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Johnny Winter: 1944-2014

NEW ORLEANS - APRIL 25: Blues Artist Johnny Winter performs at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the Fair Grounds Race Course on April 25, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Rock and blues guitar hero Johnny Winter has died at the age of 70.

A brief statement from his publicist on Thursday (July 17) morning revealed that Winter "passed away on July 16, 2014 in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland" during Winter's latest tour of Europe. The release continues, "His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of one of the world's finest guitarists. An official statement with more details shall be issued at the appropriate time."

The older brother of Edgar Winter was born and raised in Texas, playing with Muddy Waters -- for whom he produced Grammy Award-winning albums during the 70s -- B.B. King and others as a teenager before releasing his debut album in 1968.

He fought drug addictions throughout his career though recently told us that "I'm not doing anything anymore. I just realized it wasn't good for me, so I quit drinking, quit doing all the drugs. You definitely get better. You think much clearer. I don't miss it at all."

Winter released 18 studio albums during his career, including 2011's critically lauded "Roots," and was feted earlier this year with the box set "True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story."

His next album, "Step Back," is due out September 2 with guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons, Leslie West, Dr. John and others. Winter was slated to headline this year's Rock 'n' Blues Fest tour, starting July 31 in suburban Detroit; it's not yet known if the tour will go on as planned.