Richard Watson on the Cabin Stage at Merlefest

Richard Watson on the Cabin Stage at Merlefest 2008 in Wilkesboro NC

UPDATE: This story has been updated with information about funeral services.


Richard Eddy Watson — grandson of the late Doc Watson and son of the late Merle Watson, for whom MerleFest is named — died Monday at the age of 48.

He was born July 20, 1966, in Watauga County to Geneva Sarah Greene Watson Hennessee and the late Eddy Merle Watson. 

Richard, a guitarist, performed with his grandfather Doc at MerleFest and other venues from 1991 until Doc’s death in 2012. While growing up, Richard occasionally toured with Merle and Doc across the country and in Europe. In 1992 he recorded "Feeling the Blues,” dedicated to his father, and he also joined Doc on the Grammy-nominated “Third Generation Blues."

“The entire MerleFest family was saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Watson," MerleFest Director Ted Hagaman said in a statement. "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.”

Friends of the family — including musician David Holt and the WNCW radio station — have said Watson suffered from a heart attack, but no official source had confirmed the cause of death as of Wednesday.

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 stepfather 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 will be conducted at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at Laurel Springs Baptist Church. The body will lie in state at the church from 12 until 2 p.m. Officiating will be the Rev. Rick Cornejo and Pastor Tim Lynch. Burial will follow in the Doc and Merle Watson Family Cemetery.

The family will receive friends Thursday from 12 to 1:30 p.m. 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.

Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.

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