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Johnny Winter, Blues Guitarist and Singer, Dies at 70

Johnny Winter, an influential blues guitarist and singer, died Wednesday in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerlad. He was 70.

A posting on Winter’s Facebook page said, “His wife, family and bandmates were all saddened by the loss of one of the world’s finest guitarists.”

Winter had been touring in Europe and performed Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria, and at the Cahors Blues Festival in France on Monday.

Winter, a native of Beaumont, Texas, began performing at an early age, often with his younger brother Edgar.  He formed his first band, Johnny and  the Jammers, when he was 15 and began making records.

In 1968, he released his first album “The Progressive Blues Experiment.” He signed later that year with Columbia Records when Clive Davis saw him perform at Fillmore East after he had been asked by Mike Bloomfield to sit in for a song.

His first Columbia album “Johnny Winter” was released in 1969. He also performed at the Woodstock Music Festival that year.

He later produced three Grammy-winning albums for blues icon Muddy Waters: “Muddy Waters, Hard Again,” “I’m Ready” and “Muddy ‘Mississippi’ Waters – Live.”

Several of Winter’s albums were also nominated for Grammy Awards.

He also faced health and substance abuse problems throughout his career. Like his brother, Winter had albinism.

Winter released more than 25 albums in his career. He was scheduled to release a studio album “Step Back” in September on Megaforce Records.

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