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Albums Of The Week: Edgar Winter | Brother Johnny

Edgar Winter rounds up an all-star cast of guitarslingers to celebrate his late brother Johnny's life and career with a high-energy set of blues classic and Winter originals.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Brother Johnny is a powerful sonic journey, traveling the course of Johnny Winter’s musical life, impeccably directed, as only his brother Edgar Winter could. The guitar-driven album celebrates the expansive styles Johnny was known for — the 17 tracks were carefully curated by Edgar and producer Ross Hogarth to represent Johnny’s evolution as an artist, honoring his great legacy while also incorporating a personal tribute from brother to brother, and for which Edgar penned two new songs.

Joining Edgar on the inclusive project is an impressive array of renowned musicians who knew or were inspired by Johnny, including Joe Bonamassa, Doyle Bramhall II, Robben Ford, Billy Gibbons, David Grissom, Taylor Hawkins, Warren Haynes, Steve Lukather, Michael McDonald, John McFee, Keb’ Mo’, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ringo Starr, Derek Trucks, Waddy Wachtel, Joe Walsh, Phil X, Bob Glaub and Sean Hurley on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums. There were also invaluable musical contributions from Kenny Aronoff, Tim Pierce, Billy Payne, Doc Kupka and David Campbell.

Says Edgar: “When we were kids, we both loved music, but Johnny had this drive and determination. He had The Dream, that burning ambition. He wanted to be a star! I loved music in and of itself, just for the beauty of harmony, melody, and rhythm. It was a deeply personal and private world for me, but Johnny wanted to be famous. He watched Bandstand and read all the magazines. He was Johnny “Cool Daddy” Winter, with the guitar, the pompadour, the shades, and the girls. I was the quiet kid who played all the instruments.

Photo by Chascar.

“Now here’s the odd thing, the irony of it all. Johnny worked relentlessly — all his life — to attain this goal. And when he finally achieved it, the success, the money, the fame and fortune, the adoring fans, the recognition so hard won, the dream come true, everything he had ever wanted in life … He Hated It! He used to say, ‘I never thought it would be like this. I feel so alone and cut off from everybody and everything. I don’t know who I can trust, or even talk to. Certainly not the business people, who are supposed to be on my side; they’re just trying to sell me and whatever I’ve got. They don’t know who I am, or what I’ve been through. To them, it might as well be dog food. And the people, the fans, the girls; they sure don’t know who I am. They’ve got some kind of crazy, fantasy idea of a superstar all made up in their heads. None of it’s real. Nothing is real anymore.’

“So, he hated it — but he loved it too. Be careful what you wish for, the paradox of life. It was quite a shock, at first. Johnny became very disillusioned and went through an extremely difficult period. But as time went on and the years rolled by, I think he eventually came to accept and even appreciate all he had gone through and accomplished in life. He said he was happy and satisfied near the end, and I’d like to believe it’s true. In a way, we went through this together.

“As kids, we were inseparable, much closer than average brothers. 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 … 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. So, in his name,” he said, “I dedicate this album Brother Johnny.”