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 Loss of a Blues Legend
 Associated Press

  EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - A blind man whose body was found in an unheated apartment was identified by relatives Tuesday as a legendary St. Louis blues guitarist and singer.

The victim was 86-year-old Clarence "Windy" Johnson. He was found unconscious two weeks ago inside an apartment in East St. Louis, Ill., and died a short time later of hypothermia.

Officials say that after a fire in his old apartment, Johnson moved, and no one knew where he was. Johnson was a popular blues musician in the St. Louis region in the 1940s and '50s, who sometimes played with Miles Davis, also of East St. Louis.

"I guess he would probably sing the blues song, but in the ending to that blues song, he probably would state that, 'this is the way I will be discovered and found, and my music will probably live forever," Johnson's nephew, Don Harper, said. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Officials had suspected the victim was Johnson, but worried that unless the body was positively identified, he would get a pauper's funeral - in a donated casket and buried in an unmarked grave. Since the identification, Johnson's body was moved from the morgue to Officer Funeral Home in East St. Louis.

Johnson was largely influenced by his father, accomplished blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, said Henry Townsend, a heralded blues musician who performed with Clarence Johnson years ago.

"I think (his father) was his reason for going after the music," Townsend, 96, of St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "When he was younger, he was going after it with all the gusto he could put into it."

Johnson contracted diabetes years ago, causing him to go blind, Townsend said. He described Johnson as a gentle, proud man."I hate to see him die that way," Townsend said. ---

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