In Johnny Winter’s 70th year, he’s still going strong. The Wall Street Journal details Johnny’s rise to fame here, and introduces his new box set “True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story.”
In December 1968, guitarist Johnny Winter and his manager Steve Paul went to New York’s Fillmore East to hear blues-rockers Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. Mr. Winter was staying with Mr. Paul, who ran a club in the city and had brought him up from Houston. Backstage, Mr. Paul nudged Mr. Winter to ask Mr. Bloomfield if he could sit in. What followed changed Mr. Winter’s career and influenced several generations of blues-rock guitarists.
“I had already known Mike from Chicago, and he said yeah, I could come on,” said Mr. Winter, who turns 70 on Sunday and whose four-CD box “True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story” (Sony) is due Tuesday. “After Mike introduced me, I came out and we played B.B. King’s ‘It’s My Own Fault.’ It was my solo shot and I went at it, but I had no idea who was out there.”
In the audience that night was an impressed friend of Clive Davis —then president of Columbia Records—who told Mr. Davis about Mr. Winter. Anticipating the shift from rock singles to albums, Mr. Davis beat out RCA and Atlantic and signed Mr. Winter in February 1969 to a deal that paid $50,000 an album for six albums over three years with an option for four more—with each of Mr. Winter’s albums for the label eventually selling nearly 400,000 copies.