Born John Dawson Winter III in Beaumont, Texas in 1944, Johnny Winter was an early starter, picking up the guitar in his pre-teen years. At the age of 14, he formed his first band - Johnny and the Jammers – and recorded his first album at the tender age of 15.
Learning the ropes of club gigging in his formative years Winter soon began to sharpen up his act. “You had to be able to play a lot of different things in the clubs or you’d get killed,” he told Guitarist magazine in 1992.
Winter’s rollercoaster life took him on an incredible journey full of highs as he maintained his love for performing live throughout, from the festival stage of Woodstock to the B.B. King Blues Club. Gigging really was the lifeblood of his musical career.
Sadly, the great bluesman passed away on July 16, 2014, aged 70. He had given his final show only two days prior at the Cahors Blues Festival in France, and the amazing rendition of Robert Johnson's “Dust My Broom” captured here proves Winter was able to deliver inspirational performances right up until the end.
Though clearly suffering from ill health in his later years Winter continued to dazzle crowds with his incredible slide licks – his matchless tone shining through as he tore up and down the neck of a ‘reverse’ Gibson Firebird V.
Winter’s killer slide playing inspired generations of blues guitar fans, cementing his status as one of the most influential guitarists in music history. And in honor of the great man himself, the Gibson Custom Shop has recently announced the release of the Johnny Winter 1964 Firebird V replica guitar.
Head over to Gibson (opens in new tab) for more information on the Gibson Johnny Winter 1964 Firebird V. You can currently order an instrument from this limited run of 125 Murphy Lab replica guitars from Guitar Center here (opens in new tab).
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
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