by Robert Wilkinson
Today we offer a birthday tribute to one of the greatest flatpickers in history, the legendary Doc Watson. We’re celebrating his life and music with a lot of great videos!
If you've never heard of the amazing Doc Watson (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012) let’s begin with some things posted about him on Wikipedia:
Doc Watson was an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award... An eye infection caused Doc Watson to lose his vision before his first birthday... Watson's earliest influences were the roots of country: The Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers.
From the same source, we find his career began in the early 50s, when "Watson taught himself to play fiddle tunes on his Les Paul electric guitar. He later transferred the technique to acoustic guitar, and playing fiddle tunes became part of his signature sound." In 1960, he began playing acoustic guitar and banjo exclusively, and when he did his first recording, “Old Time Music,” that’s when his career took off.
Also from Wikipedia:
Watson played guitar in both flatpicking and fingerpicking style, but is best known for his flatpick work. His guitar playing skills, combined with his authenticity as a mountain musician, made him a highly influential figure during the folk music revival. He pioneered a fast and flashy bluegrass, lead guitar style including fiddle tunes and crosspicking techniques which were adopted and extended by Clarence White, Tony Rice, and many others.
Watson was also an accomplished banjo player and sometimes accompanied himself on harmonica as well. Known also for his distinctive and rich baritone voice, Watson over the years developed a vast repertoire of mountain ballads, which he learned via the oral tradition of his home area in Deep Gap, North Carolina. His affable manner, humble nature and delightful wit endeared him to his fans nearly as much as his musical talent.
And now, the wit, wisdom, and incredible flat picking of the legendary Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson!
Here’s an early Doc Watson performance! In b/w, a smokin’ version of "Nine Pound Hammer."
Here's Doc Watson and Jack Lawrence performing "Tennessee Stud."
Here's Doc and Richard Watson performing "Summertime."
Here’s Doc and Earl Scruggs doing 6 minutes of great picking!
Here’s Doc, Leo Kottke, and the legendary Johnny Gimble in a live performance from “Prairie Home Companion” doing “Just A Little Lovin’”
From 1990, the legendary Bill Monroe and Doc in a live performance of “Sally Goodin”
From 1991, Doc very live raving it up on “Black Mountain Rag”
Here's Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke and Doc Watson performing "Last Steam Engine Train."
Now for a great live performance set! I found all 5 parts of "THE THREE PICKERS" featuring Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, and Ricky Skaggs. For your enjoyment, three of the better guitarists to pick a note!
Here’s a great audio-only performance of the blues standard “Sittin’ On The Top of the World”
Here’s Doc and friends in a 2002 live audio only performance of “St. James’ Infirmary”
We'll finish this brief tribute to this great talent with a video of Doc on harmonica and solo voce’ doing the immortal tune, "Amazing Grace."
RIP Doc. You and your music are loved by millions around the world. Thanks for all you gave us across the years. You are one of the best of all time.
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson