Edgar Winter attracted an audience as we sat outside Uptown's Famous Dave's for an interview. Before the multi-talented musician arrived, local professional autograph-seekers swarmed, walking a beat around Calhoun Square looking for him. Winter drew many others to the patio area, where we talked about his fascinating career and his lengthy marriage, of which he's just as proud. I have forgotten everything I knew about the de-constructed blazer Winter is wearing at www.startribune.com/video, except that it was not cheap.
Q Have you ever been to a crazier concert scene than Woodstock?
A No. It was organized confusion that definitely changed my life. It was one of those things I'll never forget, just looking out over this seemingly endless sea of humanity. Hundreds of thousands of people. People having written and singing songs that they really believed in -- the civil rights and the peace movements. It's something they've tried to re-create and, of course, never will.
Q There's oldies music for baby boomers, but what do you imagine today's teens will listen to in 30 years and consider oldies?
A Whatever is being played now. I never would have predicted that there would be a classic rock genre. It looks like it's really here to stay. I think that everybody's tempted to feel that the time in which they came up was somehow special. But I really do believe, objectively, that there were two golden eras in music: The '40s and '50s for big band, jazz and swing and the '60s and '70s for rock.
Q What music might we be surprised to know that you listen to for enjoyment? Opera? Chamber music? Barry Manilow?
A I know Barry. I knew him when he played with Bette Midler. I love Nate King Cole. I love classical music; Prokofiev, the Russian composer, is one of my favorites. I love all jazz, Charlie Parker, Cannonball [Adderley], Coltrane, Miles.
Q With whom would you like to duet that you haven't yet?
A My most profound influence and musical hero was Ray Charles. As far as I'm concerned he was the guy. Stevie Wonder. I'd love to do something with Stevie.
Q Did you enjoy being sampled by Eminem?
A I did! I thought it was amazing on his part, something I never would have thought. "Dying to Live" is a song I wrote sort of a result of having played at Woodstock. It was a very personal song and really most people thought of it as an anti-war song. I never would have connected it with street violence; that was obviously [Eminem's] take on that song. I thought it was brilliant.
Q Were you able to add another wing to your home, as a result of Eminem's work?
A [Laughter] I don't have a house. We have a condo, my wife, Monique, and I. We're on our 34th anniversary. Not bad for rock 'n' roll! It did help financially.
Q Does the lack of originality that is sampling irritate you as an artist?
A I think I enjoyed it in the beginning. It got to a point where it was a little overdone. The thing about rap and hip-hop is that it's really rebellious, designed to alienate the older generation just like rock 'n' roll was when I was coming up. It's something that'll make the parents say TURN OFF THAT NOISE! THAT'S NOT MUSIC!
Q Why "White Trash" for an album title?
A That was our badge of honor. I grew up in the South, in Beaumont, Texas. My brother Johnny and I used to go out and see all the blues artists, the people like Ray Charles and Bobby "Blue" Bland and B.B. King, Junior Parker. We'd go to the black clubs; there was a black club called the Raven. There'd be 5,000 black people, and we'd be the only white people there. We couldn't really aspire to be black, so in order to be funky we decided, "We'll adopt the name White Trash."
Q Are you a business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back kind of guy, even today? That's a mullet reference.
A I don't think of myself as business at all, honestly. I love to play, I love music. I probably would have done a lot better for myself if I had been more like Mick Jagger. He's a businessman.
Q You're buddies with Alice Cooper. Ever golfed with him?
A No, I don't see well enough to hit that golf ball.
Q Your "Let's Get It On" didn't remind me of Marvin Gaye's at all.
A No. Ours was first.
Q Would Justin Bieber's bratty behavior benefit from a good old-fashioned spanking, even though he's paying all the bills?
A Well, Justin's young. You do crazy things in the passion of youth. I'll give him a pass.
C.J. can be contacted at email@example.com and seen on FOX 9.