Blues News

Blues Photo of The Week – Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter – Photo of The Week

Johnny Winter is performing at Chicago’s Park West theatre on August 24, 1978.  Accompanying him was Bobby Terello on drums and John Paris on bass and harp.  The setlist included the songs Rollin and Tumblin’, Come on in my kitchen, Johnny B Goode, Blues medley with Mississippi blues, kindhearted woman, me and the devil and ended with Sweet Home Chicago. Photographer Kirk West caught all of this on film.

Johnny Winter signed by Columbia 

Johnny Winter, is from Beaumont, Texas, he was also afflicted with albinism.  Despite all this, he made an iconic life for himself by playing high energy blues. Winter’s breakthrough came when “Rolling Stone” magazine featured him in a piece on the Texas Music scene.  This got him a record deal with Columbia Records.  It was called the largest solo artist deal of its time. 

Music fans loved his flamboyant, swagger on stage and couldn’t get enough of his gutsy guitar playing.  Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Johnny was the unofficial torchbearer for the blues, championing and aiding the careers of his idols like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.  He released several albums and was constantly touring up until his death in 2014.  The music world lost a blues legend.

A story about Winter and B.B. King

There’s a story about a time in 1962 when Johnny and his brother went to see B.B. King at a Beaumont club called the Raven. The only whites in the crowd, they no doubt stood out. But Johnny already had his chops down and wanted to play with the revered B.B. “I was about 17,” Johnny remembers, “and B.B. didn’t want to let me on stage at first. He asked me for a union card, and I had one.  Also, I kept sending people over to ask him to let me play.

Finally, he decided that there enough people who wanted to hear me that, no matter if I was good or not, it would be worth it to let me on stage. He gave me his guitar and let me play. I got a standing ovation, and he took his guitar back!” 

About the Photographer:

This picture was taken by Kirk West, A music lover who made a career out of music photography.  West is first and foremost a music lover. He has never been able to get enough of the people, places, and things that comprise the life of a touring artist. In search of the richness that musicians and their music bring the world, his travels and life have taken him from his Iowa birthplace to far flung reaches of the globe, camera in hand. 

In 1989 he served as the tour manager for the Allman Brothers Band for over 20 years.  Check out his website to read more about his fantastic adventures and other artists he has captured as a part of musical history.

Keeping the Blues Alive

To learn more or donate to Keeping The Blues Alive, visit our website at


Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email