Even after over thirty years of performing before the public, Doc has changed little since 1960. He still sits straight up against the microphone, mouth harp at the ready, guitar poised perpendicular to his body. One doesn’t see much emotion in his face or in his playing, but it can be heard in his voice and in his guitar.
A tragedy of monumental proportions occurred in 1985 when Merle Watson was killed in a tractor accident at his North Carolina home. He was only 36. Merle had been destined to be his father’s successor, the one to carry on the musical tradition represented by three preceding generations of Watson family musicians. But despite the devastating loss of his only son, Doc Watson could no more cease playing music than he could draw a breath, and he has continued to this day, although he curtailed his touring when he reached his 1970s
Doc Watson has never had a commercial hit in the music business, but his records have sold steadily and his concert performances have been consistently attended and enthusiastically received. If he had had even one hit on the country charts, he would have been a shoo-in for the Country Music Hall of Fame, as were his predecessors, Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. But Doc Watson’s influence on country and folk music styles is no less important than those of Travis and Atkins and he continues in his role as a living monument to American folk music.
Doc & Merle Watson with T. Michael Coleman