On Friday 8 June 1990, the movie 'Another 48 Hours', starring Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte, opened in cinemas.
The soundtrack for 'Another 48 Hours' included Gene Watson's 'Paper Rosie', which was written by Dallas Harms, 'Drinking Them Beers' performed by Tompall Glaser (Sunday 3 September 1933 - Tuesday 13 August 2013), along with a remake of 'I'll Never Get out of This World Alive', which was originally written and recorded by Hank Williams (Monday 17 September 1923 - Thursday 1 January 1953).
Gene Watson, however, felt that things were, at long last, going his way.
Gene Watson had begun work on 'At Last' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991), his second album for Warner Bros. Records, when the relationship between himself and Lib Hatcher ran into some problems.
In the latter part of 1990, it was reported that Gene Watson and Lib Hatcher had both issued suits against one another over management fees.
The legal wrangle with Lib Hatcher lasted for about a year, during which time Gene Watson could not sign any management / booking deals with anyone else. Warner Bros. Records became aware of the situation and, following the release of 'At Last' (Warner Bros. Records, 1991), they dropped Gene Watson from their roster.
The major record label recording career of a country music legend had ended - something which the country music industry should never have allowed to happen and something that they should be thoroughly ashamed of.
Gene Watson then turned to veteran manager Jack McFadden (1927 - Tuesday 16 June 1998) in Nashville. Jack, who had established himself in Nashville in 1983, was renowned as a formidable talent manager and had worked with Merle Haggard (Tuesday 6 April 1937 - Wednesday 6 April 2016), Freddie Hart, Susan Raye, Keith Whitley (Thursday 1 July 1954 - Tuesday 9 May 1989) and Lorrie Morgan.
It was also Jack McFadden (1927 - Tuesday 16 June 1998) who brought Billy Ray Cyrus, and the 'Achy Breaky Heart' phenomenon, to the world of country music.
Jack McFadden (1927 - Tuesday 16 June 1998) was aware of Gene Watson’s situation, but he agreed to manage him.
Jack McFadden (1927 - Tuesday 16 June 1998) approached a number of major record labels in Nashville, but none of them were willing to take a chance on Gene Watson, an artist with a lawsuit hanging over his head.
However, an independent recording project was agreed with Canadian record producer and former recording artist Gary Buck (Thursday 21 March 1940 - Tuesday 14 October 2003).
There were several provisions within the contract, which meant that, if no major label acquired the rights to the recording, Gary Buck could release it on Mercury Records / Polygram Records in Canada.
The recording sessions for 'In Other Words' (Broadland International Records / Mercury Records Canada, 1992) took place in Nashville on various dates in December 1991 and February 1992; the album initially gained a release only in Canada on Gary Buck’s own Broadland International Records through a deal with Mercury Records Canada.
'In Other Words' (Broadland International Records / Mercury Records Canada, 1992) later gained a release, on Broadland International Records, in the United States in 1993, when a single from it, 'One & One & One' (written by Buddy Cannon and John Northrup), managed to make its way onto the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart, stopping a little outside the Top 50 at No.66.
Gary Buck passed away at his home in Didsbury, Alberta in Canada on Tuesday 14 October 2003 - Gary Buck was sixty-three years old.
In the early 1990s, the country music market place was quite different to how it was when Gene Watson emerged on the country music scene in 1975. Garth Brooks was now the major country music artist, most new country acts were young and Gene Watson’s new manager, Jack McFadden (1927 - Tuesday 16 June 1998), was now busy promoting his new discovery Billy Ray Cyrus.
Jack McFadden passed away in Nashville on Tuesday 16 June 1998, following a battle with cancer - Jack McFadden was seventy-one years old.
It was around 1993 when Gene Watson became despondent and seriously considered quitting the country music industry for good.
Gene Watson had no management and felt that he didn’t have anything to look forward to. Gene Watson had not enjoyed a major hit song since 1989 and felt that the country music industry had turned its back on him.
While Gene Watson was considering retiring from the business he contributed so much to, a name was thrown at him, that of an old friend and booking agent - Allen Whitcomb (passed away on Tuesday 24 October 2006).
Gene Watson traveled to Nashville to meet with Allen Whitcomb. They talked, a deal was struck and Gene Watson once again had a recording home.
In September 1993, Gene Watson signed a recording contract with singer / songwriter / producer Ray Pennington and joined the roster at Step One Records in Nashville.
Step One Records, which was based in Nashville, was owned by Ray Pennington and Curtis Potter (Thursday 18 April 1940 - Saturday 23 January 2016); Ray Pennington acted as the company’s chief executive.
Gene Watson's debut album for Step One Records was 'Uncharted Mind' (Step One Records, 1993) and the first single released from it was 'Snake in the House' (written by TW Hale and Royal Wade Kimes).
This track was co-written by a then new artist called Wade Kimes who, in later years, recorded under the name of Royal Wade Kimes.
Once again, Gene Watson brought a new songwriter to prominence.
Gene Watson's relationship with Ray Pennington at Step One Records was one of mutual respect and admiration.
Gene Watson was now wearing less hats in the recording studio than he had in the 1970s and 1980s. In the old days, Gene Watson was looking for material, organising the musicians and working on his own musical arrangements.
At Step One Records, Gene Watson simply arrived at the recording studio and Ray Pennington did all the rest.
The release of Gene Watson’s debut album for Step One Records, 'Uncharted Mind' (Step One Records, 1993), opened some doors for Gene, in that some American country music radio stations were willing to add some of its tracks to their play-lists.
In musical terms, it very much appeared that Gene Watson was back from the dead and that a revival of his country music career looked distinctly possible.
In 1996, Gene Watson saw the release of his second album for Step One Records; 'The Good Ole Days' (Step One Records, 1996) was an album of exquisite Texas swing and tasteful balladry and included a track which would ultimately put the Gene Watson name firmly back on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart, after an absence of some four years.
The song in question, 'Change Her Mind', which was written by Danny 'Bear' Mayo (Monday 2 October 1950 - Saturday 2 October 1999), Paul Nelson and Larry Boone, entered the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart, on Saturday 25 January 1997.
By March 1997, 'Change Her Mind', which was written by Danny 'Bear' Mayo (Monday 2 October 1950 - Saturday 2 October 1999), Paul Nelson and Larry Boone, had reached No.44, thanks in no small part by the work carried out by an excellent promotion team at Step One Records.
One of the reasons for the revival in Gene Watson’s career at this time can be attributed to the fact that many of the people programming the song for American country music radio did not know who Gene Watson was and actually thought that he was a new, young artist.
Most listeners to American country music radio thought the same thing.
Larry Boone recorded 'Change Her Mind', which was written by Danny 'Bear' Mayo (Monday 2 October 1950 - Saturday 2 October 1999), Paul Nelson and Larry Boone, and included the track on 'One Way to Go' (Columbia Records, 1991).
Tony Toliver recorded 'Change Her Mind', which was written by Danny 'Bear' Mayo (Monday 2 October 1950 - Saturday 2 October 1999), Paul Nelson and Larry Boone, and included the track on 'Half Saint, Half Sinner' (Rising Tide Records, 1996).
Gene Watson's follow-up single, 'No Goodbyes' (written by Ray Pennington), didn’t achieve as high a chart position, only reaching No.73 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart in 1997.
The release of 'The Good Ole Days' (Step One Records, 1996) also afforded Gene Watson the opportunity to re-record three of his hit songs for a new generation of fans, 'Love in the Hot Afternoon', which was written by Kent Westberry and Vincent Wesley Matthews (1940 - Saturday 22 November 2003), 'Speak Softly (You're Talking to My Heart)' (written by Steve Spurgin and J.D. Mendenhall) and 'I Don't Need a Thing at All' (written by Joe Allen).
In 1997, Gene Watson saw the release of his third album for Step One Records; 'Jesus is all I Need' (Step One Records, 1997) was an album project which Gene Watson had been wishing to record for some time - a collection made up entirely of religious material.
The recording of 'Jesus is all I Need' (Step One Records, 1997) was also very much a family affair; six of the ten featured tracks were written by Gene Watson's cousin, Bobbie Joyce Harris Bost (Saturday 10 February 1940 - Saturday 6 April 2002), while his sisters, Virginia Ruth Watson Thompson and Mary Lois Watson Templeton (Friday 28 October 1932 - Friday 9 April 2004), provided wonderful harmony vocals.
'Jesus is all I Need' (Step One Records, 1997) was re-released twice; in 2004, the album was issued as 'The Gospel Side of Gene Watson' (Intersound Records, 2004), and in 2006 as 'Gene Watson: Gospel at its Best' (Gusto Records, 2006).
Gene Watson's final album for Step One Records, 'A Way to Survive' (Step One Records, 1997), included seven new tracks, along with a re-recording of 'Fourteen Carat Mind', which was written by Dallas Frazier and Larry Lee Favorite (Saturday 6 January 1940 - Saturday 26 May 2001), and was Gene Watson’s first, and only, No.1 hit single on the Billboard country music singles chart (No.1 for one week in January 1982).
The original version of 'Fourteen Carat Mind', which was written by Dallas Frazier and Larry Lee Favorite (Saturday 6 January 1940 - Saturday 26 May 2001), was included on Gene Watson's 'Old Loves Never Die' (MCA Records, 1981).
Gene Watson's 'A Way to Survive' (Step One Records, 1997) also included 'Class Reunion' (written by Craig Morris and Don Henry) and 'Old Porch Swing', which was written by Joe Allen and Charlie Williams (Friday 20 December 1929 - Thursday 15 October 1992), two tracks which had originally been included on 'In Other Words' (Broadland International Records / Mercury Records Canada, 1993).
Gene Watson's 'A Way to Survive' (Step One Records, 1997) demonstrated, however, that Gene Watson still possessed his extraordinary vocal ability.
On Sunday 19 July 1998, Gene Watson's driver Kenneth Anderson was killed when Gene's bus was involved in a crash. Long-time Gene Watson guitarist and backup vocalist Gary Anderson was injured.
On Sunday 27 September 1998, in Nashville, Gene Watson was honoured by ROPE (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) when they presented him with their Golden ROPE 'Lifetime Achievement Award'.
As far as Gene Watson was concerned, he was the sole entertainment for the evening and, to the best of his knowledge, that was the only reason he was there; this turned out not to be the case.
Upon receiving his Golden ROPE 'Lifetime Achievement Award', Gene Watson said little as his eyes shone with gratitude - humble as ever!
In 1999, Gene Watson saw the release of 'Eighteen Greatest Hits' (Tee Vee Records, 1999), a compilation of eighteen of his hit singles and which introduced his unique voice to a whole new audience of listeners.
It would be a further two years, however, before an album of new material would be released bearing the name of Gene Watson.
• Biography - 2000