Edgar Winter will release the album Brother Johnny on 15 April 2022. The album is a tribute to Johnny Winter, the legendary blues guitarist. The first track from the album, Johnny B. Goode, has been shared, which also features Joe Walsh and David Grissom.
Edgar and producer Ross Hogarth curated the album’s tracks, representing Johnny’s evolution as an artist, with two new songs written by Edgar as a tribute to his late brother.
Edgar was approached to make the tribute soon after Johnny passed away on 16 July 2014 in a hotel in Zurich. “Many people immediately started trying to convince me to do a Johnny Winter tribute album,” Edgar says. “But I was totally devastated, and the timing just didn’t feel right to me. It wasn’t until after I completed the Rock N’ Blues Fest, a tour we were meant to do together with our respective bands, that the idea of a tribute record started to take form.”
Edgar had expected that the tour would be cancelled. “But much to my surprise,” he says, “the promoters begged me to go on with the tour as planned, asking me to headline. The first night, after playing Frankenstein, I closed the show with Johnny B. Goode, Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo, and Jumpin’ Jack Flash, dedicating the end of the set to Johnny.
“I had anticipated the tour to be very emotional, perhaps sad, and possibly difficult, but playing those songs turned out to be a great source of strength and comfort to me. Everyone on the tour was so kind and supportive, getting up to jam, and it became a kind of tradition. There was such an overwhelming outpouring of love and respect for Johnny. I began to realise it was not just business people sensing an opportunity here, it was Johnny’s true, loyal, and devoted fans and our fellow musicians, many of whom are on this record, who wanted to see this happen as well.
“After the tour, and over the following years as talk of a tribute album continued, my wife Monique, whose intuition I trust more than my own, said, ‘I think you have to make this album, both for Johnny, for yourself, and for the world. You owe that acknowledgement to your older brother. If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t be where you are today. There’s no need to worry about it. If it’s meant to happen, it will.'”
Quarto Valley Records will release the album, and founder and owner Bruce Quarto’s enthusiasm was key to convincing Edgar that the time for such an album had arrived. “Quarto Valley Records is honoured to be releasing Edgar’s tribute to his brother Johnny,” Bruce says.
“An album as remarkable in its musicianship as it is in the depth of feeling that comes through in each and every note of each and every song. The superhuman artistry and inspiration you hear in the new interpretations of some of Johnny’s signature songs, like Hootchie Koo and Alive and Well, are matched only by Edgar’s original and very personal, End Of The Line which strikes a very human chord. The album is nothing short of a masterpiece.”
The choice of Johnny B. Goode, as explained in the albums liner notes, and goes back to the Winter boys growing up in Beaumont, Texas. “Our first big break came with this local talent contest that was the biggest thing in the area,” Edgar says. “It was called The Johnny Melody Contest, and first prize was the chance to make your own record. I guess I was 11 or 12, and Johnny was about 14 or 15. 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.”
This album version of Johnny B. Goode features Joe Walsh on vocals. Walsh plays guitar on the Stranger, which also features Michael McDonald, with Ringo Starr on drums. “I had this dream of singing the song with my friend, the great Joe Walsh Edgar says.
“Joe and I go way back to the ’70s playing shows together when he was in the James Gang. Joe was up for doing the vocals, so we went to his place and recorded at his home studio. I got him to sing the second verse and do the harmonies on the ‘Go Johnny Go’ choruses, and just like that, my dream came true. Thank you, Joe, for taking time from your busy schedule with the Eagles and your radio show to do this special duet. It reminded me of when Johnny and I used to sing it together and felt just like old times.”
Guitar work on the track is from a fellow Texan, David Grissom, as suggested by Ross Hogarth. “It fits perfectly with the rock-house boogie style piano I had put on it earlier,” Edgar says. “What I love is that you can hear both Chuck Berry and Johnny Winter in the way he played it. Thanks, David. You really got it, rockin’, Big Time Johnny Texas Style.”
Brother Johnny features Joe Bonamassa, Doyle Bramhall II, John McFee, Robben Ford, Billy Gibbons, David Grissom, Taylor Hawkins, Warren Haynes, Steve Lukather, Michael McDonald, Keb Mo, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ringo Starr, Derek Trucks, Waddy Wachtel, Joe Walsh, Phil X and Gregg Bissonette. All of them knew or were inspired by Johnny.
Johnny B. Goode can be streamed at https://smarturl.it/johnnybgoode