Johnny Guitar Watson - High Priest of Funk.

Johnny Guitar Watson - High Priest of Funk.
Johnny Guitar Watson – High Priest of Funk.

– Johnny Guitar Watson – In Session at NDR – 1977 –

It occurred to me I haven’t been giving much space over to the cause of Funk lately – no good reason. Getting overloaded with festivals and gearing up for Summer by playing who you  might be catching later on this year. However, I will try and make up for at least some of the neglect tonight by offering a session done by the inimitable Johnny Guitar Watson, while on tour in Europe in 1977 for North German Radio and Television.

Watson was always one of those “bubbling under” legends. One of the great exponents of Blues and Funk guitar going back to the 1950s, he never quite became the household name many of his contemporaries (like BB King, for example) became. But that’s not to say he wasn’t admired and studied by a lot of guitarists over the years. Some, like Frank Zappa, pointed out that it was Watson’s playing that inspired him to take up guitar. His style of playing has often been emulated, but never duplicated.

Here he is, with a very tight band at the time known as The Watsonian Institution. Since there’s no audience, playing to a dead studio can be a little strange. But Johnny Guitar Watson, being the consummate professional he was, didn’t seem to mind a bit.

He just let his guitar do the talking.

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1 thought on “Johnny Guitar Watson In Session At NDR – 1977 – Past Daily Soundbooth

  1. There is very few live material of Watson during his famous DJM years sad enough. End 70’s he played funk, together with blues and soul (fantasy label) with great taste being in great shape. His guitar playing that time was really good. The bands he played with in the 90’s were very good but it was a shame that he played so less guitar in his later years? I love his cool picking style (see Jimmy Vaughan). Bobby Womack said all about his soul/funk period: “Music-wise, he was the most dangerous gunslinger out there. Even when others made a lot of noise in the charts – I’m thinking of Sly Stone or George Clinton – you know they’d studied Johnny’s stage style and listened very carefully to Johnny’s grooves.” Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan, is quoted about Watsons blues period as saying: “When my brother Stevie and I were growing up in Dallas, we idolized very few guitarists. We were highly selective and highly critical. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson was at the top of the list, along with Freddie, Albert and B.B. King. He made magic.” Dutchman Vincent Bakker wrote a biography about Watson with his own money. Watson was a great musician with a great style. He is still be missed.

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