Johnny Winter Gets All-Star Tribute Album, Led By Brother Edgar

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Johnny Winter is the subject of a new all-star tribute album, organized by his brother Edgar Winter. Brother Johnny, released April 15, 2022, via Quarto Valley Records, features an impressive array of renowned classic rock musicians who knew, or were inspired by the legendary blues guitarist, including Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr, Billy Gibbons, Steve Lukather, Michael McDonald, Joe Bonamassa, and many more. Listen to many of the recordings, including spirited covers of such classic songs as “Johnny B. Goode,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and “Highway 61 Revisited,” below.

The album is described in the Jan. 7 announcement as “a powerful sonic journey, traveling the course of Johnny’s musical life, impeccably directed, as only his brother Edgar could.” Also joining: Doyle Bramhall II, John McFee, Robben Ford, David Grissom, Taylor Hawkins, Warren Haynes, Keb’ Mo’, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Derek Trucks, Waddy Wachtel, Phil X and Gregg Bissonette.

Listen to the new performance of “Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo,” written by Rick Derringer and first recorded in 1970 by Johnny Winter And, of which Derringer was a member

The guitar-driven album celebrates the expansive styles Johnny was known for – the 17 tracks were curated by Edgar and producer Ross Hogarth to represent Johnny’s evolution as an artist – honoring his great legacy while also incorporating a personal tribute from brother to brother, and for which Edgar penned two new songs.

Michael McDonald sings lead on “Stranger.” He’s joined by Joe Walsh on lead guitar, Ringo Starr on drums, Edgar Winter on piano, Mellotron and synth, Tim Pierce on electric and acoustic guitar, Bob Glaub on bass, and Kenny Aronoff on percussion.

“Mean Town Blues” features Edgar Winter singing, Joe Bonamassa on slide guitar, Sean Hurley on bass, and Gregg Bissonette on drums. Edgar recalls, “To me, this is one of the most important tracks on the album, and probably the most difficult to replicate the original feel on. I wanted only guitar, bass, and drums, exactly like Johnny’s original blues trio. But I didn’t know of anyone out there who naturally played slide the way Johnny did. Then I thought—Joe Bonamassa did such an incredible job with Johnny’s regular guitar style, I wonder if he could do the same thing with the slide? And amazingly, he did it.”

Watch a “visualizer” clip for “Mean Town Blues,” released on Feb. 23, Johnny Winter’s birthday

“I don’t think this album would be complete without at least one, heartfelt, personal tribute–from me to my brother–in the form of a song,” Edgar wrote in the album’s liner notes. “So I wrote [‘Lone Star Blues’] about something I know Johnny felt deep in his heart……The idea of being a star yet feeling all alone….. and then the perfect title, ‘Lone Star Blues’ came to me” which as a native Texan carries a double meaning.

“When it came to a special guest artist for this one, there was one and only one person I wanted to do it, and that is Keb’ Mo’. Keb’ Mo’ is a real blues man who feels it heart and soul. He has his own unique style that is absolutely perfect for this song.”

Edgar Winter was first approached about it just after his brother died on July 16, 2014, at age 70. Johnny had just played the Cahors Blues Festival in France, which was destined to become his last show. He had traveled to Switzerland where his next show was scheduled, but he passed away in his sleep at the hotel in Zurich before he ever got the chance.

In the album’s announcement, Edgar Winter notes, “Many people immediately started trying to convince me to do a Johnny Winter tribute album. But I was totally devastated and the timing just didn’t feel right to me. It wasn’t until after I completed the Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest, a tour we were meant to do together with our respective bands, that the idea of a tribute record started to take form.”

Edgar explains, “I had naturally expected the whole thing to be canceled. But much to my surprise, the promoters begged me to go on with the tour as planned, asking me to headline. The first night, after playing “Frankenstein,” I closed the show with “Johnny B. Goode,” “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” dedicating the end of the set to Johnny.

“I had anticipated the tour to be very emotional, perhaps sad, and possibly difficult, but playing those songs turned out to be a great source of strength and comfort to me. Everyone on the tour was so kind and supportive, getting up to jam, and it became a kind of tradition. There was such an overwhelming outpouring of love and respect for Johnny, I began to realize it was not just business people sensing an opportunity here; it was Johnny’s true, loyal, and devoted fans and our fellow musicians, many of whom are on this record, who wanted to see this happen as well.”

Listen to “Guess I’ll Go Away” featuring Taylor Hawkins on lead vocal (and all supporting vocals)

The first release was “Johnny B. Goode,” a perfect fit not only in name but in sentiment, and a song that remained a standard in Johnny’s sets right up to the very end.

Listen to Winter perform the Chuck Berry classic at the 1969 Woodstock festival

The opening of the new recording rips right out of the speakers – that infamous guitar line along with Edgar’s smokin’ piano – followed by roaring vocals from Edgar and Joe Walsh.

The signature guitar is delivered by fellow Texan David Grissom, who strikes the perfect balance between Chuck Berry’s classic riffs and Johnny’s wild Winter whirlwind of intensity. Edgar plays saxophone accompanied by Bob Glaub on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and additional vocals by Phil X.

Edgar, who turned 75 on Dec. 28, 2021, writes in his liner notes. “To this day, when I think of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I think of Chuck Berry and Johnny B. Goode.’ It’s not only Johnny’s story, it’s every kid’s story who ever picked up a guitar, coming from humble beginnings with the idea of making it big someday. So of course, it has to be on this album.”

Brother Johnny was produced by Edgar Winter and Ross Hogarth.

Edgar sums up reminiscing in his notes, “When I was very young, I can still remember thinking…no matter how much time goes by, how old I get, what happens in my life, or how far I end up from home – there is one person in this world I know will always understand what I’ve been through, how I feel. And that person is my brother Johnny. As kids, we were inseparable, much closer than average brothers. Not only did we learn to play music together, but because we were both albino, we shared a unique personal perspective on life different than anyone else’s.”

The cover of “Highway 61 Revisited” features Edgar Winter on lead vocal and piano, Kenny Wayne Shepherd on guitar, John McFee on slide guitar, Billy Payne on organ, and Sean Hurley on bass.

Related: A song from the Edgar Winter Group is in our story – 11 Surprising Radio Hits of the ’70s

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  1. Baybluesman
    #1 Baybluesman 10 January, 2022, 15:39

    There are not enough we words to describe the joy and contentment that I am feeling, hearing that Edgar, aided by some of the top-notch axe-slingers, will be releasing a tribute album to one of the greatest blues, blues/rock, and rock guitarists if all time, Mr. John Dawson Winter.

    I have followed the careers of the Winter Brothers since I bought the “Progressive Blues Experiment” in 1969, and have enjoyed seeing both Edgar and Johnny perform live several times.

    The Winter Brothers are like the other true great classic rock great artists, such as Peter Frampton, J. Geils Band, Allman Brothers, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bob Seger (to name a few), while their studio work is often terrific, they shine when in the Live spotlight.

    Any BCB reader that wants a real treat, buy the Johnny and Edgar “Together” album, for a lesson in rock roots.

    What makes this particular tribute album special to me, is that my own Brother and I are only a few years apart, like Johnny and Edgar were, and the Winter Brothers music is a common bond to us, musically, and has been for over 50 years.

    I will be looking forward to 04/15/2022.

    R.I.P. Johnny, but may your spirit know that your music and legacy is “Still Alive and Well” and Edgar – “Keep Playing That Rock and Roll”.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ezyrider NYC
    #2 Ezyrider NYC 11 January, 2022, 00:34

    I think Johnny’s one of the greatest blues man over the past 50+ years and I was lucky enough to see him from 1965 all the way through to 2019. He deserves a farewell concert and happy to hear so many people playing on this record. Rick Derringer played a long time with Johnny but I didn’t see his name mentioned in the list of musicians. I hope he is part of the tribute since they played together for so many years. RIP, JW….

    Reply this comment
  3. mick62
    #3 mick62 11 January, 2022, 11:19

    I cannot WAIT to get this album!
    God bless you, Johnny!
    And thanks Edgar , for making it possible!

    Reply this comment
  4. Baybluesman
    #4 Baybluesman 12 January, 2022, 00:37

    To EZrider NYC’s point – I had the same question, right after my initial post –

    Curious as to why Rick Derringer wasn’t listed as involved, as he goes back to Johnny and Edgar’s beginnings, and has been involved pretty much throughout his musical career with both of them as a producer, band member, songwriter, and of course, wielding his own stellar guitar playing as well, for Johnny Winter And, White Trash, and the Edgar Winter Group, and beyond.

    Was there a rift, or some sort of fall-out, after Johnny’s passing in 2014?

    Reply this comment
  5. beatseeker
    #5 beatseeker 21 January, 2022, 08:22

    i saw johnny and edgar together at the mississippi river fest in the early 70s.. damn!! also my fave album title of johnny’s? “hey, where’s your brother?”

    Reply this comment
  6. Craiger
    #6 Craiger 20 February, 2022, 01:12

    I was lucky to see Johnny at Anaheim Stadium in ’76
    with 50,000 plus people. I’ll never forget him dangling his feet off the front of the stage, shredding, and the crowd right there.

    Reply this comment
  7. Sindbad
    #7 Sindbad 20 February, 2022, 10:02

    How can you have a tribute album to Johnny without Rick Derringer on it & producing it?

    Reply this comment
  8. Gary
    #8 Gary 21 February, 2022, 11:42

    It is great to see this tribute but to me the fact that Johnny is not in the so called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joke. Johnny, Link Wray, and Dick Dale, three of the most influential guitarists, are not there. I feel that Johnny was the best white slide blues guitarist and singer ever. From the raw blues of his Progressive Blues Experiment to the straight ahead rock of Johnny Winter And, he was amazing. I saw him several times, whenever he played anywhere near me. And if you want to see what shredding is all about, watch Johnny at the Bob Fest in 1991, put on a clinic with Highway 61. Another bunch of lame inductees this year, and I am sure the MC 5 will miss out again. RIP Johnny, there will never be another like him.

    Reply this comment
  9. Baybluesman
    #9 Baybluesman 23 February, 2022, 07:54

    To BCB Staff;

    Just seems very odd, after all these years, of Rick Derringer working with Edgar and Johnny Winter, to not be performing on this much anticipated tribute.

    Thanks.

    Reply this comment
    • Baybluesman
      Baybluesman 18 March, 2022, 17:37

      My actual question to the BCB Staff, was, with experienced, if anyone on the Staff had access to Edgar Winter or Rick Derringer, and could find out why Derringer wasn’t involved in this tribute to Johnny Winter.
      Just seems fitting to a lot of people.

      Thanks

      Reply this comment

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