Posted by themusicsover on May 29, 2012
Arthel “Doc” Watson
March 2, 1923 – May 29, 2012
Doc Watson was an influential American singer, guitarist, and songwriter whose vast catalog of songs influenced several generations of folk, country, and bluegrass musicians. Born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, Watson lost his eyesight before his first birthday due to an infection. But that by no means stopped him from picking up whatever instrument was handed to him. First it was the harmonica around age five, then the banjo at age 11, and ultimately, the guitar on which he mastered a style of flat-picking that the world had yet to hear and would seldom be matched since. Although Watson was a popular draw wherever he played throughout the ’40s and ’50s, it wasn’t until the storied folk revival of the ’60s – when college kids took to the music like never before or since, that his popularity reached new heights. Throughout his career, Watson received countless awards which included seven Grammys, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a National Medal Of Arts from President Bill Clinton. In 1988, he launched Merlefest to honor his son and music partner, Merle Watson, who was killed in a tractor accident in 1985. The Wilkesboro, North Carolina festival has grown to be one of the premier music gatherings in the United States with Watson playing host and sharing the stage with the likes of Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs, Del McCoury, and Willie Nelson to name just a few. The annual event draws an estimated 80,000 each year. On May 29, 2012, Doc Watson passed away shortly following colon surgery. He was 89.