A Very Historic Day In Music: Doc Watson

I may be a little early getting to the party, but I did not want to risk missing the day and have not posted something!

100 years ago – on March 3, 1923 – Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was born in Deep Gap, North Carolina.


Doc Watson is one of my all-time favorite guitarists. His playing – both flat-picking and finger-style – is unparalleled; simply the purest sound I’ve ever heard anyone coax from an acoustic guitar.

There are so many recordings that I could include here, trying to pay some small tribute to this great musician, but I’m going to go with the two recordings that Doc made of one of my favorite songs.

In 1965, Doc recorded “Rising Sun Blues” along with his son, Merle, and released it on the album titled Doc Watson & Son. Merle was 15 years old when he recorded this record with his Dad; the debut album for the duo who went on to make music for the next 21 years.

Doc wrote in The Songs of Doc Watson (1971, Oak Publications) that their arrangement of “Rising Sun Blues” was “influenced ninety-five percent” by the version he learned from his old friend, Clarence “Tom” Ashley. (Ashely recorded the original version with his friend, Gwen Foster, in 1933.)

In 1999, Doc and his grandson, Richard, recorded “House of the Rising Sun” and included it on their album, Third Generation Blues. Richard, son of Merle, was 33 years old when he recorded this album with Doc.

If you enjoyed listening to those half as much as I do, you just had really nice time.

Doc Watson gave his last performance was on April 29, 2012 when he played with the Nashville Bluegrass Band at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

He passed away on May 29, 2012 at the age of 89.

Thank you, Doc. May your music live forever.

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