Today would’ve been the late, great Doc Watson’s 100th birthday.
He was famously known as a master guitarist, singer and songwriter, combining touches of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music into his vast repertoire that touched millions throughout his career.
And the young bluegress prodigy and superstar himself, Billy Strings, shared a beautiful tribute to his musical hero, along with a video of him absolutely pickin’ the hell outta his guitar, which certainly would’ve made Doc quite proud.
He added that he “would not be where I am in this life if it wasn’t for Doc,” saying that “he’ll always be my favorite”:
“Ticklin’ the strings this morning and thinking of the late great Arthel ‘Doc’ Watson.
Today would have been his 100th birthday and I’m so excited to celebrate his life and legacy tonight in North Carolina with so many great friends and fellow pickers.
I can honestly say that I would not be where I am in this life if it wasn’t for Doc. Growing up on his music changed the way I view the world. I’ll always be grateful and he’ll always be my favorite. Happy Birthday Arthel ❤️”
Tonight, Billy is hosting a tribute show in Doc’s honor at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, along with several special guests, who will celebrate his life through music.
Watson was born on March 3rd, 1923 in Deep Gap, North Carolina, a small mountain town (if you can even call it a town) just outside of Boone, and about an hour Northwest of Winston-Salem. Becoming blind at a young age due to an eye infection, Watson defied the odds and still went on to become one of the most well-respected musicians of his time.
Known for his picking styles and skills, as well as his never-ending knowledge of traditional American and Folk music, Watson’s guitar playing has been a major influence on many bluegrass guitarists, including the aforementioned Billy Strings, who frequently covers Watson’s work throughout his live performances.
And an incredible and diverse group of artists are also coming together to pay tribute to his enduring legacy for a tribute album called I Am A Pilgrim: Doc Watson At 100, which will be out everywhere on April 28th.
The great Dolly Parton lent her vocals for a beautiful cover of “The Last Thing On My Mind”:
Check out Billy cruhsin’ a cover of Doc’s “Streamline Cannonball” in Boston last March: