In the new film about his life, Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty, the Texas albino guitarist talks about turning 15. It was the age when he began smoking, drinking, having sex and playing blues professionally.
"It was a big year for me," he says. Fifteen may have been big, but 70 was his last. He died this past July, his thin, tattooed body giving in to so many years of abuse.
On Oct. 14 at Toronto's Royal, director Greg Olliver's rockumentary will be the opening-night film of the six-night Reel Indie Film Festival, an event of shorts, features and videos about curious musicians and off-the-beaten-path sounds.
As for Winter, he played Woodstock and, as a producer, resurrected the career of the great Muddy Waters. If Winter's rockifying of the blues is seen in some circles as an abomination, it is undeniable that he socked classics such as Johnny B. Goode and Highway 61 Revisited with a uniquely potent kind of lightning.
In the game of white-man's blues, Winter was the whitest cat of them all.
The Reel Indie Film Festival runs Oct. 14 to 19, reelindiefilmfest.com