Feb 3 1935 - 17 May 1996
Johnny 'Guitar' Watson was one of the all-time great blues guitarists. Strangely though he actually started his recording career on piano, recording a number of Charles Brown flavoured slow blues songs that were later released on numerous misleadingly labelled compilations to capitalise on his success. However, he soon switched to guitar, inspired by such other greats as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Guitar Slim.
After recording for numerous minor labels, Watson found his style at Modern Records, where among other great tracks he recorded probably his greatest blues track Three Hours Past Midnight.
An astonishing guitarist, he had a unique agressive style (he had to change strings a few times a night because he 'stressified on them' so much as he put it) which was a huge influence on the guitar playing of Frank Zappa.
After his stint with Modern, he recorded a series of sides with Johnny Otis which, like everything else Otis was involved in, are incredibly good, before in the 70s inventing himself as a funk musician with albums such as Ain't That A Bitch and tracks like A Real Mother For Ya. He also played guitar and sang on many records by Frank Zappa in the 80s, including Them Or Us, Thing-Fish and Meets The Mothers Of Prevention. He died on stage in Japan in 1996.