Six More Strings Silenced

Guitar Legend Doc Watson Passes Away

Not everyone gets to claim the title of being a living national treasure.  Yet, Doc Watson was a true American artist who made significant contributions to the development of bluegrass and folk music.  Sadly, our living national treasure passed away at the age of 89.

Arthel “Doc” Watson was born March 3, 1923, in Deep Gap, North Carolina.  He lost his eyesight before his first birthday due to an eye infection.  Despite his disability, Doc would became a master of both finger-picking and flat-picking style guitar playing.  He also had a rich baritone voice and sang his songs with passion.

Doc Watson made a name for himself at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and in fact, was enthusiastically received by the crowd that came to listen to him perform that day.  He later would join forces with his son Merle, performing as a father son duo.  Tragically, in 1985, Merle died in a tractor accident.  Merlefest, a premier music festival is held each year in Merle’s honor.

Although he was well known for his acoustic guitar, Doc’s musical background actually started with a harmonica, a banjo, and later an electric guitar.  He was a master at turning fiddle tunes into great guitar instrumentals.  Watson is a multi-Grammy award winner, as well as the recipient of a lifetime achievement award and the National Medal of the Arts.

I will always have fond memories of listening to Doc Watsons’ recordings on the “Will The Circle Be Unbroken album (United Artists, UAS 9801)” or by watching the “Three Pickers”, a 2004 Grammy Nominated Best Traditional Folk album and live Television performance.  Sadly, two of three pickers have both passed only two months apart. Another six strings have gone silent.

RIP Doc March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012


About fretmentor

Born in Detroit, Michigan, David F. Jakubiak has been involved in music since the age of 7, beginning as a clarinet player and then at 9 turning his attention to stringed instruments. He earned trophies in group talent competitions while a student at the University of Michigan. The instructor earned a BA degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Kansas. At college, he also studied classical music and music history. His passion is teaching music and in performing as a musician. In addition to on-stage performances, David has played in various venues from outdoor festivals to small nightclubs. He plays, performs and teaches various styles of music, including rock, pop, blues, jazz, classical, country and bluegrass styles. He performs and teaches acoustic and electric guitar, five-string banjo, and mandolin. His styles range from Scruggs, melodic, Reno and old-time style on banjo, to finger-style and flat-picking technique on guitar, to various styles of mandolin. For over 45 years, Mr. Jakubiak has taught all age groups, taking a personal interest in each student to ensure that they receive the attention and lesson plans that meet their needs and interests. His lessons and instructional materials place a strong emphasis on the practical use or music theory to ensure that the student understands the instrument and learns how to improvise to develop their own style. Mr Jakubiak teaches group and studio classes, webcam lessons over the internet, and individual private lessons to students of various ages. He has compiled and produced eight instructional books on CD as well as numerous instrumental arrangements. David has written for Banjo Newsletter, a monthly publication for the banjo enthusiast and has published an article in Issue #37 of the Fretboard Journal. He is the founder of To contact David Jakubiak, please feel free to e-mail him at david AT (substitute the @ sign for the word AT)
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3 Responses to Six More Strings Silenced

  1. avatar Matt says:

    A sad loss. He will be sincerely missed.

  2. avatar Brett McGill says:

    Doc Watson’s probably one of the main reasons I started playing guitar. I first heard him play Black Mountain Rag when I was a teenager and have been a fan ever since. Sad that I never got to see him in person.

  3. avatar Silvia White says:

    I’ve been listening to their rendition of Orange Blossom Special….being new to Bluegrass, this is all new to me…..I learn new things everyday…..did not know Doc was blind! WOW!!!! Certainly did not slow him down…..what an inspiration!

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