Blues legend Johnny Winter found dead in Swiss hotel room

ZURICH, July 17 Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:02pm IST

U.S. rock and blues musician Johnny Winter performs during the ''B-estival'' concert in Barcelona July 21, 2008.  REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino/Files

U.S. rock and blues musician Johnny Winter performs during the ''B-estival'' concert in Barcelona July 21, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Gustau Nacarino/Files

ZURICH, July 17 (Reuters) - Johnny Winter, an American blues rock guitarist, vocalist and band leader known for his virtuoso slide-guitar solos and raspy vocals, was found dead in a hotel room outside Zurich, Swiss police said on Thursday. He was 70.

Along with his brother, Edgar Winter, also a well known blues musician, the Texas-born Winter revered African-American blues tradition and began performing in his teens.

"His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of one of the world's finest guitarists," his publicist Carla Parisi said. Winter had been on tour in Europe.

Johnny, distinctive because he and brother Edgar were albino, broke into national fame in 1968, when Rolling Stone magazine dubbed him the hottest musician outside Janis Joplin.

In 1969, he played the Newport Jazz Festival, where he performed with B.B. King, one of his musical idols, and at Woodstock.

He also produced albums for his idol, Muddy Waters, in the 1970s, helping to burnish the reputation of the legendary bluesman.

Among Winter's best known songs was "Still Alive and Well", a blues rock stomper recorded after he resurfaced from heroin addiction in the 1970s.

A new Winter album, on which Eric Clapton and Ben Harper appear as guests, is set to be released on Sept. 2. A boxed collections of his main tracks since the 1960s was released this year, complete with tributes from other performers who said he'd been a seminal influence on their careers.

In an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Winter said he enjoyed touring and working with younger musicians.

"I think about legacy a lot," he said. "Hopefully at the end of the day they say I was a good bluesman. That's all I want."

Winter was found dead overnight in a hotel room outside Zurich, according to a police spokeswoman. A prosecutor has ordered an autopsy because the cause of death is unclear.

There was no indication of third-party involvement, and early indications pointed to a medically related incident.

Parisi said an official statement with more details will be issued "at the appropriate time."

(Reporting By Katharina Bart and Mark Heinrich; additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Michael Roddy, Larry King and Susan Heavey)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
michael1444 wrote:
bless mr winter, in all the years i’ve only seen him smile…may heaven take him sweetly..

Jul 17, 2014 6:46pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Art World

REUTERS SHOWCASE

A Minute With

A Minute With

Shailene Woodley on teen sex, violence and Marvel.  Full Article 

Music Chart

Music Chart

U2 album stumbles in Billboard chart after free iTunes debut.  Full Article 

Snowden Documentary

Snowden Documentary

Filming in fear: Edward Snowden as 'Citizenfour' .  Full Article 

Sax and the City

Sax and the City

Kenny G hits sour note in China with Hong Kong visit .  Full Article 

More Content

More Content

Alibaba looking to expand Hollywood content offering - Bloomberg.  Full Article 

The Savage Mountain

The Savage Mountain

Photographer Wolfgang Rattay travelled to northern Pakistan to trek the K2 base camp trail.  Slideshow 

Humane Filmmaker

Humane Filmmaker

Animal rights group honors 'Noah' director avoiding animal use in film.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage