Raisin' Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter (Kindle Edition)

BOOK: Raisin' Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter (Kindle Edition)
11.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Table of Contents
Praise for
Raisin’ Cain
“From Texas progressive to deep blues revivalist, from rock star highs to heroin lows, this story is a raucous good time, full of drama, and ultimately, an exciting personal triumph.”
—Robert Gordon, author of
Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters
“‘The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom,’ wrote William Blake. This book shows just how rocky that road can be, and how much a great blues artist has to work and endure to create the music. It’ll remind you what a giant force Johnny Winter has been in blues and rock, both with his own music and for his work with Muddy Waters and others. It’s all here—the sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, heartbreaks, triumphs, and famous friends. What a wild, improbable, twisting tale!”
—Mark Hoffman, author of
Moanin’ at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf
“Incredibly detailed. . . . For those of us who are Johnny Winter fans, this is more information than anyone would ever need. Raises the bar when someone says they are writing an authorized biography.”
—Bill Wax, Program Director and host of
B. B. King’s Bluesville
on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio
“Blues fans talk about ‘real deal’ blues. They also want a ‘real deal’ biography, too, with research and facts and not just a string of liner notes and record reviews.
Raisin’ Cain
is the ‘real deal.’ The detail and completeness make this history, not just a cover version for the tourists. The next time someone asks Edgar Winter, ‘Hey, where’s your brother?’ he can tell them to pick up a copy.”
—Jay Sieleman, Executive Director The Blues Foundation, Memphis, Tennessee
Copyright © 2010 by Mary Lou Sullivan
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, without written permission, except by a newspaper or magazine reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review.
Published in 2010 by Backbeat Books
An Imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation
7777 West Bluemound Road
Milwaukee, WI 53213
Trade Book Division Editorial Offices
19 West 21
Street, New York, NY 10010
Lyrics from “Still Alive and Well” by Rick Derringer and “Sweet Papa John” by Johnny Winter used by permission.
Printed in the United States of America
Book design by UB Communications
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request.
ISBN 978-0-87930-973-2
To Lloyd J. Jassin, whose wisdom, perseverance, and heart made my dream come true
I am truly blessed to have you as my agent, attorney, and friend
love this book. It has everything. All the things that I wanted people to know, from how hard it was growing up in Texas being an albino, my career, the early days, my problems with drugs ... it’s excellent and very realistic—it’s exactly what happened.
It’s like reliving my life again. Reading things people said that I had forgotten. There were a few things that I didn’t remember that really surprised me. I had forgotten about Salvador Dali wanting me to stick a microphone up my ass ... that was ridiculous.
Reading this book was emotional—the good stuff was great and the bad stuff was really horrible. Some of the memories were painful, but I’m glad they’re in the book. To try to whitewash my life would have been horrible, that wouldn’t have been worth reading. I’ve always been very honest. You don’t get the right picture if you’re not honest.
Mary Lou did a fantastic job—it couldn’t have been better. I don’t think anybody else could have done such a good job or been as honest. I loved talking to her on all those Saturday nights. I was really open because I wanted my story to be told. She did an excellent job on research and really spent a lot of time on this book. It is perfect—there isn’t anything left out.
I’m very glad I stayed true to the blues—I wouldn’t have been nearly as happy if I stayed a
star. It was just too much pressure. The life of a bluesman is a little easier than the life of a
star. As a bluesman, I love what I’m doing; I’m not forcing anything. People seem to really love my music, and that feels good.
The blues is such an emotional music—it has so much feeling. There never was a point where I didn’t want to play blues. You can’t describe the blues; you just have to feel it. Some people say it’s boring, but it sure isn’t to me. I try to do it different every time I play.
Blues goes in and out of style, but it’ll always be around because it’s just too good to go away. There will always be people that love the blues and play the blues. Stations like Bluesville on XM radio really help the blues by exposing it to new people. I’ve influenced a lot of people too. People are always telling me if it wasn’t for me they wouldn’t be into the blues, and that makes me feel real good.
Most of today’s blues isn’t as good as it was back during Muddy’s time. People used to live such hard lives. They grew up picking cotton, and people don’t do that anymore. The passing of Muddy, John Lee Hooker, Gatemouth, and so many elder bluesmen certainly hurts because there are not as many good people coming up. There are still a few good people around though—Magic Slim, Derek Trucks, Little Ed, Eric Sardinas....
I’m real glad to still be playing after all these years. I want to keep playing as long as I possibly can. I’ve been playing all over the U.S. and Europe and just came back from playing in Europe for three weeks. Having so many loyal fans is great. Now they bring their kids to the shows, and their kids like me. Playing live shows, you feed off all the energy from the people. The people make a lot of difference.
I really hope everybody enjoys this book as much as I did. I read it as soon as I got it and couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Even though I knew, it was still fun to read. I’ve led a very interesting life. You can’t make this stuff up.
Johnny Winter
November 29, 2008
Fairfield County, Connecticut
aisin’ Cain
is a book that Teddy Slatus, Johnny Winter’s manager and business associate for thirty-five years, didn’t want published, and a book I was determined to write. It has been a tumultuous twenty-five-year journey.
My quest to write Johnny’s life story began in 1984, when I interviewed him for the
Hartford Advocate.
Impressed by his honesty, affinity for storytelling, philosophical approach to life, and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, I felt an immediate kinship and wanted to know more. I set up a second interview for a Johnny Winter special on my WCCC radio show, and approached Slatus Management about writing his biography.
Although Slatus turned down my idea several times during the 1980s, I never abandoned my quest. During the ’90s, Slatus consistently rejected requests for interviews, and eventually shut Johnny off from all media contact. But I was still determined to tell Johnny’s story with
input during
lifetime, rather than leave it to biographers forced to rely on the often self-serving memories of peripheral players after he was gone.
Ironically, it was on the day before 9/11/2001 that Slatus and I entered into a handshake agreement to make me Johnny’s biographer. It took another fifteen months before Slatus made it official. He said he had talked to other writers but chose me because “You have heart and you really care about Johnny.”
In January 2003, I began interviewing Johnny in his home. By then his lifestyle had affected his memory, so I did an enormous amount of research prior to each meeting, compiling 400—450 questions each week to help jog his recollections. After Johnny and I had shared many a Saturday night strolling down memory lane, Slatus called in his attorney, stopped the project, and forbade Johnny from having any further contact with me. He had become threatened by my close friendship with Johnny, and frantic about what he may have told me.
Crushed that I could no longer see my new friend, but still determined to tell his tale, I embarked on a six-year journey to fill in the blanks and write a definitive biography. I interviewed Paul Oscher in a coffee shop in Memphis; and traveled to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where a blown-up photo of Johnny, Muddy Waters, and Eric Clapton adorns the wall of the remains of Waters’s Stovall Farms cabin. I conducted an in-depth interview with Alligator Records’ president and founder Bruce Iglauer outside of Robinsonville, Mississippi, where Robert Johnson, another one of Johnny’s influences, spent his childhood. I traveled with Howlin’ Wolf biographer Mark Hoffman to Leland, Mississippi, to see the life-size mural honoring Johnny, Edgar, and other blues musicians, and to visit the birthplace of Johnny’s father and grandfather, who had lived and worked there as cotton brokers.
BOOK: Raisin' Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter (Kindle Edition)
11.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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