From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Johnny Guitar Watson — A Real Mother For Ya

Johnny Guitar Watson A Real Mother front

Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson was one of the true masters of the funk. He had both the style and the chops. You may never have heard of him (but I hope that you have), but he was a favorite guitarist to everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Frank Zappa; in fact, Watson played on several Zappa albums. Nobody played with Zappa unless he or she was an exceptional musician.

JGW also coined the phrase “gangster of love” back in ’58 for a song of the same name, a term Steve Miller later ran with for “The Joker.”

His recording career spanned 40 years, with 1976’s “A Real Mother For Ya” being his most successful cut. And no wonder: It’s as funky as you wanna be. Listen to the way Watson plucks his strings around the 2:30 mark on this track. You can hear the influence on Stevie Ray in cuts like Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” for example.

Watson died in 1996 like a true gunslinger—-with his funky boots on, performing on stage—but like James Brown and George Clinton, he lives on in various hip-hop samples.

Because A Real Mother For Ya was Johnny’s biggest seller, there are lots of copies floating around. That’s good news for you: You can pick one up in the $2-$5 range and funk up the house on a budget. If you really want to collect, though, look for Johnny Guitar Watson singles from the 1950s and ’60s. Those will set you back up to a hundred bucks each. Happy hunting.

Johnny Guitar Watson A Real Mother back

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