The flat-picker guitarist passed away at a hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., after struggling to recover from colon surgery on May 24.
Blind since the age of 1, the influential musician won seven Grammy awards, along with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. He also won the National Medal of the Arts in 1997. He was also inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Watson, first name Arthel, was also well known for Merlefest, an annual gathering of musicians in Wilkesboro named after his son, Eddy Merle, with whom he performed with until his tragic accidental death in 1985.
Watson wed Rose Lee Carlton in 1947, with whom he had two children. Eddy Merle was born in 1949 and daughter Nancy Ellen in 1951.
In his later years, Watson scaled back on touring, though when he did, was usually joined on stage by his grandson by Eddy Merle, Richard.