Bob Dylan once compared Doc Watson’s acoustic guitar skills to “water running”. Rory Gallagher stated “There is no point in crowing about yourself when there are people like Doc Watson around”. Well, the legendary guitarist, knowing for his lightning fast fingers, died this Tuesday in North Carolina. He was 89 years old. Last year, Watson fell in his home and had to undergo colon surgery.
Watson started out with the harmonica and banjo, but graduated to a Stella Acoustic Guitar which his father bought for him for $12 when he turned 13. The blind Watson changed his first name to ‘Doc’ after Arthel Lane – his actual name – was deemed as too complicated by his audience and himself.
I personally don’t know a lot about Doc Watson, but I obviously do know that he had a major impact on many other guitarists. His name is often mentioned along with other greats such as Chet Atkins and Merle Davis. He is cited as the one of the most influential acoustic guitarists of the 50ties and 60ties.
Watson received the National Medal of the Arts in 1997 from President Clinton. Over the course of his long career he received an astonishing seven Grammys. His son Merle Watson has tragically died during a tractor accident in the mid eighties.
Rest in peace, Mr. Watson.