Dave Edmunds

By Jeremy Miles

ONE of the last times I clapped eyes on Dave Edmunds he was standing in a Hollywood TV studio playing guitar in one of Ringo's All Starr Bands.

The line-up included Nils Lofgren from the E-Street band, Joe Walsh and Timothy B Schmidt from The Eagles, Ringo of course and a variety of other mega-musicians.

Some of the finest talents of their generation, they were required to provide a musical interlude in the middle of the Arsenio Hall talk show, a suitable precursor to the next guest, sexologist Dr Ruth Westheimer.

I'll never forget the haunted look in his eyes as the "supergroup" plonked its way through a perfunctory reading of Yellow Submarine.

Dave Edmunds would go on to do three lengthy tours with Ringo alongside an ever-changing rosta of big name musicians. It's not an experience he's in a hurry to repeat.

As he prepared to head out on the road earlier this month with his old mate Joe Brown for a UK tour that includes Bournemouth's Pavilion Theatre on Tuesday, he told me: "I had my fill of that. It's not always easy travelling with people you wouldn't necessarily choose to be with. I was offered another tour two or three years ago but I'm afraid I passed on it."

Of course, they say you shouldn't meet your heroes and Dave has met (and worked with) quite a lot of his. Most of them, he says, are absolutely fine but occasionally it can be - he searches for a suitable phrase - "er... hard work".

He's too polite to mention names but says: "Musicians are some of the nicest people I've met, but rock stars are sometimes intolerable."

Edmunds himself, one of the most-respected guitarists, songwriters, producers and bandleaders of the last 30 years, seems an agreeably down-to-earth sort of guy He sprang to fame way back the late 1960s with the band Love Sculpture, scoring a top-five hit with Sabre Dance. He would go on to enjoy a solo 1970 number one with I Hear You Knocking and later produced classics like I Knew the Bride and Girls Talk playing alongside Nick Lowe, Terry Williams and Billy Bremner in Rockpile.

Since the 1980s, though, this Welsh rocker has worked mainly as a producer in the USA working with acts like Stray Cats and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

He has been musical director for Carl Perkins & Friends with Eric Clapton and George Harrison, The Guitar Greats concert with David Gilmour, Dickey Betts, Johnny Winter, Link Wray, Brian Setzer, Tony Iommi and Steve Cropper, and The Legends of Rock and Roll project with Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, BB King, James Brown, Bo Diddley and Ray Charles.

"I have to pinch myself sometimes. When I started in Cardiff the most exciting thing I could imagine was to get a hit record.

"I would never have believed that I'd have ended up working with the people I have and done the things I've done.

"I feel blessed to have had such a good life from a business like this which is not exactly renowned for job security. I've no complaints."

In fact Dave says that, if anything, his career has seemed "too easy."

"I've been very lucky. Way back when I was playing locally in Cardiff I was in the first band in Wales to get £100 a night."

Then there was his first major solo success. I Hear You Knocking, he says, had absolutely nothing going for it. "I had no manager, no publicity deal. It was just a one off recording that wasn't so much released as allowed to escape.

"There was no marketing, they just made it available and it almost instantly became the fastest selling number one of era. I was as amazed as anyone particularly when two months later it got to number one in America as well.

The young Dave who had only gone pro on the understanding that his old job as a motor mechanic would be waiting for him if it all went wrong, gradually realised that he'd never have to mend a car for money ever again.


Joe Brown & Dave Edmunds, Pavilion, Bournemouth             Tuesday October 2 2007

Take two old rockers with almost 100 years' of experience between them and it's a recipe for a show which veers between the sublime and the pointlessly self-indulgent.

At least that was the way it looked as much-loved veteran Joe Brown invited the far-too-seldom-seen Dave Edmunds to share a stage with him at the Pavilion last night.

Don't get me wrong, they're both brilliant and engaging performers, but Edmunds in particular overstayed his welcome when he decided to showcase his prowess on solo guitar with a selection that included everything from Daisy Daisy to an entire movement of a Mozart Symphony. Very clever, but let's just say it was a joy when he delivered numbers like Queen of Hearts, I Knew the Bride and Girls Talk.

Sharing an excellent band and a love and understanding of the roots of popular music, Brown and Edmunds make a compelling pair, particularly when playing classics like Hello Mary Lou and Claudette. They're virtuoso musicians and performed everything you could have wanted, plus a little more that really we could have done without.

Jeremy Miles

© Jeremy Miles 2022