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Raisin Caine -The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter

Written by Mary Lou Sullivan

Published by Backbeat Books

It wasn't an easy task for author Mary Lou Sullivan to write her story on Johnny Winter. Having to contend with Johnny's manager Ted Slatus' juggernaut of politics, eccentricities and alcoholism were barriers to completing the project. Once Slatus was fired and co-guitarist Paul Nelson was brought on board to manage, only then was the project to come to complete fruition.

This is not an unauthorized biography done without the consent of the artist. Johnny himself gave his blessing and in his foreword, credits Sullivan for painting an accurate picture. Movie rights should be brought to this book. Raisin Cane covers the entire spectrum of Johnny's career. It's one wild ride and when the train stops, we are sad its over.

Nothing is left out. From Johnny's upbringing in Beaumont, we see his struggles. Being albino made him an easy target for prejudice and slander. It never slowed his confidence down in learning guitar, listening to old blues and playing in numerous bands.

Interviews are conducted with Tommy Shannon, Uncle John Turner, Bruce Iglauer, Edgar Winter and many other cronies and misfits. Johnny himself is a willing candidate and is open and blunt about this alcohol and drug abuse, stints in rehab and his open door policy on chasing women. It's not all dirt. We see a man whom Rolling Stone magazine elevated to God like status. His tours playing at stadiums and clubs always left audiences wanting more.

Winter's business acumen wasn't the best one. Managed by pirates and cutthroats such as Slatus always left Johnny in a financial hole. Even he will admit his temperament wasn't an easy one. When he made contact with Alligator Records, it proved a short lived relationship due to conflicting viewpoints of both him and Iglauer.

In the final years with Ted Slatus, his concert performances turned into shoddy affairs with Johnny being too medicated on prescriptions to perform. What the audience got was a caricature of a man who once brought blues to the forefront.

Thanks to Paul Nelson, Johnny's life changed. Firing Slatus, editing the financial records and cutting out the meds, Johnny's star went back on the rise.So nothing is ruined for the readers, I will stop here. What I will say is Johnny wants to be remembered as a great bluesman. Those who have had the pleasure of jamming with him wont disagree..

Reviewed by Gary "Wingman" Weeks

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