Xmas Eve Eve Eve 2012 Xmas Present: Johnny ''Guitar'' Watson
December 22, 2012 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Some say that surf guitar started here: Johnny Guitar Watson - Space Guitar
Young John Watson's first appearance on wax: Chuck Higgins & his Mellotones - Motor Head Baby
Also back in the day: Johnny "Guitar" Watson - The Bear
And not so far back in the day - a Frank Zappa jam with Tuva throat Singers, Chieftains and Johnny ''Guitar'' Watson

And for the meat and potatoes part of the post: Johnny "Guitar" Watson - In Concert
posted by y2karl (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Huun Huur Tu forcefully driving the bus, The Chieftans looking at each other with "I have no effing clue" looks on their faces but gamely chugging through changes and Watson going, "Okay, I can vamp on this, I think..." while Frank's got the most blissful look on his face surveying the calculated chaos.

That Salad Party video is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Awesome post!
posted by ardgedee at 3:44 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was always a fool for my Johnny.
posted by gilrain at 5:28 PM on December 22, 2012

Watson was a huge influence on Zappa, as much as Igor Stravinsky was.
posted by mkelley at 5:29 PM on December 22, 2012

First of all, I have to note that I saw Johnny Guitar Watson live three times. The second time, opening second in a three artist bill topped by the Gap Band at the Paramount in 1979 is the perpetual lead for my nomination for Best.Live.Performance.Evar. And that is from a short list that includes Son House, the Grateful Dead , B.B. King -- all the preceding seen before 1969 -- not mention Madness. the Specials, Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear and Jonathan Richman on multiple occasions, to name but the few.

So, anyway, some time later, back in a day, a few years after I used to write for a local music weekly here named the Rocket -- when, after a hiatus of some years after his goilden run of funk classics on DJM, Johnny "Guitar" Watson's last CD Bow Wow came out. So, I volunteered a way over the top review of it, which I sent to his last known address a few weeks later and then promptly forgot all about that.

Fast forward a few months later then, when in the depths of winter, a few days before Christmas, coming home from the extra above and beyond the call daily humilation at the more thanusually humiliating temp job du jour in a total funk, and not the on the one kind at all, no sirree. and so depressed...

There was, this being back in a day, if not in the day, a light was blinking on my answering machine.

And so, with the dead man walking sigh appropriate to the day's drowning well digger in a cave in mood, I clicked the button...

and out of my answering machine , in the warmest and most charismatic of tones, shot and shouted out "Hey, Karl ! This is Johnny "Guitar" Watson! I just called because I wanted to thank you for that..."

Man, I was bowled over. It was like a tall cup of clover Sumatra with an added shot plus a couple of years worth of Wellbutrin, plus a pound of well chewed fresh coca leaves, and a couple of gallons of poppy tea, not to mention kava kava - or so I hear, ahem, ahem-- I was so buzzed, I was so zizzed, I was so incredbly not depressed.

And called up all my friends and replayed it yada yada yippee yippee over the phone and so on and so on... Man, that just made my day. In fact, I have mp3s of that call and the one following. And, if I knew how and had the means of production here, I'd post them in a comment here, and, in fact, will send them to anyone who will....

Anyhow, fast forward to the time I last saw Mr. Watson here in Seattle at Under the Rail and after the usual super OTW JGW performance, I lined up for the backstage reception with a couple of album covers for the signing and when I was led into the dressing room where a very exhausted Johnny sat, I gave him the albums and said who I was and, man, if he didn't remember who I was and thanked me all over again. I only wish I could put that on my CV and resume.

PS. I had a raft, a south Pacific gyre of a list of Johnny Guitar Watson live performances, shot in Europe over the last ftwo decades of his life, that I had compiled a couple of months back, that I was saving for this week. All smokin' stylin' threads worn, all the onstage cutting up and beau coup charisma on the part of Mr. Watson were oh so there, and, so, when I went to check them out this week, it turned out they were ALL GONE. Like rodentia on curdled millk roducts, so to speak, his heirs have been on YouTube with the ceae and desist orders. Which I think is foolish and short sighted on their parts but what can you do ?

So, these, and especially the one below the fold, are destined to, in the words of Yoshido Kenko, fade away like the dews of Adashino... vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, at the speed of, in the words of Capt. Jean Luc Picard, Warp 9. So, enjoy them at your immediate leisure. They will not be here long. And I only wish I had alll those versions of Gangster of Love live. In the if only we could touch the hem of his garments department alone, the collars of the shirts he wore in those were worth a post of their own. Oh, me, oh my, that was a post for Borges's MetaFilter library...

But I have to go to war with the links I have, so... this is your present for today. I just wish I could have done you better.
posted by y2karl at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Some say that surf guitar started here

I think they're just about right.

Otherwise, regarding Space Guitar:


*repeat X times
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:37 PM on December 22, 2012

Watson was a huge influence on Zappa, as much as Igor Stravinsky was.

Chunga's Revenge et al agree with you.
posted by ersatz at 4:03 AM on December 23, 2012

Man, I loves me some some early R&B JGR. Never could get his pickless right hand technique down.

I can't believe Gangster of Love was not included in this post. "I said yessir brother sheriff, That's yer wife on the back of my horse"
posted by Che boludo! at 10:44 AM on December 23, 2012

I can't believe Gangster of Love yt was not included in this post.

ahem, from the last' meat and potatoes' link above:

This "unfiltered" live recording from 02.07.1990 documents one of the super-talented Texan's greatest concerts. Tracklisting: 01 Strike On Computers | 02 Superman Lover | 03 I Wonna Ta Ta you Baby | 04 Nothing Left To Be Desire | 05 Ain't That A Bitch | 06 A Real Mother For Ya | 07 Three Hours Past Midnight | 08 Gangster Of Love | 09 A Real Mother For Ya (Encore)
posted by y2karl at 11:19 AM on December 23, 2012

that last Zappa link was amazing! Huun huur tu + Zappa! Wow!
posted by rattleandhum at 4:17 PM on December 23, 2012

Actually, I couldn't believe I could make this post without including I Want to Ta-Ta Thank You Baby but then, when crafting the post, I made the mistake of searching by name rather than title and good luck with that... but when doing the latter just now, found, lo and behold -- found that and an instrumental version for your next bed, bath and or shower karaoke. Which is never to be confused with I Wanna Thank You Baby. which is included here more for the picture -- that is his mom there with him on the album cover -- than the song, because it gives a flavor of why it is so hard not to like the guy a lot. Oh, and, here is the Rockabilly Hall of Fame page on Johnny ''Guitar'' Watson.

And for the Zappa fans here is Frank Zappa - In France with Mr. Watson on the vocals.
posted by y2karl at 10:21 AM on December 25, 2012

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