Failing to become wealthy but enjoying the beejeeziz out of himself all the same, Doc was a fixture on the trad country/folk circuit throughout the '60s, doing great work as a solo act as well as in tandem with such like-minded pickers as Flatt & Scruggs, Chet Atkins and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Commencing in the late '60s, Watson partnered up with son Eddy Merle, an expert guitarist and banjo picker in his own right. The duo toured incessantly and netted several Grammy Awards until Merle's tragic death in a 1985 farming accident. Emotionally devastated by the loss of Merle, whom Doc always referred to as "my best friend as well as my son," Watson ceased performing for a spell, but resumed by the early '90s. For the past several years, he's been working with his grandson, Richard—Merle's son—a third generation of tuneful tradition.
"I enjoy playing with Richard just about as much as I enjoyed playing with Richard's dad," says Doc. "Richard don't play slide like Merle did, but he plays blues just great. I'm certainly glad Richard started following in his dad's footsteps."
Today, Doc still lives on grandpa's Deep Gap farm, but doesn't tour like he used to. "A man's age has something to do with that," he says, "I'm 80 years old and I get more tired than I used to." He's also obviously tired of fielding retarded questions from retarded music reporters and fanboys. "One time I was playing at Carnegie Hall and some old boy got it in his mind to yell out, 'Hey Doc Watson, are you truly a hillbilly?' I said, "You're damn right I am, and I'm proud of it."
Doc Watson & Friends at the Cerritos center for the performing arts, 12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos, (562) 916-8500. sat., 8 p.m. $25-$60. all ages.