I remember the first time I saw Johnny Winter. I was just a teenager at the time and it was 1970. It was an outdoor concert and he had these huge sunglasses to protect his eyes and this amazing pure white avalanche of hair. I was fascinated by his appearance but when he started to play my jaw dropped. I had never heard anything like him in my life. He looked and played like some supernatural being, an angel or a particularly inspired demon.
My husband and I were privileged to see him again about four years ago at another outdoor festival and I still had not heard anything like him in my life.
Musicians who influence us in our youth never seem to age in our minds. When they physically die, they aren’t “passed on” or “gone.” They are still right there, on those records and CDs and on the stages we see in our minds when we think of them.
The Chicago Tribune quoted an interview in the New York Times with Winter earlier this year, in which he said,
“I think about legacy a lot,” he said. “Hopefully at the end of the day they say I was a good bluesman. That’s all I want.”
You were a great bluesman, Johnny. Everyone is going to say it. And your music is going to keep you immortal here. I hope that you get to play on, wherever in the afterlife you are.