Gene Watson Features: Jim Newcombe Asks ‘Whatever Happened To Gene Watson’ – International Country Music News & Routes: February 1993

Gene Watson Features

It is here where you have an opportunity to read ‘Whatever Happened To…Gene Watson’, an article written by Jim Newcombe, which was published in the February 1993 issue of International Country Music News & Routes.

Jim Newcombe

Whatever Happened To Gene Watson…

British country music fans first came across Gene Watson when he was virtually unknown and playing the local club circuit.  Later he not only played at major United Kingdom festivals but also had Top Ten hits in the United States.  But very little has been heard about him over the past two years.  At the end of November 1992, Jim Newcombe caught up with him at Bingaman Park, Kitchener, Ontario, and answers the question:

‘Whatever Happened To…Gene Watson’

Gene Watson: 'In Other Words' (Canada: Mercury Records / Polygram Records, 1992 & United States: Broadland International Records, 1992)

Fans of Texan Gene Watson will be delighted to know that Gene is back on the recording scene with a new CD, released at the time of writing only on Mercury, Canada.  Canadian Gary Buck (Thursday 21 March 1940 – Tuesday 14 October 2003) produced this release and, as he has an office in Kitchener, Gene was in town to promote the new album, but the early part of our chat was taken up with Gene and I trying to put a date on the British tour he did in 1979 or was it 1980?.

Gene may not be able to recall the exact dates, but he has fond memories of a very hectic tour that took him all over Britain – a tour he would like to repeat.  So, apart from the album, what had been happening to his career?

The past year…

‘Well, of course, you know in the States, it’s been an election year…the economy has been rather bad as well, so everyhing has been at a little bit slower pace…but then again I would have to say my career might have possibly been in a slump too.  For almost a year, I’ve been between contracts, between record companies, but finally I hooked up with Gary Buck (Thursday 21 March 1940 – Tuesday 14 October 2003), and we came out of the studio with the new album, ‘In Other Words‘ (Canada: Mercury Records / Polygram Records, 1992)’

Gary Buck (Thursday 21 March 1940 - Tuesday 14 October 2003)

Gary Buck (Thursday 21 March 1940 – Tuesday 14 October 2003)…

‘I’ve known Gary Buck (Thursday 21 March 1940 – Tuesday 14 October 2003) ever since back in the Dallas Harms (Thursday 18 July 1935 – Saturday 12 October 2019) days, when I came out with ‘Paper Rosie‘, ‘The Old Man & His Horn‘, and ‘Cowboy’s Don’t Get Lucky All The Time‘.  I’ve known Gary at least that long, possibly longer’

Dallas Harms (Thursday 18 July 1935 – Saturday 12 October 2019)…

Mr Candyman‘ is included on the new album, and that’s an old song that Dallas has recorded and, to be honest, I’m not sure that I did the song justice because I had heard it so many times by Dallas.  I simply recorded it ‘cos I loved it and I don’t think my rendition of it is in competition with his version’

‘The other Canadian song on the album is ‘She’s No Lady‘ by Paul Weber.  I had never heard the song before Gary brought it to me and you might say that I learned it in the studio.  I thought the song had a real good hook to it so we included it and we are getting a lot of response from it’

The album really didn’t take that long to cut’ (the sleeve lists December 1991 and February 1992)…’it just took a couple or three times in the Reflection Studios, Nashville.  But when you are working on the road, you have to arrange your schedule to where you can get in the studio’

Single and video…

One & One‘ is the single and we have a new video on the song and it’s storyline.  The video was also made in Nashville’

‘I think the video helps put the fans in touch with the artists.   In other words, when they watch him perform, not only can they relate to the storyline, but they can relate to the real story behind the song…how he feels about it, how it comes across.  I think the appearance of the artist to the fans means a lot.  It’s got a lot of positive aspects to it and I think it’s one of the big things that has come along since I’ve been in the business.  A lot of the determination whether a song is a hit or not, depends on the video…a strong video means you’ve got a whole lot better chance at getting a hit record out of it’

US release?…

‘Negotiations are going on right now and I can’t say exactly where they’re at as far as making headway, but I’m reasonably sure that this thing will be an American release before too long.  The album has already filtered down in to the United States, and a lot of US stations are already playing the song so, hopefully, it’s just a matter of time’

Album highlights?

‘I think one of the greatest songs is ‘The Old Porch Swing‘.  One of the guys who wrote it, is a real good friend, who also wrote many early hits for me. like ‘Bedroom Ballad‘, ‘I Don’t Need Anything At All‘, ‘Should I Come Home (Or Should I Go Crazy)‘…his name is Joe Allen, but his co-writer Charlie Williams (Friday 20 December 1929 – Thursday 15 October 1992) passed away since we recorded it but, at least, he got to hear the recording first’

Kent Westbury provided ‘Winds of Change‘, and we came within an inch of naming the album after it, but at the last minute changed it to ‘In Other Words‘ (Canada: Mercury Records / Polygram Records, 1992)’

Living in Houston

‘Now don’t get me wrong, but I think not living in Nashville could possibly have hurt me in a lot of ways, because there’s so much going on that is centred right there in Music City.  I chose to live in Houston because, for one thing, it’s home and every time I get ready to record and I go to Nashville, I’ve got something fresh in my mind…it’s not something they’re doing on every recording session that you hear.  I’m not using the same players that they’re using and, if I am, I’m telling them what I want, and I feel I have a fresher outlook on the music business’

Picking the songs

‘Most of my success has been with medium tempo songs, like ‘Fourteen Carat Mind‘, but I like any kind of music as long as it’s my song!  If I can feel the song, tell the story the way I think it deserves to be told, I’ll record it.  But I know the minute I listen to something, whether a song’s mine or not and, if it’s not, then I won’t sing it.  I’ve always had the leniency of picking my own material, or having the final say so, and I appreciate that because I feel like, if I do have any talents, one of them is to know my capabilities better than anyone else’

Randy Travis

New traditionalists?

‘Probably Randy Travis made the biggest effect on a younger audience than anybody in the business.  I remember him before he was Randy Travis, back before his first record and at that time I was heavily involved with him and his manager, now his wife – of course’

Clint Black


Joe Diffie (Sunday 28 December 1958 - Sunday 29 March 2020)

‘I think that Randy should be credited for bringing in a brand new generation of country listeners, because he was the first that really attracted the youngsters…of course, he has been followed by Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie (Sunday 28 December 1958 – Sunday 29 March 2020) and all the other new guns…but Randy probably had more to do with it than anybody else who comes to mind’

‘It also makes me feel good, because I think they came around to doing the same thing I was in 1975…traditional country.  A lot of them are spreading out and trying new things, and you have to do that, because you don’t always work where square one is…but coming back to what you know works’

Randy Ray / Randy Travis

A photograph from way back…it might look like a young Randy Travis, but in the days Gene was talking about, when Randy was resident at The Nashville Palace, where this photograph was taken while he was working under the name Randy Ray

New faces, new places…

‘Many of the younger generation are learning the country line dances and the dance steps, and they are really interested in this.  But this new generation is fickle.

As long as you’re doing what they like, they’ll stand behind you and they’ll kill for you, but come out with something they don’t like, and I guarantee you they’ll run to somebody else before you can say ‘don’t do it!’


‘We would love to go back over there, because I feel we’ve got a great audience there, and every time we’ve been, we’ve been accepted just real well…and that’s something to look forward to’

‘My career, like I said, was almost at a standstill – in fact, I contemplated just giving up and getting out of the business.  I guess I can thank a few of the professionals and a lot of the fans for talking me into staying, and I’m gonna make the best of it, and that includes a European tour if we get the opportunity’

Tony Booth


‘I’ve still got The Farewell Party Band with Tony Booth as frontman and band leader…we haven’t stopped travelling – it didn’t get to that point.  It was just that I was extremely frustrated because the music business has taken so many turns and, as you know, I’m not a political person…I tell it like it is.  If you don’t want to know the straight answer to a question, don’t ask me, ‘cos I’ll tell you!  I do what I think I do best and that’s to get on stage and satisfy those audiences.  It was really getting to me because so many things that I was doing that I thought were right and had always been right seemed to have changed…I was faced with a new generation and maybe these things were no longer right’

Loyal fans…

‘We’re still drawing real good crowds everywhere we go.  We satisfy our audiences and they back us up 100 per cent.  I said, when I started, that I was gonna give it everything I had, and when I sat back and really considered giving up, I was aware that a lot of these fans were devastated, and I said ‘Well, hey. if they’re gonna stick by me, I’m gonna stick by them’

Gene Watson & The Toy Shop (Houston Chronicle)

Off the road…

‘I’ve got a little paint and body shop called The Toy Shop.  I love to work on cars…I’m a race fan.  When I’m off the road, I’m on the road, so to speak.  I’ve got a drag car, a quarter-mile race drag car, and I’ll buy a wrecked car and paint it and fix it up.  That’s how I keep my sanity when I’m not touring’

It was now time for Gene to go on stage, and his performance was more eloquent than any interview can ever be.  All the hits were included, with plenty of steel guitar and not a synthesizer in sight.  He also sang the new single, which is a great song…if you are a Gene Watson fan, then I can tell you, hes back on the scene – and as good as ever!

Jim Newcombe

This article, ‘Whatever Happened To…Gene Watson’, which was written by Jim Newcombe, was published in the February 1993 issue of International Country Music News & Routes, is reproduced, as a special ‘Feature‘, within Gene Watson’s Fan Site, with the kind permission of Jim Newcombe.