Kurt Winter

Posted by Janet | March 12, 2008

April 2, 1946 – December 14, 1997

Kurt Winter, guitarist for The Guess Who, died of Kidney Failure at age 51.

Starting his career with the Winnipeg bands the Fifth, Gettysbyrg Address, and Brother, Winter joined The Guess Who in May, 1970, along with co-guitarist Greg Leskiw to fill the gigantic shoes of the recently-departed Randy Bachman. As a songwriter, Winter contributed greatly to The Guess Who catalogue, penning the hit singles Bus Rider and Hand Me Down World among others. He co-wrote several songs with group leader Burton Cummings, including Winter’s personal favourite, Runnin’ Back To Saskatoon.

Winter played stunning machine gun style solos on such hit songs as Raindance and Albert Flasher. In spite of the guitar bravado, Cummings was known to have commented that Winter was “not much of a fashion plate,” preferring to perform in his trademark sleeveless “Sound by Garnet” sweatshirt.

The Guess Who was constantly in a state of flux and Winter was summarily invited to leave the band (along with guitarist Donnie McDougall) in June, 1974. They were replaced by ex-James Gang boogiemeister, Dom Troiano.

Kurt Winter was an astute businessman in addition to his musical talents. After leaving The Guess Who, his successful business interests included a mattress and bedding store, located in Toronto.

Winter later regrouped with various incarnations of the band under the leadership of bassist Jim Kale, but the music would never be the same. Suffering severe health problems from years of drug abuse, Winter died of kidney failure on December 14, 1997.

The Guess Who‘s 1971 album and song, So Long, Bannatyne, illustrate a transition in Kurt Winter’s life. The front of the album cover for the vinyl LP has the words “So Long, Bannatyne” above a red Chevy with a Manitoba licence plate. In the background there is a building labelled “Bannatyne Apartments”. On the back of the album cover is the red Chevy again, but in a residential neighbourhood. The song lyrics include the line: “So long Bannatyne, hello my Chevrier home.”

According to Phil Larson, a friend of Kurt who went to school with him, the red Chevy belonged to Kurt, and the Bannatyne Apartments, located on Bannatyne Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba, were where he lived with his parents on the second floor while going to junior high school and high school. (The junior high school was across the street to the left of the apartments.) Kurt would practice playing a cherry red Gibson guitar in the apartment, unplugged to avoid the neighbours’ complaints. Even at that age, says Phil, “Kurt could play anything he heard on the radio, by ear.” When Kurt began earning songwriting money, he bought the house shown on the back of the album cover for his parents, and lived there with them. The house was located on Chevrier Boulevard in the Winnipeg suburbs. Source:Wikipedia

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