Women in Blues Spotlight: Beverly “Guitar” Watkins
inUncategorizedon March 25, 2014
Beverly “Guitar” Watkins was born in 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia. She began a lifelong love of music at the age of eight, when her aunt gave her a guitar; the very first song she learned to play was the blues classic “John Henry.” Learning from her family, and even the local coal deliveryman, helped her develop a unique, hard-playing guitar style.
In her teens Beverly was introduced to Piano Red, and began touring with him. She was still in high school, so Red had to get permission from her principal for her to miss classes to travel for gigs. The group had a hit with “Red’s Boogie,” a song that is a clear precursor to Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. They followed that hit with another, “Dr. Feelgood.” The group was renamed “Dr. Feelgood and The Interns and The Nurse.” (Beverly was The Nurse.)
Throughout her career in the mid-twentieth-century, Beverly became known for her wild guitar style – to this day her stage antics include playing her guitar behind her head.
In the 1980s the blues scene in Atlanta was going through a hard time, and Beverly took domestic jobs to make ends meet. She still played small clubs and the Atlanta Underground, “paying my dues,” as she called it. In 2012, Beverly was honored with the Georgia Music Legend Award.
It doesn’t matter what kind of stage, or what size it is, Beverly plays her heart out, mesmerizing audiences with everything from fast guitar licks to gospel tunes. She has released several solo albums with the assistance of Music Maker, and you can check them out here. If you’re in Atlanta, you can always catch a Beverly show live!