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Johnny Winters tribute honours ‘a life well played’

Johnny-Winter-tribute-posterPicton’s Regent Theatre honoured “a life well played” Wednesday night with a Tribute to Johnny Winter.  The blues legend died July 16 while on tour in Switzerland. He was 70. He had been scheduled to play the Regent in an encore performance to the full house he played in 2011.

The tribute featured David Gogo, Rick Fines, Paul Deslauries, Jimmy Bowskill and the Barnburners, the 24th Street Wailers and Pat Rush who played one of Johnny’s original three Gibson “Firebird” guitars.

James Jones, of ZAPP Productions, welcomed the audience.

“Johnny Winter had always defied all odds. While the rest of us were getting older, Johnny Winter was getting younger these last six years. He was getting healthier and healthier and this really, honestly caught us by surprise.
I talked to Paul Nelson, his manager, with a tribute idea, he said let’s do this, and honour a great guy.

“We’ve got so many people who changed their plans to be here to pay tribute to a man who has influenced them in so many ways. People who started to play guitar because of Johnny Winter.

Jimmy-BowskillJimmy Bowskill and The Barn Burners band was the evening’s house band.
“It is an honour to be here paying tribut to one of my biggest heroes,” said Bowskill. “But tragic circumstance can bring together so many people in such a positive way. I guess Rick Fines said it best backstage saying ‘it’s a celebration of a life well played'”

David-GogoDavid Gogo opened shows for Johnny since the 80s.

“A couple years ago, I was doing 15-16 shows in a row in Western Canada with Johnny. That was the coolest thing because we would hang were hanging out every day spending time, waiting for sound checks and all that kind of stuff.  He was a hero of mine and still is.”

Gogo told how he sneaked into the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver when he was underage to see Johnny Winter play. “Then it became opening shows, then eventually touring with him and it became such a special thing. It was amazing.”

Paul-DeslauriesPaul Deslauriers thanked the audience for “being here tonight to honour the life of a true legend who has been such an influence on all of us and such a huge figure for all us guitar players, of course. ”

Pat-RushPat Rush said he missed his good friend. “I knew Johnny since 1973, played with him in 77-78 in his band and recorded an album called ‘White Hot and Blue’  and he actually let me play slide on the record, can you believe that? I’m the only slide player who ever played slide on a Johnny Winter record except for  Johnny.”

Johnny Winter’s brother Edgar wrote on Facebook. “I know his body is departing this physical realm, but his presence, his music, and his spirit are undiminished, and alive as ever in my heart. Johnny has always been, is now and will forever remain my greatest musical hero of all time,” he said. “But more than all that, he’s my brother–in family, in music, in life and beyond. I will do my best to carry on in honor of his memory and the Winter name.”

Johnny Winter’s final album, Step Back, is to come out on September 2nd featuring the Texas blues guitarist playing with the likes of Eric Clapton, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, among others.


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