Houstonian Gene Watson Continues to Delight Fans with His Classic Brand of Country Music

| July 1, 2017

Moe Bandy (left) and Gene Watson teamed up each Friday in May for Country’s Family Reunion Presents the Gene and Moe Show, a television program that brings country music stars together to share stories of their careers with host Bill Anderson. (Photo - Webster Public Relations)

Moe Bandy (left) and Gene Watson teamed up each Friday in May for Country’s Family Reunion Presents the Gene and Moe Show, a television program that brings country music stars together to share stories of their careers with host Bill Anderson. (Photo – Webster Public Relations)


More Than 50 Years After His Career Started, He Is Not Slowing Down

By Judy Latta

In an era in which it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between contemporary country and pop music, Houstonian Gene Watson has stayed true to his classic country roots. He has an enthusiastic following of country music traditionalists that appreciate the authenticity of his old-school, Texas-style sound. Known as “the singer’s singer” in Nash­ville, Watson has been making music his way for more than half a century, and he is still going strong, packing concert venues across the United States with passionate fans who want to kick up their boots to his classic, folksy, story-telling country ballads.

From Modest Upbringing to Country Music Royalty

Gene Watson was born in Palestine, Texas, but when he was young, his family worked as sharecroppers, moving around to wherever there was work. To deal with the family’s transient lifestyle, Watson says his father came up with the idea for a pragmatic living arrangement. “My father took an old yellow school bus and made us a ‘mobile home’ out of it. We had a stove strapped to the back and bunk beds.” “Eventually,” he says, “my Dad found us a home in Paris (Texas), but we had to move the hay out of it before we moved into it. It sounds like a hard life to today’s young folks, but we were happy and I appreciate the wonderful memories,” Watson says.

Always musically-inclined, as a child he sang with his siblings at home and at church. As he got older, he formed a band with his brother and some cousins to play local nightclubs. He enjoyed singing but his real passion was, and still is, building and repairing cars. “As a kid,” he says, “I would get off the school bus and go to work at a junk yard. Then, later on, I became a paint and body man at local car dealerships. I was always taking an old junker and fixing it up.”

In 1966, as a young adult, Watson moved to Houston to work on cars during the week and to sing in the local nightclubs on weekends, and that is when he was discovered singing in a club by Russ Reeder and Roy Stone who then formed Houston’s Wide World Records label to record him. “My first album on Wide World was released in 1969. We had a single called Bad Water that made it into the national charts,” he says.

Then in 1974, fortune and opportunity struck when one of his songs, the steamy Love in the Hot Afternoon, was picked up by Capitol Records and distributed across the country, catapulting him onto the national country music scene and transforming him from a mechanic with a singing hobby to a big-time singer with a car hobby. He says that Love in the Hot Afternoon “went to Number 3 on Billboard, but probably would have gone Number 1 had it not already been playing for so long in Texas and the Southwest region before Capitol ever put it out.”

Since that time, Watson has released 75 charted titles, 23 Top 10 hits and six No. 1 records. He is a member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and the Houston Music Hall of Fame. His iconic career has yielded such classics as Farewell Party, Fourteen Carat Mind, Where Love Begins, and, of course, Love in the Hot Afternoon. In 2016, Watson released his 33rd studio album, Real.Country.Music, which charted on Billboard’s Top Country Albums. One of the album’s singles, Help Me, written by the legendary Larry Gatlin of The Gatlin Brothers, reached No. 1 on Christian Servant Magazine and Cashbox Magazine charts.

Country’s Family Reunion Presents the Gene and Moe Show

Although he has been performing and recording for more than 50 years, Watson is showing no signs of slowing down. He still makes music, tours nationally and appears periodically in country music television programming. Every Friday in May, Watson is teamed up with his good friend and fellow country music legend, Moe Bandy, for Country’s Family Reunion Presents the Gene and Moe Show on RFD-TV. The popular Country’s Family Re­union series brings America’s most-treasured country artists together to reminisce about their careers, perform signature songs and share stories on camera.

According to Watson, he and Bandy met in the 1970s when both were still relative unknowns working the Texas honky tonks, and they have been good friends since. Bandy, a San Antonio native and fellow member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, has five RIAA-Gold certified albums, 40 Top 10 singles, 66 charted releases and 10 No.1 hits including Too Old To Die Young, Bandy the Rodeo Clown, Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life and Just Good Ol’ Boys. Watson says, “Moe is one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet. Just naturally funny. Sometimes on a TV show it’s hard to keep a straight face because he’ll be saying things off camera that will crack you up.”

The Gene and Moe Show features classic country hits, humor and exploration of topics the singers are passionate about. “Mine is cars and trucks and all motor sports,” Watson says. “Moe is all about bull riding and bulls.” For the show, Watson and Bandy travel together to car shows, to view some of the largest private car collections in the south, to the drag races, and to watch 19-year-old Jess Lockwood, one of the top ranked bull riders in the world. “We even got the Number 1 rated bull in the country on the show, and he was so full of steam they had to remove everyone but the basic camera crew from the area because they said it wouldn’t take much to set him off. I think that’s why I prefer working with cars over bulls,” Watson says with a chuckle.

Gene Watson Today

Watson has lived his entire adult life in Houston. While many country music singers relocate to Nashville or Memphis to pursue their careers, Watson maintained his permanent residence right here in Texas. His current concert tour will pass through the Houston area several times this year, including on July 1 at the Mainstreet Crossing in Tomball, on Sept. 9 at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford, and on Nov. 4 at the Dosey Doe in the Woodlands. His tour schedule can be found at GeneWatsonMusic.com.

When he is not on tour or making music, he still spends his time working on cars. To this day, Watson owns the auto shop he had built decades ago. He calls it his “toy shop,” and it is the place he goes to tinker with his beloved cars and to recharge his own batteries.

Additionally, Watson says, “right now I’m working on a new gospel CD. I’m picking songs that I sang in church with my family or ones that just meant a lot to me over the years. The songs are very personal to me, and I hope the fans will enjoy it.”

Category: People & Places in KATY

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