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Tag Archives: Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter

I gotta say, it was a sweet night night opening for Johnny Winter at BB Kings Blues Club in NYC. It’s so not the first time my band has had the privilege…we have the same booking agent, and for a moment, in my past, we had the same manager. So it would be easy to take these shows for granted. But as the years go by, and we lose our great blues masters, I can only cherish them more!

The first time I met Johnny was also the first night I ever saw him do his thing, live. It was New Year’s Eve, 1988, and I was on tour with Albert Collins and The Icebreakers. We were performing as a double bill with Johnny at the all new, Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, Texas. We were part of the Hard Rock’s opening celebrations, and this club would be the for-runner for many more Hard Rock Cafes to come, and inspiration for the House of Blues Clubs and Planet Hollywoods of years to come. I mean, who in 1988 had ever seen a bar built in the shape of a giant guitar, its neck complete with giant frets!

The crowd was a vibrant mix of colorful Texans, both blacks and whites, wearing large, fancy hats and giant furs! My southern California roots where “casual” is the prevailing style for all events, did not prepare me for this world, which was still so entertaining and exciting for me!! Happy New Year!

Johnny hit the stage in a black Tuxedo coat with tails over what I took to be a white T-shirt with some kind of scary monster face on the front. It was already about an hour into his show when I moved closer to the stage and suddenly realized that this was no T-shirt at all, but Johnny’s pure white skin sporting the crazy tattoo! No, tattoo culture was in it’s infancy back then.

Of course we were so much younger then…Johnny performs his shows mostly sitting down, these days, and that killer blues voice has been mostly reduced to gravel now. But as he took the stage on Wed. night he refused to sit. Though slightly bent, he stood for the packed house at BB’s, toughing it out for the whole first tune. My guys were commenting to me how much healthier and stronger he looked than last time! I know it’s cuz he loves to play, and has such a supportive group of folks around him on and off stage. I hung out with Johnny and the band a bit after the show, and he seemed genuinely happy! We chatted amplifiers and bit, and then I needed to make way for the huge line of fans waiting to adore him. Amazingly, Johnny gave each and every one his time!