Off-Ramp

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Folk legend Doc Watson dead at 89, a voice old as time

Doc Watson, 86 years old, plays to the crowd at the Sugar Grove Music Fest.
Doc Watson, 86 years old, plays to the crowd at the Sugar Grove Music Fest. boonejag75/Wikipedia Commons

Doc Watson, the Grammy-award winning folk musician whose lightning-fast style of flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world for more than a half-century, died Tuesday at a hospital in Winston-Salem. He was 89.

Doc Watson got his musical start in 1953, playing electric lead guitar in a country-and-western swing band. His road to fame began in 1960 when Ralph Rinzler, a musician who also managed Bill Monroe, discovered Watson in North Carolina. That led Watson to the Newport Folk Festival in 1963 and his first recording contract a year later. He went on to record 60 albums.

When I started listening to Doc Watson, it was the late 1980s, and Watson was only in his 60's. But man, he sounded as old as time, like he was sitting of his front porch playing on a summer's night in 1900.

Sit back and listen, as we lift a glass to Doc Watson.

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