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JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON AUGUST 1976 INTERVIEW
WHEN YOU'RE HOT YOU'RE HOT
Johnny 'Guitar' Watson has three singles riding the current chart, but he just couldn't believe that one of them is his old duet with Larry Williams.

"HI-HO, SILVER", exclaimed the original masked Lone Ranger. Well, his natural successor — none other than Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, who actually did express a desire not to be a Lone Ranger — looks set to go one better than Tonto's more famous sidekick because the way that his "I Need It" single is shaping, my money is on its ending up earning our man his first slab of Gold. And as any Olympics viewer will confirm, Gold is better than Silver!

All of which is a rather purile way to kick off a feature on Johnny G. but then he is such as amusing character that it wouldn't do him justice by merely kicking off with simple facts and figures. In fact, what is more incredible — and what Johnny wasn't aware of — is the fact that our man is currently represented on the British charts with three singles.

Naturally, he's aware that his DJM debut, "I Need It", is rapidly assailing the lists — it's doing that everywhere around the world so he can afford to be just a little blase. But he wasn't aware that "Lone Ranger" is still slowly meandering its way down the charts after a six-month stay. And then came the blockbuster because he certainly didn't dream that his old duet with Larry Williams could have ever seen a second lease of life anywhere!

"You're joking!" he roared — almost to the point that he didn't need a telephone to cover the eight thousand miles between his Los Angeles home and my South Essex allotment! "Now that's funny, man, that's funny! No, I don't believe it. It's true? Well, like they say — when it's your time, it's your time. And my time has been a long while coming.

"Larry? Well, I know he's been in the studio lately but it'll blow his mind, I know. Sure, he's still active so if it were to become really big I guess we could do it together again. He's got his own things going but there's always a way to make up on success. In fact, I've been trying to get him together with the DJM people because they have treated me so well since I joined them early this year."

"It was actually through a mutual friend, Mike Vernon, that I got with DJM. Mike and I have been friends for years — in fact, since Larry and I toured over there. We recorded as the Stormsville Shakers for a while!

"Anyway, Mike knew I was leaving Fantasy and he made an introduction to the DJM man in L.A., Danny Kessler, and he set up the deal. It's a funny thing but they closed their L.A. office down the very next week! But we did the whole of the "Ain't It A Bitch" album here in L.A."

"Oh, yeah, it's easily the best album I've ever done. I'd say that was because I was more relaxed before this album than I've ever been. The company had really taken care of me and I felt like really stretching out. I'm only pleased now that it's proven to be successful for them, too, because they deserve it.

"I guess you could call it progressive R&B — almost a Blues type approach to pop music. But the response has been truly fantastic — it's only been out there for three weeks and it's up to 100,000 already.

"I guess my mind was more together for this album than at any time in my career and it is truly representative of what I can do. So, if you don't like this album, you aren't a Johnny Watson fan!"

The runaway success over here, though, has been via the "I Need It" single. After the marathon chart run of "Lone Ranger", it has helped establish Johnny 'Guitar' Watson as one of the new trendsetters of our music. Some more observant fans have even commented on a similarity between the two songs.

"Yes, I guess there are," Johnny admits. "There's almost a hint of Reggae to both of them but then my way of singing and putting together a song is so distinct that it's natural that similarities occur.

"I admit that I have always tried to develop my own sound — now it looks as though I've succeeded!"

In our last interview, we covered Johnny's career in full — that was back in B&S 171, at which stage Johnny's "Lone Ranger" was one of themost sought after import singles.

"Well, I actually stopped work for a while after that," he pointed out — assuring me that my phone call had nothing to do with his decision! "I decided to come home and really sort myself out properly. I changed my group around completely — in fact, I use the guys on the album as my group all the time now.

"Actually, on the album I played bass, rhythm guitar and keyboards and so I've had to bring in guys to fill those roles. But the horn guys are now part of my group and it's the best band I've ever had with me.

"I guess that I was feeling down at the time because things never ran smoothly at Fantasy. I'm not saying it was their fault — it just happened that way."

But that's all part of the past because Johnny 'Guitar' Watson is on his way now. He is our tip for success during the final six months of this year and I'd stake a year's subscription to B&S that his "I Need It" single will attain Top 50 pop chart status.


  
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