”Wah Wah” Watson

Papa Was a Rolling Stone

Known as “Wah Wah Watson” in the music world, Melvin Marcellus Ragin has not only collaborated with legendary groups like The Temptations and Diana Ross & The Supremes but also with renowned artists such as Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, and Alicia Keys. He earned his nickname from the characteristic sound of the wah-wah pedal, which he skillfully used to create his unique sound on the guitar. Wah Wah Watson is recognized for his distinctive style and technical mastery, making him one of the leading figures in funk, soul, and R&B music. One of his signature sounds was a combination of emotional R&B associated with wah-wah, echo-delay, fast tremolo picking, and a downward glissando.

Ragin’s musical magic was eloquently described by New York Times writer Jon Pareles: “With skillful and playful finesse on the pedal, he shaped the striking syncopations and fluid, undulating chords in The Temptations’ ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’; he gracefully intertwined the melodies in Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’; he brought life to the poignant blues-like rhythmic strokes in Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’; and he embellished the visual echoes in Maxwell’s ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’.”

Throughout his career spanning over 50 years, Ragin has contributed to hundreds of singles and albums that have collectively sold approximately 100 million copies worldwide. During this time, with his signature riffs, licks, and chops, he helped shape the Motown sound and inspired young musicians. He notably contributed to albums such as Me’shell Ndeg√©ocello’s “Plantation Lullabies” and “Peace Beyond Passion,” Maxwell’s “Urban Hang Suite” and “Now,” and Brian McKnight’s self-titled album and “I Remember You.” His signature guitar riffs have been sampled in tracks by artists like Def Squad, Alex Gopher, and Redman.