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Doc Watson, Legendary Bluegrass Guitarist, Dead at 89

Doc Watson
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

The music world lost yet another icon on Tuesday (May 29). Legendary folk, bluegrass, blues and jazz guitarist Doc Watson passed away at 89-years-old after being hospitalized following a fall which required emergency surgery. Watson took his final breath at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., where he was in critical condition for several days in the wake of his abdominal surgery.

The multi-Grammy Award-winning singer and guitarist’s legacy will be remembered across several genres of music. Born Arthel Lane Watson in 1923, ‘Doc’ was credited with pioneering an influential style of finger picking and was an icon to the many who looked up to him, including artists like Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush and Pete Huttlinger.

“An old ancient warrior has gone home,” Skaggs said Tuesday evening. “He prepared all of us to carry this on. He knew he wouldn’t last forever, he did his best to carry the old mountain sounds to this generation.”

Throughout his career, Watson won eight Grammys, as well as a lifetime achievement trophy in 2004. He was even presented with the National Medal of Arts award from President Bill Clinton in 1997.

Watson is survived by his daughter, Nancy. Our deepest condolences go out to Watson’s friends, family and musical peers. A true legend was lost in the world of music.


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