Cover photo for James Steven Struthers's Obituary
James Steven Struthers Profile Photo
1953 James 2023

James Steven Struthers

April 30, 1953 — December 29, 2023

Little Rock, Arkansas

Jazz Guitarist Steve Struthers' journey through life was destined to be harmoniously entwined with the strings of a guitar. From the early chords of his youth to the soulful notes that would define his career, Steve's passion for jazz was boundless. He took his final bow in Little Rock, Arkansas, leaving behind a melody of memories and a legacy that will forever resonate in the hearts of those who knew him.
A self-proclaimed "military brat" born in Kingston, Pennsylvania, Steve spent his early years as a nomad. He moved at least 15 times before age 18, with Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Kansas, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Virginia being some of the states he called home. His voracious appetite, both for life and leftovers, led to the affectionate childhood nickname "Garbage Pail."
Music was Steve's soulful companion from a young age. Introduced to the ukulele by his Uncle Chuck Snyder at six, Steve subsequently embraced the trumpet at nine and the guitar at ten. His early influences, ranging from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, paved the way for an eclectic journey through the realms of Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and eventually, his musical idol, Wes Montgomery. Steve’s formal education in music culminated at the Musician Institute, Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, California, where he graduated in 1987 among the top five of his class with honors.
A true maestro, Steve's list of collaborators reads like a who's who of the musical world, including Herb Ellis, Ken Walker, Charles Thomas, Pharoah Sanders, Joe Pass, Lou Rawls, Chubby Checker, Dave Rogers, Steve Vai, Joe Vick, Eddie Harris, Johny Winter, Bob Boyd, Jerry "Buck" Jerome, Mike Carenbauer, Frankie Avalon, Emily Remley, and many others. Concert performances with legendary bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Iron Butterfly added an electrifying chapter to Steve's illustrious career. Both of Steve's brothers, Scott and Eric Struthers, are also highly talented musicians with whom Steve admired and enjoyed sharing a stage with creating harmonies that transcended familial bonds.
A man of many bands, Steve's musical influence reverberates through the groups he played with, including Firebirds, Epics, Bow Street Runners, Grace, Wolfgang, Struthers Bruthers, Artistry, Turning Point, The New Owners, Angel Eyes, and others. He traveled across the country and across the globe with some of these bands. More recently, Steve could be found strumming with The B Flats and the Afterthought Band.
For almost three decades, Steve shared his passion and knowledge as a jazz guitar instructor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His impact extended beyond the University classroom, with private lessons leaving an indelible mark on countless students. In addition to his musical legacy, Steve's profound sense of humor, love for travel, animals, and his family defined him. A man of charisma and humility, Steve often quipped, "I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up." He carried that youthfulness until the end, with one of his final remarks jokingly being, "I need an adult, I'm not one."
Steve's final encore was preceded by his father, Colonel James Cameron Struthers, and mother, Joan Marie Struthers. He leaves behind a symphony of love and memories cherished by his surviving brother Scott Struthers (Gayle), brother Eric Struthers, son Andrew Struthers (Ashley), daughter Katie Wirges (Tracey), granddaughter Rachel Struthers, grandsons Spencer Struthers and Lincoln Wirges, nephew Aaron Struthers, and nieces Melissa and Julia Struthers.
A live musical tribute celebrated Steve's life while he was still amongst us, a fitting prelude to a service that will now be a small, intimate family gathering. In the celestial realms, Steve continues to play among the stars, his guitar strings resonating eternally in the vast expanse of the cosmic jazz.

Arrangements by Arkansas Cremation, 10515 W Markham St, Ste B1, Little Rock, AR 72205.  

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