Tony Edwards, beloved music enthusiast and Deep Ellum dynamo, dies at 46
Tony Edwards, a musician and Deep Ellum regular who'd worked in Dallas' music industry for many years, was found dead in his apartment in April; he was 46.
Born Charles Anthony Edwards on September 27, 1973, he worked for a number of Dallas record labels including One Ton Records, and also sang in local bands.
He was first and foremost an unabashed music enthusiast with a zest for life, an openness towards people, and an always cheerful personality that endeared him to everyone he met.
A graduate of UT Arlington, he went on to work for labels including Sony/BMG and Crystal Clear Records, as well as music affiliated companies such as Fancorps, co-founded by Mike Swinford of Rainmaker Entertainment and Brando Records, and another company called MutualMind.
He was probably best known from his tenure with One Ton Records in 1997, where his official duties were marketing and promotions. But One Ton founder Aden Holt says that Edwards went above and beyond, pouring his heart and soul into it.
"He basically ran the label — he did everything," Holt says. "He saw the vision of One Ton Records and almost single-handedly brought it to life. Whenever anyone tries to give me credit for the One Ton Records legacy, I always say it was because of Tony."
Edwards also played in a band called Disconnected in '73 with his brother Daniel on drums, guitarist Drew McNeel, and bassist Doug McGrath; and sang backup at a Course of Empire reunion show in August 2016.
McGrath and Edwards took frequent road trips to see bands such as their 2015 excursion to Tempe, Arizona to attend the Summer Ends festival, and a 2013 trip to Tulsa to see The Who perform Quadrophenia. "Tony had to ask his (then) wife if it was OK if he spent Valentine's Day with me," McGrath says.
He was also a Dallas Cowboys fanatic. "He would yell 'Come on!!' at the TV while we watched games," McGrath says. "He was a huge Cowboys fan and always tried to motivate the crowd wherever we were watching."
At 5'5", Tony was on the short side, but he had an oversized energy, bigger-than-life personality, and sense of playfulness, not to mention a perennial smile that put others at ease.
Chelsea Callahan-Haag worked with Tony at Crystal Clear Records in the mid-2000s.
"We worked in a small office, with no windows, for a year," she says. "One of my favorite things we did to entertain ourselves was sing 'We've Got Tonite,' the Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton version. We printed out the lyrics and when a dramatic part came, we would push out from our desks on our rolling chairs. It was very silly. I'll never forget that time with him."
"It's a tough one," she says. "Everyone loved him."
Holt, who not only worked with Tony at One Ton, but also became his best friend, says that Edwards brought life into every room he entered.
"He was always ready to greet you with a boisterous 'Giddyup!' followed by a giant hug," Holt says. "The guy loved everyone, every band, and every bartender. He was the eternal optimist, the ambassador of fun, the curator of the best local concerts, and the most genuine friend a guy could have."
In recent years, Edwards had struggled with alcohol and completed a six-month program with Salvation Army in Dallas, where he also worked in their retail store.
Brandi Beakley, a friend who'd known him since 1997, said she was heartbroken about his passing. "He got sober last year and was doing well," she says. "I'm so bummed we can't send him out right, with a party at Three Links or something."
His exact time of death was not known; according to a friend of the family, a coroner determined he died of natural causes.
His brother Daniel says that memorial services are being postponed.
"Thank you everyone for supporting our family in this very difficult time for us," Daniel says. "Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, our family has decided to postpone a ceremony for Tony and will be organizing a celebration of life sometime this summer. As soon as we determine a location and date, I will let everyone know. Thank you again for the outpouring of love and support you all have show to me and our family."
He's survived by his father David Edwards, stepmother Lucille Edwards, sisters Lisa Stith and DeAwna Wood, stepsisters Jennifer Marshall and Lisa Longchamps, and brother Daniel.