Gene Watson’s Peers within the country music industry believe in the sheer talent of this unassuming man from east Texas, so much so that Gene is regarded by many of them as ‘the singer’s singer’ – and rightly so!
All of Gene Watson’s Peers, who were contacted by The Gene Watson Fan Site, during 2009, were most gracious with their time and words.
It is here, within this special part of The Gene Watson Fan Site, that you have an opportunity to read a quote from Dirk Johnson, which he submitted to this site on Monday 24 August 2009.
Sean Brady would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to Dirk Johnson who made a special contribution to this unique part of this online ‘celebration of a Lone Star Hero’.
Sean Brady would also like to express a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Sarah Brosmer at Lytle Management in Brentwood, Tennessee without whose assistance this ‘Peer’s Quote’ about Gene Watson would not have been possible.
Gene Watson and Dirk Johnson at Hilltop Studio in Nashville on Wednesday 6 May 2009
This quote was submitted on Monday 24 August 2009.
‘Growing up in the 1970s in Virginia, I knew at an early age I wanted to be a studio musician and producer.
I was producing records on folks like Jesse McReynolds of Jim & Jesse fame and engineering on Ralph Stanley albums at thirteen years old in 1977.
My inspiration came from a very select few records that I listened to. My passion was and always will be country music.
When I listened to Gene Watson records, I heard what set off something in me I hadn’t ever felt before. But it was obvious to me – this was the way country records should be done! It totally affected my playing and my whole thoughts on arrangements.
Gene was producing his records; he absolutely was and still is the most amazing vocalist. I used to sit and study those records and think to myself, ‘If I someday could play on something anywhere near as good as this, I will die a happy man’.
Amazing was that first call I got to play on my first Gene Watson record – ‘Uncharted Mind‘ (Step One Records, 1993). I was so scared I couldn’t hardly find the piano!
After several more of those albums, and meeting, plus getting to know the ‘real deal’ that is Gene Watson, I came to respect him even more! Which is why I have now nicknamed him ‘Genius Watson’. Ha! Ha!
When he asked me earlier this year to produce his upcoming album, I was honoured more than I have ever been in my entire life. He was one of my biggest musical heroes and after getting to be around him and actually know him, I am more in awe of him than I was before I really knew him.
When we decided to name this album, ‘A Taste of the Truth‘ (Shanachie Records, 2009), I said to myself, ‘How fitting!’ This man is the walking, talking, breathing ‘taste of the truth’ and this record proves it.
Not only is age just a number, in this case it just goes to further prove that some things get better with age.
You’ll hear the man sing things he’s never sung before with a passion and love for the music I’ve never experienced in all the years I’ve played on and produced many records.
Country music is not dead! It’s alive and well. You may have to look a little harder to buy it these days, but it’s worth the search. When you find this album, you’ll know real country is still kicking!
‘Genius Watson’ – (sorry pal)…he hates it when I call him that – is truly a genius. He’s a master of the hardest instrument in the world. The voice! He also is musically one of the most ‘alert’ and ‘spot on’, minds I’ve ever encountered!
And the best thing of all that I could say about Gene is, ‘He is without a doubt, the most real person, the kindest gentleman and man of his word I’ve ever run across in this business!’
Gene Watson is literally, in every way, ‘A taste of the truth’
Thank you, Dirk Johnson, for your support of Gene Watson.
About Dirk Johnson…
Dirk Johnson started playing at around three years of age in his parents house just down the road from the AP Carter family fold and home-place near Bristol, Virginia – the year was 1967.
When Dirk Johnson was four years old, he discovered that he had perfect pitch and could accurately identify up to eleven ‘nonsense’ notes together all at the same time.
In 1977, when Dirk Johnson was thirteen years old, he met Charlie and Alan Maggard at Maggard Sound Studio in Big Stone Gap, Virginia where he got his first job as a studio pianist, producer and engineer.
Two years later, in 1979, at the age of fifteen, Dirk Johnson got to work as an engineer on a Ralph Stanley album.
Dirk Johnson also played on and produced some records for Jesse McReynolds, Opry member of ‘Jim & Jesse’ fame and mandolin virtuoso.
In 1980, when he was sixteen years old, Dirk Johnson graduated high school in his Junior (3rd) year and moved to Nashville to take a job with The Hinsons, who were a popular Southern Gospel group. Dirk Johnson worked with The Hinsons throughout the rest of their career, playing on and producing their records.
Dirk Johnson then left to tour with T.G. Sheppard for about a year.
Then, as a part of Bill Anderson‘s touring / recording band ‘The Po’ Folks’, Dirk Johnson was offered a staff position on two television shows on The Nashville Network (TNN).
Dirk Johnson performed on ‘You Can Be A Star’, ‘Play It Again, Nashville’ and ‘The Charlie Daniels Talent Roundup’ for over a period of ten to twelve years on The Nashville Network (TNN).
In 1997, Dirk Johnson was part of the very first of the ‘Country Family Reunion’ television series, which is now seen on the RFD television network; Dirk Johnson has been honoured to be a part of every one since then.
Dirk Johnson owns and operates his own studio / production company, DirkWorks.
Dirk Johnson has recorded with / produced or played with many great artists, either on television, records (CDs) or stage; the list of artists reads like a ‘who’s who’ of country music, and includes the following:
• Alan Jackson / Dirk Johnson played piano on Alan Jackson’s Grammy Award-winning album, ‘Don’t Rock The Jukebox’ (Mercury Records, 1991)
• Dolly Parton
• Clay Walker
• George Jones (Saturday 12 September 1931 – Friday 26 April 2013)
• Buddy Emmons (Wednesday 27 January 1937 – Wednesday 29 July 2015) & The Swing Shift Band
• Joe Diffie (Sunday 28 December 1958 – Sunday 29 March 2020)
• Steve Wariner
• Alison Krauss
• Keith Whitley (Thursday 1 July 1954 – Tuesday 9 May 1989)
• Shania Twain
• Diamond Rio
• Terri Clark
• John Conlee
• Toby Keith
• John Wiggins & Audrey Wiggins
• Rhonda Vincent
• Jerry Reed (Saturday 20 March 1937 – Monday 1 September 2008)
• Johnny Paycheck (Tuesday 31 May 1938 – Wednesday 19 February 2003)
• Trisha Yearwood
• Brooks & Dunn (Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn)
• Billy Currington
• Jo Dee Messina
• Lee Ann Womack
• Vince Gill
• Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers
• T.G. Sheppard
• BJ Thomas (Friday 7 August 1942 – Saturday 29 May 2021)
• Ricky Skaggs
• The Whites
• Gene Watson
• Faron Young (Thursday 25 February 1932 – Tuesday 10 December 1996)
• Ray Price (Tuesday 12 January 1926 – Monday 16 December 2013)
• Dottie West (Tuesday 11 October 1932 – Wednesday 4 September 1991)
• Harley Allen (Monday 23 January 1956 – Wednesday 30 March 2011)
• Deborah Allen
• Clinton Gregory
• Eddie Rabbitt (Thursday 27 November 1941 – Thursday 7 May 1998)
• John Anderson
• Brent Mason
• Aaron Tippin
• Daryle Singletary (Wednesday 10 March 1971 – Monday 12 February 2018)
• Ken Mellons
• Eddy Arnold (Wednesday 15 May 1918 – Thursday 8 May 2008)
• Sonny James (Wednesday 1 May 1929 – Monday 22 February 2016)
• Wesley Dennis
• Lisa Brokop
• Charlie Rich (Wednesday 14 December 1932 – Tuesday 25 July 1995)
• Connie Smith
• Marty Stuart
• Charley Pride (Friday 18 March 1934 – Saturday 12 December 2020)
• Jeannie Seely
• Mark Wills
• Little Jimmy Dickens (Sunday 19 December 1920 – Friday 2 January 2015)
• Marty Raybon
• Roy Acuff (Tuesday 15 September 1903 – Monday 23 November 1992)
• Bill Anderson
• Lynn Anderson (Friday 26 September 1947 – Thursday 30 July 2015)
• Crystal Gayle
• Keith Stegall
• Jerry Douglas
• Trace Adkins
Dirk Johnson has also worked with a number of his ‘A Team’ heroes, including Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins (Tuesday 18 January 1938 – Sunday 30 January 2022), Harold Bradley (Saturday 2 January 1926 – Thursday 31 January 2019), Jimmy Capps (Thursday 25 May 1939 – Monday 1 June 2020), Pete Wade, Buddy Harmon (Sunday 23 December 1928 – Thursday 21 August 2008), Roy Huskey Jr. (Monday 17 December 1956 – Saturday 6 September 1997) and Owen Bradley (Thursday 21 October 1915 – Wednesday 7 January 1998).
Dirk Johnson played synthesisers, on all tracks, on Gene Watson’s ‘Uncharted Mind‘ (Step One Records, 1993).
Dirk Johnson played piano and keyboards, on all tracks, on Gene Watson’s ‘The Good Ole Days‘ (Step One Records, 1996).
Dirk Johnson played piano and keyboards, on all tracks, on Gene Watson’s ‘Jesus is All I Need‘ (Step One Records, 1997).
Dirk Johnson played keyboards, on all tracks, on Gene Watson’s ‘A Way to Survive‘ (Step One Records, 1997).
Dirk Johnson played piano, on all tracks, on Gene Watson’s ‘From The Heart‘ (RMG Records, 2001).
On Tuesday 25 August 2009, Gene Watson saw the release of ‘A Taste of the Truth‘ (Shanachie Records, 2009), which was produced by Dirk Johnson for Dirkworks Productions; Gene Watson took on the role of executive producer.
Orchestrations were arranged and performed by Dirk Johnson and Gail Rudisill-Johnson.
Gene Watson’s ‘A Taste of the Truth‘ (Shanachie Records, 2009) was recorded by Steve C. Chandler and Dirk Johnson at Hilltop Studio in Nashville. Additional recording was undertaken by Dirk Johnson at Dirkworks Studios.
Dirk Johnson was band leader, and played piano, Wurlitzer, clavinet and keyboards, on all tracks.
On Tuesday 14 February 2012, Gene Watson saw the release of ‘Best of the Best: 25 Greatest Hits‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2012), which included the following note from Gene Watson:
‘Making this album has been like writing my autobiography. Old memories flooded back. Sometimes I’d remember the exact day I was in the studio recording the original or where I was when I first heard the song.
Other times I’d recall hearing a guitar riff as we laid down the original. All of that was with me as I recorded these key pieces of my life. I hope the love I feel for these songs, the words and the music shines through.
I owe a huge thank you to my producer, Dirk Johnson, for the many hours in the studio spent putting his magic touch on every song’
Dirk Johnson was session leader, string arranger, and played piano, keyboards, flute and percussion, on all tracks.
Gene Watson’s ‘Best of The Best – 25 Greatest Hits’ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2012) was produced by Dirk Johnson for DirkWorks Productions; Gene Watson took on the role of executive producer.
Gene Watson’s ‘Best of The Best – 25 Greatest Hits’ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2012) was mixed at DirkWorks Recording and Mastermine by Dirk Johnson and Anthony Johnson, and the album was recorded by Anthony Johnson, Joe Carrell, Steve C. Chandler and Dirk Johnson.
On Friday 26 February 2016, Gene Watson saw the release of his highly acclaimed ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016), which was produced by Dirk Johnson for DirkWorks Productions; Gene Watson took on the role of executive producer.
String arrangements were performed by Dirk Johnson.
Gene Watson’s ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016) was recorded at Sony/Tree Recording Studio, Hilltop Recording, DirkWorks Recording, Funhouse Recording and SoundShop in Nashville, by Adam Englehardt, Anthony Johnson & Dirk Johnson; additional recording was done by DirkWorks Recording in Hiltons, Virginia by Dirk Johnson and Alan Maggard.
Gene Watson’s ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016) was mixed at Maggard Sound Studio in Big Stone Gap, VA by Dirk Johnson; assistant engineers were Taylor Pollert, Rodney Ingle, Steve C. Chandler and John Nicholson.
Gene Watson, with producer Dirk Johnson, at Sony / Tree Recording Studio in Nashville, on Thursday 6 August 2015, during recording sessions for ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016)
Personnel involved in the recording of Gene Watson’s ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016) included the following:
Dirk Johnson (piano & keyboards)
David Smith (bass guitar & acoustic upright bass)
Lonnie Wilson and Eddy Anderson (drums)
Kelly Back, Gregg Galbraith, Ben Hall and Bruce Watkins (acoustic guitars)
Aubrey Haynie and Gail Rudisill-Johnson (fiddles)
Gail Rudisill-Johnson (violins, violas & cellos)
Mike Johnson and Sonny Garrish (steel guitars)
James Mitchell and Gregg Galbraith (electric guitars)
John Wesley Ryles, Cindy Richardson Walker, Judy Rodman and Dirk Johnson (background vocalists)
On Thursday 17 March 2016, it was announced that Gene Watson’s ‘Real.Country.Music‘ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2016) had charted at No.72 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, and was No.1 on Amazon’s best selling classic country albums list.
On Friday 8 December 2017, Gene Watson saw the release of ‘My Gospel Roots’ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2017), which was produced by Dirk Johnson for DirkWorks Productions; the executive producer was Gene Watson.
Gene Watson‘s ‘My Gospel Roots’ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2017) included the following tracks:
‘Praying’, which was written by Hazel Marie Houser (Saturday 3 June 1922 – Friday 14 June 1996)
‘Call Me Gone’, which was written by Kenneth Duane Hinson (Kenny Hinson) (Saturday 17 October 1953 – Thursday 27 July 1995)
‘Fit For A King’ (written by Carl Jackson and Jim Rushing)
‘Swing Wide Them Golden Gates’ (traditional)
‘Old Roman Soldier’ (written by David M. Cooper)
‘Clinging To A Saving Hand’, which was written by Bill Mack (Saturday 4 June 1932 – Friday 31 July 2020)
‘Build My Mansion (Next Door To Jesus)’, which was written by Dottie Rambo (Friday 2 March 1934 – Sunday 11 May 2008)
‘He Ain’t Gone For Good’ (written by Dirk Johnson and David S. Kraft)
‘Help Me’ (written by Larry Gatlin)
‘Til The Last Leaf Shall Fall’, which was written by Sonny James (Wednesday 1 May 1929 – Monday 22 February 2016) and Jack Rhodes (1908 – 1968)
‘Where No One Stands Alone’, which was written by Thomas Mosie Lister (Thursday 8 September 1921 – Thursday 12 February 2015)
‘In The Garden’, which was written by Charles Austin Miles (7 January 1868 – Sunday 10 March 1946)
‘Satisfied’, which was written by Irene Ethel ‘Martha Carson’ Amburgey Cosse (Thursday 19 May 1921 – Thursday 16 December 2004)
Personnel involved in the recording of Gene Watson‘s ‘My Gospel Roots’ (Fourteen Carat Music, 2017) included the following:
John Wesley Ryles, Cindy Richardson Walker, Carl Jackson, Val Storey, Dirk Johnson, The Isaacs (Becky Isaacs Bowman and Sonya Isaacs Yeary), and Goodman Revival (Tanya Goodman Sykes, Johnny Minick and Michael Sykes) (background vocals)
Dirk Johnson (session leader, keyboards)
David Smith (bass guitars)
Lonnie Wilson (drums)
Kelly Back and Ben Hall (acoustic guitars)
Paul Franklin, Mike Johnson and Sonny Garrish (steel guitars)
Gregg Galbraith, James Mitchell and Kelly Back (electric guitars)
Aubrey Haynie and Gail Rudisill-Johnson (fiddles)
Gail Rudisill-Johnson (violins, violas, cellos)