A native of Richmond, Virginia, Melvin Ragin moved to Detroit and became a member of the Motown Records studio band, The Funk Brothers, where he recorded with artists like The Temptations (his guitar work on “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” is particularly notable), The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and The Supremes. He played on numerous sessions in the 1970s and 1980s for many top soul, funk and disco acts, including Herbie Hancock; he both recorded and composed songs with the Pointer Sisters.
In 1977, Watson released his first solo album, Elementary, on Columbia Records. The album was co-produced by Watson and David Rubinson.
In 1994, Watson appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as “Album of the Year” by Time magazine.
In the 2000s, Watson appeared on the albums Maxwell’s Now (2001), Black Diamond (2000) by Angie Stone, the soundtrack to the film Shaft (2000), Damita Jo (2004) by Janet Jackson, and Alicia Keys’ Unplugged (2005), The Element of Freedom (2009).