A farewell to Doc Watson, a great flat-picker

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, the blind virtuoso of flat-pickin’ guitar, died yesterday at his farm house in the Blue Ridge Mountains following a fall.

Growing up in a small Kansas farm town in the 1950s , we often listened Watson’s music, and we still have a very soft spot in our heart for the feelings it evokes.

The Washington Post’s Terence McArdle writes:

In a career that spanned seven decades, Mr. Watson influenced such diverse musicians as Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Clarence White of the Byrds, the innovative acoustic picker Leo Kottke and bluegrass multi-instrumentalist Ricky Skaggs.

“He is single-handedly responsible for the extraordinary increase in acoustic flat-picking and finger-picking guitar performance,” the late Ralph Rinzler, an influential folklorist who first recorded Mr. Watson in the early 1960s, once wrote. “His flat-picking style has no precedent in earlier country music history.”

Read the rest.

And now, for the music. . .

House Of The Rising Sun

Steel Guitar Rag

St. James Infirmary

And here’s Doc with “Deep River Blues,” explaining his technique for the Smithsonian Institution:


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