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.”