What: Gene Watson 50th Anniversary Tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3
Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame member has produced six No. 1 hits, 23 Top 10 hits and has had 75 singles chart. Among his more famous hits are "Love in the Hot Afternoon," Farewell Party," "Fourteen Carat Mind," "Where Love Begins," "Paper Rosie," "Should I Go Home (or Should I Go Crazy)" and "Nothing Sure Looked Good on You."
For country singer Gene Watson, re-recording hits like "Love in the Hot Afternoon," "Fourteen Carat Mind" and "Farewell Party" was primarily a business decision.
Putting his 25 top songs on "The Best of the Best" on his private label gives him the full rights to the new versions, something he didn't have before. It also gives his fans a place to find their favorites.
"I wanted to go back and do the songs we get so many requests for," he says. "Fans ask for them, but they can't buy some of them."
It was not a project Watson took lightly.
He went to great lengths to get every song just as it was originally, hiring the same musicians and using the same equipment when possible. He also used today's technology to get the quality right as well.
"We had the originals in there with us so we could get them as spot-on as possible."
He says he's thrilled with the end result. But did he enjoy the process?
"No! I've got to be honest, it was one of the hardest undertakings of my life," he says.
"Some of these songs date back to the late '60s or '70s, and back then I drank a little and I might even have drunk a little in the studio."
He's been sober since 1980, which is a good thing, he says, because he's working harder than ever.
"I'm probably working more now than I was 15 years ago," he says. "I think it's the style. People want to hear it. What people have to listen to now on the radio is not traditional country music. The youngsters in their torn-up T-shirts and backwards ball caps. They have their fans, and I can appreciate that they have their fans, but us old guys still wear embroidered jackets and have creases in our pants, and we are packing out houses. There is a great resurgence in what I do."
Watson says he is every bit the stickler about the music onstage as he was in the studio.
"I love comedy and having a good time onstage, but when it gets to the song I'm very critical of it," he says. "Nothing goes onstage I don't hear."
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.