Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012), country & bluegrass guitarist, banjo player, singer.

Doc Watson was born in North Carolina in 1923. As an infant, he developed an eye infection which caused him to lose his sight. Despite this, he was raised with a strong work ethic and earned enough money to buy himself a guitar. He displayed tremendous natural gifts and became an extremely accomplished performer on the guitar in both flatpicking and fingerstyle techniques. Although he is best known for his acoustic guitar work, he was also proficient on banjo and harmonica. He also frequently performed on electric guitar in the early years of his career.

Doc & Merle Watson

In the early 1960’s, he made a celebrated appearance at the Newport Folk Festival and became a leading influence during the folk music revival that followed the popularity of artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary. He began touring and recording with his son, Merle, who was also a fine guitarist, until Merle’s death from a tractor accident in the 1980’s. He later performed with Merle’s son, Richard. His playing style developed from his performance of traditional fiddle tunes on the guitar. Some of his best known hits were Tennessee Stud and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. His broad knowledge of traditional bluegrass and Southern folk music, along with his extraordinary skill made him a popular collaborator with other guitarists, including Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke, and Tony Rice, as well as bluegrass musicians like Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, and Allison Kraus. Doc Watson received 7 Grammy Awards, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004. President Clinton also presented him with the National Medal of Arts in 1997. Doc Watson died in Winston-Salem, North Carolina following complications from surgery at the age of 89.

Visit the Doc Watson tribute website here.

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