Gene Watson, known as “The Singer’s Singer,” will be performing this Friday and Saturday at the PWR Texan Theater in Cleveland. Watson’s show on Friday will be opened by a Cleveland crooner, Buddy Lowe. On Saturday, the show will be opened by Hershell Golden.
Watson is a Texas native. He was born in Palestine, Texas, in 1943. At an early age, he began singing in holiness churches with his family. His parents eked out a living as farm laborers. His father played blues harmonica and guitar alongside black field laborers. Watson grew up loving both bluesman Jimmy Reed and honky-tonk king Lefty Frizzell.
His earliest public country performance came when he was just 12 years old. Watson dropped out of school in the ninth grade to work fulltime. He initially supported his family by doing auto body repair, so by day he worked on cars, and at night he sang in clubs.
“But doing music professionally was never a goal of mine. I always wanted to work on cars. I always say I never did go looking for music. Music found me. “Before I ever made a record, The Wilburn Brothers heard me sing down in Houston at a nightclub one night. They said they’d like for me to go with them and do a couple of shows,” Watson said.
He went to Nashville and traveled with the Wilburn Brothers to North Carolina.
“They got me on the Grand Ole Opry, and I got a standing ovation and an encore singing the Hank Williams song ‘I Can’t Help It if I’m Still in Love With You’ and ‘It Is No Secret What God Can Do’. After that, they carried me down to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and I got on stage and broadcast on The Midnight Jamboree. That was my first experience with the Big Time. I was 21,” he said.
His superb singing attracted local backers who financed several small-label singles in Houston in the early 1970s. Watson first made the country charts with a single called “Bad Water” in 1975. Its follow-up was the sultry, provocative “Love in the Hot Afternoon.” Capitol Records picked it up for national distribution, launching Gene Watson’s long hit-making career. “Paper Rosie” (1977), “One Sided Conversation” (1978), “Farewell Party” (1979), “Nothing Sure Looked Good on You” (1980), “Fourteen Carat Mind” (1981) and other hits made him a star. His streak continued with “Speak Softly” (1982), “Sometimes I Get Lucky and Forget” (1983), “Got No Reason Now for Goin’ Home” (1984), “Memories to Burn” (1985) and more.
His remarkable voice actually became even better as he aged. Watson says that is because he learned to care for it properly.
“I used to drink. I used to smoke like a freight train. I gave up all that. You know, I got so tired of drinking I just quit one night in 1980. Most people didn’t know I drank that much, but most people never saw me sober. It is an occupational hazard. I even used to drink in the studio when I was recording. I’m not proud of it, for sure. I just quit. I decided I’d had enough, and I was going to see how the other half lives. I haven’t had even a beer or a glass of wine since. That’s the same way I quit smoking in 1990,” he said.
By the time of “Don’t Waste it on the Blues” (1988), “Back in the Fire” (1989) and his singles of the early 1990s, an entire generation of stars revered Watson. Randy Travis, George Strait, Tracy Byrd, Clint Black, Tracy Lawrence, Doug Stone and Alan Jackson are among the dozens who have praised Watson.
He recorded new CDs in 1993, 1996 and 1997. In 2000-2001, he was diagnosed with cancer, underwent surgery and endured chemotherapy. Remarkably, he kept singing through it all.
“The disease was extremely devastating to me financially. I didn’t have any insurance and didn’t know what I was going to do. I am so grateful to my fans and to all the entertainers, my comrades who got behind me and helped me with their fundraisers and their prayers. I kept working as much as I could. It’s what I had to do. I couldn’t lay down. I had to be doing something, sick or not. I think it made me a stronger person. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change anything,” he said.
Buddy is a Cleveland, Texas, native who has been playing all around Texas with his band Buddy Lowe and Crossfire 2.0 for many, many years. Buddy has an old school honky-tonk tone, and has shared the stage with many notable artists over the years. He is a talented songwriter and musician. His sets include many originals and covers to entertain anyone.
Hershell started playing in honky-tonks and bars across East Texas in early 2000. He has had the honor of sharing the stage with many extremely talented musicians and artists. Along his journey, he has kept his vocal talent true to his roots, Honky-Tonk Country. Drums are another passion that has kept him on the stage through the years, playing behind some of the best talent Texas has to offer. Hershell also contributes this to his widespread love for all styles and genres of music.
Tickets are expected to go quickly for both shows. To purchase tickets to either of the shows, click the links below: