Legendary Guitarist Doc Watson Passes Away at 89

by Robert Pace 12:19 AM PDT, May 30, 2012
Photo: Getty Images

Grammy-award wining folk musician Doc Watson passed away at 89 on Tuesday at a North Carolina hospital, according to his manager and a hospital spokeswoman.

The blind seven-time Grammy award winner who was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 had been in critical condition in the hospital for several days after a fall at his home in Deep Gap, North Carolina.

Known for his phenomenally fast flatpicking guitar skills, Watson influenced many guitarist around the world with his unique style.

Born "Arthel Lane Watson" in 1923 in Deep Gap, he lost his eyesight when he was one year old due to an eye infection.

Coming from a musical family, Watson was able to play the banjo at the age of 5 and taught himself how to play the guitar at an early age.

"Doc Watson sort of defined in many ways what Americana has become," said Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Assn., to The Los Angeles Times.

"He played different styles of American roots music. He played traditional country, he played what would be traditional folk, he played what was traditional bluegrass, he played gospel. All those elements sort of interwoven...Nothing is more definitive than Doc Watson's appreciation for a broad spectrum of music in the Americana world."