Memorial Set for Columbia Guitarist

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Earlier this month the Columbia music scene lost one its most influential members.

Master guitarist Robert Newton III died on July 8th after battling a series of strokes, the last one occurred in late 2012.

Instead of mourning, family and friends are planning a celebration of the Newton and his music accomplishments.

"It's extremely hard to overestimate how big of an influence he was," said Stephaun Newton.

Stephaun is the son of Robert, who played along with artists including, Dizzy Gillespie, The O'Jays, and Patti Labelle, he also played football at the University of South Carolina.

Stephaun says his father was also a fixture in the Five Point music scene, playing and teaching guitar for over 35 years.

According to Stephaun, "He has had students that have gone on to play for big names, Ani DiFranco, Prince, Chaka Khan."

Some of those former students will be honoring their former teacher on Sunday at the Five Points fountain in the Robert Newton III Music Memorial.

Don Russo is just one of those students that will be celebrating the man dubbed 'Columbia's Guitar Guru'.

Russo said, "I hope and pray that it will spark that same energy in Columbia for people to support each other and get out and watch each other's gigs, to really grow personally in their own musical growth."

Stephaun says the free concert in his father's memory is fitting for the man who wasn't just a music teacher, but a life coach and friend to everyone he encountered.

"To be able to get together and celebrate him the way that he would have wanted, you know he didn't want a funeral, he didn't want a lot of sad eyes and tears, he wanted to be celebrated the way he lived his life, with a lot of passion, a lot of music, and a lot of smiles," said Stephaun.

The concert takes place this Sunday from 3 to 7 PM at the Five Points fountain, it is free and open to public.

For information on the concert visit


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