RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Grammy-winning folk musician Doc Watson was in critical condition Thursday at a North Carolina hospital after falling at his home in Deep Gap earlier this week.
Watson’s daughter, Nancy, told The Associated Press that the 89-year-old Watson fell Monday at his home. She said he didn’t break any bones but that he was “real sick.”
A spokeswoman at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem said Arthel Watson – Arthel is his legal first name – was in critical condition Thursday.
The blind singer and guitarist has won several Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award. He also received the National Medal of the Arts.
Watson also received the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian award, in 1986. He and his family received a North Carolina Heritage Award in 1986.
He’s known as a master of the flatpicking style of guitar playing and for starting Merlefest, an annual gathering of musicians in North Wilkesboro named after his son, a musician who died in a tractor accident in 1985.
Doc Watson’s wife of more than 60 years, RosaLee, has been in a nursing home since last year, Nancy Watson said. The two married when she was 15 and he was 23.
“She saw what little good there was in me and there was little,” Doc said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2000. “I’m awful glad she cared about me, and I’m awful glad she married me.”
Wayne Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Arts Council, said Watson takes southern Appalachian forms of music, such as ballad singing, old-time string music and bluegrass, and makes them accessible.
“He takes old music and puts his own creativity on it,” Martin said. “It retained its core, yet it felt relevant to people today.”