Houston, Texas has thrown off a lot of great Rhythm and Blues Artists, one of whom was the guitarist and blues singer named, JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON. Like so many of the artists we've talked about Johnny took to music at an early age, he was around eight when his pianist father taught him to play that instrument. But Johnny was drawn to the Electric Guitar as played by the great T-Bone Walker.
His grandfather was a Preacher and told young Johnny that the guitar would bring out the Devil in him, and he was completely right. By age 15 he was sitting in with Texas Bluesmen: Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland. His mother divorced his father and moved to Los Angeles with young Johnny, where he started playing at African-American Juke Joints and made a name for himself.
Johnny Guitar played with many of the biggest names in Rock and Blues, from Little Richard to Johnny Otis, and he inspired many new artists including: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa (!) and the Vaughn Brothers, Stevie and Jimmy. Watson was considered the Master of the Fender Stratocaster guitar, and was infuriated when compared to Jimi Henrix's style saying: "I did all that s...t when he was still in diapers, I had a 140 foot cord and would go all over the hall in the crowd."
He was a sight to see, a really flashy dude with a Pimp Hat, Gold Teeth, dripping with Jewelry and Oversized Shades, and his shows were super fun to watch. His best known song is, "Gangster of Love," but it was Steve Miller, another of his acolytes, that scored big on the charts with it...Johnny was cool with that, he got the writers residuals forever. His highest charting record was called, A REEL MOTHER FOR YA, that went to #41 on the Pop Chart and a strong #5 R&B.
Between 1958 and beginning with, "Gangster of Love" until 1994's, "Bow Wow," he released 25 albums, several Gold. In 1995 he was honored with the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation at a performance at the Hollywood Palladium. In 1996 Johnny Guitar Watson suffered a myocardial infarction on stage in Yokhoma, Japan, and died at age 61. His remains were returned to Los Angeles where he now rests in the Forest Lawn Cemetery. But here he is very much Alive and Live on "Soul Train" playing with his funk band his signature song: "A Real Mother For Ya."
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