One of the greatest accomplishments in my life was to become a member of the band "Rufus" in 1974'. I have always considered myself as an average Bass Player, and still do, but being in Rufus brought out something special in my playing at that time.
The rhythm section of myself Tony Maiden & Andre Fischer proved to be ripe and fertile ground for a young p bass playing guy like me, along with the fact that it offered me a first opportunity to write songs which meant that all those guitar chords i used to play sitting on the porch at home would be used in songs that people the world over would hear and in turn become a part of their lives too!
One song in particular is "Sweet Thing". About 90% of the chords in that song are chords I made up while sitting on the steps at my momma's house. A dream come true for a "Poor Boy from the South". Today i get email and phone calls from players from London to Dallas to Memphis to Seattle, telling me how they studied my playing, and how it helped influence their approach to developing their own styles. It don't get no better than that for an average player like me!!!
Bobby was Born February 24th in Memphis Tennessee. His parents named him "Bobby Jan Watson"
At age six he was given his first guitar from his mother for Christmas. A Roy Rogers guitar with 6 plastic strings.
At age nine he moved to Los Angeles from Memphis, Tenn. His family rode the "Super Chief" into downtown Los Angeles.
At age eleven he started playing the saxophone in the Carver Jr. High School band. Later switching to flute, trumpet, oboe, and anything else he could find.
At age sixteen Bobby was asked to come play (by Al McKay of EWF fame) in the back up band for The Whispers a popular R&B singing group). During this time he switched to the bass guitar permanently.
At age 17 Bobby was one of the fastest sprinters at Jefferson High, regularly running 9.9 in the hundred yard dash and anchoring the relay team.
Bobby played in a band called "The Rhythm Rebellion" in 1968. This "showband" was the opening act for "Ray Charles" in several venues.
In 1970 Bobby started playing bass with Billy Preston and recorded his first gold record (Nothing from Nothing).
Around this time Billy Preston called Bobby & Tony Maiden for a gig in New York filming a new Comedy TV show called "Saturday Night Live", we rode the plane to New York with John Belushi on board (entertaining people on the flight by acting silly in the aisles of the 707 jet).
In 1971 Bobby became a member of a band called "High Voltage". They released an album for Columbia Records and toured all over America. At the time I didn't know it but, I found out much later that "Miles Davis" was instrumental in the band's signing.
In 1974 Bobby became a member of Rufus. Rufus released 11 albums from 1974-1983. Rufus also won many awards including 2 Grammys and 10 Gold and Platinum records. The lead singer for Rufus was "Chaka Khan".
Aside from Rufus, Bobby joined many other artist's recordings as a bassist and guitarist, including Michael Jackson's "Rock with you" single from the "Off the Wall" recording in 1979. "Rock With You" was the first Number One single of 1980 on the billboard chart.
Bobby produced four albums with Rene & Angela from 1979-85 the last of which went Gold (Street Called Desire). Bobby also produced (along with Rene & Angela) Plush featuring Saieda Garrett, and Janet Jackson's debut album titled "Janet".
He resided in Japan from 1985-1995, and took part in countless productions, recordings and tours.
Bobby moved back to Los Angeles in 1995, and joined Steve Harvey in his musical endeavors. Bobby's symbiotic relationship with Steve has resulted in over 100 songs being written together, as well as numerous recording sessions playing both bass & guitar for artists such as Brigette McWilliams, Frank McCombs, Cece Winans, The Temptations, N'Dambi, Ledisi, Rachelle Farrell, Donnie and many more.
Bobby replaced "Verdine White" in a band consisting of 90% of original EWF members (including the Phoenix Horns). The band was called "The LA All Stars". This band rehearsed and proceeded to blow up the blue note clubs in Japan. This Rythym section with Al McKay (guitar) Johnny Graham (guitar) Larry Dunn (keys) Freddy White (drums) Bobby (bass) Andrew Woofolf (sax) Rahm Lee and Michael Harris (trumpets) was a hot unit. WOW!
In 1997 Bobby played at the 80th birthday celebration for Nelson Mandela in South Africa along with fellow cohorts Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Dru Hill and other assorted groups.
In 1998 Bobby toured with Chaka Khan, Larry Graham and (the artist formerly known as) Prince, playing all over Europe.
In 2000 Bobby joined other Rufus members for a one day shoot that became a part of one of the rides (funk blast) in the Experience Music Project museum in Seattle (Built by Microsoft's Paul Allen).
Bobby also took part in a Rufus & Chaka Khan Reunion Tour in 2001 as opening act for Earth Wind & Fire. Unfortunatedly, the tour was cut short by 9/11.
In 2002 Bobby joined Earth Wind & Fire original members Sheldon Reynolds, Morris Pleasure, Larry Dunn, Johnny Graham and Kenny Olson (Kid Rock) for a concert celebrating Jimi Hendrix's (would be) 60th Birthday at the EMP Museum in Seattle.
The next year (2003) the same band now named "Devoted Spirits" Went on a 3 city tour celebrating Jimi Hendrix's music (Portland, Seattle, San Francisco) The tour had members of Hendrix's original band (Noel Redding on Bass) (Mitch Mitchell on Drums), as well as Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Neal Schoen (Journey) Carlos Santana, and especially burning down the house was a young guitarist from Memphis Tenn. who has become my favorite guitarist of late, Eric Gales.
In January of 2005, Bobby produced the debut album of Japanese pop singer, Madoka.
Bobby went to London with drummer Ricky Lawson (Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton) and guitarist Sheldon Reynolds (EWF, Commodores) Nov. 14th 2005 and played bass for the original Diva "Aretha Franklin" at the "2005 UK Hall of Fame induction ceremony".
The beginning of 2006 marked the North Sea music festival (weekender) at "Blackpool England" where Bobby and members of the "Everyday People" session band played 2 nights of ripping "soul and R&B music" for British fans. Guesting were Lenny Williams (ex-tower of power lead singer), Maysa Leaks (Incognito), Ledisi, and Adriana Evans. On the second night, the band did a strong set on their own with powerful front man "Pretty Terry".