Anthony Raynard Watson possesses a versatile voice that's capable of rumbling bass and a falsetto so piercing dogs can pick it up a mile away. The Chi-lites couldn't have found a better replacement for Eugene Record than Watson, who toured and recorded with the Chi-town diehards in the late '80s and off and on in the '90s.
The Mobile, AL-raised singer got his first big break in Europe as part of the group Return Ticket. He formed Praze when he returned to Mobile and recorded the first version of "Solid Love Affair" with them, which he co-wrote with Paul Childs and Syl Parsons. Session work found him backing up the likes of the Manhattans, L.J. Reynolds, and Millie Jackson. He also released "Solid Love Affair" under his own name in March 1985 on SRO Records. Later that year, he joined Amherst Records, which issued his first LP, Anthony Watson, in 1985 and the singles "She Will Never Wait Forever" and "Missing You Tonight" in 1986.
When the Amherst deal soured, Watson befriended Marshall Thompson, the Chi-lites' founder, and became a touring member and recorded with them for Ichiban Records; his old favorite, "Solid Love Affair," became an integral part of their live show. Watson fit in well with the Chi-lites and led all their significant hits, except for "Oh Girl," which for some reason Robert "Squirrel" Lester always sang.
The Chi-lites' gig became a revolving door with Anthony and Greg Reed. During his first leave, he signed with Tashamba Records in Miami, FL, and recorded 9 Days of October in 1991, which spawned the singles "Do What You Want" and "Cause I Love You"; when that deal soured, he returned to the Chi-lites only to leave again to go with Vision Records (also in Miami) in 1994 for an album produced by Betty Wright that didn't get exposed, entitled Ain't No End to the Rainbow.
He rejoined the Chi-lites for their Help Wanted album on Coppersun Records in 1998, which contained updated soul hits like "Sly, Slick & Wicked," "Hold on to Your Dreams," "Love Uprising," and some tight originals. He also appeared on Tyrone Davis' Relaxin' With Tyrone on Malaco Records (2000). ~ Andrew Hamilton
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