Stanley Watson Radio Interview

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In the summer of 1973 Stanley was busy raising a family, teaching, composing and performing around Rochester NY, his adopted home since 1968. He had taught for four years at Hochstein Music School, done sold-out concerts at Eastman Theater with Chuck Mangione and Friends (live recordings of which were later released on Mercury Records), and was often heard performing around town, occasionally appearing on radio and TV concerts and interviews. On a hot summer night in July ‘73 I recorded one such radio program. Stan was on the air for an hour, and the tape I used was thankfully just long enough. Now some 40 years old, the recording has held up well. Stanley talks about his earlier days studying in Spain, composing, traveling the world, and living the troubadour life. The hour long interview includes seven songs, two of which are Watson originals.

This interviewed/performance takes place on a then-blossoming and pretty hip local “underground” FM radio station, during a period when the new FM progressive rock radio format was pushing boundaries and promoting the experimental atmosphere of the music and the cultural shift of the times. Underground radio meets the past - and the future - in the person of Stanley Watson. Stan, taking the full measure of the opportunity, champions the music and talks the talk while the interviewer is clearly delighted to turn him loose.

Keep in mind this is 1973. Classical guitar, and the guitar in general had not yet become the immensely popular instrument it is today. Many of today’s prominent guitarists were either unknown, hadn’t picked up the instrument yet or hadn’t even been born. The current wealth of guitar repertoire and industry simply didn’t exist, and many of today’s guitar genres were still in the shadows or hadn’t been invented. There was relatively little printed guitar music available, and only a handful of guitar instruction books could be found, many of which seemed trivial and antiquated. In general much of the old-order music world ignored the guitar, or at the very least hadn’t made a place for it. The concept of serious guitar playing was relatively unrecognized. But there was at that time an emerging music and pop culture that was ready to try anything that might make music and life more interesting, might lead to a deeper level of expression and communication across artistic and cultural boundaries and norms. The guitar was in fact on the cusp of change. It just didn’t know it yet.

So Stanley, something of an enigma, was at the right place at the right time - for a time: a classical guitar player with an “out-on-the-fringes” approach to composition, performance and art. With his British background, guru-like charisma, and world traveler approach to life he cut a colorful figure in the Rochester NY music scene of the day, touching many lives in the process.

Que viva!

Stanley Watson, 1973

Guitarist Stanley Watson
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