Folk Pioneer Doc Watson Hospitalized

89-year-old guitarist and singer 'real sick,' according to daughter

Doc Watson performs during the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.
Douglas Mason/Getty Images
May 25, 2012 11:40 AM ET

Pioneering folk guitarist and singer Doc Watson is in critical condition at Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem after falling at his home in Deep Gap, North Carolina, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

Watson's daughter Nancy told the Journal that the 89-year-old musician fell on Monday, and while he doesn't have any broken bones, he's "real sick." 

Yesterday, the Watauga Democrat reported that close friend Tommy Walsh said Watson was admitted to Watauga Medical Center on Monday to treat an infection, and was later transferred to Baptist Medical Center on Thursday. Walsh did not know the reasons for the transfer.

Known especially for his influential flat-picking style of guitar, Watson is a seven-time Grammy winner and also the recipient of the Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award. Before his first birthday, Watson (whose real name is Arthel) suffered an eye infection that caused him to lose his vision.

Watson spent much of his career touring and recording with his son, Merle, who died in 1985 in a tractor accident. MerleFest, an annual event in Wilkesboro, North Carolina , was started in honor of Watson's son, raising money each year or gardens and scholarships.

"With the good Lord's will, I'm 89 years old and I'm pretty healthy," Doc said at last month's MerleFest 25, at which he performs every year. Though Watson sat out one set because he was feeling tired, MerleFest director Ted Hangman said he ended up playing about the same number of times he has in the past few years.

"On behalf of MerleFest, we certainly hope he'll be feeling better very soon," Hangman told the Journal.

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