Stoney Edwards: The Real Thing

Stoney Edwards emerged from humble beginnings to become one of the most authentic voices in country music. The youngest of seven children born to Rescue & Ollie Edwards, a farming family from North Carolina. Stoney's early life was steeped in the hard-scrabble reality of rural America. These formative years planted the seeds of his dream: performing on the Grand Ole Opry stage. 

After moving to the San Francisco area and raising a family there, Edwards would play music in his spare time. However, in 1968, a job-related accident would change his life forever. While working as a forklift operator in a steel refinery, Edwards got trapped in a sealed-up tank and suffered severe carbon dioxide poisoning. He was sidelined for the next two years in either a coma, a near-coma, or in a state bordering on insanity. 

As his condition improved, Edwards found work in odd jobs while at the same time devoting more of his energy to music. He sang in a honky tonk style that drew comparisons to Lefty Frizzell and Merle Haggard. In 1970, while performing at a benefit for his hero, Bob Wills in Oakland, California, Stoney was spotted by a local attorney Ray Sweeney, who had music industry connections and immediately recognized the potential. Just six months after recovering from his accident, Edwards signed a contract with Capitol Records. 

Backed by Asleep at the Wheel, he recorded his first single, "A Two Dollar Toy." The song was inspired by an incident in which his plans to leave his family were aborted by the sound of a child's toy. Having refused to sue the steel company, Edwards would also not allow his wife to accept welfare. Unable to support his family due to his disability, Edwards planned to sneak out of the house so that there would be one less mouth to feed. However, as he was leaving, he stepped on a toy, waking his daughter, Janice. The song captures the powerful, redemptive pull of love and responsibility. 

Stoney Edwards' tenure at Capitol Records produced five albums, with two singles cracking the Top 20. Although he didn’t receive the radio airplay he deserved, his music resonated deeply with many country music fans and found a devoted fanbase. "She's My Rock," his 1973 hit that peaked at No. 20, found new life in covers by Brenda Lee and George Jones, with Jones even inviting Edwards to share the stage with him. 

Another notable track, "Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul," paid homage to Edwards' musical heroes, reaching the Top 40 in 1973. His 1976 single, "Blackbird (Hold Your Head High)," stirred controversy due to its provocative lyrics, but its affirmative message underscored Edwards' fearless approach to addressing complex themes through his music. 

By the early 1980s, Edwards' health and career began to wane. Despite the decline, his legacy has endured, marked by the authenticity and depth of his catalog. New listeners are still discovering Stoney Edwards music and storytelling that is rooted in the lived experience. It’s undeniable when you hear the real thing, and Stoney Edwards was indeed that. 

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