12 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Johnny Winter’s big break came when Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper brought him onstage as a special guest during a 1969 concert at the Fillmore East. A&R men from Columbia were in attendance and signed Winter on the spot; within months his self-titled debut was in stores. It’s not hard to imagine what a guy like Bloomfield must have felt when he first heard Winter. Though Bloomfield was a virtuoso, he was also an outsider who had to work his way into Chicago's blues culture. Winter, on the other hand, was a Texas original. He cut his teeth playing R&B and blues around Beaumont, and his down-home feel is what elevates his performances of well-worn standards like “Good Morning Little School Girl,” “Country Girl," and “Back Door Friend,” the last of which is about raw as white blues got in the '60s. The guitar craft is spectacular—Winter combines the gutsiness of Lightnin’ Hopkins and the madness of Jimi Hendrix. But his singing shouldn't be overlooked. His performance of Ray Charles’ seemingly untouchable “I’ll Drown in My Own Tears” is tender and vulnerable without ever going soft.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Johnny Winter’s big break came when Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper brought him onstage as a special guest during a 1969 concert at the Fillmore East. A&R men from Columbia were in attendance and signed Winter on the spot; within months his self-titled debut was in stores. It’s not hard to imagine what a guy like Bloomfield must have felt when he first heard Winter. Though Bloomfield was a virtuoso, he was also an outsider who had to work his way into Chicago's blues culture. Winter, on the other hand, was a Texas original. He cut his teeth playing R&B and blues around Beaumont, and his down-home feel is what elevates his performances of well-worn standards like “Good Morning Little School Girl,” “Country Girl," and “Back Door Friend,” the last of which is about raw as white blues got in the '60s. The guitar craft is spectacular—Winter combines the gutsiness of Lightnin’ Hopkins and the madness of Jimi Hendrix. But his singing shouldn't be overlooked. His performance of Ray Charles’ seemingly untouchable “I’ll Drown in My Own Tears” is tender and vulnerable without ever going soft.

TITLE TIME

More By Johnny Winter

You May Also Like