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Influenced primarily by Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, as well as bluegrass-style banjo, guitarist Doyle Dykes began performing around Florida with his gospel-group family when he was only a teenager; he was soon touring with the Crusaders and J.D. Sumner's Stamps. Dykes temporarily quit music to return home to Jacksonville, marry his high school sweetheart, and pursue what he felt were legitimate, non-musical jobs. Unhappy, he returned to the guitar and, through a friend in Nashville, secured a job in the backing band of country singer and Hee Haw star Grandpa Jones. However, after three years, he quit music again to become a pastor, although he made use of his musical skills by arranging traditional hymns for solo guitar. But Dykes simply was not happy without making music his vocation, and he made a second return as a solo instrumentalist. He recorded two albums of spiritual music for Step One, titled Fingerstyle Guitar (1996) and H.E.A.T. (1997), respectively, and then scored a deal with Windham Hill, for whom he debuted with 1998's Gitarre 2000.