"Columbia's Guitar Guru" Given Musical Memorial

The man dubbed "Columbia's guitar guru" was given a musical memorial. Hundreds gathered in Five Points to celebrate the life of Robert Newton III.

"He just wanted to be celebrated the way that he lived his life, with passion and music," Stephaun Newton said.

Beer and indie rock bands aren't normally at memorials, but Newton knew his dad wanted it this way.

"He sparked the idea he told us, he wasn't specific to a memorial concert, but he told us that he wanted to be celebrated," Newton said. "He didn't want a funeral, he didn't want a lot of grief, a lot of sad eyes and a lot of tears."

Robert Newton III was a fixture in Five Points, whether he was playing gigs or walking down the street.

"I always remember seeing this guy walking through Five Points with a guitar on his back never knew who he was, just everybody knew him, everybody talked to him, everybody was like 'What's up, Rob,'" Brent McDonald said.

When McDonald entered the Columbia music scene he was told there's only one man who could take his music to the next level.

"Rob pushed the envelope of who I was musically and as a person, as well and spiritually. I think Rob had a very spiritual and whole body approach to playing guitar not necessarily playing guitar, but music in general," McDonald said.

Newton played alongside The O'Jays, Dizzy Gillespie and more and the students he taught along the way ended up touring with the likes of Chaka Kahn and Prince.

And instead of final goodbyes, family and friends made it the last hurrah, crowding Five Points to listen to Newton's former students.

"He's changed people's lives musically, he's changed people's lives spiritually and those changes he's instilled in folks like me is going to go out and do the same thing and pass on from generation to generation," McDonald said.

Newton died earlier this month after suffering a series of strokes in 2010. He was 58-years-old.


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