The legendary blues n’ rock pioneer, Johnny Winter is back! The 67 year old, multi-Grammy Award winner is currently on tour, and will be releasing an amazing new CD (Megaforce records) on September 27th, entitled – “Roots.” This 11 track CD, consists of classic blues songs that inspired and influenced Winter, when he was developing his blazing, unique and groundbreaking style.
“Roots” was produced by his guitarist and manager Paul Nelson, who was instrumental in turning Winter’s life around, getting him healthy and basically saving him.
The CD consists of an impressive list of special guest that include, Warren Haynes, John Popper, Jimmy Vivino, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, John Medeski, Sonny Landreth, Vince Gill, and Johnny’s brother, Edgar Winter.
What follows is an exclusive interview with one of the most important musicians in the history of rock music, Johnny Winter. Although, Winter certainly wasn’t the most verbose artist that we’ve interviewed, it was a true honor and privilege to talk with him. Here is what he had to say.
RockMusicStar: It’s been reported that you have battled through some health problems over the years. How have you been feeling lately?
Johnny Winter: Good, really good.
RMS: I heard that you had problems with your hip, which has prevented you from standing when you play (guitar). But at a recent show, you were able to stand and play during a song. Do you think that you will be able to do that again in the near future?
JW: I do that every show.
RMS: Do you think that you will ever be able to play a whole show standing up?
JW: No, that will never happen (again).
RMS: Recently, you returned from a tour of Japan, in which you played three sold out shows. How did you feel about playing over there?
JW: It was great, the crowd was very responsive. It was excellent, I loved Japan. It was also the first time that I ever played over there.
RMS: Wow, that’s amazing, that in your 40 year career, you never played in Japan before.
JW: Yeah, we just never did.
RMS: You have a new CD coming out on September 26th, 2011, entitled “Roots.” This CD features old blues classics. performed with an impressive list of special guests. Who came up with the concept for this CD?
JW: Well, it really was Paul Nelson, who also produced the CD. And I thought it was a good idea. He told me, to pick some songs that I really enjoyed playing when I was younger.
RMS: You’ve worked with many different producers throughout your career. What was it like working with Paul? And how is he different from the others?
JW: It was good, and he did a good job on it. He had everything planned out for the CD before we started even recording.
RMS: Do you plan on ever releasing a CD of new material?
JW: I probably will do that again someday.
RMS: Have you ever entertained the thought of doing an all instrumental record?
JW: No, I would never want to do that.
RMS: Did learning to play the guitar come naturally for you?
JW: I use to practice four to six hours a day. It took a couple of years before I became good.
RMS: What do you remember the most about your legendary performance at Woodstock in 1969?
JW: I remember it being very muddy and nasty. It was a mess.
RMS: How did you feel about your performance at Woodstock?
JW: It was good, yeah good.
RMS: Do you still own the Gibson Firebird that you played at Woodstock?
JW: No, I got rid of that years ago.
RMS: What did you feel has been the greatest accomplishment of your incredible career?
JW: Those albums that I did with Muddy Waters.
RMS: Yeah, those albums that you produced helped resurrect his career. You also opened for Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1988, on one of his last tours. What was that tour like for you?
JW: It was fun. The bass player, Tommy Shannon played bass for both of us.
RMS: I saw that that tour and I felt that you were much better than Stevie. Do you think he was at all regretful of bringing you on the tour, because he couldn’t top your performance?
JW: No, not at all.
RMS: Are there any current guitarist that impress you?
JW: Yeah, I think that Derek Trucks is really good.
RMS: You will be playing in Niagara Falls, NY on Aug 20th. What can your fans expect on the setlist?
JW: We break it up. You will hear songs from different periods of my career. We also play a couple from the new CD, including – “Got My Mojo Working.”
For more on Johnny Winter, including tour dates, go to www.johnnywinter.net