Ringo Starr, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh, and the Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins are a handful of artists celebrating the life of late singer and guitarist Johnny Winter on the tribute album Brother Johnny (Quarto Valley Records), out April 15.
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“When I was very young, I can still remember thinking no matter how much time goes by, how old I get, what happens in my life, or how far I end up from home, there is one person in this world I know will always understand what I’ve been through, how I feel, and that person is my brother Johnny,” said Edgar Winter, who curated the 17-track tribute.
“As kids, we were inseparable, much closer than average brothers,” added Winter. “Not only did we learn to play music together, but because we were both albino, we shared a unique personal perspective on life different than anyone else’s.”
Brother Johnny is a mostly covers tribute to Johnny Winter’s legacy and evolution as an artist, and also includes two new songs written by Edgar.
The album features an all-star cast of musicians, including Joe Bonamassa, The Doobie Brothers’ John McFee and Michael McDonald, Toto’s Steve Lukather, Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X, Doyle Bramhall II, David Grissom, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Derek Trucks, Waddy Wachtel, and Gregg Bissonette.
For the first single, the Eagles’ Joe Walsh shares singing duty with Edgar on a cover of Chuck Berry’s 1969 hit “Johnny B. Goode.” Growing up in Beaumont, Texas, Edgar remembers playing the song with his older brother in a local talent contest when they were barely adults.
“I guess I was 11 or 12, and Johnny about 14 or 15,” said Winter. “We had our very first band called Johnny and the Jammers and the best song we knew was ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ so we entered, we went on, we played it, we won, and went on to make our first record—a song Johnny wrote called ‘School Day Blues’— and as they say, the rest is history.”
Winter added, “To this day, when I think of rock and roll, I think of Chuck Berry and ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ It’s not only Johnny’s story, but also every kid’s story who ever picked up a guitar, coming from humble beginnings with the idea of making it big someday. So of course, it has to be on this album.”
Produced by Edgar Winter and Ross Hogarth, Brother Johnny was tracked at Capitol Studios with many of guest performances recorded at Infinite Spin Records and their individual studios during the pandemic, and later mixed by Hogarth at his New York studio The Boogie Motel.
Throughout his career, Winter, who died in Zürich, Switzerland in 2014 at the age of 70, produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues guitarist and singer Muddy Waters and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988.
“So much has happened to both of us since then, but one thing will always remain the same … that bond, of brotherhood, of family, of music, and of Love,” said Edgar Winter. “So, in his name, I dedicate this album.”
Photos: Courtesy of Noble PR