Byline: From Daily Herald wire reports
You could hear the mountains of North Carolina in Doc Watson's music. The rush of a mountain stream, the steady creak of a mule in leather harness plowing rows in topsoil and the echoes of ancient sounds made by a vanishing people were an intrinsic part of the folk musician's powerful, homespun sound.
It took Watson decades to make a name for himself outside the world of Deep Gap, N.C. Once he did, he ignited the imaginations of countless guitar players who learned the possibilities of the instrument from the humble picker who never quite went out of style. From the folk revival of the 1960s to the Americana movement of the 21st century, Watson remained a constant source of inspiration and a treasured touchstone before his death last week at age 89.
Blind from the age of 1, Watson was left to listen to the world around him and it was as if he heard things differently from others. Though he knew how to play the banjo and harmonica from an early age, he came to favor the guitar. His flat-picking style helped translate the fiddle- and mandolin-dominated music of his forebears for an audience of younger listeners who were open to the tales that had echoed off the mountains for generations, and to the new lead role for the guitar.
"Overall, Doc will be remembered as one of America's greatest folk musicians. I would say he's one of America's greatest musicians," said David Holt, a longtime friend and collaborator who compared Watson to Lead Belly, Bill Monroe, Muddy Waters and Earl Scruggs.
Seven of his albums won Grammy Awards; his eighth Grammy was a lifetime achievement award in 2004. He also received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1997.
In 2011, a life-size statue of Watson was dedicated in Boone, N.C. At Watson's request the inscription read, "Just One of the People."
Orlando Woolridge, the rugged forward who carved out a reputation over 13 NBA seasons as a scoring specialist and one of the original alley-oop artists, has died at 52.
DeSoto Parish Chief Deputy Coroner Billy Locke said Woolridge died while under hospice care for a chronic heart condition.
The 6-foot-9 Woolridge was the sixth overall pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1981 after starring at Notre Dame in college and Mansfield High School in Louisiana.
After ending his NBA career, Woolridge spent his final two seasons playing professionally in Italy.
The radio and television voice-over star whose work included the animated characters Gumby and Speedy Alka-Seltzer has died in Southern California. Dick Beals was 85.
Beals' was the original voice of the title character on "The Gumby Show" in the late 1950s. He also was the unseen pitchman in more than 3,000 commercials for such products as Oscar Mayer and Campbell's Soup.
Guy G. Rutherfurd, former managing partner of one of New York City's oldest law firms whose lineage included a colonial governor of New York, a U.S. vice president and the mistress of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, has died. He was 96.
William Lee Miller, a historian who explored the confluence of politics, religion and ethics and wrote an account of the congressional battle to end slavery, as well as books about Abraham Lincoln, died May 27 at a hospice in New York. He was 86.
Miller's best-known books include a two-part "ethical biography" of Lincoln. The first, "Lincoln's Virtues" (2002), was an analysis of the president's ethical growth before he took office. The second book, "President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman" (2008), is a continued study of the commander-in-chief's moral development while in office.
Miller's final book, "Two Americans: Truman, Eisenhower, and a Dangerous World," comparing the public and private worlds of two midcentury presidents, was published in April.
Kathryn Joosten, a character actress best known as the crotchety, nosy Karen McCluskey on "Desperate Housewives" and the president's secretary on "The West Wing," has died. …