Johnny Watson – Space Guitar

The first “shredding” guitar instance? Johnny Watson plays guitar in bursts in this recording from way back in 1954. When you keep that in mind while listening to it…it’s remarkable.

It’s not that this instrumental sounds so impressive…it’s the techniques used here by Watson that inspired a generation of guitarists, including Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton. You can also hear where Jimmy Page would have been inspired by this. Watson’s guitar work laid the groundwork for such guitar players such as Joe Satriani.

He pioneered the use of feedback and reverberation. Unfortunately for him and his recording label Federal Records, the public of the early 1950s, before rock-and-roll, was not prepared for his kind of music, and the record did not sell very well. He had greater success in 1955 with his song “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights,” recorded on the Modern label.

Space Guitar seemed ahead of it’s time. He has been cited as a pioneer of reverb and feedback and in the early fifties… fans had to be a little confused with the strange sound.

Johnny Watson:  “Reverb had just come out. Everybody really didn’t understand what it was all about, man, and I was experimenting with it.”


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

34 thoughts on “Johnny Watson – Space Guitar”

  1. This is cutting edge guitar and the sax in there gives a cool oomph. You’re making me think of that scene from Back to the Future with Marty on the guitar at the dance where he almost disappeared. What a great movie that was.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s some pretty cool stuff, Max. Playing in bursts describes it very well. I agree with Onceuponatime70s and Lisa there’s some surf rock and garage rock vibe going on. I would also add psychedelic – what a stew! Definitely way ahead of its time!

    Liked by 1 person

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