Nathan Jatcko Mourned by Friends and Fellow St. Louis Musicians

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PHOTO BY MADISON THORN
  • PHOTO BY MADISON THORN
The search for a St. Louis musician who went missing early on the morning of Friday, January 12, ended last night with a devastating announcement from his family: Nathan Jatcko has passed away.

The talented musician was 31, the victim of an apparent suicide.

"I am heartbroken to announce the passing of my dear and loved brother Nathan Jatcko on 1/17/2018," Sara Jatcko wrote on Facebook. "He took his life. He leaves behind a loving family and wide community of friends. We are at a loss for words, but appreciate all of the love, kindness, and prayers communicated to us over the past five days. Thank you."

The outpouring of grief in St. Louis' music community, where Jatcko was a highly regarded player, was swift, with many friends, fellow musicians and current and former bandmates taking to social media to share their stories.

John Krane of Brotherfather first started performing with Jatcko when they were each in high school, he writes. They still performed together over the years, with Jatcko providing guest keys from time to time, and recently they'd decided to make Jatcko a full member of Brotherfather.

"What are the chances that one of the first musicians you ever play with will turn out to be the greatest you'll ever play with?" he writes. "I will remember playing music with him, and video games, and poker, and talking about Herbie Hancock and the Traveling Wilburys, and making jokes about his hat, and sitting outside my parents' house after the first rock gig we ever played and talking about the rush we felt."

Fellow keyboardist Ryan Marquez of Fresh Heir writes that he filled in for Jatcko on a gig last year with Jatcko's group Naked Rock Fight. He describes how much fun it was playing Jatcko's original compositions, describing them as "some bad-ass funky tunes."

"Nathan you are an amazing talent and I am grateful and better for knowing you," he writes. "Your loss leaves so many that your light touched truly heartbroken. May you rest in peace in jazz heaven."

John Henry, for whom Jatcko played keys on 2016's Dark City Dark Country, shared three photos of them onstage together.

"I will always remember my friend, Nathan," he writes. "You brought so much beauty to a world that needs it. You made those around you better, you gave more than you took. You brought me to tears in the studio with your playing. It's a terrible injustice that you suffered the pain that you did. Life is unfair, but I am grateful for the time we spent together. You are the best."

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, but tributes to Jatcko have already begun spilling their way onto stages in St. Louis. Jazz players Ben Reece, Montez E. Coleman, Ben Wheeler and Austin Cebulskii will perform at the Dark Room tonight, a venue Jatcko frequently played. Reece says the group will "honor him with our music and our fellowship."

Jatcko was raised in Highland, Illinois, and attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, where he studied music. After graduation he moved to St. Louis. Over the years he performed with a plethora of local acts, including Pavlov's Dog, Yankee Racers, Kentucky Knife Fight, Naked Rock Fight, the Liberation Organ Trio and many more, in addition to frequent solo work and collaborations with the likes of Emily Wallace, Dawn Weber, Christy Coleman and others. His death leaves a gaping hole in St. Louis' music community.

Jatcko released his debut solo album Catch in September. Listen to that below, and share your memories of Jatcko in the comments.

Rest in peace.