Gary Gene Watson, 11 October 1943, Palestine, Texas, USA. Raised in Paris, Texas, in a musical family, he first worked as a professional at the age of 13. In 1963, he moved to Houston, where he found daytime employment in car engine and bodywork repairs. During the evenings, his vocal style, with its slight nasal sound in the best country tradition, made him a very popular honky-tonk singer around the local clubs, such as the Dynasty, where he was resident for several years. He recorded for several labels including Reeder (whose owner Russ Reeder went on to become his manager and producer), Wide World and Stoneway before gaining his first country chart entry with Bad Water on the Resco label in 1975. The same year, he moved to Capitol Records and had a US Top 10 country hit with the suggestive Love In The Hot Afternoon. Further Top 10 hits followed, including Paper Rosie, One Sided Conversation, Farewell Party, Should I Come Home? and Nothing Sure Looked Good On You. In 1981, after moving to MCA Records, his recording of Fourteen Carat Mind gave him his first US country number 1. He moved to Epic in 1985, gaining a number 5 hit with Memories To Burn, but changed to Warner Brothers Records in 1988, where he immediately repeated the success with Dont Waste It On The Blues. Although he charted regularly throughout the 80s, he failed to find another number 1.
In 1987, he recorded Tempted with Tammy Wynette, which appears on herHigher Ground album. In 1989, Watson enjoyed three chart hits, namely Back In The Fire (number 20), The Jukebox Played Along (number 24) and The Great Divide (number 41). In 1991, At Last showed that he had lost none of his ability to render honky tonk songs, with the title track and You Cant Take It With You When You Go attaining Top 70 chart placings. In 1992, he recorded for the Canadian Broadland label, before joining Step One the following year, where he quickly registered a Top 75, with One And One And One. Watson is at his best with sad ballads and with his band, the Farewell Party, he has become a favourite of George Jones and George Strait. The decision by Lib Hatcher, Randy Travis manager, to handle Watsons career in the late 80s sparked hopes of a commercial renaissance, but the liaison ended in rancour and talk of litigation. Watson released strong albums on the independent label Step One until its demise. He has been treated for cancer of the colon in recent times but has continued to tour and record, with his most recent recordings containing some of his finest ever work.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.