From 1975 through 1989, Gene Watson maintained a position, as one of country music’s most consistent hitmakers, taking twenty-one singles into Billboard’s Top Ten. Surprisingly, only one made it to the top spot, “Fourteen Carat Mind.” Watson first heard the song, while listening to demo tapes on his tour bus, after the rest of the band had gone to sleep.
He could easily have overlooked it, because it was on an unusual tape configuration. Gene was going through a box of cassettes. He got down to the bottom of the box, and there was this one reel-to-reel tape down there. He started to discard it, but then thought, “No, I’ve got to hear what’s on this tape.”
Watson hooked up the old antique reel-to-reel recorder, and threaded the tape on there (a very cumbersome job in itself), and it was the voice of one of Nashville’s most renowned songwriters, Dallas Frazier, demoing one of his newest creations, “Fourteen Carat Mind.” After the first verse, Gene knew he was going to record it.
Watson was known for years for his “greaser” hairstyle, but “Fourteen Carat Mind” coincided with a new set of dry curls and a brand new beard. He displayed his fresh look on the cover of his “Old Loves Never Die” album, and “Fourteen Carat Mind” was the first single. It debuted on Billboard’s country singles chart October 3, 1981 and began Gene’s new year in grand fashion, reaching #1 on January 9, 1982.