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Music & Concerts
Rock ’n’ Blues Hippiefest
Legendary artists pay tribute to Johnny Winter
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Image courtesy of RUTH ECKERD HALL
The Rock ’n’ Blues Hippiefest Tribute to Johnny Winter is at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
CLEARWATER – On July 16, the music world lost a legend. Johnny Winter, one of the best blues guitarists in the business, passed away in Zurich, Switzerland, a few days after performing at the Cahors Blues Festival in France. He was 70.

What was originally slated as Rock ’n’ Blues Hippiefest headlined by Johnny Winter had to be reworked after his death. Now, audiences will celebrate his life with a fitting tribute, featuring his brother Edgar along with Vanilla Fudge, Peter Rivera (formerly of Rare Earth) and Savoy Brown's Kim Simmonds.

The Rock ’n’ Blues Hippiefest Tribute to Johnny Winter makes a stop in the Tampa Bay area on Saturday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m., at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road.

Tickets start at $45.75. Call 791-7400 or visit www.rutheckerdhall.com.

"My wife, Monique, and I are shocked at the suddenness of Johnny's passing, especially since I was so looking forward with such joy and anticipation to seeing him again and playing together,” said Edgar Winter in a statement released shortly after the tragic news of Johnny’s death. “I know his body is departing this physical realm, but his presence, his music, and his spirit are undiminished, and alive as ever in my heart. Johnny has always been, is now, and will forever remain my greatest musical hero of all time. But more than all that, he’s my brother – in family, in music, in life and beyond. I will do my best to carry on in honor of his memory and the Winter name.”

The Rock ’n’ Blues Hippiefest will mark the third annual version of the tour with a show that will feature separate performances by all of the artists who will be performing their greatest hits interspersed by a selection of Johnny Winter songs.

All of the artists appearing on this newly announced tribute are looking forward to sharing some of Johnny Winter's memorable music with fans.

Edgar Winter

Edgar Winter, an undeniable fan favorite who has appeared on both prior Rock ’n’ Blues Fest tours, is a multi-instrumentalist, playing everything from keyboards and sax to percussion. His music encompasses many different genres including rock, blues, jazz and pop.

Edgar first entered the national spotlight with his early recording of “Tobacco Road,” featured on his 1970 debut album, “Entrance.” He would soon form the band White Trash and release two hit albums: “Edgar Winter's White Trash” (1971) and “Roadwork” (1972).

Hot on the heels of the certified gold album, “Roadwork,” Edgar would put together an entirely new outfit called The Edgar Winter Group that would originally feature guitarist Ronnie Montrose. In 1973, the band's first effort, “They Only Come Out at Night,” would spawn the hit singles "Free Ride" and the monster, chart-topping "Frankenstein." The album stayed on the charts for 80 consecutive weeks.

The pivotal album would eventually reach double-platinum status, selling more than 2 million copies.

With more than 20 albums and numerous collaborative efforts to his credit, Edgar has never been one to simply ride the wave of popular music stardom. His music has been featured in several major national television, radio and advertising campaigns. In addition, his music can be heard in no fewer than 15 film and television projects.

“I would like to thank all you fans who have followed us throughout all these years,” Edgar said in a press release from the Albright Entertainment Group promoting the tour. “We can't do it without you. We just want you to know how much it means to be doing what we most love, and see you out there rockin' and having a good time."

Vanilla Fudge

The current lineup of Vanilla Fudge features original members Mark Stein (vocals, organ), Vinny Martell (guitars, vocals) and Carmine Appice (drums, vocals).

Vanilla Fudge dates back to 1966. The original band (with bassist Tim Bogert) would have a huge hit the following year with a revival of the Supremes classic, "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Featured on their debut album, the song displayed the key elements of their style and would be a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The band gained a following with its psychedelic covers. They recorded two Beatles songs along with a rendition of the R&B number "Take Me for a Little While," which would be a Top 40 hit.

From 1966 and 1969, the band churned out five studio albums. They disbanded in 1970 to follow different career paths.

In 2005, the original members reconvened for a tour with Riders On The Storm (featuring Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of The Doors) and Steppenwolf. A year later, they were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame along with Billy Joel, Joan Jett and the producer of their debut album, George "Shadow" Morton.

Vinny Martell said he is looking forward to hitting the road this summer.

“We thank all our fans for helping to make Vanilla Fudge a piece of music history,” Martell said. “Music has always been, and still is, the timeless language of peace and hope and unity in this turbulent world. Keep rockin' with us in the 21st century and come out to this summer's Rock'n'Blues Fest.”

Peter Rivera

Any connoisseur of ’70s rock will certainly remember Rare Earth.

The band’s funky, good-time music is still played on classic rock stations across the country and their place in music history is firmly cemented. Peter Rivera is the original drummer and lead vocalist behind all of the hits.

Rare Earth sold more than 25 million albums and had Top Ten hits with the songs "Get Ready," "I Just Want To Celebrate" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You." Two other songs, "Born to Wander" and "Hey Big Brother" would enter Top 20 on the charts. The albums “Get Ready” (1969) and the two-record set, “Rare Earth in Concert” (1971), both achieved double platinum status.

Rivera has been called the premier rock drummer/vocalist of the ’70s and his vocals have been featured on countless radio and television commercials over the years. In addition, his voice has been heard in several movies and television shows including “A Knight's Tale,” “Three Kings,” “Arthur,” “Six Feet Under,” “Chicago Hope” and “Beverly Hills 90210.”

"I'm really looking forward to the Rock ’n’ Blues tour and can't wait to get started," said Rivera. “I hope we can all rock it out.”

Kim Simmonds

Considered one of the architects of British blues, Kim Simmonds began performing professionally in London in the mid 1960s after learning how to play guitar by listening to his brother's blues records as a teenager.

As the leader and founder of the legendary blues rock band Savoy Brown, Simmonds has 49 album releases currently available and continues to tour all over the world with the band as well as a solo acoustic act.

In 1967, Savoy Brown helped to propel the UK blues boom movement that brought blues music back to the United States, invigorating the style forever. In the process, Savoy Brown became part of the framework that launched the rock and roll music of the 1970s, with their vast influence stretching into modern rock.

In 2011, the band celebrated its 45th anniversary by releasing a new CD titled “Voodoo Moon.”

"Once again, I'm touring with the Rock ’n’ Blues Fest and, once again, I'm excited to do so,” said Simmonds. “I am a fan of all the other artists on the bill so it will be a pleasure for me to participate. I thrive on the atmosphere, playing among my peers and I know the tour will bring out the best in me.”
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