The blues scene lost an all-time great when Johnny Winter passed away unexpectedly earlier this summer. He had been working on an album called Step Back, with a collection of guest stars including Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Joe Perry, Ben Harper, Brian Setzer, Joe Bonamassa, Leslie West, and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. Listen to the song with Gibbons above, called "Where Can You Be" - an appropriate title considering that Winter is no longer to be found in this mortal world.
The song is a hard rockin' mid-tempo blues shuffle, with outstanding vocal and guitar parts from Winter. Gibbons throws his 6-string pyrotechnics into the mix, as the two virtuosos bounce off each during an exchange of solos. The YouTube image shows a quote from Gibbons, saying "When Johnny picks up a guitar, you never know quite what's gonna come at you... but whatever it is, it's gonna be good!" In an article on Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy Blog, Eric Danton has a couple more great quotes from The Reverend Willy G. on his relationship with Johnny Winter over the years:
Gibbons recalls first seeing Winter play in the late ’60s, “flanked by two dancing beauties” in the “go-go window” of a Houston club, the long-since defunct Act III. “Johnny’s gleaming white guitar and snow-white hair were nothing short of intriguing, adding that unique appearance to his infectious vocalizing and guitar slinging,” Gibbons says.
Later, after Winter heard ZZ Top’s song “Just Got Paid” (from their 1971 album Rio Grande Mud), he invited the band to come hang out. “It was a pivotal moment to actually solidify an enduring friendship between the ZZ Top and Johnny Winter outfits,” Gibbons says. He describes their friendship as “a long lasting, good-time, blues-infused bond. Thick as thieves and tight as nails.”
Step Back is set for official release on September 2nd. Order it on Amazon.