John Watson was one of the Jazz Me Blues Band’s original members. He played trombone and sang along with Yoko Noge on stage. Apart from the Jazz Me Blues, he played his trombone alongside Red Saunders and Count Basie.
To the group he was like an ambassador, a cheerleader and a stand-up comic on many occasions. To the rest of the world he is known both for his music but also for his contribution in films. As IMDB.com states, John was an actor in 20 movies and television series, from 1990 to 2006 with different roles ranging from very small to others greater in importance. He played in “Groundhog Day” and in “Soul Food” as Uncle Pete.
John was born in 1937 in Ohio. He learned music by listening to his father playing the piano when he was very young, but was always attracted to the trombone. Watson served in the United States Army and then attended Miami University. After college he became a public school band teacher in Chicago.
He worked his way into Count Basie as a trombonist and had Al Gray as a mentor for two years from whom he learned many things, including tonal control. His colleagues have considered him an expert player and enjoyed his solos on various songs.
John was a great friend to Sonny Seals, a saxophonist for the Jazz Me Blues Band and both found delight in playing and sharing their music with all those willing to listen. Not long after Sonny’s death in 2002, John died of non Hodgkin Lymphoma in September 2006. He had three sons and three daughters with his wife Virginia.
After his death, longtime collaborator and friend Yoko Noge planned a Musical Memorial in honor of John Watson’s life and musical career. The show was held on September 25th 2006 at the HotHouse. Admission to the show was free and donations to The John M. Watson Sr. Children’s Music foundation were accepted.