Rolling Stone reports that Texas blues legend Johnny Winter died Wednesday in his hotel room in Zurich, while on tour in Europe. He was 71.
“His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of one of the world’s finest guitarists,” a representative for Winter said in a statement. “An official statement with more details shall be issued at the appropriate time.”
Winter, along with younger brother Edgar, made a name for themselves beginning in their early 20s with a unique and hard-rocking approach to the blues, transforming songs like “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with his fiery guitar playing style. Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas, in 1944. He began to dazzle audiences in his teenagers with a technically proficient yet soulful style, and released his debut album The Progressive Blues Experiment in 1968. His self-titled album, released the following year, became even more successful, reaching number 24 on the Top 200 and featuring Edgar on keyboards.
Winter released close to 20 albums in his lifetime, his most recent being 2011’s Roots, which featured a wide range of guests including his brother Edgar and Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes. His final album, Step Back, will feature Eric Clapton and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, and is scheduled to be released in September.
Watch Winter’s 2011 performance on Letterman below.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.