Johnny Winter

The Essential

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There has always been more to the Johnny Winter story than meets the eye, and if stepping into the role of a whirlwind albino electric blues guitar player from Texas with a brilliant slide style was the very role he was born to fill, he took a while to get there. For starters, he was born in Mississippi, which might explain something, and then grew up in Texas, where he played clarinet before switching over to guitar at the age of 11. Early on he played country before discovering the blues, and realizing there was little money and little future in playing the blues, he turned to studio pop in the early '60s. Times change, though, and by the end of that decade Winter had returned to the blues, where being an amazing electric guitar player with a roaring voice brought him his true calling. This set collects essential tracks and sides from his peak Columbia Records years in the late '60s and early to mid-'70s, a time when Winter's guitar-slinger image was being aggressively marketed. This collection doesn't tell the whole story, but it does spotlight his most commercial period, and quite wisely includes several live tracks, which quite effectively show off Winter's roaring stage image.

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