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Edgar Winter

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Edgar Winter deserves his own entry in the chronicles of rock 'n' roll and not just for being Johnny’s younger albino brother.

As Johnny’s career went interstellar in the late 60’s, multi-instrumentalist Edgar was somewhat in his shadow. His first album Entrance, though an interesting debut wasn’t a hit but it did contain his trademark version of 'Tobacco Road.' Edgar played keyboards and honking sax.

In 1971 he formed White Trash with old friend Jerry LaCroix. A more cohesive and original record, Edgar Winter’s White Trash contained perennial live favourite 'Keep Playin’ that Rock 'n' Roll.' He followed it up with the live double album Roadwork. A classic of its time, Roadwork went gold, made 23 on the charts and also featured his brother and Rick Derringer performing extended versions of 'Tobacco Road' and of course Derringer’s classic 'Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo.'

Now with some money for the first time, Edgar formed a new band with Dan Hartman on vocals, Chuck Ruff on drums and guitar maestro Ronnie Montrose. Needless to say Rick Derringer was involved too somewhere along the line.

1973’s 'They Only Come out at Night' hit the big time and the top three. Edgar, bejewelled, powdered and wearing eye make-up, looked suitably weird and freaky on the cover but the music was a heady mixture of jazzy, almost progressive rock.

'Frankstein' from the album was a shock number one in America and even made top 20 in UK. It was first hit single to feature a synthesiser as a lead instrument and Edgar was the first to strap his keyboard to his shoulder and play it onstage more like a guitarist. This was big, important stuff at the time.

Perennial classic rock station fave 'Free Ride' also made the top 20 later in the year. For the first time Edgar was a bigger star than his brother.

However, 1974 saw Ronnie Montrose leave to form his own highly influential band Montrose. Of course Derringer replaced him. Shock Treatment was a lesser hit album but still made top 20.

There followed a discographer’s nightmare. The next few years saw releases by Edgar Winter as a solo project, with Rick Derringer, with White Trash. Most of these involved the same musicians. Jasmine Nightdreams was billed as a solo album but featured Hartman, Rick D, and Ruff all the same. It was a softer rock sound and to these ears, suffers from mushy production. In 1975 he released the snappily titled Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer, the same band but differently billed as on Jasmine Nightdreams but it was a commercial flop. White Trash was resurrected for an album in ’77 but no one was much bothered.

In fact for a band so successful in ’73 they were swiftly commercial and then critically disregarded by the end of the decade. However, his music was always with us in movies like 'Air America,' 'Wayne’s World 2,' 'My Cousin Vinnie,' 'What’s Love Got To Do With It?' and that celluloid classic 'Encino Man.'

He even turned up in the Simpsons with his brother, still gigging out in the American heartlands. This, of course, was not very far from the truth. He continues to record and play live. In the summer of 2003 he released his latest album, Live at the Galaxy.

© 2004