The 6 Major Label Albums of Stoney Edwards Finally Reissued

On April 5th, Saving Country Music honored pioneering country artist Stoney Edwards on the 25th Anniversary of his passing, concluding in part, “His music should also be repopulated here in the digital age so that future generations can enjoy this pioneering country artist.” Little did we know that less than three months later, this often difficult feat in the music industry would actually transpire.

In honor of Black Music Month, UMG Nashville/UMe has officially digitally reissued all six of the major label albums from Stoney Edwards recorded originally for Capitol Records in Los Angeles from 1971 to 1976. The albums Down Home In The Country, A Country Singer, Stoney Edwards, She’s My Rock, Mississippi You’re On My Mind and Blackbird have also been digitally remastered from the original analog tapes.

Though country music is regularly portrayed as having only one Black performer in Charley Pride throughout the 70s and into the 2000s, this characterization completely overlooks the contributions of Ray Charles, and Stoney Edwards. Stoney had a couple of Top 20 hits, including “She’s My Rock” in 1972, which was later covered by George Jones, as well as “Mississippi You’re On My Mind” in 1975, and a Top 40 hit with the song “Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul,” which went on to be sung by Moe Bandy, Emmylou Harris, and others.

While working day shifts, Stoney Edwards started his career by singing in the bars and honky tonks of central and Northern California at night. His name got changed from “Frenchy” to “Stoney” when a drunk patron hollered out, “I’m stoned, and he probably is, too!” The nickname stuck, and so did Stoney with trying to keep a moonlighting career in music going until it all almost ended in 1968.

In a harrowing accident, while working as forklift operator on an industrial site, Stoney Edwards was accidentally sealed in an air tight tank. By the time he was extracted, Stoney had suffered severe carbon dioxide blood poisoning. He spent the next two years going in and out of coma, and at one point was diagnosed as terminal.

Though Stoney could have claimed Social Security disability after the accident, he refused, and instead—unable to work general labor jobs anymore—decided to pour himself into music. But since this wasn’t paying the bills, he made the tough decision to leave his family so there would be one less mouth to feed, and they could declare welfare. As the story goes, while sneaking out of the house, he accidentally stepped on a toy from his daughter Janice. That became the inspiration for Stoney’s first single, “A Two Dollar Toy.”

Even as Stoney Edwards was struggling to support himself and his family, he still took time to engage in charity himself, and this is what ultimately led to his country music career. Hearing that his hero Bob Wills was ailing, Stoney Edwards organized a benefit for him in 1970. At that benefit, he got the attention of a lawyer named Ray Sweeney who happened to have connections at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, who happened to be looking for their own Black country star in the wake of the overwhelming success of Charley Pride. Stoney Edwards was then paired with the Bob Wills-inspired Asleep At The Wheel and Ray Benson as his backing band, who were more than happy to work with Stoney.

Stoney’s career may have not been Hall of Fame worthy, but releasing six albums on a major country music label, and scoring Top 20 hits dispels the idea that the contributions of black artists in country music were resigned to just one individual. And perhaps Stoney could have been more successful if he was discovered before he was in his 40s, and not suffered so many health issues.

The reissuing of the six major label albums from Stoney Edwards is a big moment in helping to revitalize the legacy of this important country artist. They are available now on all digital platforms.

© 2022 Saving Country Music
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