Doc Watson, the guitarist and folk
singer whose flat-picking style elevated the acoustic guitar to solo status in
bluegrass and country music, and whose interpretations of traditional American
music profoundly influenced generations of folk and rock guitarists, died
on Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 89.
Mr. Watson, who had been blind
since he was baby, died in a hospital after recently undergoing abdominal
surgery, The Associated Press quoted a hospital spokesman as saying. On
Thursday his daughter, Nancy Ellen Watson, said he had been hospitalized after
falling at his home in Deep Gap, N.C., adding that he did not break any bones
but was very ill.
Mr. Watson, who came to
national attention during the folk music revival of the early 1960s, injected a
note of authenticity into a movement awash in protest songs and bland
renditions of traditional tunes. In a sweetly resonant, slightly husky
baritone, he sang old hymns, ballads and country blues he had learned growing
up in the northwestern corner of North Carolina, which has produced fiddlers,
banjo pickers and folk singers for generations.