From an Old Tape to a Hit
Gene Watson maintained a position as one of country music’s most consistent hit makers from 1975 through 1989. He took twenty-one singles into Billboard’s Top Ten. However, “Fourteen Carat Mind” is the only one that made it to the top spot.
Watson first heard the song while listening to demo tapes on his tour bus after the rest of the band had gone to sleep. He could easily have overlooked it because it was in an unusual tape configuration. Gene was going through a box of cassettes. He got down to the bottom of the box and there was this one reel-to-reel tape down there. He started to discard it, but then he thought,
“No, I’ve got to hear what’s on this tape”.
Watson hooked up the old antique reel-to-reel recorder and threaded the tape on there. It was the voice of one of Nashville’s most renowned songwriters, Dallas Frazier. It was a demo of one of his newest creations, “Fourteen Carat Mind”. After the first verse, Gene knew he was going to record it.
Gene Watson was known for years for his “greaser” hairstyle. However, the song “Fourteen Carat Mind” coincided with a new set of dry curls and a brand new beard. The song debuted on Billboard’s country singles chart October 3, 1981, and began Gene’s New Year in grand fashion. It reached 1 on January 9, 1982.
Story of Gene Watson
A Lone Star native, Watson continues to own residences in Paris, Texas and Palestine, Texas. He made his first record at the age of sixteen. A small label called Resco Records released one of Gene’s songs, “Love In The Hot Afternoon” in 1975. Capitol picked up the master record and distributed it nationally. It became his first hit, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard country chart. With that success, Watson was able to give up his Houston job as an auto-body repairman. Thereafter, Gene hammered out a long line of traditionally country-sounding material, most of it landing in the Top Ten.