Dave Edmunds Retiring, Says Pal Brian Setzer

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Setzer and Edmunds, via Setzer’s Facebook page

Acclaimed singer-guitarist Dave Edmunds, who has toured and recorded only sporadically for the past decade, is apparently retiring. That news came today (July 21) from Rockabilly performer Brian Setzer. Edmunds produced the 1981 debut album from Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, when the American trio were known as the Stray Cats. Edmunds turned 73 on April 15, 2017.

On a post on his Facebook page, Setzer wrote: “Its with bittersweet announcement that my good friend and guitar legend Dave Edmunds is retiring after tomorrow night’s show.

Dave produced the early Stray Cats albums that spawned Runaway Boys, Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town, (Sexy) & 17, and I Won’t Stand in Your Way.

He flew in to Finland to play his final two shows with me. I wish him all the love in the world in his retirement!”

Edmunds, from Cardiff, Wales, scored a huge worldwide hit in 1970 as a 26-year-old with “I Hear You Knocking,” which reached #1 in the U.K. and #4 in the U.S. Though he earned another four Top 10 U.K. singles, he would never again have another major U.S. hit.

But his lack of chart success would not diminish his acclaim among fans and fellow musicians. Edmunds has been a great interpreter of numerous classic rock songwriters including Chuck Berry, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen, Graham Parker, and others. His most recent album, was a 2015 all-instrumental effort, subtitled Rags & Classics, where he played favorites like “Classical Gas,” “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Green Onions.”

Many of his late 1970s and early 1980s output, most of which was released under his own name, was actually a group effort. For years, Edmunds recorded with Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams. The quartet, who performed as Rockpile, officially only recorded one album under that name. When Lowe–also signed as a solo artist–recorded his albums in the same era they, too, were with Edmunds, Bremner and Williams.

Thus, songs such as Lowe’s 1979 Top 10 single, “Cruel to be Kind,” were Rockpile recordings.

Watch Rockpile perform the Graham Parker composition “Crawling From the Wrecking,” which was released on Edmunds’ 1979 Repeat When Necessary album.

Edmunds’ recording of “The Race is On” features the Stray Cats as his band.

Related: Edmunds shares a terrific Bruce Springsteen story

A quick glance at Edmunds’ concert history on his Setlist.fm page shows four performances in 2017, one in 2016, four in 2015, three in 2014, five in 2013 and no others since 2009. The vast majority of those appearances were in Sweden where he has a band that he works with.

The 1981 Stray Cats album failed to generate much enthusiasm other than in the U.K. The trio then signed with EMI America and released their U.S. debut, Built For Speed, which included several of those Edmunds-produced tracks from that first album. One of them, the single “Rock This Town,” became a huge pop hit, reaching #9 on the U.S. Hot 100, equally its U.K. chart success from a year earlier.

A follow-up single, “Stray Cat Strut,”–also from that debut album but included on Built For Speed–also became a #9 pop hit. The unlikely pop hits helped the album reach #2 in the U.S. The Stray Cats earned a third Top 10 U.S. hit–1983’s “(She’s) Sexy + 17,” also produced by Edmunds.

Setzer, 58-years-old, is completing his 10-dates “Rockabilly Riot” European tour with a performance in Lahti, Finland on July 22, with Edmunds as part of the band. Setzer had 15 U.S. dates (without Edmunds) in June.

Setzer returns to the U.S. for a 25th anniversary concert of the Brian Setzer Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on August 2. After a break, the 19-piece Orchestra returns with 31 dates in November and December for his 14th annual “Christmas Rocks!” tour. Click here and here for tickets.

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One more, for good measure. Watch Edmunds perform his first big hit, plus another favorite, earlier this year

Best Classic Bands Staff

Best Classic Bands Staff

The BCB team brings you the latest Breaking News, Contests, On This Day rock history stories, Classic Videos, retro-Charts and more.
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