Blues and rock guitarist rocker Johnny Winter has died at the age of 70. Winter was found dead in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland yesterday (WED). He was on tour in Europe. The cause of death has not been released. Winter was in Lawrence last month to headline the city’s Free State Arts Festival. He spoke with KPR before his appearance.
In 1969, Winter signed a contract with Columbia Records and suddenly went from leading an obscure blues band playing bars throughout the South to having a hit record and playing for half-a-million people at the Woodstock Festival. He told KPR that the sudden transition was quite a shock.
(“Sure it was! It was unbelievable but I loved it. I was really happy to finally be making it. I was about 24 when we signed with Columbia and I’d been doing it since I was 15.”)
Johnny Winter started performing professionally and recording as a teenager. He recorded more than 30, critically acclaimed, albums during his career, was named one of the 100 best guitarists by Rolling Stone magazine and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame. He told KPR he wasn’t surprised that he became so successful. He said he knew he was good and felt that he deserved to have success. He is survived by his brother, guitarist Edgar Winter.