Yorkshire Evening Post
1969 September 16th.
The Depth of Winter. Portrait of an Albino Blues-man

Johnny Winter recently signed a five-year contract with CBS for around 600,000 dollars, the largest sum ever paid for a new performer writes Mark Knopfler. If you can excuse the bandied work, Winter is the newest superstar, described as the ultimate white blues-man. In fact, he couldn’t be any whiter. For Johnny Winter is an albino. The boy brought up on a cotton plantation who learned to love the music of the coloured labourers has now been hailed as “a charismatic performer” who is now enjoying the fruits of his talent and experience. Paid his Dues.

After six years touring the South, the spotlight was turned on Winter after a feature in the “Rolling Stone” magazine describing him as “a 130 pound cross-eyed albino with long fleecy hair, playing some of the gutsiest fluid blues guitar you have ever heard.” Since then he has shared the stage with names such as B.B.King, Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, Peter Green and Steve Stills. But like so many artists at the top, Winter has paid his dues in experience.

He was born in 1944 in Beaumont, Texas. His father plays sax and banjo and sings in church choirs; his mother played the piano. While he was still an infant his family moved to Leland in the Mississippi Delta country where his father owned a cotton plantation. Winter still laughs about growing up as the plantation owner’s son, while his Delta bred idols were descendants of the slaves.

He learned the ukulele at eight, moved on to the guitar, and was soon playing clubs with his brother Edgar. The plantation failed and his family moved back to Beaumont, where there weren’t many places to play. So Winter left school for Chicago where he played with many notable artists, among them Mike Bloomfield. After Chicago came six years of on-the-road playing in bars and clubs, mostly in the South.

Then in December last year Winter was featured in the “Rolling Stone”. Personality-club owner Steve Paul flew to Houston to meet him, and inside a few weeks the Texas boy was pulling packed houses and playing alongside the best figures in the business. The explosion came later that month when Bloomfield introduced Winter from the stage of the Fillmore East, the rock palace of the East Coast. At the end of his set the audience stood and yelled for more.

Since then, the record companies have been at each other’s throats, and Winter has produced some very good records. He has not yet appeared in Britain, and is not yet widely known on this side of the Atlantic. But it is only a matter of time