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The Guitar of Doc Watson

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This page lists thoughts and remembrances shared by readers following Doc's death. Doc touched so many people in so many ways, and we wanted to give his fans the opportunity to share their thoughts about him. Whether it was a memorable concert, a musical influence or just enjoying his music, we invite you to share your thoughts. Click here to share your memories of Doc on this page.

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Joe Ortiz - Seattle, WA - 7/26/2017
I never had the pleasure of seeing him in person. His music and style has inspired me to learn how to pick the guitar. I'm into it now 2.5 years and hope to someday play some of his music...probably at 1/10th the speed.
Joseph Barker - Eureka - 6/14/2017
First heard Doc on the Circle Is Unbroken, his songs on there instantly became my favorites. First time I saw him play was at Merlefest in 01. He blew my mind. Got to see him a few more times after that. Last time in Golden Gate at Hardly Strictly. He shared the stage with Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley. Top ten best show of all time for me. Love you Doc!! Thank you.
Paul Brooke - Vancouver, British Columbia - 5/19/2017
On a trip to Mexico with a friend in 1973, we stopped in Santa Monica. I bought a paper, and found to our great good luck, that Doc and Merle Watson were playing that very evening at McCabe's guitar store on Pico Boulevard. We immediately went to the store, got tickets, and were first in line for the show. Doc and Merle were wonderful to see and hear in such an intimate setting, and I'll never forget it. I've been a lifelong fan ever since. When he lost Merle it was very sad for me to hear. That was a father and son combination unlike any other. Likewise, the passing of Doc was also very sad. He was the greatest.
Sean Still - Sacramento CA - 12/2/2016
I first seen Doc at about age 15 with my father. My dad and I have played bluegrass music since I can remember. My grandfather got us both started and he was a huge Doc fan. He had many old records of him that I played on his old record player so I could learn most of Doc's tunes. It's been about ten years since I have seen Doc play that day. I remember how great he sounded as his fingers would just dance over the notes. He was about 70 or so at the time and played with a lot of fire and intensity. He is my favorite. He is still such a huge musical influence to myself and many others. What a special man.
Mac - Oak Ridge TN - 11/17/2016
I first heard Doc on the radio in the early '60's playing Black Mtn. Rag. I got the album that had the song on it - the one with the black & white photo on the cover titled simply "Doc Watson" I've got all his LPs and the DVD versions as well, and the books too. Can't get enough of that impeccable musical taste. What a picker and folk treasure!
Terry W. Gardiner - Greeneville, TN. 37743 - 10/18/2016
Saw Doc Watson when I was 14 years old down in Newport RI at my first folk festival in 1963. Sitting on the ground at St. Michaels college campus at a guitar workshop. Storm off the coast brought the temps. down to low 60s. Didn't bother Doc for a second as he amazed those who braved the cold to see him perform along with Clarence White as back up. WOW.
Amber L. Boyce - Bassett VA - 9/6/2016
The first song I ever remember hearing was Doc's Down in the Valley to Pray. Its my first memory of listening to music. So I have loved Doc Watson's music as long as I can remember. Laying on the floor beside the stereo speakers listening intently as Mom and Dad played Doc's albums. I always wanted to see him perform live but never got the chance. My parents used to argue a lot when I was a kid, but I always knew when Doc was playing there would be no arguing that night. So in a way I kinda felt like Doc was my guardian angel.
Mark Tully - Baltimore Md - 7/29/2016
I saw Doc twice in concert in Baltimore and one especially excellent one at the arts festival in the early eighties with Merle and Sam Bush I believe. Doc stated from the stage that the sound system was one of the best he had ever heard so you can imagine how great that guitar picking and singing voice sounded. It was supernatural and mesmerizing. I even had a chance to talk with him as he and Merle walked to the train. What a lucky happenstance to be able to say I spoke with Doc. A number of people were gathering but he somehow clearly heard my question about what pick he used and answered me directly. Wow what a thrill and a gift!
Kristen Brown - Leland - 7/24/2016
I took my father to see Doc Watson when he performed on the UNCG campus. It was truly an amazing and awe inspiring experience. We discuss this experience relentlessly. Doc was an amazing performer, story teller and true treasure to the state of North Carolina and music history. Truly blessed to share this experience with my Dad and to see a treasure from the Lord above.
Sherry Martz - Port Neches - 7/6/2016
I am a 52 year old woman who only recently discovered Doc Watson. Being a single mother of three, my life's pleasures were music, art, and the written word. Things I could fit in between jobs. This music, and this man speaks to me more deeply than I would have ever expected. Life doesn't always turn out the way you want it to. I have longed for the love of my life to arrive. Greet me at the end of a long work day with kindness, love and passion. Music has stepped up and done that. Awe and passion,inspiration sadness happiness all provided by melody and lyric. I truly love this man, and his artistry.
David Green - Washington DC - 6/1/2016
Reading through the comments, I noticed a formality and reverence for the words being written for this man. I think the comments are due in part to an educated audience, but I also think it is a reflection of Doc's influence. I'll never forget how he chastised the audience for yelling during a song. You had to sit up and listen during Doc's shows and boy, was it worth it. His voice and guitar playing was so powerful and the melodies so strong and singularly standing that you just sat there in awe of something so close, warm, fun, and inviting.
James Farley - Fogelsville, Pennsylvania - 4/26/2016
The simple genius of Doc Watson will never be duplicated. Although there are many great instrumentalists in the world this man portrayed love and understanding in his music. A great tragedy occurred when he lost Merle and one can only imagine the sorrow in his mind, but through it all his genius prevailed and he left us a magnificent legacy. My regards to Nancy. What a privilege to set in a household where such music prevailed. The fact that she loves cats shows her special being also. Doc and all the family made my life better. Jim Farley, 76 years of age.
don petrarca - branford, ct. - 4/22/2016
I was lucky enough to see Doc perform four times and was never let down by his talent or presence on stage! What a wonderful guitarist, singer and above all, person!
ricky d. carter - chesterton, in. - 4/7/2016
I was attending school at U.T., Knoxville in 1976. Using my student activities card and three dollars, I bought a ticket for Doc Watson and the Frosty Morn Band. They were playing at the newly renovated Bijou Theater downtown. Though I had never heard of them, I went alone. I was amazed. Best show I ever saw. Doc Watson was my last hero, and will always be an extreme highlight in my lone journey home. Thank you Mr. Watson.
Hunter - Massachusetts - 2/1/2016
I may be one of the youngest die hard Doc fans, a young 17. Though I never got to meet Doc or see him in person, I meet him in my dreams quite frequently. Doc may not always be a punctual singer, but he is a punctual hero in my life. He saved me, and his music continues to make life worth living. He was a beautiful man, and continues to live on in the heart and soul of every being whose heard him sing.
Randy Angel - Alpine Texas - 12/7/2015
First heard Doc play Tennessee Stud on the Circle Be Unbroken project. Been hooked on the "right kind of music" ever since. Our son grew up listening to it and now plays steel and lead guitar for Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Thanks Doc. Can't wait to hear the jam band you've put together in heaven.
John Reed - Homeworth Ohio - 12/7/2015
Just a few memories here. I first saw Doc and Merle in the Fall of 1967 at the Ohio State University. I am not sure how I knew to go to Doc's concert, but I imagine it was knowing of his appearance at the Newport Folk Festival. It was the only time that I saw him with Merle. Merle and I had a great conversation as everyone wanted to talk with Doc. I saw Doc several times afterward with Jack Lawrence and even backstage after the concert. Once with Doc and David Holt. Then, at Merlefest. I have always been 'taken aback' by his guitar flat-picking as most have. I am sorry that I never had a down to earth talk with him, but I could have, but let the opportunity slip by. Doc is in Heaven now and I will, indeed, get that opportunity sometime.
Leo Gentilini - Rome, Italy - 9/20/2015
In late 1977,when I heard for the first time the Doc's incredibly brilliant style, I decided to follow him in a new experience to play the acoustic guitar. This moment has been a really turning point for my life. So, year after year, despite not being american, the doc's music and picking style, is for me my personal life soundtrack. Sometime I take my mahogany left-handed Martin 0015 out from its case, and start to play my favorites "Deep river Blues" and "windy and warm". Grazie Doc!
Rob De Witt - Sebastopol CA - 6/29/2015
I first heard Doc in 1964 on "Hootenanny," a popular folk-boom television show. Doc dazzled me on television, but a year or so later I saw him in Austin, Texas in a club like a small living room, with maybe 15 guys scattered around - all guitar players, as you could tell by the sudden intakes of breath. Doc was doing Life Gets Teejus, and of course Deep River Blues, and Streamline Cannonball (gasp). I remember talking with him some backstage (stumblingly; what do you say when you're 20 and it's Doc Watson? In those days he was just from another planet, and most of us didn't even have questions to ask.) The next morning I was working on the ramp when Doc came out carrying a banjo and guitar case, to fly on to his next gig. All by himself.