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In March 2001, Gene Watson went back into hospital for a series of tests, in order to ascertain how his chemotherapy treatment was going. Everything appeared to be fine and Gene felt good in himself.
Despite all the problems with his own health, Gene Watson was concerned at this time about the musicians in his band. Their own livelihoods were also in jeopardy during these frantic few months while Gene was ill and he felt immense loyalty and gratitude towards each and every member of his Farewell Party Band.
On Friday 6 April 2001, Gene Watson signed a recording contract with RMG (Row Music Group) Records, which was owned jointly by fellow country music artist Eddy Raven and Texan businessman Larry Barnett and their respective wives. It was through his involvement with RMG Records that Gene Watson began to work alongside George Collier.
In June 2001, Gene Watson and his highly acclaimed Farewell Party Band were back on the road and were undertaking as heavy a work schedule as they had been prior to Gene’s bout of ill health, so much so that Gene’s doctor advised him to take things a little easier.
Gene Watson had to take a few days off and the fact that he was also traveling to Nashville to record his latest album didn’t help matters; the album in question was 'From The Heart' (RMG Records, 2001). At the helm production-wise, once again, was Gene Watson’s long-time friend and legendary singer/songwriter/producer Ray Pennington.
Ray Pennington came out of retirement especially to produce the album for Gene Watson; 'From The Heart' (RMG Records, 2001) was a fine release and clearly demonstrated that Gene Watson had lost none of his old magic.
'From The Heart' (RMG Records, 2001) demonstrated that Gene Watson was a man of great strength and character, having undertaken the recording sessions during what was a quite traumatic period in his life.
In the latter part of 2001, a compilation album, 'Ultimate Collection' (Universal/Hip-O Records, 2001), was released and afforded listeners the opportunity to enjoy a twenty-three track selection of Gene Watson’s finest recordings from his days with Capitol Records, MCA Records, Epic Records and Warner Bros. Records.
'Ultimate Collection' (Universal/Hip-O Records, 2001) includes twenty three classic Gene Watson tracks, fifteen of which were Billboard Top 10 singles, in chronological sequence, beginning with his breakthrough hit 'Love in the hot afternoon' from 1975, through to 'Don't waste it on the blues' from 1988.
The release, by Universal/Hip-O Records, of Gene Watson's 'Ultimate Collection' (Universal/Hip-O Records, 2001) in 2001, demonstarted the need and, reaffirmed the case, to have all Gene Watson material released on CD.
Biography - 2002