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July 17, 2014

Blues legend Johnny Winter dies at 70 in Zurich

Eds: Updates with more details. With AP Photos.

GENEVA (AP) — Texas blues legend Johnny Winter, known for his lightning-fast blues guitar riffs, his striking long white hair and his collaborations with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and childhood hero Muddy Waters, has died. He was 70.

Winter was a leading light among the white blues guitar players, including Eric Clapton and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, who followed in the footsteps of the earlier Chicago blues masters. Winter idolized Waters — and got a chance to produce some of the blues legend's more popular albums. Rolling Stone magazine named Winter one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.

His representative, Carla Parisi, confirmed Thursday that Winter died in a hotel room in Zurich a day earlier. The statement said his wife, family and bandmates were all saddened by the loss of one of the world's finest guitarists.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death.

Winter had been on an extensive tour this year that recently brought him to Europe. His last performance came Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria.

The tour, a documentary that premiered at the SXSW Festival exploring his music, youth and substance abuse battles, and a newly released four-CD set of recordings were all part of Winter's celebration of turning 70 this year.

John Dawson Winter III was born on Feb. 23, 1944, in Mississippi, but was raised in Beaumont, Texas. He was the older brother of Edgar Winter, also an albino, who rose to musical fame with the Edgar Winter Group.

Winter was one of the most popular live acts of the early 1970s, when his signature fast blues guitar solos attracted a wide following. But his addiction problems with heroin during that decade and later battles with alcohol and prescription medication, including methadone, also drew attention.

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