Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012) was an American guitarist, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson's flatpicking skills and knowledge of traditional American music are highly regarded. He performed with his son Merle for over 15 years until Merle's death in 1985, in an accident on the family farm.
Watson hosted the annual MerleFest music festival held every April at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The festival features a vast array of acoustic style music focusing on the folk, bluegrass, blues and old-time music genres. It is named in honor of Merle Watson and is one of the most popular acoustic music festivals in the world, drawing over 70,000 music fans each year.
In 2010, Blooming Twig Books published "Blind But Now I See" by Dr. Kent Gustavson, the first comprehensive biography of the seminal flatpicking guitarist.
In late May 2012, Watson was listed in critical condition but was responsive at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after undergoing colon surgery. Watson fell at his home earlier in the week, after which he was sent to Watauga Medical Center in nearby Boone, NC. Watson was not seriously injured in the fall, but an underlying medical condition prompted the surgery which required him to be airlifted to Winston-Salem. Watson died on May 29, 2012 at Wake Forest Baptist at the age of 89.
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