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Johnny Winter has lived pretty much all of the stereotypical elements of a hard-living elder statesman of the blues—including bouts with drugs, bad management, and sometimes surprisingly subpar performances. However, Winter, now 70, still has undeniable spirit. Even if he’d hung up his Firebird decades ago, his career would be hall of fame-worthy. And in Down and Dirty, Winter’s story gets its due through his own words and those who helped him through his darkest times.
One of the most poignant moments comes when Winter puts his Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers LP on his turntable, listens to “Crossroads,” and describes how much he learned from it—and how Cream’s version “wasn’t near as good.” Yes, Winter is as outspoken as ever. Though his fretboard pyrotechnics have faded a bit, the fire still burns bright.