Love, Life & Money: Johnny Winter & Dr. John on tour and playing live on Swedish TV in 1987

By on June 27, 2018

On Friday, January 23, 1987, Texas blues legend Johnny Winter was joined by the great Dr. John in a Stockholm, Sweden TV studio for an hour-long concert, later released on DVD with the imaginative title, Live in Sweden 1987.

Get your dose of the blues over on Night Flight Plus.

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At the time, Winter and his band — which, in addition to the Night Tripper, included Jon Paris (bass, harmonica) and Tom Compton (drums) — were on tour in Europe, promoting his then-new album, Third Degree.

During their 60-minute concert at Sonet Studios AB, in front of a relatively small audience of beautiful Swedish people, they performed just seven tunes:

“Sound the Bell” (7:56), “Don’t Take Advantage of Me” (10:14), “Mojo Boogie” (7:42), “You Lie Too Much” (5:42), “Sugar Sweet” (6:32), “Love, Life & Money” (7:04), and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (10:06).

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Some of you loyal blues fans out there may recognize Willie Dixon’s “Love, Life & Money,” the very same tune that Marianne Faithful also recorded for her classic 1987 album, Strange Weather (and it also featured Dr. John, credited as Mac Rebennack, on piano).

“I’ve had my share, of love, life and money,
Lost all three ways, I’m here to tell ya that sure ain’t funny,
Me and my money parted, so could my love and I,
Life don’t mean a thing and I wish that I could die.”

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We loved how this particular TV program began, with Johnny Winter, his girl and the rest of Winter’s band on their tour bus, traveling through the snowy streets of Stockholm on their way to the TV studio.

Later, we see that Winter looks completely relaxed, looking like playing the blues has enriched his life and indeed brought him lots of “love, life and money.”

Read more about Johnny Winter below.

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John Dawson Winter III was born on February 23, 1944, in Beaumont, Texas. Like his older brother Edgar Winter — born on December 28, 1946 — he was an albino.

Winter — who was described in a 1987 Spin magazine album review as “skinnier than Keith Richards, whiter than Jimmy Page, and faster than Eric Clapton” — has always made playing the blues look like it came pretty easily to him.

One reason may have been that he’d been making a living doing just that, playing the blues, since he was fourteen. It hadn’t always been easy, though.

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Winter had wanted to play the blues with his teenage band, Johnny & the Jammers, at a time when the kids mostly wanted to hear rock ‘n’ roll tunes.

He and Edgar (who played keyboards and saxophone) recorded a handful of singles for small local Texas record labels, including Frolic Records.

After awhile, the singles were credited to Winter, or one of the group pseudonyms he used.

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They began getting enough recognition outside Texas that their singles began being picked up for distribution by major labels like Atlantic and MGM.

Winter had his first taste of chart success with his version of “Harlem Shuffle,” recorded by the Traits.

The single — released by Universal Records, then picked up by Scepter Records — spent two weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1966.

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All during this time, the mid-60s, Winter kept playing in bands on the Southern bar circuit, churning out Top 40 covers and popular soul hits like “In the Midnight Hour.”

Winter always felt like an outsider, though, but that’s what the blues traditionally was anyway… music that came from the heart, from outsiders those who felt more comfortable on the margins of society and pop culture, locked out (and in some cases they’d also been locked up).

It probably helped further the image of Winter being an outsider bluesman that — even though he was playing music traditionally associated with black musicians in the South — he was very white (being an albino is about as white looking as you can get).

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Some of his earliest blues gigs in Texas were met with either puzzlement or hostility from the (mostly white) bar crowds who weren’t used to seeing white musicians playing black music like the blues.

At the time, Winter spent a lot of his free time hanging out with a black blues guitarist named Clarence Garlow, whose own blues recordings (dating back to the late ’40s) had a driving, uptempo blues-rock feel that Winter quickly absorbed into his own music.

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Winter eventually formed a blues-rock trio with bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer John “Red” Turner.

After Rolling Stone magazine wrote about him in their December 7, 1968 issue, Johnny Winter’s life was irrevocably changed.

In February 1969, he signed a lucrative record deal with Columbia Records, who advanced him $600,000, which was the largest sum the label had ever paid to a new solo artist.

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After playing at the Woodstock music festival in August of 1969, Winter disbanded his trio, and he formed a new band, Johnny Winter And, with former members of the McCoys, including their shit-hot lead guitarist Rick Derringer.

His biggest success came with his fourth album, 1970’s Johnny Winter And, and a hit “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” written by Derringer, who would soon be departing for his own successful solo career.

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After he was finally financially stable and no longer struggling to survive as a working musician, Winter signed with Alligator, the independent, Chicago-based label solidly committed to the blues.

There, he recorded three blues albums — 1984’s Guitar Slinger, 1985’s Serious Business, and 1986’s Third Degree — which all sold better than his later-era Columbia albums.

Watch Johnny Winter & Dr. John playing live on Swedish TV in Live in Sweden 1987 over on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.