy to see that things seem to be getting better.
Nelson: He’s 61—exactly the same age as Muddy was when they relaunched his career in the ’70s. We always joke around when I say to him, “You’re having a comeback, aren’t you?” And he says, “Yeah, but I never went anywhere.”

May 2006 Guitar Player

Johnny Winter Mags in 2006 Johnny Winter in 2006 Still Alive and Well Guitar Player Magazine May 2006
Johnny Winter in 2006 Still Alive and Well Guitar Player Magazine May 2006


Monday, 1 May 2006 - Bluesman Brings Crowd Its Feet

Bluesman Brings Crowd Its Feet
Sue White
Saginaw News

The crowd parted Saturday at Frankenmuth's Black Forest Brew Haus and Grill, making way for a legend to pass.

Johnny Winter was in the house, a whisper of a man, led to a chair on stage and handed his signature guitar. His manager said the growl was back, that Winter was playing some of the best music of his career -- and considering what came before, that was promising a lot.

Could this frail Texas bluesman deliver?

You had to hear it to believe it.

True, it was drummer Wayne June who did most of the growling Saturday. But when it came to the guitar, well, Winter had the standing-room-only audience held speechless.

His hands deftly coaxed out the blues, his guitar lacing the classic sound with electric rock. He turned his vocals loose on a cover of Ray Charles' "Blackjack" and paid tribute to others who inspired him with a style that explains why Muddy Waters once called him "my adopted son."

With Scott Spray on bass, Winter offered new works, "Let's Start Over Again" and "Lone Wolf," that proved he does more than sit on past successes these days.

Most of all, through "Hoochie Coochie Man," through "Hideaway," through "She Likes To Boogie Real Low," came the promise of a talent that sent him, at 15, searching out the black musicians in his Texas hometown, and the realization that he's still enthralled with the music, keeping it alive.

His brother Edgar might hold more of a mainstream presence, but Winter stands tall, giving back the musical lifeblood that obviously still races through his veins.

Winter drew an interesting mix of musicians, bikers and people looking for an excuse to party. And Black Forest is a promising venue, with dinner offered downstairs for those who want to make an evening of the show and wait staff keeping the drinks flowing upstairs.

The room is massive, the acoustics amazingly solid. If there is one drawback, it is the number of visual obstructions, support poles and a huge, boxed-in brewery.

While there is not much the club could or should do to eliminate those, since it does function as a restaurant and banquet hall most days, how about hanging the speakers, for example, so the towers don't block still another sight line?

It looked, too, as if a stage in the center, with artists performing in the round, might offer a wider expanse of prime seating than the current corner stage.

In any case, when Bobby "Blue" Bland comes Saturday, June 10, you'll want to arrive early, as soon as the doors open, to secure a good spot. Tickets are general admission, and Bland is sure to draw a standing-room-only crowd as well.

Saturday night opened with Frank Bang's Secret Stash, who brought a blend of hard rock and blues to the stage. The trio would roll through a long, lazy phrase before hitting back with jackhammer intensity, a style that had the rockers in the crowd keeping pace with fists punching the air.

But when it came to drawing fans to their feet, dancing, shouting their approval, the night belonged to a giant among musicians: Johnny Winter.
Sue White covers entertainment for The Saginaw News.

Friday, 5 May 2006 - Tampa Bay Blues festival

I am a big fan of Johnny and always tried to go to one of his concert, by
living in Europe it has never been easy but my wish came true couple months
I went with my brother on May 5th to the blues Festival in Tampa Bay Florida
of this year and was able to see him play.
I heard and read that Johnny had difficulties with his health and that his
playing was weak, but i can tell you that it wasn't the case this time.
He came to stage unassisted, someone just helped him to sit down and to show
him where  his mic was. As soon as he started to play we could see his
finger just flying down the guitar. I think everybody was just amaze by how
Johnny was playing this night. He played big hits like Johnny Guitar, She
likes to boogie real low, highway 61 and so on.
We were just meters from him and i had such a good time to see him play like
this. He was sitting down the whole time, and had his eyes close most of the
time but played for about one hours and an half with an amazing strong
His band was excellent too, i just didn't like when the drummist (Wayne June
I believe) sang one song, i though his voice was pretty weak.
At the end of the concert, Johnny stood up and left the stage to come back
just seconds later with his Firebird and ends up the concert with this
This night was an amazing performance from Johnny Winter that i will never
forget, i am glad that i had the previlege to see him that close and playing
that well.
If you have the chance to see the legendary Johnny Winter play this year
just go for it.
Thanks Johnny.....

Juan Pablo.

Friday, 12 May 2006 - Johnny Winter at the Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte, NC

I heard Johnny last night for the first time in more than 10 years, and I'm glad I did. I was a little worried about going because I was concerned he might not be good and it would diminish my memory of him -- I've read that he was really dragging in his 2004 shows, and apparently he had some health problems then. In January I heard him interviewed on XM Radio and he talked about how he had given up drinking and had stablilized his health. It's apparently true. He's lost a few steps musically since I first saw him in 1974, but he's still well worth hearing. His playing was quite good. He did a slowed-down version of Black Jack, which was a song that I've heard he has trouble with sometimes, but it was great. He messed up the lyrics on the first verse of Highway 61 Revisited, and some of the slide work on that song was simplified from the way he used to play it, but it was still thrilling. Overall, mistakes of any kind were very few and his playing skill was at a high level. His voice was noticeably stronger than it was on the Live in NYC album and on I'm a Bluesman.

The show lasted precisely 90 minutes. He walked onstage unassisted but someone had to show him to his chair -- his vision is clearly poor. He played sitting down the entire time, which I've heard he's done for the last several years, and he played mostly the Lazer, but switched to the Firebird for a few songs at the end. Setlist included Hideaway, Sugar-Coated Love, Black Jack, Tore Down, Johnny Guitar, Lone Wolf, Hoochie Koochie Man, She Likes to Boogie Real Low, Mojo Boogie, Highway 61 Revisited, and some others I don't recall now -- I was taking photos instead of making notes on the setlist.

The opening act was Cyril Lance, who was unknown to me but also excellent.

Johnny is touring extensively this year, and if he comes to your area, I strongly recommend going to hear him. Last night's show was memorable.

Concert review and photos, thanks to: David Roberson

Johnny Winter in Charlotte 2006


Saturday, 13 May 2006 - Johnny Winter Rockin Bluesman, Still Going Strong

 Interview By Kenny Buffaloe

Johnny Winter is a musical icon. His unique guitar playing style is a complete, harmonious blend of blues and rock ‘n’ roll. An achievement that few have accomplished. This fact has led to many hit records over the years and a solid, strong fan base. Kenny Buffaloe, popular martial arts personality, had the rare opportunity of interviewing Johnny Winter on his illustrious career, his early musical influences, the current state of blues/rock music today and his new tour and album “I’m A Bluesman”. Johnny recently performed in North Carolina as part of the “Eastern Music Festival” in 2 sold our performances. Before the show, there was Johnny and his guitar. During the show, Johnny Winter became his guitar. The audience was amazed and mesmerized by his outstanding performances. Johnny Winter is the last of a dying breed of great blues musicians still with us. The late great Muddy Waters said it best when he stated “Johnny Winter is the only white man I have ever met that really understands the blues”.

For over 30 years, Johnny Winter has been a guitar hero without equal. Signing to Columbia records in 1969, Johnny immediately laid out the blueprint for his fresh take on classic blues — a prime combination for the legions of fans just discovering the blues via the likes of Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. Constantly shifting between simple country blues in the vein of Robert Johnson, to all-out electric slide guitar blues-rock, - Johnny has always been one of the most respected singers and guitar players in rock and the clear link between British blues-rock and American Southern rock ( a la the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.) Throughout the '70s and '80s, Johnny was the unofficial torch-bearer for the blues, championing and aiding the careers of his idols like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

His recent Grammy nominated “I'm A Bluesman” disc Virgin/EMI, has only added to his Texas-sized reputation.

For this release, Johnny has again paired with his long-time producer Dick Shurman (Robert Cray, Wayne June Albert Collins, and Roy Buchanan), as well as Tom Hambridge (Susan Tedeschi, George Thorogood). Backing him on this CD is his road-tested touring band of guitarist Paul Nelson, bassist Scott Spray and drummer Wayne June with guest appearances by such friends as keyboardist Reese Wynans (from Stevie Ray Vaughan's celebrated backing group Double Trouble) among others.

I'm A Bluesman” was a question of finding the time and right material, he says. The 13-track collection includes three tunes by his friend and 2nd guitarist Paul Nelson, who writes with Winter's bassist Scott Spray. They collaborated on the prison-themed "Shakedown", a relationship-gone-bad song titled "Pack Your Bags" and the album's title track, which Nelson describes as a Johnny Winter biography set to music. "I wanted to write a song about his life, who he is, and what he represents to other musicians. I'm really proud that when he heard the song he said I'd gotten it right."

Winter also opted to record two new songs by producer, Hambridge, "Cheatin' Blues" and the first album single, Lone Wolf." Johnny and his players cut the tracks for “I'm A Bluesman” at several studios in New England, where Winter makes his home these days. But Winter remains a native Texan, born and bred in Beaumont, the town where the famous Spindletop gusher came in to kick off the "black gold" rush in 1901.

Growing up in rough-and-tumble town populated by oilfield wildcatters and shipyard workers, he spent long hours listening to a local deejay named J.P. Richardson - The Big Bopper of "Chantilly Lace" fame - and became hooked on 50's rock & roll. He formed his first band, Johnny and the Jammers, in 1959 at the age of 15, with his 12-year-old brother Edgar on keyboards.

Racial tensions in Beaumont were still high in those days. The town had been side to one of the worst race riots in Texas history just nine months before Johnny's birth. Mobs wandered the streets, businesses burned, martial law went into effect, and more than 2,000 uniformed National Guardsmen and Texas Rangers sealed off the town from the rest of the world until tempers cooled. Despite the brutal legacy, Johnny remembers never hesitating as a kid to venture into black neighborhoods to hear and play music.

Looking back, he believes people in the black community knew that he was sincere, that he was genuinely possessed by the blues. "Nothing ever happened tome. I went to black clubs all the time, and nobody ever bothered me. I always felt welcome." He also became friends with Clarence Garlow, a deejay at the black radio station KJET in Beaumont. Who opened Winter's eye's and ears to rural blues and Cajun music. Clarence, who recorded for the swamp boogie specialty label Goldband, KRCO, Frolic, Diamond, Moon-Lite, Hall-Way and other regional labels.

There's a famous story about a time in 1962 when Johnny and his brother went to see B.B. King at a Beaumont club called the Raven. The only whites in the crowd, they no doubt stood out. But Johnny already had his chops down and wanted to play with the revered B.B."I was about 17," Johnny remembers, "and B.B. didn't want to let me on stage at first. He asked me for a union card, and I had one. Also I kept sending people over to ask him to let me play. Finally, he decided that there enough people who wanted to hear me that, no matter if I was good or not, it would be worth it to let me on stage. He gave me his guitar and let me play. I got standing ovation, and he took his guitar back!"

Winter's big breakthrough came a few years later in 1968 when Rolling Stone writers Larry Sepulvado and John Burks featured him in a piece on the Texas Music scene, which prompted a bidding war among labels that Columbia eventually won.

Johnny's self-titled 1969 disc announced loudly that there was a new guitar-slinger on the new national scene. The disc included audacious covers such blues classics as B.B. King's "Be Careful with a Fool," Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Good Morning Little School Girl," Robert Johnson's "When You Got a Good Friend" and fellow Texan Lightin' Hopkins' "Back Door Friend." It also featured two prime original Winter songs, "Dallas"and the controversial "I'm Yours and I'm Hers," that went into heavy rotation on FM underground radio.

The album peaked at No.24 on the billboard chart and was promptly followed by Second Winter later that same year. Looking back, writer Cub Koda described the period as one when "straight out of Texas with a hot trio, Winter made blues-rock music for the angels." That trio, by the way, included bassist Tommy Shannon who would go on to be part of SRV's Double Trouble and drummer Uncle John Turner.

Winter stayed with Columbia and it's boutique Blue Sky label for more than a decade, turning out such well-received platters as “Johnny Winter And” (1970), “Still Alive and Well” (1973) and “John Dawson Winter III” (1974). He also helped to introduce blues giant Muddy Waters to another generation of listeners by producing and playing guitar on the Grammy-winning “Hard Again” (1977), as well as the Grammy-nominated “I'm Ready” (1978), Muddy "Mississippi Waters Live” (1979) and “King Bee” (1981). The collaborations were so successful that Waters took to referring to Johnny as his "adopted son"!

Johnny Winter rarely does interviews. Kenny Buffaloe was privileged with the opportunity to interview this blues legend. Buffaloe first heard about Johnny Winter and his younger brother Edgar Winter from a childhood friend named David Robinson. David introduced Kenny Buffaloe to the progressive rock music of the 1970’s and this influence has lasted to this day. David Robinson passed away over 20 years ago with brain cancer. Buffaloe would like to dedicate this interview to his memory.

The following is Kenny Buffaloe’s exclusive interview with Johnny Winter.

Kenny Buffaloe: You have a very unique blues/rock musical style. Who were some of

your early musical influences and how did they affect your playing


Johnny Winter: I listened to everyone I possibly could. I bought every record I could

find and put it into my own style.

Buffaloe: What was it that inspired you to start playing music from the beginning?

Winter: I always loved music. My parents were musical. My daddy played sax and banjo and he taught me my first chords on the ukulele. I played ukulele before I played the guitar.

Buffaloe: Tell me about your performances at the legendary WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL in 1969 and that era.

Winter: I don’t remember a whole lot about it. The weather was real nasty I remember as the main thing.

Buffaloe: Jimi Hendrix had a legendary performance at WOODSTOCK. Did you ever play with him at any point?

Winter: Yeah, I did. My manager Steve Paul had a club there called “THE SCENE” and I played with Hendrix there at THE SCENE.

Buffaloe: What could you tell me about Jimi Hendrix as an artist and a man?

Winter: He was a great guitar player and a really nice person too. His playing influenced me in a positive way. He was the best rock guitarist alive.

Buffaloe: I also know that you knew Janis Joplin very well. She was an outstanding performer on stage. What was your relationship professionally with her?

Winter: Janis was an outstanding performer, she sure was. As far as my relationship with her, she was a friend. We didn’t really do much together. Although, we sang together some but none of it is recorded. It was just impromptu, informal performances. She was something, she sure was.

Buffaloe: You and your younger brother Edgar Winter grew up together, but you have two completely different musical styles. What do you account for these differences and do you think these styles compliment each other?

Winter: Edgar and I do have completely different musical styles, you’re right about that. Our two styles do compliment each other. Edgar knows everything I do and we work great together. We never competed against each other musically or anything. We played for the same groups back then. We just went in different directions musically that’s all. Edgar and I just played a reunion show together in our hometown of Beaumont, Texas and it was great. We raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims down there.

Buffaloe: It seems a lot of British groups and performers such as LED ZEPPELIN, Eric Clapton, FOGHAT, Paul Rodgers, etc. really have a keen interest in American Blues. However, right here in America, lots of rock-n-roll people have overlooked or just taken the Blues for granted. Why do think that is?

Winter: Honestly, I don’t really know. I guess it’s taken for granted being right here at home.

Buffaloe: The movie “CROSSROADS” was the story of a Black Blues performer named Willie Brown (a friend of the late, great Robert Johnson) and a young White teenager who really wanted to play the blues. It seems that part of the story line of this movie was taken from your non-fictional life.

Winter: I am aware of the movie “CROSSROADS”; it’s a good film. But, how do you figure this movie contains an episode from my life?

Buffaloe: There are a couple of things in the movie that lead me to believe that. For example, there’s a scene in the movie where the white kid goes into the all black nightclub and wants to play. Willie Brown goes up to him and says, “Kid, you better be able to take them home, or we’re both dead”. The kid plays wonderfully and is fully accepted by everyone. I know the real life incident when you were 17 years old; you went to the all black blues club where B.B. King was playing. You requested to play with B.B. King. After being reluctant at first, he has you come up and play. You played so well and beautifully, the black people there stood up and gave you a standing ovation. B.B. King was amazed and even replied, “They’ve never given me a standing ovation, and this is my show!” It just struck me that these two incidents seemed very similar.

Winter: (Laughing) Kenny, I think you are reaching. I never got that impression from watching that movie. (Still laughing)

Buffaloe: Do you feel artists today are taking the music even further or just copying others before them? They don’t seem to have any solid roots or foundations in their music.

Winter: Honestly, I don’t believe artists today have solid roots or foundations. Music was better back in the “old days” in the 50’s. The heart and soul just isn’t there today as before.

Buffaloe: Johnny, when you play I can feel something. There’s something really special about your style.

Winter: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I’m glad you enjoy it.

Buffaloe: What did you think of the great bluesman Robert Johnson and his legend?

Winter: Robert Johnson was the best slide guitar player that was ever around. So, to me, he was the best. As far as his legend goes, I don’t believe he sold his soul to the devil down at the crossroads. They are really reaching out there with that one. But, they said at first he couldn’t play guitar, but after he came back he could. So, right there is something to think about. Pretty strange. I can say his music had a tremendous impact on so many artists even to this day. That’s because he was so good. He was a natural performer.

Buffaloe: Your playing style is a complete harmonious blend of blues and rock-n-roll. A lot of artists try or attempt to achieve this, but it seems you do it quite naturally. When you play, you become the music. Do you see blues music and rock music as two separate distinct musical styles, or is it all just music to you, not separate entities?

Winter: Yeah. My music is a blend of blues and rock together. You’re right. And yes, when I play, I become the music. I don’t see blues and rock as two separate styles; it’s all just music to me. Rock-n-roll was born from the blues anyway. So, the rock-n-roll I play has got a lot of blues in it. I know a lot of bands do struggle with this. But, it just comes naturally to me. It’s a gift and I feel fortunate to have that ability.

Buffaloe: I lived in Japan for many years studying traditional Japanese martial arts there. My martial arts masters in Japan always told me music was intimately connected to the martial arts, as both are ‘expressions of your soul”. I have no musical ability; I simply love good music. I have developed a strong sixth sense from all my years in martial arts. I can feel something special from only certain performers. But, I can definitely feel something from your music. I can’t put my finger on what that is, but it’s there and it’s real.

Winter: Wow, that’s great. I had never thought of it that way, music connected to martial arts. Interesting. (Laughing)

Buffaloe: Congratulations on your new album “I’m A Bluesman”. It’s a great album that got several Grammy nominations. Even my 6-year-old son Christian really enjoys listening to this album. I think it’s amazing how your music is timeless and reaches all generations. How do you feel about that? Does it make you happy?

Winter: My new album “I’m A Bluesman” getting several Grammy nominations, that was very nice. You’re right, my music does reach all generations and that’s even reflected at my live shows. People from every age group. This makes me happy. I was always just hoping that positive things like that would happen. Things are beginning to come my way and I’m so thankful for that.

Buffaloe: Gibson Guitars is releasing the “Johnny Winter Firebird Guitar” in its guitar series. That’s quite an honor. You must be on cloud 9 about this. How does this make you feel?

Winter: They are putting out the “Johnny Winter Firebird” style guitar very soon. That’s about all I know so far. When it does come out, it should be real nice. I don’t really know yet when that will be. But, it should be sometime pretty soon, though. I think it’s an honor. I’m real happy about that.

Buffaloe: Recently, a lot of your early 1960’s and 1970’s albums are being re-released, remastered with bonus tracks on CD. They are finally doing your great work justice. I’m very happy for you at this point in your career.

Winter: You’re right about that. It sure is a long time coming for this. It makes me feel real good that people who wouldn’t ordinarily know are going out and ‘discovering’ this music with these recent reissues on CD. I’m real happy about it.

Buffaloe: What advice would you give an up and coming blues artist that wants to get started in the industry in this day and age?

Winter: Learn as much as you can and listen to as much as you can. Now is not a good time to get into the blues to play for a living. It’s real hard to get into the business right now. Corporate has almost killed the business. They are too involved.

Buffaloe: The 70’s were a great era for creative music. Why do you think the artists from the 70’s were so different from musicians of today?

Winter: Yeah, the 70’s were a great time for new, creative music. I don’t really have any idea why artists from the 70’s are different from artists today.

Buffaloe: You know, one interesting thing going on right now is that for the first time in history, young people of today are seeking out the music of their parents and grandparents from the 1970’s. Kids today say they don’t really like the music of their generation, that it has no heart and soul. So, they are seeking out the “old school” music. To me, that’s an interesting phenomenon and really says a lot about the music of today.

Winter: Yeah. Kids are seeking out the older music. This is what they enjoy listening to right now. It’s true that they’re just not “feeling” it from the music of their generation. It’s interesting, like the generation gap bridging. That’s the state of music currently I guess.

Buffaloe: Your second album, “Second Winter” is a pure, musical masterpiece. It ranked right up there with Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” at the time of its release. Columbia/Legacy re-released it with bonus tracks and even a concert you did with your brother Edgar Winter at Albert Hall in England. Could you tell me of the creative process that went into making this historical album?

Winter: Firstly, you saying “Second Winter” rates up there with Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, I really appreciate you saying that. The bonus disc with the concert at Albert Hall in England, Edgar performed with me and we did different versions of certain songs that were studio recorded. As far as the creative process of making “Second Winter”, we just went in and did it. My music was never really played a lot on the radio. Fans are more familiar with Edgar’s songs like “Frankenstein”, “Take A Free Ride” or “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo”. I really don’t know why a lot of what I did was overlooked. I honestly don’t know man. It’s hard to say about things like that. I can say that it hasn’t made me bitter at all. I’m just going to keep on playing music until I die.

Buffaloe: It’s great to see you back on the road on tour. Your new band is incredible. Those guys have so much talent. How are you feeling physically being back out there?

Winter: Have you heard or seen my new band?

Buffaloe: From the new album “I’m A Bluesman”, but not live yet. But, they sound great.

Winter: Being back on the road, I feel great physically. No problems. I love just playing music. I’m happy to be back out there.

Buffaloe: Could you share with us a story from the 1970’s concerning your career?

Winter: Well, I don’t know. It was pretty crazy back then, let’s just leave it at that. But, I’ve calmed down a lot now.

Buffaloe: I know you have done work with Muddy Waters on several occasions. You produced and played on three of Muddy Water’s albums including “Hard Again”, which won a Grammy Award. How was it working with this legendary artist and was Muddy Waters one of your inspirations?

Winter: Oh yeah! Muddy Waters was like a father to me. He was one of my favorite blues inspirations. Working with him was just great, a childhood dream come true. I knew all his music real well, so we had an easy time playing together. I was able to help him a lot at that point in his career and I was honored to do so. It meant a lot to me personally to get to play with him.

Buffaloe: Could you tell me about that occasion where you played with B.B. King at the age of 17. How did that come about?

Winter: Well, I went to the club where he was playing and kept bugging him to let me play. He finally did and I think he was genuinely surprised by my ability. All the people in the club were nice, they were not a hostile crowd or anything. In the Black community, I was always accepted as a hardcore blues performer.

Buffaloe: The current state of FM Radio makes it hard for performers and bands from the 70’s who are still making new music today. Classic radio stations will only play a band’s classic music from the 70’s, not their ‘new’ music. Modern rock radio, which plays ‘new’ music, won’t play a classic rock band’s new songs because they classify that band as a “classic rock band”. So, it’s a no-win, stuck in the middle situation that has to be extremely frustrating. How do you feel about this?

Winter: I don’t feel too good about that at all. They are playing my new song “I’m A Bluesman” on certain stations. Satellite radio is excellent. I listen to satellite radio a lot. I hear a lot of my songs on there that I wouldn’t hear on FM radio. I even hear my older songs on there too. It makes me feel real good to hear my stuff on there.

Buffaloe: Are there any last words or thoughts you would like to leave for your many fans and supporters, many of who like myself are fortunate to still be able to see you perform?

Winter: I’m just glad to still be able to do it, to still be around. I’m happy that everybody keeps listening to me. My tour is indefinite, we’re just going to keep on playing. I’m looking forward to playing in North Carolina, one of my favorite places to play. We’re even planning to go overseas and play a few shows in Germany where we’ve always had a strong fan base.

Buffaloe: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this interview. I wish you only the best in the future in all your endeavors. It was an honor to do this interview with you. Take care and I’ll see you on the road.

Winter: I enjoyed it. I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Looking forward to seeing you and coming to North Carolina. Thank you.


About the Interviewer

Kenny Buffaloe is well known for his martial arts abilities and achievements. He has  over 40 years training and experience under several world famous masters from Japan. What is not well known is his love for music. Kenny Buffaloe grew up listening to classic rock, southern rock, heavy rock and blues music since the age of six. Although he has no musical ability or talent, he really appreciates the work of true and talented performers and bands who play from the heart. Johnny Winter is one such performer and Buffaloe is grateful for the opportunity to interview this great blues icon.  


Kenny Buffaloe is a former Nash County resident who taught traditional Japanese martial arts there from 1983 to 1990. Buffaloe appears annually at the “International Festival of Cultures" demonstrating the powerful Kyokushin style of karate from Japan. He was featured in the hit movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and several motion pictures filmed in Japan.


Friday, 26 May 2006 - Johnny Winter at House of Blues Chicago

For any of you Johnny Winter fans I would like to report that hearing Johnny and the band at the House Of Blues/Chicago last Friday (5/26/06) was a great time. I have been a long time fan of him and have recently read stories of his ill health and some fans reporting that he just "doesn't have it" anymore. Yes, he isn't that young man from Texas that was courted by Columbia Records back in 1969....Johnny is now 62 years old. Reports of him having to be helped onto the stage and being nearly blind have been grossly exaggerated. It was heart warming to see a roadie assist a slightly hunched over Johnny as he negotiated scattered audio cables and equipment to take his place upon a comfy looking old chair at center stage where he resided for the entire show. Reports of Johnny being nearly blind may stem from the fact that albinos have a heightened sensitivity to light. I noticed that through-out the 75 minute performance he rarely opened his eyes to the stage lights. Looking at his watch near the end told me he is not blind as previous reports have stated. The one thing I missed upon hearing Johnny's latest Grammy nominated album was his howling style vocal attack. His vocals on the album actually sounded weak and strained. This was not the case during the House Of Blues performance however. He sounded much stronger and was able to summon up some very enthusiastic vocals much to the delight of the audience. The set contained approximately 12-14 songs and was tight and polished. Taking time to drink water between a few songs, there was other tunes that led into the next with precision. Although guitarist Paul Nelson opened up with the first song, he bowed out and never returned once Johnny took the stage. Also missing was James Montgomery's harmonica playing that was present on many of the cuts from the latest cd "I'm A Bluesman". As a former bass player myself, I was captivated by Scott Spray's playing......he was in command of his instrument, much more likened to a virtuoso than merely a bass player. Rounding out the 3 man band was Wayne June on drums.....simply awesome! These two guys were simply not just "backing up" a legend--the three of them were totally enthusiastic to be playing the blues together and the crowd knew it. Using a Erlewine Lazer guitar for the majority of the performance, I thought his playing was clean and heartfelt.....this isn't a guy just touring to make a few bucks. It is obvious that Johnny continues to perform to audiences all over the country because he just loves to play. Switching to a Gibson Firebird, Johnny finished out the show with some slide guitar work, using it to play the encore "Highway 61" to a roaring crowd....a great performance by one of the best blues guitarists ever.
by Deano

July 2006

Dunlop company to introduce a pinky slide call the "Texas Slider" carefully modeled after Johnny's own famous slide. Look for it to come out world wide this winter 06-07

July 2006

Johnny Winter featured in the July issue of "Penthouse" magazine (it's not what you think) It was for a special guitar article including Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and more...


July 2006: Johnny Winter in the German: Gitarre & Bass Magazine


Fri/Saturday 18-18 August Fargo Blues Festival

Photos of Johnny Winter at the Fargo Blues Festival August 2006


Thursday, 24 August 2006 D-Club (Docks) in Hamburg (Germany

Johnny Winter D-Club Docks in Hamburg 2006
Ticket Stub of Johnny Winter at D-Cub


Thursday, 31 August 2006 Johnny Winter Paradiso Amsterdam

Johnny Winter at Paradiso Amsterdam.

The 31th of August 2006, Johnny gave a concert at the Paradiso concert hal in Amsterdam and of course I was there. His band opened with a short instrumental, assisted by Paul Nelson on guitar. Then Johnny walked up the stage with out help, took a seat at the centre of the stage and said hello to everybody. The audience went crazy and he started up with hide away. He played it slower than in his prime years but, o whee, it felt so good. His signature licks came out fluent and he did some nice improvisations.
The setlist was predictable: hide away, sugar coated love, black jack, boogie real low, start over again, lone wolf, hoochie coochie man, tore down, Johnny guitar, mojo boogie and highway 61 revisited. Most of the time Johnny sang and his voice was much stronger than the last couple of years. His overall playing was very good, the guitar solos during black jack and Johnny guitar where great and brought back the feeling of previous concerts in the past. I was also pleasantly suprised by his slide playing, it wasn't simplefied as on the Live in Times Square dvd. Me and the rest of the crowd had a wonderfull evening, we were al happy to see Johnny playing in such better shape than he was in the last few years.
The only point of criticism was the lack of a good harmonica player like James Montgomery.
His band, Scott Spray and Wayne June, were great but the addition of James or an other great harmonica player would upgrade the show from "good" up to "perfect".

Best regards,

Frank Rooijmans

7 December 2006 Johnny Winter State Theatre in St. Pete, Florida,

The Johnny Winter concert on December 7th, at the State Theatre in St. Pete, Florida, was very good. Johnny walked on, no cane, and sat down. A roadie put his lazer guitar on him, and situated his mike. Paul Nelson had already played a warm up song with the band on stage, so the crowd was geared for Johnny. Oh, I should say that this is the first time of many, many bar shows I've seen, that the band came on at the scheduled time, 9PM. Paul Nelson left the stage, and Johnny opened with Hideaway, and continued on with Sugar Coated Love, then completely surprised me with Miss Anne from Second Winter.
I think I have only seen him do this maybe once or twice before in all these years. The rest of the set was, Lonewolf, Tore Down (with Scott Spray on vocals), Black Jack, Mojo Boogie, She Likes To Boogie Real Low, Johnny Guitar, and the last encore of Highway 61.

Johnny's playing was very good, and his voice was surprisingly strong. The only thing I really noticed was that Johnny had replaced some of the tricky slide work on Highway 61, with running the slide down over the first pickup on his Firebird. The crowd liked this, and didn't seem to be aware of what used to be their lick wise. Fortunately I was very close, maybe 6 or 7 feet from Johnny, and only saw him struggle with a couple of riffs, which he was able to recover un-noticably to the crowd, and remained fluid. I didn't notice any missed lyrics. Johnny is back.

The crowd at this show surprised me. I really wasn't used to seeing young people, and gay couples at Johnny shows. This crowd was a mix of every walk of life, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The girl who had positioned herself dead center of Johnny's chair, resting her head on folded arms on top of his monitor through the whole show, couldn't have been older than 21. I would have guessed younger, but I saw a girl not allowed in because she was below the drinking age, at the door. And it was great hearing the comments of people as they left the show. I heard the words "Legend", "Guitar God", and "Master" all being used in praise of Johnny, as people filed out into the street.

Actually I doubt this show was unusual to any show Johnny is doing on this tour. I could tell that Johnny was giving the performance everything he had, and this little club in St. Pete Florida on a Thursday night in December, wasn't going to be any different to the effort Johnny was going to put into the rest of the tour.

Paul Nelson, Johnny's new manager, really deserves a huge amount of credit in giving Johnny his health and life back, and cleaning up a mess that Teddy Slatus (Johnny's prior manager of years) created. Paul is working on a book that details all of this, which I am really looking forward to, but until then, if Johnny Guitar comes to your town, go. You won't be sorry. Tom Richards

November 2006

The Gibson guitar company is finally working on the long awaited Johnny Winter Signature Firebird! More news as it develops.

November 2006

While in California on tour in November JNovember 2006
The Gibson guitar company is finally working on the long awaited Johnny Winter Signature Firebird! More news as it develops.

Johnny dropped by brother Edgar's studio to lay down some killer solo work on Edgar's song called "Rock'in the Blues" to be featured on his next album.

December 2006

Great article on Johnny's comeback in the Dec 20'06 issue of Vintage guitar magazine on stands now!

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