John Watson, Jr.

John Watson, Jr.


Johnny "Guitar" Watson


John Watson Jr., known professionally as Johnny "Guitar" Watson, was born in Houston, Texas on February 3rd, 1935.

Watson's father was a pianist, and taught him that instrument as a child but he was attracted to the sound of the guitar, in particular the electric guitar . His grandfather, a preacher, played guitar and promised to give the youngster one of his own, as long as he didn’t play the “devil’s music.” Watson agreed, but that was the first thing he did. Being that he is known for being a flamboyant showman and electric guitarist. Who played American bluessoul, and funk musician and was a singer-songwriter. 


He worked as a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist. He quickly made a name for himself in the African-American juke joints of the West Coast, where he first recorded for Federal Records in 1952. His song "Gangster of Love" was first released on Keen Records in 1957. It did not appear in the charts at the time, but was later re-recorded and became a hit in 1978, becoming Watson's "most famous song".


He toured and recorded with his friend Larry Williams, as well as Little RichardDon and DeweyThe OlympicsJohnny Otis and, in the mid-1970s with David Axelrod.

The release of his album Bow Wow in 1994 brought Watson more visibility and chart success than he had ever known. The album received a Grammy Award nomination.

In 1995, he was given a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in a presentation and performance ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium

Funk is looking at the world and saying, 'It ain't what it seems. It ain't what it should be. It ain't what I expected. It's funky.'

Watson died of a heart attack on May 17, 1996, collapsing on stage while on tour in Yokohama, Japan.