Johnny learnt from many of them, played with everyone from Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix to Muddy Waters, and was one of the most inventive, supple and exciting guitarists you could ever hope to hear, whether on electric or acoustic.
And, if anything, I'm surprised he lasted so long, given inherent health problems and - more importantly - the prodigious amounts of alcohol he used to consume. As younger musicians we used to marvel at stories of Johnny's intake. Thankfully I only briefly tried to imitate it.
I first came across him on his sixties recordings, long epic jams on Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited" and others. Then there were the three brilliant albums with Muddy in the late seventies, Hard Again, I’m Ready, and King Bee, the student helping the master regain his mojo. And then there were his superb later albums (on Alligator?) - Third Degree, Guitarslinger and another I can't remember now. I copied a lot of guitar licks from those. Brilliant stuff.
Astonishingly he was still going, planning to tour again even if he needed to sit down to play these days. I hear there's a new album ready. Sad to miss one more career renaissance...
I hate writing about people who were my heroes who've just died. It does nothing but depress me. But sometimes you've gotta offer a swoop of the cowboy hat and say thanks.
They really broke the mold with Johnny - we won't see his like again.