Appreciating Dave Edmunds

Dave Edmunds has been quiet for the past few years, having announced his retirement in 2017; but for many years beforehand, he was kinda everywhere – in the best possible way.

The Welsh guitar slinger is justifiably regarded as one of the most influential and versatile guitarists of his generation, fluent in multiple styles. He’s also a talented singer, songwriter, musical director, and producer. His style blends rockabilly, blues, country, pop, and New Wave, with a vintage-yet-timeless sound that has endured for decades. His rhythm playing drives any band. His soloing is melodic, tasteful, and memorable. His singing is spot on.

Honestly, what’s not to love?

Edmunds started his career in the 1960s, playing in various bands including the Raiders, the Human Beans, and Love Sculpture. He honed his chops, and his ability to just kill it live. He notched his first solo hit in 1970 with a cover of “I Hear You Knocking,” which reached number one in the UK and number four in the US.

He then co-formed Rockpile with Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner, and Terry Williams. Rockpile recorded four albums under different names, including Edmunds’ acclaimed solo albums Get It, Tracks on Wax 4, and Repeat When Necessary. These albums showcased Edmunds’ mastery of rock and roll classics, plus original compositions and collaborations with other artists like Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Paul McCartney.

Indeed, Rockpile might be the best-ever bar band, if you – as we do – take that as a high compliment. The one-and-only album it released as Rockpile, 1980’s Seconds of Pleasure, is revered by fans, even if the band members have less flattering recollections.

See also: Your 10 Favorite Bar Bands

Edmunds continued his solo career in the 1980s, producing hits like “Girls Talk,” “Queen of Hearts,” “Slipping Away,” and “I Knew the Bride.” He also worked as a producer for artists including Stray Cats, the Everly Brothers, k.d. lang, and Status Quo. He remained active in the 1990s and 2000s, releasing albums like Plugged In, Hand Picked, and On Guitar…Dave Edmunds: Rags & Classics. He also performed live with legends such as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Eric Clapton.

His band-leading for the 1985 Carl Perkins tribute, Rockabilly Session, is a not-be-be-missed highlight, as it features a few, um, pretty good guitar players.

Edmunds has always stayed true to his roots and his passion for rock and roll. He has inspired and influenced many musicians, from Brian Setzer to Jeff Lynne, from Shakin’ Stevens to Tom Petty. He has earned the respect and admiration of his peers and critics, as well as the loyalty and affection of his fans. He is a bona fide rock and roll hero and guitar master. Now that he has “gone quiet,” he deserves an extra dose of appreciation and gratitude.

-Al Cattabiani (with an assist from Chat GPT)

Photo: Dave Edmunds, 1980 (Canada Jack aka Jeremy Gilbert via Wikimedia Commons)

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11 comments on “Appreciating Dave Edmunds

  1. douggordon27512b04f9

    Great article! Thanks for this, Al! I am a huge Dave Edmunds fan. Was lucky enough to get to interview him in Chicago in 2004. One of my favorite things about Dave’s music is his vocals. He is an awesome singer. I think he’s a vocal chameleon. He sings to match the song.

  2. Joel Dark

    Well done. Massive unsung hero of all American music. I was/am a huge Stray Cat fan before I was even a teenager. Also brought the Fabulous Thunderbirds to some well deserved prominence. Thanks for the article

  3. Mark Hudson

    An unsung hero. Nice article. But not sure how you could have failed to mention “Seconds of Pleasure”, the only “Official” Rockpile album released under that name and a perfect distillation of power pop and rockabilly!

  4. Richard Cecil Short

    “King of Love”!

  5. David Howe

    Dave makes a wonderful guest appearance on “Stray Cats – Live At Rockpalast 1983” on YouTube, at about the 55 minute mark. (A generally excellent show!)

  6. Greg Holloway

    Good article on a sadly underappreciated artist. During his most productive years, there was no other musician I admired more. I luckily saw him in concert four times, the best being just a few feet from the stage at the Warfield in San Francisco. I’ve been hopeful for many, many years for new music from Dave, or unreleased music from the past, or maybe an extensive boxed set. if what we have already is the extent of it, I still admire and respect him.

  7. Howard Mitchell

    What a star he turned out to be, when I was

  8. Kathleen Ramsey

    No matter what, he looked great and sounded great too. I listen to him a lot on Utube. Thank you….

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