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.
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
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
"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.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart and Mark Heinrich; Editing by
Michael Roddy and Larry King)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.