Merle Watson: Age 36 | Cause Of Death: FARMING

Doc Watson’s Band

(b. 8 Feb 1949, North Carolina , d. 23 October 1985)

Son of Doc Watson, Merle died tragically as a result of a tractor accident on his farm in Lenoir, NC.

Here’s what happened:

On the night of October 22, 1985, Merle was restless and unable to sleep. Some time after midnight, he went to the basement, tied on his nail apron, and proceeded to trim some red beech paneling that had been misgrooved, making it ready to panel his basement walls. The saw blade hit an undetected fault in the grain and a large piece of hardwood splintered off, embedding itself in the muscle of Merle’s upper arm. He grabbed his all-weather jacket, fumbled around in the pocket for the key to his farm tractor, and left to seek help. Spotting a lighted house at the summit of a steep hill, he continued in that direction, praying he would not black out before he got there.

With the aid of the couple whose home he had come to, Merle successfully removed the huge splinter. His wound bandaged, but weak from the trauma and loss of blood, Merle left to return home. Tragically, on the way back down the steep incline of the couple’s drive, the tractor brakes locked, leading it over a high embankment. Merle Watson was thrown off the large tractor which then landed on him, killing him instantly. The life of one of acoustic music’s brightest and most beloved musicians was at a premature end. Eddy Merle Watson’s earthly life may indeed be over, but his many fans are convinced that he is now a member in good standing of the highly acclaimed Band of Acoustically Inclined Angels and periodically peers down with great pride on his beautiful memorial garden.