Robert Cray last performed in Japan 13 years ago at the Japan Blues Carnival — an experience that for him is now a bittersweet memory.

“I finally got to meet Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson,” Cray recalls over the phone from Fresno, California, where he was playing a concert. Watson died of a heart attack on stage in Yokohama hours after their meeting. “I had been a fan for so long and I remember I rode the elevator down with him. It was the first opportunity for me to meet him.”

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