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Blues saxophonist Noble ''Thin Man'' Watts has an international reputation that earned him the title ''King of the Boogie Sax.''
The 70-year-old DeLand native's toothpick frame earned him the nickname ''Thin Man'' at an early age.
After decades of hard years on the road, Watts today finds his most expressive words when reminiscing about his life.
Settled now with his wife, June Bateman, in a home on shady Elsasser
Street, Watts offered up his favorite definition of the blues, his life's
''Blues don't eat no steaks,'' Watts said. ''Blues is a chitlin eater. Steaks ain't in no blues category. I know the feeling of the blues. That's what blues is . . . feeling converted to sound.''
The award-winning recording artist has long felt slighted by his hometown for a lack of recognition. A recent event helped change that tune. The city awarded him a proclamation declaring March 1 as Noble Watts Day in DeLand.
''That made me real happy. No one may celebrate it, but I will. I'll have a party,'' he said. ''I think I'll write a song about it and call it 'My Day.' ''
Watts recalled tough times playing with jazz, rhythm and blues, and music greats such as Lionel Hampton, Cannonball Adderly and pianist Oscar Denard.
''Perfection was the standard. If you couldn't play almost perfect, they would not let you on the stage,'' Watts said. ''They say I wasn't as good as some, but in my own right, I did as much damage to rhythm and blues as they did to jazz.''
''Musicians are one of the grandest things God put on this Earth.
''It's a hard life. It looks pretty. They put that makeup on you and those pretty clothes, then make you stand on stage and play your heart out under those hot lights. You get up before the world and smile for them, play your heart out, all while you might be dying inside.''
Today, Watts keeps a mellow pace. He plays an occasional gig, and is sitting down with an author to tell his story in a book. He is thinking about recording an album with his wife, who sings.
''I'm not going to worry about anything now,'' Watts said. ''I am going to do some things I've never done. I am going to live now.''
Shuttleworth's not ready to sail off into the sunset
Asked about his philosophy of life, Mark Shuttleworth replied without a pause: ''I'm looking for an antique sailboat about 16 to 18 feet long.''
Not a surprising answer for a man who:
- Spent nine months in a Quaker retreat in Pennsylvania to ''find out what it's all about.''
- Took a sailboat around the West Indies to ''just do some real living.''
Shuttleworth owns Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques and Salvage at 112 W. Georgia Ave., which he moved to DeLand from Sanford in 1987.