Lloyd Watson - Blues Guitarist
Peterborough born Lloyd Watson who is now based in Cambridgeshire has a wealth of experience behind him and earned his reputation as a living legend through his consistency and history of performances both in the UK and abroad since the 60's.
Born to a Jamaican father and English mother Lloyd's early influences covered the whole spectrum of both black and white music. From an early age Lloyd showed a musical talent, initially for the piano, and spent 5 years taking lessons and entertaining his family. With the rise to prominence of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones Lloyd asked for a guitar as a Christmas present and his father bought him an acoustic. A few months later whilst walking around Leicester market he asked his mother if she would buy him a Robert Johnson LP which he had seen on a second hand record stall. The combination of these two events pointed to the road on which he still travels today.
Self taught on guitar Lloyd quickly emerged as a talented and enthusiastic performer on the circuit in and around Peterborough.
In the 1960's Lloyd and some close friends formed what became known as the best soul band in the area - "The Soul Mates". They enjoyed a large following of fans who travelled far and wide to see them play. At one gig at USAF Alconbury, they were joined on stage by two African-American soul singers known as Al and PeeWee. That gig was such a success that Al and PeeWee went on to join the band, and they sang at as many gigs as their service career would allow. Another African-American singer, Ray Gates, also sang with them on occasions. All three of these servicemen brought their own particular vocal talent to the band, and Al and PeeWee were with "The Soul Mates" when they won the first Beat Competition in Peterborough held at the now long gone Elwes Hall, and all three came from musical backgrounds - PeeWee's cousin is American soul singer, Stevie Wonder. PeeWee and Lloyd even sang on stage with Stevie when he toured England.
Lloyd's parents remember Al arriving at their house one Saturday afternoon with a copy of a 7" single he had received that day in a "goodwill package" from home. That single was "Sweet Soul Music" by Arthur Conley. The band squeezed themselves into Lloyd's parents' front room, learnt the chords and then played the song that night to an ecstatic audience before the record had even hit the shops! Perhaps that makes it the forerunner of the current download trend?
Al, PeeWee and Ray returned to America when their UK posting ended and, unfortunately, contact was lost with them. Ray paid a fleeting visit to England to work on some recordings but, as a result of a visa mix-up and despite pleadings from the band's manager, Paul Read (Paul Conquest ex-compere at Baileys nightclub in Leicester), Ray was returned to America and nothing has been heard of any of PeeWee or Ray since since - unless, of course, you know different! A trawl of the internet has located Al Chisholm. He's now singing with that well-known Motown group "The Contours". His website mentions playing gigs around the air bases in the 1960's.
Following the demise of "The Soul Mates", Lloyd formed "Lloyd Watson's Pocket Edition" and then joined "Ma Grinder's Blues Mission". The latter was resident band at The Halcyon in Atherstone Avenue, Peterborough which played host to many of well known blues artists (Champion Jack Dupree, Duster Bennett and Chicken Shack among others) who were invariably backed by "Ma Grinder's Blues Mission". Duster Bennett arranged for Lloyd to sign with Mike & Richard Vernon's Blue Horizon record label and the results of that signing can be heard on "Top Topham : The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" digitally remastered and released in September 2008.
In 1972 Lloyd won the solo category of the coveted Melody Maker Folk/Rock competition and two days later appeared on "The Old Grey Whistle Test" on BBC2. Following his success he went on to open shows for David Bowie and did two British tours, one supporting King Crimson and the other for Roxy Music. A European tour for Roxy Music then followed; asked by Eno to play on "Here Come The Warm Jets", Lloyd then played the majority of the guitar parts for Roxy Music's sax player Andy Mackay's solo album "In Search of Eddie Riff" and also contributed to Brian Eno's album "Here Come The Warm Jets". The Roxy Music connection continued when Lloyd joined the Phil Manzanera spin off group called 801, who released one of the best live albums ever, according to many press reports, entitled "801 Live".
801 was a short lived experiment with only 3 dates and one album "801 Live", available on the Virgin label.
Lloyd continues to play nationwide on his very own "never ending tour". See him if you can and catch a musician who feels and loves his music.
To see a list of Lloyd's gigs in 2014 please visit the Gig Guide page.
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