Blues Guitarist Johnny Winter has died at the age of 70. He was found in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, where he was on tour. No cause of death has been released at this time.
Known for his high-energy blues-rock albums in the 1960s and ’70s, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues legend Muddy Waters.
His spokesperson, Lori Haynes, released a statement saying:
“His wife, family and bandmates are all saddened by the loss of their loved one and one of the world’s finest guitarists.”
Johnny’s brother, Edgar Winter, is a rock and blues musician who is known for his 70’s band, The Edgar Winter Group, and their popular songs “Frankenstein“and “Free Ride“. Both Johnny and Edgar were born with albinism.
Albinism is a defect of melanin production that results in little or no color (pigment) in the skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin is a natural substance that gives color (pigment) to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye. It is produced by cells in the skin called melanocytes. Melanin helps protect the skin from the UV effects of sunlight.
Albinism, also known as oculocutaneous albinism, is a group of conditions that affect coloring (pigmentation) of the skin, hair, and eyes. Affected individuals typically have very fair skin and white or light-colored hair. It is considered a genetic disorder-i.e. it runs in families.
Overall, an estimated 1 in 20,000 people worldwide are born with oculocutaneous albinism. The condition affects people in many ethnic groups and geographical regions. In the United States, most people with albinism live normal life spans and have the same types of general medical problems as the rest of the population.
Types 1 and 2 are the most common forms of this condition. Type 2 occurs more frequently in African Americans, some Native American groups, and people from sub-Saharan Africa.
Because those with albinism are unable to make sufficient amounts of melanin, their skin not only looks light, but it also lacks the natural protection melanin provides for the skin. Affected individuals are unable to tan and are at greatly increased risk of sunburn. Long-term sun exposure greatly increases the risk of skin damage and skin cancers, including an aggressive form of skin cancer called melanoma.
Albinism reduces pigmentation of the colored part of the eye (the iris) and the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (the retina). People with this condition usually have vision problems such as reduced visual sharpnes; rapid, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus); and increased sensitivity to light (photophobia).
Each of the four types of oculocutaneous albinism is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. Most often, the parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.
There is no specific cure for albinism. The goal of treatment if to relieve symptoms and is directed toward protection of the skin and eyes: