Guernsey’s books Johnny Winter Collection for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 farewell gig
NEW YORK – “… A 130-pound, cross-eyed albino with long fleecy hair playing some of the gutsiest, fluid blues guitar you ever heard.” So said Rolling Stone in 1968 when describing a young, raw and riveting Johnny Winter. Through the decades, his music thrilled millions and for many, the treasures he left behind will be both poignant and magical. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at Gibson Brands New York Showroom (once home to the iconic recording studio the “Hit Factory”), the Johnny Winter Collection will be sold at one wild, unreserved Guernsey’s Auction. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com.
From his East Texas roots, Johnny Winter motored through the Austin clubs and onto a global stage. Many remember him for his distinct covers of songs including Johnny B Goode by Chuck Berry, and Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, as well as the original Still Alive and Well and I’m Yours and I’m Hers. Often accompanied by his brother Edgar, Johnny also shared the stage with his blues idols B.B. King and Muddy Waters, and gave a spectacular performance at Woodstock. At the time of his death in 2014, he was recording with Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry and Brian Setzer for the album Step Back, released posthumously.
Johnny Winter is prominently included on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest guitarists, so of course no auction would be complete without his collection of three dozen guitars. Many vividly remember the musician’s love affair with Gibson’s uniquely shaped Firebirds, all five of which are in the sale, including the iconic instrument that Johnny played live with Muddy Waters. Johnny also banged out song after song on his metal resonators, the instruments he affectionately called “garbage cans with strings,” some of which were uniquely crafted for him (below).
And though they appear almost toy-like, Winter’s three Lazer guitars (one is shown below) gave some of the most powerful sounds of his career. These, and assorted vintage instruments, constitute the artist’s personal collection.
On stage, Johnny Winter’s stiletto-thin frame was often draped in memorable outfits and customized accessories. Rings, necklaces, hats (sweat stains and all), belts, straps, scarves and more were trademarks of his style. And the auction has them all. So complete is this collection that it even includes a clump of Johnny’s actual beard with photos verifying the shearing.
For fans and collectors, there are many extremely rare rock and blues posters and vintage photographs documenting early appearances at clubs now long gone. There are images of not only Johnny, but also Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters, Ike and Tina Turner, B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix and other fellow musicians whom he knew and admired.
For additional information on any items in the auction, contact Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid absentee or live via the Internet as the sale is taking place by logging on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.