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Arthel "Doc" Watson, the blind folk musician whose mountain-rooted sound was embraced by generations and whose lightning-fast flatpicking influenced guitarists around the world, died Tuesday (May 29) at a North Carolina hospital, according to the Associated Press . He was 89.
Mr. Watson died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he was hospitalized recently after falling at his home in Deep Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He underwent abdominal surgery while in the hospital and had been in critical condition for several days. His family was called to his side over the weekend.
Mr. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He performed with his son Merle for over 15 years until Merle's death in 1985, in an accident on the family farm. In 1988, Mr. Watson organized MerleFest, a folk music gathering in Wilkesboro, N.C., that has grown into one of the country's major folk festivals.