Johnny Winter's "Third Degree" was recorded and released in 1986, this album re-unites Johnny with his band-members from the 1960s: Tommy Shannon and Uncle Red Turner on several tracks. in the beginning of 1987 Johnny Winter Tours in Europe (together with Dr John The NightTripper to promote this album. This web page has photos of album covers, inner sleeves, record labels together with production details, musicians and track-listing.
In the realm of blues and rock music, few names resonate as loudly as Johnny Winter. An extraordinary guitarist and legendary performer, Johnny Winter carved his path in the music industry, leaving behind a trail of electrifying performances and unforgettable albums. Among these milestones stands the 1986 release "Third Degree", a momentous CD album that marked the reunion of Johnny Winter with Tommy Shannon and Red Turner, alongside the remarkable addition of Dr. John on piano.
A Triumphant Reunion
The 1980s were a challenging period for Johnny Winter. Despite his immense talent and reputation, he faced personal and professional struggles. However, "Third Degree" proved to be a pivotal point in his career, bringing together a group of musicians whose collective prowess breathed new life into his artistry.
The reunion of Johnny Winter with bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Red Turner was a source of excitement for both fans and critics alike. The trio had previously collaborated on some of Winter's most iconic works, including "The Progressive Blues Experiment" (1969) and Johnny Winter's self-titled debut album on CBS Records (1969). Their chemistry on stage and in the studio was undeniable, and the prospect of their reunion fueled high expectations for "Third Degree".
The Magic of Dr. John
One of the most compelling aspects of "Third Degree" was the inclusion of the venerable Dr. John on piano. The charismatic New Orleans musician, known for his unique blend of blues, jazz, and funk, brought a distinct flavor to the album. His addition to the lineup added a layer of complexity and texture that complemented Winter's blistering guitar work perfectly.
Dr. John's collaboration with Johnny Winter on "Third Degree" was not just a musical match but also a meeting of two souls deeply connected to the blues tradition. Their shared passion for the genre resonated throughout the album, making it a memorable experience for anyone listening.
The Tracks That Defined "Third Degree"
"Third Degree" featured a mix of original compositions and inspired covers that showcased Johnny Winter's remarkable versatility and mastery of the blues. The album opens with "Mojo Boogie", a high-octane track that immediately immerses listeners in Winter's signature guitar licks, backed by the tight rhythm section of Shannon and Turner.
The title track, "Third Degree", exemplifies Winter's ability to convey raw emotion through his guitar. His searing solos and passionate vocals combined with Dr. John's skillful piano accompaniment elevate the song to a level of blues brilliance seldom achieved.
"See See Baby" and "Tin Pan Alley" are further standouts on the album. The former captures Winter's fiery intensity, while the latter showcases his soulful side as he pours his heart into every note.
Legacy and Impact
"Third Degree" was a commercial success and garnered critical acclaim, earning Johnny Winter newfound recognition in the 1980s music scene. The reunion with Tommy Shannon and Red Turner proved that their musical chemistry had not waned over the years, and Dr. John's presence elevated the album to new heights.
Beyond its immediate impact, "Third Degree" solidified Johnny Winter's legacy as a blues virtuoso who continued to innovate and captivate audiences well into his career. The album remains a beloved piece of his discography, revered by fans and celebrated by blues enthusiasts worldwide.
Sonet Records SNTF 965
1986 Made in USA
I REALLY LIKE THIS RECORD. It's got a lot of different kinds of blues on it, more variety.
First, there's Casey, Johnny and Ken.. To me, these guys are the cream of the crop as far as blues today. They can play everything. They're always challenging,too. They're right in the pocket, and make me want to play better.
Then, there's Dr. John. Mac is someone I've known since the early '60s, and I've wanted to record with him for quite a while. He's got that New Orleans flavor that nobody else can do. He knows a lot of great old songs that I don't know, which is excellent because he comes up with songs that I have a good time playing! Our musical roots are so similar that we mesh real well. I hope we can work together more in the future.
A lot of my fans and friends have been asking me when I was gonna do some more acoustic stuff. I think we got a couple of very nice ones on this album. Actually, I was never interested in playing acoustic guitar until I discovered those metal Nationals back in '68. I fell in love with that nasty sound. It reminds me of a garbage can with wire on it. It's got all that metal ring to it, a real bluesy sound. On this album, I used two different Nationals, an old one for all the slide stuff and a newer one for the fretting. I had to practice for about a month before we made the record because they're much harder to play than an electric guitar and I don't play an acoustic on the road. It's a challenge to play, but it's worth it, because before there was electricity guitars like this were all blues musicians had. And if you can't do it, if you have to have an electric guitar to play the blues, it's not a good feeling. I had to be able to master that guitar.
I had dreamed about playing with Tommy and Red again ever since we broke up back in 1970 because I don't think any of us really ever wanted that band to break up I don't feel like I could have made it without them in the first place. They were the first musicians ever to come to me and say, "We love what you do. We don't care if we make any money, we're willing to do straight blues, whether we make it or not." It was the first time I ever had a straight blues band. Up to that point, I had to play soul music -- Top 40, Beatles music, a little bit of everything. I said they were crazy we'd starve to death for sure playing nothing but blues. In about six months we did starve. Red's mother had a beauty shop, and we practiced at the beauty shop after hours late at night. Red stayed in the extra room, and Tommy slept on the couch. And those guys, if they hadn't done that, nobody would ever have heard of me or known that I was a blues guitar player. It was such a good feeling when we finalIy did make it playing straight blues. There was a feeling we had when we played together because we cared so much about each other and the music. It felt great to work with those guys and it still does. To get together in the studio again after 15 or 16 years ... and I feel like we played better on this record than we did back in Texas! It was really a dream come true to be able to work together again and show everybody we still got it.
"It makes a lot of difference when you love the guys you're playing with--it's just bound to come out in the music."
Johnny Winter - Producer
Dick Shurman - Producer
Dick Shurman was an American music producer who worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including The Doors, The Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. He was known for his innovative production techniques and his ability to capture the unique sound of each band.
Shurman was born in New York City in 1943. He began his career as a record store clerk, where he met many of the musicians who would later become his clients. In 1966, he co-founded the record label Elektra/Asylum Records, where he produced some of the label's most successful albums, including The Doors' "Waiting for the Sun" and Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow".
Shurman's production style was characterized by his use of innovative studio techniques, such as multi-tracking and overdubbing. He also had a keen ear for detail, and he was always looking for ways to create a unique sound for each band.
In addition to his work with The Doors and Jefferson Airplane, Shurman also produced albums for a wide range of other artists, including The Grateful Dead, The Band, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He was also a co-founder of the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in 1969.
Shurman's work had a profound impact on the sound of rock music in the 1960s and 1970s. He was one of the first producers to use studio techniques to create a truly psychedelic sound, and his work with The Doors helped to define the sound of the San Francisco psychedelic scene. Shurman's production techniques were also influential on the development of country rock and folk rock.
Shurman died in 2010 at the age of 66. He was a true pioneer of rock music production, and his work continues to inspire musicians today.
Shurman's work has been praised by many musicians and critics. In a 2010 article for Rolling Stone, David Fricke wrote that Shurman was "one of the most innovative and influential producers in rock history". He also noted that Shurman's "production techniques helped to define the sound of some of the most important albums of the 1960s and 1970s".
Shurman's legacy continues to inspire musicians today. In a 2019 interview, The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach said that Shurman was "one of his biggest influences". He also noted that Shurman's "production techniques helped to shape the sound of modern rock music".
Dick Shurman was a true pioneer of rock music production. His work helped to define the sound of some of the most important albums of the 1960s and 1970s, and his legacy continues to inspire musicians today.
Johnny Winter — electric guitar, National steel guitar, vocals
Ken Saydak — piano
Dr John — piano
Johnny B. Gayden - bass
Tommy Shannon — bass
Tommy Shannon, born Thomas Lafitte Smedley on 18 April 1946, is an American bass guitarist renowned for his influential work with the legendary blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. His powerful and innovative bass lines have left an indelible mark on the blues and rock music scene, making him one of the most respected and influential bass players of his generation.
Early Life and Musical Journey:
Tommy Shannon was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up in a musically inclined family. He discovered his passion for music at a young age and initially played guitar before switching to bass. Shannon's musical journey began to take shape in the 1960s when he moved to Dallas, Texas, a hotspot for emerging blues and rock scenes.
Collaboration with Johnny Winter:
In the late 1960s, Tommy Shannon's career took a significant turn when he joined forces with the renowned blues guitarist Johnny Winter. Shannon's powerful bass lines perfectly complemented Winter's electrifying guitar playing and distinctive voice. The partnership between Johnny Winter and Tommy Shannon proved to be a match made in blues heaven.
During his time with Johnny Winter, Shannon contributed to several albums, including the critically acclaimed "Johnny Winter Self-titled", and "The Progressive Blues Experiment" which was released in 1970. The album's success catapulted both Winter and Shannon into the limelight, earning them a dedicated fan base and recognition among their peers.
After several successful years with Johnny Winter, Tommy Shannon's musical journey took another pivotal turn when he teamed up with the young guitar prodigy, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Collaboration with Stevie Ray Vaughan:
In the early 1980s, Tommy Shannon's career took a significant turn when he joined forces with the young guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan. In 1981, Shannon became a member of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, the band that would redefine modern blues and bring the genre to new heights.
Shannon's rhythmic and steady bass playing provided a solid foundation for Stevie Ray Vaughan's blistering guitar solos, contributing to the band's unique sound. Their chemistry was undeniable, and together they achieved massive success with albums like "Texas Flood" (1983), "Couldn't Stand the Weather" (1984), and "Soul to Soul" (1985).
As part of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Tommy Shannon performed in iconic venues around the world and became known for his electrifying live performances. His bass lines on songs like "Pride and Joy", "Cold Shot", and "Crossfire" showcased his exceptional talent and helped solidify Stevie Ray Vaughan's status as a blues legend.
Tragedy and Aftermath:
Unfortunately, tragedy struck on August 27, 1990, when a helicopter carrying Stevie Ray Vaughan and members of Eric Clapton's entourage crashed after a concert in Wisconsin. The accident claimed the lives of all on board, including Stevie Ray Vaughan. The world mourned the loss of a guitar legend, and Tommy Shannon was deeply affected by the passing of his close friend and musical partner.
After Stevie Ray Vaughan's death, Tommy Shannon continued to honor his legacy through his music. He played with various bands and musicians, paying tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan's work while also exploring new musical endeavors.
Tommy Shannon's contributions to the world of blues and rock, particularly through his collaboration with Stevie Ray Vaughan, are immeasurable. His innovative bass playing and dedication to the craft have influenced countless bassists and musicians, leaving an enduring impact on the genre.
Uncle Red Turner — drums
"Uncle" John Turner was a legendary drummer who left an indelible mark on the world of music. Born with an innate passion for rhythm, he transformed the way drums were played, becoming a driving force behind some of the most iconic and influential music of his time. His extraordinary talent, boundless creativity, and warm personality earned him the endearing moniker of "Uncle", as he was seen as a mentor and father figure to many in the music community. This biography delves into the life of the extraordinary drummer whose beats still resonate in the hearts of music lovers worldwide.
Early Years and Musical Roots
John Turner was born on 12 March 1940, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up in a city renowned for its rich musical heritage, he was exposed to a diverse array of musical styles from an early age. Drawn to the rhythmic pulse of jazz, blues, and gospel, John fell in love with the sound of drums and began emulating the beats on any surface he could find. His parents, recognizing his natural affinity for percussion, gifted him a basic drum kit when he was just nine years old.
Journey to Mastery
Under the tutelage of various local drummers and through countless hours of practice, John Turner honed his skills and developed a unique style that combined the raw energy of New Orleans rhythms with his own innovative techniques. His dedication to mastering his craft led him to play in local jazz clubs, gaining valuable experience and recognition among fellow musicians.
A Rhythm Revolution
In the early 1960s, John moved to Chicago, where he became a part of the vibrant blues and rock music scene. He soon caught the attention of prominent musicians and found himself playing alongside legends like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Howlin' Wolf. John's infectious grooves and ability to infuse a deep emotional connection into his drumming quickly made him a sought-after session drummer.
The "Uncle" Persona
As John's reputation grew, so did his circle of friends and collaborators. Known for his kindness, wisdom, and nurturing nature, he earned the affectionate nickname "Uncle" from fellow musicians who saw him as a guiding figure in both their musical and personal lives. His mentorship inspired countless aspiring drummers, and many saw him not only as a talented musician but also as a role model for pursuing their artistic passions.
Joining Iconic Bands
In the late 1960s, John's exceptional skills and reputation led to an invitation to join a well-established rock band, "The Echoes of Time". His powerful drumming brought a new dimension to the band's sound and contributed significantly to their success. "The Echoes of Time" became a major influence in the burgeoning psychedelic rock movement of the era.
In the late 1960s, "Uncle" John Turner's musical journey took a momentous turn when he crossed paths with the renowned blues guitarist, Johnny Winter. The meeting marked the beginning of a legendary collaboration that would shape the course of their careers and leave an indelible mark on the blues-rock genre.
Johnny Winter, already a celebrated musician, was drawn to "Uncle" John's infectious rhythms and soulful drumming style. Impressed by Turner's versatility and the emotional depth he brought to every performance, Winter invited him to become an essential part of his band.
The collaboration began with the recording of Winter's critically acclaimed album, "Progressive Blues Experiment" (1969). "Uncle" John Turner's driving beats and intuitive sense of timing provided a solid foundation for Winter's searing guitar solos and soulful vocals. The album's success solidified their musical partnership and opened up new opportunities for both musicians.
As Winter's band toured extensively, "Uncle" John Turner's drumming prowess mesmerized audiences around the world. The chemistry between Turner and Winter onstage was palpable, and their live performances became the stuff of legends, drawing crowds of devoted fans.
Their partnership reached new heights with the release of the album "Johnny Winter" (1970). The album showcased a synergy between Winter's blues virtuosity and Turner's rhythmic finesse, resulting in a sound that was both powerful and emotionally charged.
Beyond the music, "Uncle" John Turner and Johnny Winter formed a deep bond of friendship and mutual respect. Their shared passion for music, combined with their warm personalities, made them a formidable team on and offstage. Turner's calming presence was a perfect foil for Winter's intense energy, creating a harmonious balance that endeared them to audiences and fellow musicians alike.
Unfortunately, their collaboration was cut short in 1976 when "Uncle" John Turner decided to take a step back from the music scene to focus on his health and personal life. His departure from the band left a void that was difficult to fill, and Johnny Winter would later express his gratitude for the profound impact Turner had on his music and life.
Legacy and Influence
As the 1970s dawned, "Uncle" John Turner's reputation as a drummer extraordinaire spread far and wide. His collaborations and contributions to various bands and recording sessions left an indelible imprint on the music industry. His distinct playing style, characterized by a blend of New Orleans rhythms, jazz finesse, and rock energy, inspired countless musicians and set new standards for drummers worldwide.
Casey Jones — drums
Note: The photos on this page are taken from albums in my personal collection. Slight differences in color may exist due to the use of the camera's flash. Images can be zoomed in/out ( eg pinch with your fingers on a tablet or smartphone ).