Blues legend Johnny Winter found dead in swiss hotel room

Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:41am EDT
 
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ZÚRICH (Reuters) - Johnny Winter, an American blues rock guitarist, vocalist and band leader known for his virtuoso slide-guitar solos and raspy vocals, was found dead in a hotel room outside Zurich, Swiss police said on Thursday. He was 70.

Along with his brother, Edgar Winter, also a well known blues musician, the Texas-born Winter revered African-American blues tradition and began performing in his teens.

"His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of one of the world's finest guitarists," his publicist Carla Parisi said. Winter had been on tour in Europe.

Johnny, distinctive because he and brother Edgar were albino, broke into national fame in 1968, when Rolling Stone magazine dubbed him the hottest musician outside Janis Joplin.

In 1969, he played the Newport Jazz Festival, where he performed with B.B. King, one of his musical idols, and at Woodstock.

He also produced albums for his idol, Muddy Waters, in the 1970s, helping to burnish the reputation of the legendary bluesman.

Among Winter's best known songs was "Still Alive and Well", a blues rock stomper recorded after he resurfaced from heroin addiction in the 1970s.

A new Winter album, on which Eric Clapton and Ben Harper appear as guests, is set to be released on Sept. 2. A boxed collections of his main tracks since the 1960s was released this year, complete with tributes from other performers who said he'd been a seminal influence on their careers.

In an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Winter said he enjoyed touring and working with younger musicians.   Continued...

 
Legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter performs on stage during a concert at the Valencia Jazz Festival in this file photo taken July 19, 2008. Winter died in Zurich on Wednesday at the age of 70, according to news reports.  REUTERS/Heino Kalis/Files