Doc Watson

Born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, Arthel Lane Watson (who received the nickname 'Doc' from an audience member who shouted out a 'Sherlock Holmes' reference to Doctor Watson) was blind before the age of one, after an eye infection caused him to lose his sight. He bought his first guitar with $10 earned from helping his dad fell trees, and there began his love affair with the instrument. Growing up listening to the Carter Family, the first song he learned to play on the guitar was 'When Roses Bloom in Dixieland'. In 1953 he joined the Jack Williams country and western swing band based in Johnson City, Tennessee where he played the electric guitar. After they received several requests to play square dances, Watson taught himself how to play fiddle tunes on the guitar, a sound that would become known as his signature. He recorded his first solo album in 1964 and in the same year began performing with his son Merle, who was just 15 at the time. Soon they formed a trio with bassist T. Michael Coleman, recording 15 albums and performing around the world throughout the '70s and '80s until Merle tragically lost his life in a farming accident in 1985. After his son's death, Watson continued to perform in his honour, recording a further ten albums. He also collaborated with the likes of Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs, Del McCoury and Bill Monroe, with the album 'The Three Pickers' with Skaggs and Scruggs reaching number two in the US Bluegrass Charts in 2002. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in Kentucky in 2000 after he became a recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Arts in 1997. He scaled back his public appearances in his later life, with just the occasional performance with his grandson Richard. He also continued his loyalty to the annual MerleFest, set up in memory of his son in his home county of North Carolina. In 2012, after undergoing colon surgery, Doc Watson passed away aged 89.

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