Doc Watson (Arthel Lane Watson at birth) is considered to be one of the BIG talents in music and just by watching and listening to him, the reasons are very apparent why.  His flat picking style is the envy of many guitarists, both young and old.  At 88 years of age, he does not show any evidence of slowing down any time soon.  He has wowed and entertained audiences around the world for over forty years.

An eye infection left Doc blind before his first birthday, but somehow that never seems to have gotten in his way.  He got his first guitar from Sears & Roebuck (hey that’s where I got my first real one – see A LITTLE BIT ABOUT…how the guitar bug bit me BIG TIME) which happened to be a $10 Stella, made by the Oscar Schmidt Company.  His next guitar was a Martin D-18.




Here’s Doc doing Black Mountain Rag back in 1991.


I can’t even begin to fill you in on who this great man called Doc Watson is and what he is all about, but there is some wonderful reading about him on the Merlefest 2012 website.

Doc will be appearing at Merlefest 2012 once again this year.  Several years back I didn’t even know what Merlefest was.  My good friend Pat Willey, mandolin and fiddle player with plenty of smokin’ licks of his own, (and he is very modest about that sort of thing), taught me about Merlefest.



Eddy Merle Watson was Doc’s son who accompanied Doc on his worldwide tours.  Merle began playing on stage with his famous dad when he was sixteen years old, performing the first two concerts in Berkeley and San Francisco California, the first performance before an audience of 12,000 people.  In November of 1964, Doc and Merle recorded their first album together which was called Doc and Son.


In 1985 Merle won the best Finger Picking Guitarist-Folk, Blues, or Country Award from Frets Magazine.  He also had two Grammy Awards.  He was quite a talent just as his father.  The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree in the case of the Watson Family.


The night of October 22, 1985 proved to be a tragic night for the music world.  According to several sources, Merle seemed to be pretty restless that night and had trouble getting to sleep.  He proceeded to his basement sometime after midnight and decided to trim some beech paneling that had not been grooved properly.  He was going to panel his basement walls with the wood.  His saw blade hit a fault in the grain and a large piece of wood splintered off and buried itself in the muscle of Merle’s upper arm.  He grabbed his jacket, found his tractor keys, and proceeded to the tractor to seek help from his neighbors.  He went to three houses of people that knew him, but no one answered when he came to the door.  He finally saw a light on at a home up a steep

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