Folk music pioneer Doc Watson died on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, of complications from abdominal surgery, his manager has confirmed. He was 89 years old. Watson had been admitted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on May 21st, after suffering a fall at his home in nearby Deep Gap.
Born in 1923 in Deep Gap, Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson influenced
generations of country, folk and bluegrass artists with his flatpicking
approach to the guitar. Watson went blind at age one following an eye
infection and quickly grew immersed in music thanks to his parents, who
performed in the local church choir and sang secular and religious
songs. By the age of five, Watson was playing the banjo and harmonica,
and by 1953 he was playing electric for a local country swing band.
Watson's solo career took off following a performance at the Newport
Folk Festival in 1963, as folk music was developing into a cultural
phenomenon; he released his solo debut, Doc Watson and Family, that same year.