Rosa Lee Watson passes

Rosa Lee Watson, wife to Doc Watson for 65 years, died on Thursday (November 22) at the nursing facility where she had been living in North Carolina the past year and a half. She was the mother of Eddy Merle Watson, who died in 1985, and a surviving daughter Nancy.

Born on February 5, 1931, to parents Gaither and Lucy Robbins Carlton, Watson was a long-time resident of Deep Gap and died about six months after her illustrious guitar-playing husband Arthel ‘Doc’ Watson.

She performed alongside Doc during the early stages of his career, and appeared with him on the classic recording, The Watson Family, released by Smithsonian Folkways in 1963. It showcased the primitive mountain style that became synonymous with the family name over the next 50 years. She wrote the mournful Your Long Journey, which was included on the Folkways LP.

“She saw what little good there was in me, and there was little”, Watson said in an AP interview in 2000. “I’m awful glad she cared about me, and I’m awful glad she married me.”

Your Long Journey was recorded by several artists most notably Emmylou Harris, and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.


A funeral for Rosa Lee was held on Sunday (11/25) at Laurel Springs Baptist Church in Deep Gap, NC.

Bluegrass Today extends our condolences to the Watson family, and all of Doc and Rosa Lee’s many friends.


Richard Thompson also contributed to this report.

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John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.