Despite the name of one of his most popular songs as well as his band, Gene Watson is not staging a “Farewell Party” like a number of artists.
“It’s just the name of the band because of my song,” said Watson, who will perform at the Coleman Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.
He recorded “Farewell Party” in 1979. It peaked at No. 5 on the U.S. country charts and No. 9 in Canada.
“It’s the name that is synonymous with Gene Watson; it’s been a career song for me,” he said. “It was a long, long time ago when I came out with that. We decided it would be a good band name and it’s been with me ever since.”
Watson admits he never expected to have the staying power he’s enjoyed.
“I never did,” he said. “In fact, to be honest with you, I was perfectly happy doing paint and body work on cars and just playing local night clubs and stuff like that. A couple guys heard me liked how I sounded and asked if I would like to go to Nashville. I said ‘sure’ and that’s how it took off.”
He still maintains a paint and body — the Toy Shop — in the Houston area.
“It (working at the shop) is my favorite pastime,” Watson said. “When I am not on the road doing music, I like to piddle around with cars and trucks.”
While he’s not really into classic cars, he does own a 1949 Plymouth that he hasn’t “done anything with” and a 1983 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS that only has about 20,000 miles on the odometer.
In addition to “Farewell Party,” Watson had a string of hits in the 1970s and ’80s, including “Love in the Hot Afternoon,” “Fourteen Carat Mind,” “Memories to Burn,” “Paper Rosie” and “Nothing Sure Looked Good on You.”
He’s had eight No. 1 records in his career, including two gospel songs in the last two years — “Help Me,” which was written by Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers fame, and “Old Roman Soldier.”
He said he isn’t transitioning to gospel music “but gospel has always been a part of my life. My first memory of being able to sing was in a church, so I have always been a huge fan of gospel music.”
Watson said he’s only recorded two gospel albums over the years.
He’s seen his share of one-hit wonders in his 50-plus years in the music business.
“I’ve always had the freedom to pick and choose my own material.” Watson said. “I try my best to try to record the kind of songs I think my fans expect out of me. I try to record songs that they can relate to, can listen to and can dance to. I haven’t changed my style much. I am still true to what made me what I am in the music business.
“I never did flip-flop around trying to get a crossover hit and all that stuff. I have stayed with traditional country. My fans have stayed loyal.”
Oklahoma, a state that has deep country music roots, is like a second home to Watson.
In the ‘80s he won entertainer of the year and the Farewell Party band was band of the year in voting by the Oklahoma Country Music Association.
He performs regularly in the Sooner State. In addition to the Coleman, he’s been at Buffalo Run Casino several times.
“I am pretty well known around the great state of Oklahoma,” Watson said.
After Miami, his 2019 schedule takes him to Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.
Just recently, he played four dates in Branson, Missouri.
“At this point in my career, if I can run 65 to 70 dates in a year, I am happy,” he said. “You factor in the travel time and the distances. I am not a spring chicken any more.”
He plays down the title “a singer’s singer,” but “I feel pretty fortunate. The good Lord has been good to me.”
Tickets are available by calling the Coleman ticket office, 918-540-2425 or atwww.colemantheatre.org Tickets are $42, with a special group rate of $38 for purchases of 20 tickets or more.