Johnny Guitar Watson.jpg

John Watson Jr. (February 3, 1935 – May 17, 1996), known professionally as “Johnny Guitar” Watson, was an American blues, soul, and funk musician and singer-songwriter. A flamboyant showman and electric guitarist in the style of T-Bone Walker, Watson recorded throughout the 1950s and 1960s with some success. His creative reinvention in the 1970s with funk overtones, saw Watson have hits with "Ain't That a Bitch" and "Superman Lover". His successful recording career spanned forty years, with his highest chart appearance being the 1977 song "A Real Mother for Ya".

In later years his work was a source for sampling by hip hop artists such as Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg. He also worked on a number of recordings and projects with Frank Zappa, who cites Watson: "Watson's 1956 song, 'Three Hours Past Midnight' inspired me to become a guitarist."

Watson learned the rudiments of music on the piano as a child. He took up the guitar on the agreement with his preacher grandfather that he would not use it to 'play the blues'. His family moved to Los Angeles in the '50s and, as a teenager, he cut his teeth playing guitar, piano and singing in local LA 'jump bands'. Watson collapsed and died onstage of cardiac infarction whilst performing in Japan.

Links to Peel

Johnny Guitar Watson's discography started from the 50's, but it doesn't seem Peel played material from the musician during the 60's. Either it's because he discovered the singer in the 70's or the lack of complete playlists from Peel's radio shows from the 60's. Nonetheless, Peel did choose couple of albums from the singer as one of his top ten favourites of the year, especially Gangster Is Back for the 1976 Top Ten Albums and A Real Mother For Ya for the 1977 Top Ten Albums. After the 70's, Peel continued playing much of Johnny's music material, even well past the singer's death in 1996, when many of his songs were available on compilation albums issued by Ace Records.

Shows Played


I Don't Want To Be A Lone Ranger

  • 13 July 1976: I Want To Ta-Ta You Baby (LP - Ain't That A Bitch) DJM
  • 28 July 1976: Ain't That A Bitch (LP - Ain't That A Bitch) DJM
  • 11 January 1979: Those Lonely Lonely Nights
  • 11 July 1979: What The Hell Is This? (album - The Hell Is This?) DJN
  • 17 July 1979: Mother In Law (album - What The Hell Is This?) DJM
  • 18 July 1979: Cop & Blow (LP – What The Hell Is This?) DJM
  • 19 July 1979: I Don't Want To Be President (LP What The Hell Is This?) DJM
  • 25 July 1979: What The Hell Is This? (album - What The Hell Is This?) DJM
  • 03 October 1979: Those Lonely Lonely Nights (7") Modern Oldies
  • 09 October 1979: Someone Cares For Me (LP – The Gangster Is Back) Red Lightnin'
  • 30 March 1988: Oh Babe (v/a LP - Blues Guitar Blasters) Ace (JP: 'I wonder what's he upto these days?')
  • 06 April 1988: Oh Babe (v/a LP - Blues Guitar Blasters) Ace
  • 01 April 1995: Those Lonely, Lonely Nights (Various Artists CD - Teenage Rock 'n' Roll Party) Ace
  • 05 October 1996: Those Lonely, Lonely Nights (album - Hot Just Like TNT (The Best Of His Early Years)) Ace
  • 13 October 1996: Hot Little Mama (album - Hot Just Like TNT - The Best Of His Early Years) Ace
  • 02 November 1996: 'Too Tired (LP-Hot Just Like TNT)' (Ace)
  • 15 December 1996: ‘Those Lonely Lonely Nights’ (Compilation CD – Hot Just Like TNT )’ Ace
  • 08 January 2002: Gangster Of Love (7" - One Room Country Shack / Gangster Of Love) Keen
  • 08 August 2002: 'Those Lonely Lonely Nights (LP - Big People Music)' (Ace)

External Links

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