The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Legendary North Carolina folk musician Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson died on Tuesday in Winston Salem.

Watson was born in 1923. He won seven Grammy awards and was a pioneer of flatpicking guitar.

Robert Cantwell, UNC professor of American Studies, said Watson’s style gave rise to a whole tradition of guitar virtuosity in bluegrass music.

“American music is now missing one of the titans of the folk music revival,” Cantwell said.

UNC awarded Watson an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 1997.

Watson was hospitalized after he fell in his home last week. He underwent colon surgery last Thursday.

Watson was instrumental in the founding of MerleFest, a music festival held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C. The festival is named after his son, Eddy Merle Watson, who died in a tractor accident in 1985.

Cantwell said the Doc Watson symposium and concert, scheduled for June 30 at the North Carolina Museum of Art, will likely be a memorial concert and panel discussion about Watson’s music.

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