Johnny Winter (February 23, 1944-July 16, 2014) was an American music legend. Beginning with his first appearance on the pages of Rolling Stone in 1968, Winter epitomized the fiery and flamboyant blues-rock guitar hero. On Saturday, April 18, 2015, Record Store Day, Alligator Records will release the vinyl-only album It’s My Life, Baby – The Best Of The Alligator Records Years. It collects eight classic tracks from Winter’s three heralded Alligator albums, featuring one brilliant, career-defining performance after another. The 180g pressing will also include a download card for the entire record. It will be initially available only at participating Record Store Day locations.
Upon joining the Alligator family in 1984, Winter wanted to record nothing but authentic, deep blues. When he released Guitar Slinger, his Alligator debut, it was widely hailed as his best (and bluesiest) album ever; it charted in Billboard and earned a Grammy nomination. The next year, Winter followed up with Serious Business. The blistering album won him his second Grammy nomination with Alligator. 3rd Degree, his final Alligator release, came out in 1986. The album featured several special guests and an array of blues styles. Original Johnny Winter Trio players Tommy Shannon and Uncle John Turner, as well as Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, made guest appearances.
While with Alligator, Johnny was living his artistic dream. Surprisingly, his Alligator blues albums earned their way onto rock radio, and a video for the song Don’t Take Advantage of Me played on the fledgling MTV network for over six months. But no matter how much commercial success Johnny’s Alligator albums received, they never compromised his commitment to his roots.
After his three Alligator releases, Johnny’s management convinced him that he needed to return to more commercial blues-rock and the world of major labels. Winter never stopped touring and recording, although he was facing growing health problems. He released a number of critically acclaimed live and studio albums while remaining as in-demand as ever. He died on July 16, 2014, while on tour in Switzerland. Shortly after his death, his final studio album, Step Back, was released.
While he continued to bring joy to fans around the world with his live shows and his recordings, Johnny Winter never again recorded with the inspiration of both being signed to a blues label and the accompaniment of real Chicago blues musicians. It’s My Life, Baby – The Best Of The Alligator Records Years will delight old and new fans, and remind them of Johnny’s intense love of the blues tradition and his desire to bring the deepest and most authentic blues to the widest possible audience.