Edgar Winter & Joe Walsh Team Up for “Johnny B. Goode”; All-Star Tribute Album to Johnny Winter Out in April

Rock Cellar Magazine StaffCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Due out on April 15, Brother Johnny is an all-star tribute album to the late Johnny Winter, compiled and spearheaded by his brother, Edgar Winter.

The album will be released via Quarto Valley Records, and on Friday a preview of the set arrived in the form of a rollicking rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” performed by Edgar Winter and pals Joe Walsh and David Grissom. The classic Berry track was an early favorite of Johnny’s, making it a fitting introduction to this special album.

Take a listen:

In addition to Walsh and Grissom, the list of artists lending their talents to the project includes Joe Bonamassa, Doyle Bramhall II, John McFee, Robben Ford, Billy Gibbons, Taylor Hawkins, Warren Haynes, Steve Lukather, Michael McDonald, Keb Mo, Doug Rappoport, Bobby Rush, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ringo Starr, Derek Trucks, Waddy Wachtel, Phil X and Gregg Bissonette.

A news release explains this album has been in the works for a long time — dating back as far as 2014, shortly after Johnny’s passing.

“Many people immediately started trying to convince me to do a Johnny Winter tribute album,” said Edgar Winter in a statement. “But I was totally devastated and the timing just didn’t feel right to me. It wasn’t until after I completed the Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest, a tour we were meant to do together with our respective bands, that the idea of a tribute record started to take form.”

“I had naturally expected the whole thing to be canceled. But much to my surprise, the promoters begged me to go on with the tour as planned, asking me to headline. The first night, after playing “Frankenstein”, I closed the show with “Johnny B. Goode”, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, dedicating the end of the set to Johnny.

“I had anticipated the tour to be very emotional, perhaps sad, and possibly difficult, but playing those songs turned out to be a great source of strength and comfort to me. Everyone on the tour was so kind and supportive, getting up to jam, and it became a kind of tradition. There was such an overwhelming outpouring of love and respect for Johnny, I began to realize it was not just business people sensing an opportunity here; it was Johnny’s true, loyal, and devoted fans and our fellow musicians, many of whom are on this record, who wanted to see this happen as well.

“After the tour, and over the following years as talk of a tribute album continued, my wife Monique, whose intuition I trust more than my own, said, “I think you have to make this album, both for Johnny, for yourself, and for the world. You owe that acknowledgement to your older brother. If it weren’t for him, you wouldn’t be where you are today. There’s no need to worry about it. If it’s meant to happen, it will.”

The liner notes in the album from Edgar Winter also explain the inclusion of “Johnny B. Goode” — and what made it the obvious first choice for a preview of the record:

Now there’s a story behind every song on this album, but this next one is really special. As just little kids growing up in Beaumont,Texas—Johnny and I started early, but our first big break came with this local talent contest that was the biggest thing in the area. It was called “The Johnny Melody Contest”, and first prize was the chance to make your own record. I guess I was 11 or 12, and Johnny about 14 or 15. We had our very first band called “Johnny and the Jammers” and the best song we knew was “Johnny B. Goode.” So we entered, we went on, we played it, we won, and went on to make our first record (a song Johnny wrote called “School Day Blues”— and as they say, the rest is history.

So if it hadn’t been for that song, who knows? To this day, when I think of Rock ‘n’ Roll, I think of Chuck Berry and “Johnny B. Goode”. It’s not only Johnny’s story, it’s every kid’s story who ever picked up a guitar, coming from humble beginnings with the idea of making it big someday. So of course, it has to be on this album.

I had this dream of singing the song with my friend, the great Joe Walsh. Joe and I go way back to the 70s playing shows together when he was in the James Gang. Joe was up for doing the vocals, so we went to his place and recorded at his home studio. I got him to sing the second verse, and do the harmonies on the “Go Johnny Go” choruses, and just like that, my dream came true. Thank you, Joe, for taking time from your busy schedule with the Eagles and your radio show to do this special duet.

It reminded me of when Johnny and I used to sing it together, and felt just like old times.
There is also some Rockin’ guitar work by a fellow Texan named David Grissom (suggested by Ross Hogarth, our engineer, mixer, and producer). It fits perfectly with the Rock-house Boogie style piano I had put on it earlier. What I Love is that you can hear both Chuck Berry and Johnny Winter in the way he played it. Thanks, David. You really got it, Rockin’, Big Time Johnny Texas Style!”

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