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Johnny Winter stays happy having, and playing, the blues

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011

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Johnny Winter has a special career mark coming up — the 40th anniversary of the “Live Johnny Winter And” album, which is the best seller of his career.

But, the veteran blues and rock guitarist says, “not one of my favorite albums.”

“It’s rock ’n’ roll, and I like rock ’n’ roll second to the blues, but I’d rather be doing straight blues,” explains the Texas-born Winter, 67, who’s 10 years clean and sober from various, well-publicized substance abuses. “I just pretty much went into doing more rock ’n’ roll because my manager thought the blues was fading, and he thought it would be a good idea.

“I really wasn’t happy about it.”

Winter says he still plays “a couple of rock ’n’ roll songs in the set” but has been much more focused on the blues for his recent recordings. He’s working on a new album now, in fact, that he says will feature “old material I grew up being influenced by,” including songs by Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Winter also has recorded a version of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” for a new Sly Stone album and played on a cover of Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’ ” for William Shatner’s next album, “Seeking Major Tom.”

“That was funny,” Winter says. “He doesn’t sing. He just talked it. I always liked ‘Star Trek,’ so it was fun to do. And he was my favorite (captain). I didn’t care about the other guys.”

Johnny Winter, the Rusty Wright Band and Sweet Willie Tea perform at 8 p.m. Friday, March 25, at The Whiting, 1241 E. Kearsley St., Flint. Tickets are $15-37. Call 810-237-7331 or visit www.thewhiting.com.

Web Site: www.thewhiting.com

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