Veteran bluesman Johnny Winter says he never wanted to be a rocker.
In spite of his 1970 best-selling rock album âJohnny Winter âŠ And,â featuring his brother, Edgar, Winter said he always was and always will be true to his first love: the blues.
âI wasnât really happy crossing over to rock ânâ roll,â he said in a telephone interview from Charlotte, N.C., where he was to perform that night.
âThat was my managerâs idea. Iâd rather not be doing it. At the time, the blues was kind of fading out, and he thought I should do more rock.
âHe might have been right. It was my biggest-selling record but it was a record I liked the least.
âIt was the only best-selling record I ever had and I still donât like listening to it today.â
Winter is going through a renaissance of sorts. He is touring in support of his new recording, âRoots,â which features, among others, Edgar Winter (who also will be at Bluesapalooza), Susan Tedeschi, Sonny Landreth, Derek Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band, John Medeski, John Popper and Vince Gill, among others.
He recently was a guest on the David Letterman television show, and on Friday, Aug. 3, he will be under the pines at the high-altitude beer and blues festival in Mammoth.
Heâs never been hereânot even closeâbut he said he doesnât care.
âWeâll come, because we donât really care where we go. If there are people who want to hear us, weâll go there.â
What the Mammoth audience is likely to hear is a heavy dose of blues from Winter, who said his biggest musical influences came from straight-ahead southern blues.
âI always liked blues more than rock ânâ roll, but I liked Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis. Little Richard and Fats Domino when I was growing up as a teenager. There was never anything like rock and roll before it.
âBut mostly I listened to Muddy. I love Muddy Watersâ records. Heâs my favorite blues artist. He had so much feeling, and he is a really great singer.
âI like Robert Johnson a lot, Lightning Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, Son House, those guys. I went out and got every blues record I could find.â