Eddie Edwards : A Tribute
Eddie was recruited to the band in 2010 and had by then already played with many fine bands, notably Roy Pellet's Hot Four. Like many of us, he'd started out playing skiffle, and, after playing with various bands around London, he landed his first professional job in the early sixties with Eric Allendale. In 1965, he was a founder member of Max Collie's Rhythm Aces, and later joined the Mac Duncan Band. He moved down to the West Country in the 70s, and was soon in constant demand by the leading south-west based bands of the day.
All of us in the Sunset Cafe Stompers loved and appreciated his fine playing, and we constantly complimented him on his expertise, which was technically far more than merely competent but never ever flashy, always highly tasteful. Eddie, however, modest chap that he was, was utterly self-effacing, and only ever accepted that he was 'moderately competent', a massive understatement if ever there was one.
His most endearing feature, however, was that he was - simply put - such a really nice guy ... always smiling, always with a twinkle in his eye, always ready with a choice piece of dry wit, and always full of enthusiasm for the band and its music. He also showed a most eclectic taste in the broadest possible spectrum of music - much more adventurous in scope than most jazzers - and was constantly full of recommendations of interesting items for us to listen to.
As his health deteriorated, and he spent more and more time in and out of hospital, he became a kind of medical guru to the rest of us - with our relatively minor health problems - and was ever full of encouraging advice. In fact, he was so positive and upbeat in the face of his own adversity that our own trivial aches, pains, coughs and flu were quickly put into perspective in no uncertain terms! He was the most amazing object lesson in optimism and stoicism, and simply refused to capitulate. The nearest he ever came to complaining (and rarely at that!) was the mild phrase : "I'm afraid I seem to be struggling a bit today ..."
We're all utterly devastated at his loss, and haven't even begun to come to terms with the reality of it ... somehow his absence seems only temporary. There's still a tendency on a gig to look over one's shoulder and expect to see him sitting there in the rhythm section, playing away and smiling with pleasure at a good band performance ...