My memory is there was a lot of hoopla when Johnny Winter’s eponymous elpee was released in 1969. I think he had signed a big contract and of course there was the whole albino thing, but what I remember most was falling in love with the sound of Winter’s guitar playing and voice, and the variety of arrangements on the record, jumping from Chicago to the Delta to Texas and back north again. I didn’t know that much about the blues then, but this was a revival record that satisfied in a wholly American and authentic way.
As I learned more, listening to more of the original players, I came to admire this record even more. There was nothing wrong with the Yardbirds and John Mayall, the Stones and Led Zeppelin, nothing wrong at all, but they sounded mediated in a way that this record doesn’t.
And on an autobiographical note, there was the morning when a gang of housepainters were working out in the hallway when I woke up. College kids from Stony Brook University, which was nearby. painting our house. I woke up and hit the play button on my stereo and the first bits of this tune growled out, and the boys raved. There was nothing cooler for an eighth grader to have a bunch of college kids digging your style.
As Winter moved to more popular stuff, along with his brother, I lost touch with Johnny and Edgar except on pop radio. But this record did the trick, from start to finish, getting me into the Blues for real