So one time, probably around 1967 I was in Houston and got a call from Hollywood: "Sundeen, do you know where Orange, TX is," I replied it was on the Gulf near Beaumont, and the caller said, "There's an Albino Guitar Genius in Jail there, Bail is $500 go get him out and tell him we want to fly him to L.A. and get him under contract.
Not being of a mind to drive a long way for nothing, I called over to the Jail and asked if they had a guitar player named JOHNNY WINTER, locked up there. The Cop said they had, but Huey B. Meaux had just bailed him out. Huey was a character that would take a whole column to even try to get around; he was a producer, had his own studio and label, and did things like find five kids from San Antonio during the British Invasion, change their name to: The Sir Douglas Quintet, dressed them in vaguely Brit looking suits and cut a song called "She's About A Mover."
But getting back to Johnny Winter: after kicking around the Houston area for awhile, releasing records on a local label and jamming with visiting artists, MIKE BLOOMFIELD invited him to sit in at his gig at The Fillmore East one night. Turns out some Columbia Records execs were there because Bloomy was on their label, they saw Winters and signed him to the biggest advance in history, $600,000; in today's money you could add a couple of zeros.
Johnny's brother EDGAR WINTER, two years younger and also albino, played with him for several years until forming a group of his own. From childhood, Johnny had idolized MUDDY WATERS, and his new success made it possible for him to produce three albums with The Mud Man, maybe the high point of his life. In 1969 Johnny Winter played a great set at the WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL, and elevated his status as a musician.
He won a basket full of Grammys, 3 for the Muddy Waters albums alone, and in 1988 he was inducted into the BLUES HALL OF FAME, the Most White of men, was the first White Man to be given that honor. Johnny Winter was found dead in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, in July, 2014, he was 70 years of age. @therealdonrocks
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