After scoring back-to-back hits in the ’70s with “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein,” Edgar Winter continues to be a strong musical force.
Winter, the younger brother of blues guitarist Johnny Winter, will perform with his band Thursday, Aug. 8, as part of the Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles.
Ten Years After, Canned Heat, Rick Derringer and Pat Travers also are part of the bill. The show starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are available by going to www.oshows.com or by calling 630-962-7000.
Kane County Chronicle’s Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Winter about his activities.
Eric Schelkopf: You performed with your brother, Johnny Winter, last year as part of the Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest. What’s it like being part of this festival?
Edgar Winter: It reminds me of Woodstock. I love those early festivals because they had such a wide variety of acts. The music was all over the place, as opposed to kind of a packaged show say with three blues guitar players.
Woodstock changed my life, so anything that reminds me of that is a good deal.
ES: How did it change your life?
EW: It changed my entire perspective on music. Back then, I was not that interested in pop or rock. I guess I thought of myself more as a serious musician.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten over that. I’m primarily thought of as a rocker, mainly because of “Frankenstein” being such a heavy instrumental. It’s almost a precursor of heavy metal.
I really love jazz and classical music as well, and part of what I’ve tried to do throughout my career is to play a wide variety of music and to broaden musical horizons.
To me, there’s only two kinds of music – it either takes you somewhere, or it doesn’t. I’ve always considered myself something of a musical rebel. I’m sure I could have been far more financially successful if I thought of it as a business. I’ve never even thought of it in terms of a career or a business.
I love music. You’ll never hear Edgar Winter talking about a farewell tour. I’m in it to the end.
ES: Being on stage with your brother, how is that experience?
EW: Well, it’s always very emotional. Having grown up together and having learned to play together, Johnny and I have an almost telepathic kind of musical communication.
We know each other so well. He has always been my all-time musical hero, so whenever we get to play together, it’s very emotional.
ES: You were the first musician to strap on a keyboard. Why did you want to do that, just to make yourself more mobile?
EW: It seems like such a simple and obvious idea that I was amazed that no one had done it before. I was the first person to think of it.
I was horribly frustrated being stuck behind a big bank of keyboards. I just said, “Why do the guitar players get to have all the fun? I want to get out there and boogie.”
I’ll never forget that moment when I walked out on stage with my keyboard strapped on. Nobody had seen it before, and the crowd just went crazy. It was one of those real rock ‘n’ roll moments.
That gets into the whole story of “Frankenstein.” Back then, I was looking for a song to feature the synthesizer. Actually, I had written the main riff to “Frankenstein” back when I was playing with Johnny.
Back in those days, I had not recorded an album yet, and nobody even knew Johnny had a brother. He’d do the first part of the set with his blues trio, and then say, “And now I’m going to bring up my younger brother Edgar.”
And the audience would say, “Oh, wow, there’s two of them!” That riff was just the instrumental that I had devised mainly to just sort of introduce myself and showcase my instrumental talents.
The song ended up on the album “They Only Come Out At Night,” and before we knew it, it was a huge No. 1 hit. If I had any advice to give people who are just starting out, it would be to have fun.
Play the music you enjoy and whatever is closest to your heart. “Frankenstein” is an perfect example of that. It was just a song that we did for fun.