Guitar Heroes – Big George Watt
Who? You might well be asking but I had to include my local guitar hero Big George who sadly passed away just a year ago. With his band –“The Business”, George was as we say in Glasgow “a character” as much as he was a sublimely talented blues guitarist from Glasgow.
I couldn’d begin to guess at the number of times my friends and I saw Big George and the business play at bars like Shadows, Furlongs, Nibbs or Wypers in Glasgow. We used to form a dancing scrum at the front of the stage when they played and became friendly with the big guy and the rest of the band. We went to the same parties and George even played at my mate’s wedding.
Glasgow is full of bands so it takes a special talent to build the kind of reputation that George had. His playing took him to blues festivals all over the world and had him featured on bills that included Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy – two of the players who inspired this blues guitarist from Glasgow.
It used to be quite something to hear someone who was up there with his own Hero Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughn and many other better known guitarists, giving it large in a tiny Glasgow bar. He was that good. With The Business keeping it solid and steady behind him he just let us have it with a mix of blues classics, standards and his own brilliant songs.
Sometimes George would let guest guitarists play a song with him and I was lucky to have shared a stage with him on one such night. George didn’t actually play the song we’d agreed on “help me babe” but I busked along with him anyway and as a result I didn’t sleep alone that night – there were lots of pretty ladies in the audience : ) (cheers big man !)
Kit wise George played a white Strat or Strat copy sometimes and favoured a little Peavey bandit amp (set to 11) a boss overdrive and the occasional touch of chorus. The sounds he was able to pull out of that lowly set up were truly awesome.
I don’t think he’d mind me saying he was fond of a drink or two and this led to some great banter. He was also a very funny guy. I remember one night when, worse for wear he actually puked on his guitar mid solo. He casually excused himself and, laying his guitar against the amp ran for the bog.
The Business just kept laying down their solid drum and bass as the amp started to produce a lovely feedback. Minutes later he was back. He just picked it up, caught the next beat and continued where he left off. One of the best things I’ve ever seen.
Glasgow had produced a legend or two over the years but none will be as sadly missed by me as Big George watt. Sadly in recent years his health had declined due to a stroke so I hadn’t seen the Glasgow bluesman play for quite some time but I can picture him playing perfectly and have some recordings which, along will a hundred great memories, will have to do.