Darren Watson was born in Wanganui. His first musical experience was playing drums and trumpet but he soon moved on to guitar and was playing in bars and clubs throughout his years at Hutt Valley High School (1980–83).
In 1985, he formed Chicago Smoke Shop with harmonica player Terry Casey and, although Casey left the band in 1987, the band went on to record two charting LPs and several radio hits. The group was also in big demand as a support act by international touring bands. Between 1987 and 1990, Smoke Shop (the 'Chicago' tag was eventually dropped) opened for NZ tours by Robert Cray (twice), Koko Taylor, George Thorogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Since leaving Smoke Shop Watson has recorded three successful albums: King Size (2002), which was nominated for Best Roots Album at the 2003 New Zealand Music Awards, South Pacific Soul (2005) which received favourable reviews from both local and international media, and Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (2010).
In late April 2009 Darren won 1st place in the blues section of the prestigious International Songwriting Competition in Nashville, USA, with his song "All Going Wrong", a cut from South Pacific Soul. Judges for the competition included Tom Waits, James Cotton, John Mayall, and Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer.Watson has gone on to finish on the 'podium' in 2010, judged in 3rd in the blues category of the International Songwriting Competition for 'Can't Get Enough Of You'.
Watson's latest album Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy was released 1 November 2010 on Red Rocks Records.
In July 2011 Darren was selected to compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Previous winners include Sean Costello and Suzan Tedeschi. The event takes place in February 2012.
In Feb. 2012 Darren performed at The Australian Blues Music Festival in Goulburn, New South Wales, and in May of the same year he headlined the Blues On Broadbeach Festival in Queensland.