Though he can sing honky tonk, Gene Watson built a reputation for soulful ballads in the classic country tradition.
Born one of seven children in Palestine, Texas, Watson married early and was working as an auto-body man when he began frequenting the clubs in Houston. He recorded for a few small-time regional labels like Wide World and Stoneway during the early '70s. Watson finally had success in 1974, when a steamy single for Resco -- "Love in the Hot Afternoon" -- was picked up for national distribution by Capitol Records, igniting a firestorm of national hits: "Where Love Begins," "Paper Rosie," "Farewell Party," "Should I Come Home (Or Should I Go Crazy)," and "Nothing Sure Looked Good on You." In 1982, shortly after moving to MCA, Watson recorded his only chart-topper, "Fourteen Carat Mind." A parade of Top Ten entries followed during the early '80s, including "Speak Softly (You're Talking to My Heart)" and "You're Out Doing What I'm Here Doing Without." Between 1993 and 1997 Watson released four albums on the independent label Step One: Uncharted Mind, Good Ole Days, Jesus Is All I Need, and A Way to Survive. Four years later From the Heart was issued on RMG Records, followed by the 2005 Koch release Gene Watson...Then & Now. In a Perfect World appeared on Shanachie Records in the summer of 2007. Watson continued his signature brand of traditional country with 2009's A Taste of the Truth, which featured guest spots from Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss and Trace Adkins. Watson and Vincent released an all-duets album, Your Money and My Good Looks, on UMM Records in 2011. Watson's classic sides were owned and controlled by the various corporate labels he recorded for over the years, so to mark his 50th anniversary as a recording artist in 2012, Watson released Best of the Best: 25 Greatest Hits on his own Fourteen Carat Music label, faithfully re-recording his hits and making them, in a sense, finally truly his. ~ David Vinopal & Steve Leggett