My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: Gene Watson

Gene-WatsonGene Watson, one of country music’s best and most underappreciated male vocalists, is our spotlight artist for the month of June. Gary Gene Watson was born in Palestine, Texas, on October 11, 1943 to itinerant farm worker parents. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade to join his parents working in the fields on farms all over Texas.

When he was 15 he and his younger brother Jessie formed The Watson Brothers and auditioned for a producer and talent scout who unfortunately turned out to be a scam artist. Undeterred, Gene recorded his first single “If It Was That Easy” in 1962. The record went nowhere, but he landed a spot working in The Wilburn Brothers’ road show in 1964. When that brief stint came to an end, he returned to Texas and performed in honky-tonks and recorded a few more independently-released singles.

Gene and his songwriter cousin Bill Watson decided to give Nashville a try around 1966 or 1967. Success was slow in coming; it was 1974 before his eponymous debut album was released on the independent World Wide label. Though not commercially successful, that project caught the attention of Capitol Records, who signed Watson to its roster and released his first major label album, Love in the Hot Afternoon, in 1975. That album produced Watson’s first two Top 5 hits, and started a string of primarily Top 10 and Top 20 hits that lasted through 1984, after which his popularity began to wane a bit. Among his best remembered hits are “Love in the Hot Afternoon”, “Paper Rosie”, his signature song “Farewell Party”, and “Fourteen Carat Mind”, his only Billboard #1 hit.

After leaving Capitol in 1981, Watson signed with MCA and later with Epic and Warner Bros. His last major label release was 1990’s At Last. After that he continued to record on a regular basis for a variety of independent labels. His most recent project, My Heroes Have Always Been Country, was released this month on his own label, Fourteen Carat Music.

Despite his considerable talent and an impressive catalog of songs, Gene Watson is not as well remembered today as he ought to be, and as such many younger fans may not be familiar with his music. We hope to rectify that as we look back at the highlights of his career during the next month. We hope you’ll enjoy it.

4 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Gene Watson

  1. shsron clayton June 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I listen to him all the time

  2. AndyTheDrifter June 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Great pick. Love me some Gene Watson. Such a fantastic vocalist.

  3. Myrna May June 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    One of the best country singers ever!!

  4. Paul W Dennis June 3, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Gene’s debut album came out in 1969 on the World Wide label – it was reissued on Stoneway in 1974. I’ve got a copy of the Stoneway reissue – its a pretty good first endeavor

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