Stoyles loved the accordion from an early age. His talent with the instrument was recognized early when his mother, Susan Stoyles, gave his brother, Melvin Stoyles, his first accordion. Melvin wasn’t able to keep up on the accordion and Art took over when he was eight. He kept playing for well over six decades.
According to Melvin, Stoyles combatted a mental handicap, but it didn’t show in his accordion abilities.
“Art played a different type of music than most people. It was close to operatic or something, much more advanced than the rest of us. He was playing the more challenging music,” said Melvin. “One of his best friends was his accordion and that’s what helped get him through life.”
The musical influences that affected Stoyles early on involved the Portuguese music learned from sailors of the Portuguese White Fleet, traditional Newfoundland music and mainstream North American popular music. He is most known for “The Portuguese Waltzes.”
Stoyles could dance his hands along the buttons on his accordion in a way that could only come from years of hard work and practice.
An accomplished solo artist, Stoyles played his best when other musicians accompanied him. Some of his musician friends even joined Stoyles in his own band.
Some of the earlier bands Stoyles played in were the Westerners and the Country Blues Band.
In the 1970s, Stoyles played with Figgy Duff. Later on, Stoyles played his accordion with the Bannerman Park Band.
The Art Stoyles Band was his own band, formed in 1992. Playing with Stoyles was Bob Rutherford on the accordion, Len Penton on guitar and vocals, Gayle Tapper on the harp and Terry Thomson on the fiddle.
In 2005, Stoyles received the East Coast Music Association’s Stompin’ Tom Connors Award for his contribution to the music of Atlantic Canada.
His brothers, Gordan and Melvin Stoyles, his sister, Carrol Stoyles, and several nieces, nephews and close friends were left to mark Stoyles’ passing.
Stoyles’ funeral took place Saturday at Caul’s Funeral Home in St. John’s, but family and friends have welcomed warm wishes on the Art Stoyles Band Facebook page.