Despite playing the role of perennial sideman, often in fine bands that left much to be desired in the visibility department, Mike "Junior" Watson was, and is, one of the most influential blues guitarists of his generation.
In fact, following Robben Ford's defection into fusion, Watson was rivaled only by Hollywood Fats as king of the hill in California, and by Jimmie Vaughan anywhere else. While he and Vaughan have radically different approaches, Watson's arch-top-cheapo-through-reverb-tank sound has much in common with Hollywood Fats', as does his ability to nail seemingly every traditional electric blues style. But whereas Fats was a master of mimicry, Watson had a spontaneous, original bent laced with his oddball sense of humor. After starting out with harpist Gary Smith in northern California in the early '70s, he teamed with Rod Piazza's Mighty Flyers (née Flying Sauce Band) for 11 years, where he was instrumental in injecting the Chicago-styled blues band (and countless others in its wake) with ample doses of swing, culling licks from guitarists Bill Jennings, Tiny Grimes, and Billy Butler. Along the way he gigged with Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmy Rogers, Luther Tucker, and others, eventually joining the '80s edition of Canned Heat, with whom he continued to tour until the late '90s. ~ Dan Forte, Rovi