Doc Watson, Great Guitarist Dies at 89

Doc Watson, Great Guitarist

To all guitar players young and old, professionals and beginners, all suffered a great loss recently. Doc Watson, the great guitarist died at 89 years old. There were many articles written about this amazing man who entertained so many over the years.

In this April 2001 file photo, Guitarist Doc Watson performs at the annual Merlefest at Wilkes Comunity College in Wilkesboro, N.C.

Alan Marler/AP/File


Hearing him that first time was like standing by the railroad tracks when Casey Jones went past on his last night ride. It wasn’t just Doc Watson’s speed that stunned a young guitarist. It wasn’t even his accuracy. It was the energy behind his flat pick. Listening to him, you could almost imagine his right arm moving like the wheel pistons on a steam locomotive. You could hear the stiffness in the strings, the subtle hammering of his pick, the cyclone of notes gathering round your head. Those old country tunes acquired an angular momentum they had never had before.

If that don’t get you going, I don’t know what can. Young guitarists (this one, at least) misunderstood what they were hearing. They listened to the picking for itself, the virtuosity of a man who could bring such linear power to the intricate motions of playing guitar. Sooner or later, you realized that the music simply flowed through Doc Watson. He was a delta in himself, where all those traditional musical tributaries converged.  When listening to “Doc” Watson you soon figured out that there was no point picking out the notes he played bar by bar. It was time to learn how to ride the song, the way Doc Watson did.

Do You Want to learn to play great guitar?


This is a lesson on never quitting. You need to keep at it, keep on picking, keep on strumming.  You never know when someone will be listening to you and marveling at your talent.

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