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Edgar Winter Hitches A 'Free Ride' Through American Musical Culture

Edgar Winter at Gulfstream Parkin 1998.

The 1970s hits "Frankenstein" and "Free Ride" may have been your gateway to keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist, percussionist, singer, songwriter and record producer Edgar Winter. But Winter is no two-hit wonder; his music is all over "Netherworld," "Air America," "Dazed and Confused," "My Cousin Vinny," "Wayne's World 2" and "The Simpsons." He's toured in Ringo Starr's band and played with his band on late-night tv talk shows. Winter even popped up in a Miller Lite commercial, which may be the real proof that his work isn't synonymous with just rock & roll, but American culture.
Edgar Winter was born with albinism, a fact that didn't seem to slow down Edgar or his older brother, Johnny, also an albino. In fact, its effect on their vision may have lent them musical superpowers. “The boys were both musical from the time they were born,” their mother told Johnny’s biographer, Mary Lou Sullivan. “Part of it was because they were legally blind and their acute hearing made up in part for their lack of sight.”

When it came to their solo careers, Johnny chose blues, while Edgar took an eclectic route; his career spans jazz, blues, pop, soul and progressive rock. “I don’t believe in musical segregation,” he told the writer whose online handle is 'Classic Rock:' “I blame the record companies; they prefer to put people into boxes: here are the pop people and the folk people and the country. It helps them sell you."

Join host John Floridis for a conversation about Winter’s first musical memories (lullabies and his mother’s piano playing), the musical depth of Beaumont, Texas, and the story of how the rock classic “Frankenstein” earned its name.

(Broadcast: "Musician's Spotlight,"  3/7/19. Listen on the radio Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., or via podcast.)

John Floridis, the host and producer of Musician's Spotlight, has been with Montana Public Radio since 1997. He has interviewed over 200 musicians during that time. He is also an independent recording and performing artist in his own right and a former registered music therapist.
Beth Anne Austein has been spinning tunes on the air (The Folk Show, Dancing With Tradition, Freeforms), as well as recording, editing and mixing audio for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS, since the Clinton Administration. She’s jockeyed faders or "fixed it in post” for The Plant Detective; Listeners Bookstall; Fieldnotes; Musicians Spotlight; The Write Question; Storycorps; Selected Shorts; Bill Raoul’s music series; orchestral and chamber concerts; lecture series; news interviews; and outside producers’ programs about topics ranging from philosophy to ticks.
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