The grandson of Doc Watson, and son of Merle Watson, passed away on Monday (June 1,2015), according to family members. Richard Eddy Watson had not only been a mainstay playing alongside his grandfather, but continued the Watson tradition of guitar playing after Doc Watson's passing in May 2012.
According to published reports the cause of death was a heart attack. Funeral arrangements will be held Thursday June 4 at Laurel Springs Baptist Church, according to Hampton Funeral Service.
MerleFest Director Ted Hagaman had this to say regarding Richard's passing: “The entire MerleFest family was saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Watson. Richard has been a fixture at MerleFest for many years, helping to carry on the Watson legacy. He was a talented musician and he will be missed.”
Obituary from Hampton Funeral Home in Boone:
Richard Eddy Watson, age 48, of Holly Hills, Boone, passed away Monday, June 1, 2015 at his residence.
Richard was born July 20, 1966 in Watauga County, the son of Geneva Sarah Greene Watson Hennessee and the late Eddy Merle Watson. He was an accomplished musician, performing often with his grandfather, the legendary Doc Watson.
Richard is survived by his wife, Annette Greene Watson of the home; one daughter Candis Watson Webb and husband Jesse of Newland; one grandson Tantem Webb of Newland; his mother Geneva Hennessee and step-father David Hennessee of Deep Gap; one sister, Karen Watson Norris and companion Troy Boyer of Fleetwood; aunt Nancy Watson of Deep Gap; aunt and uncle Charles and Betty Church of Gastonia; one brother-in-law, Chris Greene of Boone; and his mother-in-law, Pat Greene of Boone. He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.
In addition to his father, he was preceded in death by his grandparents, Odis and Sarah Greene and Doc and Rosa Lee Watson, and a brother-in-law, Michael Norris.
Funeral services for Richard Eddy Watson will be conducted Thursday afternoon, June 4, 2015 at 2:00 o'clock at Laurel Springs Baptist Church. The body will lie in state, at the church, from 12:00 until 2:00. Officiating will be Reverend Rick Cornejo and Pastor Tim Lynch. Burial will follow in the Doc and Merle Watson Family Cemetery.
The family will receive friends Thursday afternoon, from 12:00 until 1:30, at the church, prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Tantem Merle Webb Trust, in care of Bank of America, 1800 Blowing Rock Road, Boone, North Carolina 28607. Online condolences may be sent to the Watson family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com.
Richard's bio from the MerleFest website:
Richard Eddy Watson, son of the late Merle Watson and grandson of the late Doc Watson, joins MerleFest each year to celebrate and carry on the traditions of his influential family.
Richard has mastered his father’s blues guitar style. He performed with Doc at MerleFest and other ven¬ues from 1991 until Doc’s death in 2012. While growing up, Richard occasionally toured with Merle and Doc across the country and in Europe. His front-porch style of picking has led to many great musical perfor¬mances and a 1992 recording, “Feeling the Blues,” which Richard dedicated to his father, and the Grammy nominated “Third Generation Blues” with Doc.
“I’m just happy that MerleFest happened in memory of Dad,” Richard said. “He’d be overwhelmed and find it hard to express how much he appreciated it. He would be surprised at how many people turn out for the festival and fol¬low his music. I’m glad for all of my Dad’s many friends and loved ones to gather together and enjoy the music.” Richard enjoys seeing new artists at MerleFest and picking with the blues players.
Talking about his grandson Richard, Doc once said, “I could retire, but my grandson Richard plays a good blues guitar. One of the most gratifying things that happened to me after Merle left is the fact that Merle’s son Richard started playing the guitar.”
“He has a job he has to hold down and a family to look after… but he loves the music with a passion. I’m proud of him for two reasons. He’s got a wonderful personality, just like his dad had. He loves his family and he loves me and his mam’ma (RosaLee) awful good. The other reason is that he’s a fine musician and he’s finally got over stage ¬fright. He has a lot of Merle’s attributes.”
When asked about his famous grandfather in an interview for the September 1999 issue of Guitar Player, Richard said, “I’m intimidated by him. He teaches me something new every time we sit down together.” Richard joined Doc and David Holt in the “Hills of Home” tour that was derived from a special Doc and David did as a fundraiser for the UNC Center for Public TV.
The blossoming of Richard Watson into an artist as confident on stage as he is off is evidenced in his his appearances at MerleFest. He has become a formidable blues artist with all the modest and appreciative personal charm of his dad.
— MerleFest (@MerleFest) June 2, 2015