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Johnny Winter Texas '63-'68 (2-CD)

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(Sunset Blvd Records) 40 tracks, digisleeve A previously unreleased recording. Johnny Winter had... more

Johnny Winter: Texas '63-'68 (2-CD)

(Sunset Blvd Records) 40 tracks, digisleeve

A previously unreleased recording. Johnny Winter had a unique career plan: To make music. The lightning-fast guitarist fulfilled this wish magnificently, decade after decade. Just two days before his death on July 16, 2014, he performed at the age of 70 at a French Blues Festival in Zurich, Switzerland. A guitar hero without equal. Johnny has always been one of the most respected singers and guitarists in rock and the clear link between British blues rock and American southern rock.

In the 70s and 80s Winter was the unofficial torchbearer of the blues, standing up for his idols like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker and promoting their careers. A musical prodigy, he grew up in Beaumont, Texas, on a diet of blues and rock'n'roll. As a teenager he hitchhiked to Louisiana almost every weekend to play in small nightclubs. After a short stay in college, he gave up his academic career and devoted himself to making music.

This is the first collection of the "early years" to distinguish between the formative blues roots and the advance to the rock idiom. It is the best forerunner of his breakout record "The Progressive Blues Experiment" and the "Johnny Winter" album. Sunset Blvd Records will donate $1.00 of every unit sold of TEXAS '63-'68 to the NAACP.

Article properties: Johnny Winter: Texas '63-'68 (2-CD)

Winter, Johnny - Texas '63-'68 (2-CD) CD 1
01 Eternally Johnny Winter
02 The Guy You Left Behind Johnny Winter
03 Out Of Sight Johnny Winter
04 You'll Be The Death Of Me Johnny Winter
05 Gone For Bad Johnny Winter
06 Leave My Woman Alone Johnny Winter
07 Stay By My Side Johnny Winter
08 Bad News (No Overdubs) Johnny Winter
09 Parchman Farm (Alt Mix) Johnny Winter
10 Don't Hide It Johnny Winter
11 Avocado Green Johnny Winter
12 Comin' Up Fast (Take 2) Johnny Winter
13 Easy Loving Girl (Alt Mix) Johnny Winter
14 Birds Can't Row Boats Johnny Winter
15 My World Turns All Around Her Johnny Winter
16 Livin' In The Blues (Alt Version) Johnny Winter
17 Hook You Johnny Winter
18 Take A Chance On My Love Johnny Winter
19 Bad News (Overdubbed Version) Johnny Winter
20 Sloppy Drunk Johnny Winter
Winter, Johnny - Texas '63-'68 (2-CD) CD 2
01 Gangster Of Love Johnny Winter
02 Hey Hey Hey Johnny Winter
03 Ice Cube Johnny Winter
04 Creepy Johnny Winter
05 Kind Hearted Woman Johnny Winter
06 Leavin' Blues Johnny Winter
07 I Had To Cry Johnny Winter
08 Pneumonia Blues Johnny Winter
09 32-20 Blues Johnny Winter
10 That's What Love Does Johnny Winter
11 Voo Doo Twist Johnny Winter
12 Mothballs Johnny Winter
13 Goin' Down Slow Johnny Winter
14 Ease My Pain Johnny Winter
15 Five After Four AM Johnny Winter
16 Reeling And Rocking Johnny Winter
17 Tramp Johnny Winter
18 Be Careful With A Fool Johnny Winter
19 Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone Johnny Winter
20 Going Down Slow (Version 4) Johnny Winter
Johnny Winter  albino kid with enough heat in his fingers to melt a guitar neck shook... more
"Johnny Winter"

Johnny Winter

 albino kid with enough heat in his fingers to melt a guitar neck shook up the Gulf Coast during the early '60s. By decade's end, the whole world would know Johnny Winter, but when he raucously revived Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's Gangster Of Love for Ken Ritter's Frolic label in 1964, Winter was a regional phenomenon.

Born February 23, 1944 in Beaumont, Texas, Johnny and his younger brother Edgar grew up loving the blues. Johnny listened regularly to Beaumont blues guitarist Clarence Garlow's KJET radio program. "The radio station then was like two doors down from where my grandmother lived. So I'd be staying over at her place, and I could just walk over two doors and see Clarence," says Johnny. "He was one of the first blues musicians that I actually got to see and watch close up and learn from. 

The two Winters formed Johnny and The Jammers when Johnny was only 14 and snared their first record contract through a contest built around the 1959 rock and roll film 'Go, Johnny Go!' "As kind of a gimmick that went along with the movie, they had this contest called the Johnny Melody Contest. You couldn't use a group; you had to get up there and just sing and play guitar," says Johnny. "So I won the contest, of course. There wasn't anybody near as good as I was at that point."

The band headed to Bill Hall's Gulf Coast Recording Studio in Beaumont to lay down School Day Blues and a flip, Edgar manning the 88s. "We played 'em for Bill Hall. He said, 'Great! We'll record 'em!' We couldn't even believe it," says Winter, whose debut offering came out on the Dart label in 1960.

Ken Ritter, nephew of Western star Tex Ritter, produced several early Winter 45s for his KRCO and Frolic labels, ranging from lowdown swamp blues to catchy instrumentals and pop-accessible pieces. "Ken Ritter was my manager, and he would lease the records," says Johnny. "I never made a penny. I don't know how much Ken made, but he'd always get a little money in front. He'd say, 'Well, I've got a lot of expenses, kid.'" Ritter leased Johnny's Gone For Bad to MGM but held onto Winter’s 1964 cover of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s boastful ’57 Keen platterGangster Of Love for Frolic (multi-instrumentalist Edgar devised the horn chart). "That particular song I love," says Johnny. "Dickey Lee, the guy who had out a song called 'Patches' years ago, he sang in the background chorus on that song." Frolic paired it with Winter's own Eternally, but when Ritter leased Eternally to Atlantic, he coupled it with the garage-rocking Winter original You'll Be The Death Of Me. Gangster Of Love became a hippie-era classic when Steve Miller placed it on his 1968 ‘Sailor’ LP.

After nearly a decade of struggle, a glowing feature in a well-read rock magazine changed everything for Winter. "The 'Rolling Stone' article came out about Texas musicians, saying that I was the greatest thing in Texas still starving to death," says Winter. "Overnight, people that wouldn't even talk to me were calling me from New York, California, Europe, every place, man." Winter chose to sign with Columbia, his 1969 major label debut album catapulting the long-haired axeman to rock superstar status. As the decades progressed, Johnny has reverted to his blues roots more than once, his mastery of the idiom never in question.

Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois

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Tracklist
Winter, Johnny - Texas '63-'68 (2-CD) CD 1
01 Eternally
02 The Guy You Left Behind
03 Out Of Sight
04 You'll Be The Death Of Me
05 Gone For Bad
06 Leave My Woman Alone
07 Stay By My Side
08 Bad News (No Overdubs)
09 Parchman Farm (Alt Mix)
10 Don't Hide It
11 Avocado Green
12 Comin' Up Fast (Take 2)
13 Easy Loving Girl (Alt Mix)
14 Birds Can't Row Boats
15 My World Turns All Around Her
16 Livin' In The Blues (Alt Version)
17 Hook You
18 Take A Chance On My Love
19 Bad News (Overdubbed Version)
20 Sloppy Drunk
Winter, Johnny - Texas '63-'68 (2-CD) CD 2
01 Gangster Of Love
02 Hey Hey Hey
03 Ice Cube
04 Creepy
05 Kind Hearted Woman
06 Leavin' Blues
07 I Had To Cry
08 Pneumonia Blues
09 32-20 Blues
10 That's What Love Does
11 Voo Doo Twist
12 Mothballs
13 Goin' Down Slow
14 Ease My Pain
15 Five After Four AM
16 Reeling And Rocking
17 Tramp
18 Be Careful With A Fool
19 Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
20 Going Down Slow (Version 4)