Blues legend Johnny Winter dies in Switzerland

Johnny Winter

Credit: 2014 Tim Mosenfelder / Getty

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 03: Johnny Winter performs during Day 6 of the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course on May 3, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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by ANN OLDENBURG

USA TODAY

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 7:37 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 17 at 11:37 AM

Texas guitarist, singer and music producer Johnny Winter has died at age 70.

Winter, older brother of Edgar Winter — also a music legend — rose to fame in the late 1960s and '70s with his performances and recordings that included producing his childhood hero Muddy Waters.

"I love blues. I don't mind a little rock and roll, too, as long as it's blues-based rock and roll," he told Guitar World in 2010.

Winter's representative, Carla Parisi, confirmed Thursday to AP that Winter died Wednesday in a hotel room in Zurich. A Facebook note says "his wife, family and bandmates were all saddened by the loss of one of the world's finest guitarists."

He had been on an extensive tour that took him to Europe for his last performance Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria. He performed in May at the annual Jazz Fest in New Orleans.

Winter, who was born in Beaumont, Texas, showed his gift for music at an early age. At 4, he played the clarinet. At 11, the ukulele. He and Edgar often appeared as a duo on children's TV shows and talent contests. Johnny formed his first band when he was 15 and was making records at 18.

But he battled health and substance abuse issues through the years.

In that Guitar World interview in 2010, he said, "I was not in the best shape for a while there. I was going through some really difficult personal issues, and I started taking prescription drugs to help with the problems on the advice of a doctor. But I ended up taking too many prescription drugs for too long. Combined with drinking, the adverse effects just got worse and worse."

But, he added at the time, "I feel great now."

Last month, in an interview with JournalStar.com, Winter, who released more than 25 albums in his career but never won a Grammy, was asked what he'd like his legacy to be.

He replied: "I just hope I'm remembered as a good blues musician."

Winter was scheduled to release a new studio album, Step Back, on Sept. 2 via Megaforce Records.

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