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One of Johnny Winter's Final Interviews Goes Online

07/18/2014
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(Gibson) Guitar legend Johnny Winter was found dead at age 70 in his Zurich, Switzerland hotel room on Wednesday. Several weeks ago he gave one of his last major interviews to Gibson correspondent Ted Drozdowski. "Johnny was in great spirits when we spoke," Ted says. "He was laughing, said he felt better than he had in decades and was looking forward to the future. We even discussed his bucket list - obviously with no idea he'd have so little time to fulfill it."

Johnny Winter has no qualms about discussing the hard stuff - his decades struggling with drug addiction, the physical toll heroin and, mostly, methadone took on him, and how he regained his sense of purpose with the arrival of his co-guitarist, producer, manger and good friend Paul Nelson nearly a decade ago. But he'd rather talk about the music, or let the music do the talking.

His brand new album Step Back says plenty about the 70-year-old legend who spun heads at Woodstock and jammed with the likes of Mike Bloomfield and Jimi Hendrix during his late 1960s ascent. The disc returns the Texas native to his true-blues roots, revisiting some of his favorite songs. Elmore James's "Can't Hold Out," Magic Sam's "Don't Want No Woman," Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor," Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's "Okie Dokie Stomp" and Son House's "Death Letter" - the latter is Winter's second recorded resonator guitar performance since 1969's Johnny Winter album - are all on the set list. And Winter's joined by an all star cast of friends including Billy Gibbons, Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Joe Bonamassa, Leslie West and Joe Perry.

The album's true co-star, however, is the 1963 Gibson Firebird he's owned since the early 1970s - a battered road-warrior's broadsword that's returned to his side in recent years as his primary instrument, still as ferocious as the day he bought it at a musical festival nearly 45 years ago.

The guitar slinger is also the subject of a new on-and-off-the-road documentary called Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty that premiered at this year's South By Southwest Film Festival and is making its way to theaters and DVD. The film captures Winter on stage, in his Winnebago rolling headquarters, at home, undergoing physical therapy and talking about his storied past while aiming toward the future.

Read the interview and watch the documentary teaser here.

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Copyright Gibson.com - Excerpted here with permission.

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