Guitar flat-picking genius Doc Watson has passed at 89 years of age. The blind, guitar legend has long been a tremendous influence on guitarists and helped the guitar become a lead instrument in modern music.
AWD saw Doc play only once but I will never forget it. His guitar play was second to none but it was clear he was a charming, gentle and humble man. In speaking to the crowd as he introduced songs, one could hear the decency in his soft, southern voice. He was a fine, North Carolina gentleman and his soft voice reminded me a lot of my grandfather. During the break, I spoke with Doc’s musical partner and master guitarist, Jack Lawrence. Jack was also a soft-spoken gentleman and confirmed that Doc was just as genuine off the stage. Decency is something that has sadly passed in today’s America. Decency was found in a time long ago where Americans had manners, class and dignity. It’s difficult to find those traits these days. I’m afraid those days are gone forever.
Back to Doc. He was born in a little town in the North Carolina mountains called Deep Gap in 1923 and was blind from the age of one. Early on, he developed a love of the guitar from old 78 records. Many call his flat picking “bluegrass” but his range encompassed so many more styles.
It’s difficult to find musicians in 2012 as most musical “stars” are merely outlandish performers who become and stay famous not for musical abilities but from shocking behavior on and off stage. Quiet, musical geniuses like Doc Watson are sadly leaving us. Way too soon. Suddenly, I feel so much older. RIP Doc.
Here’s Doc tearing up one of AWD’s favorite flat picking tunes. This is not as easy as he makes it look. Believe me. It’s such a shame he took all that talent with him. Wish he would have left a little for me.
Here’s a few more videos that show Doc at work: