Abe Stoklasa, a renowned Nashville songwriter and musician, whose creative prowess graced the music of industry giants like Tim McGraw, Charlie Worsham, Chris Lane, and the acclaimed trio Lady A, passed away at the age of 38.
Billboard confirmed his untimely demise on November 17, though the causes remain undisclosed. Born in Princeton, Missouri, Stoklasa's musical journey began at an incredibly young age. By six, he was already performing in his father's band, a testament to his innate musicality and profound passion.
Reflecting on his early years, Stoklasa shared with The Shotgun Seat, "I have always been a musician. My dad had a little ransom style show in the Midwest – we did like 70 shows a year – so from two years old I was singing on the stage.
At like six years old, my dad threw me in the band as the keyboard player, sink or swim. So that's how I learned to play music." His musical influences were broad and deep, ranging from the iconic sounds of Elvis and The Beatles to the soulful melodies of Merle Haggard and James Taylor.
Formative Nashville Years
The family's relocation to Tennessee during Stoklasa's teenage years marked a pivotal moment in his career. He enrolled at Belmont University in Nashville, fine-tuning his musical skills. Post-graduation, he joined David Nail's road band as a steel guitar player.
His pursuit of a graduate degree at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music was short-lived, as his true calling on the road beckoned him back. He spent three years with Billy Currington's band, including a tour with Kenny Chesney in 2011.
2013 saw a significant shift in Stoklasa's career as he stepped off the road to focus on songwriting. His talent was quickly recognized by Nashville veterans like Mike Reid and Mark D. Sanders. Stoklasa's songwriting prowess shone through in hits like Chris Lane's "Fix," Tim McGraw's "Portland, Maine," and several others for artists including David Nail, Billy Currington, Scotty McCreery, Blake Shelton, and Lady A.
In a 2016 interview with Music Row, Stoklasa expressed his pride in his work, particularly the song "Beginning of Things," which he described as a complex lyrical puzzle, akin to Shakespearean writing. His collaborations with artists like Billy Currington, David Nail, and Charles Kelley were not just professional but also deeply personal.
Beyond Songwriting: Legacy
Stoklasa's contribution to the music industry extended beyond songwriting. He played a significant role in Charles Kelley's 2016 solo album "The Driver," earning acclaim for tracks like "Leaving Nashville" and the Grammy-nominated title song.
Kelley, mourning his loss, described Stoklasa as "otherworldly" and a "true enigma" in a heartfelt Instagram tribute. David Nail echoed similar sentiments, praising Stoklasa's unique talents and genius in songwriting and performance.
Charlie Worsham, another Nashville star and close friend of Stoklasa, remembered him for his exceptional talent and principled nature. Abe Stoklasa's legacy in the Nashville music scene is indelible. His contributions as a musician and songwriter have left an enduring mark on the industry, celebrated by peers and fans alike.