Dave Edwards (January 11, 1941 August 12, 2000) was an American big band-style musician who most notably was the lead alto saxophonist and multireedist for the long running, weekly Lawrence Welk Show on T.V. for over a decade from 1968 through 1979.
- Early life, education, and growing up in Alabama
- Armed Forces and NORAD band
- The Lawrence Welk Show 1968-1979
- Later professional work and style
- Select discography
- External links
Early life, education, and growing up in Alabama
Born in Opelika, Alabama and raised in Tuskegee, his family later moved to Fairhope, Alabama. He attended Auburn University where he played the saxophone and reeds (Multireedist) with the school's Auburn Knights Orchestra; Edwards would later try to complete his education at California State University, Los Angeles during the late-1980's while residing in Burbank. Out of school from Auburn University (having left college early) he would play on the road with Richard Maltby and then the Glenn Miller Orchestra before being drafted into the United States Army and stationed with the NORAD band in Colorado Springs, CO.
Armed Forces and NORAD band
While stationed at the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) during the 1960s, Dave Edwards would serve in the United States Army and play in the American/Canadian, joint armed serves NORAD Commanders Jazz Band along side future Lawrence Welk Show musicians Richard Maloof and Johnny Zell. Stationed in Colorado Springs, CO, this unit became one of the elite musical groups of the armed forces during the Cold War/Vietnam era due to the plethora of talented, young musicians being drafted into military service. Edwards would first meet long time musical associates Dave Wolpe, Warren Luening, Bob Payne, and Larry Ford while stationed at Colorado Springs. He toured extensively with the NORAD musical groups to included appearances at Carnegie Hall (May 1966), the Hollywood Bowl and Disneyland (September 1966), Expo '67 - Montreal World's Fair, the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto, Canada(August and September 1967), the CBS Mike Douglas Show, the Today Show, and NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
The Lawrence Welk Show 1968-1979
After being discharged from the United States Army he moved to Los Angeles and joined the Lawrence Welk Show orchestra in early 1968. In his first season with the show he replacing Mahlon Clark on 2nd alto sax in the reed section and then moved later to playing the lead alto/reed chair with Russ Klein moving to tenor. Edwards performed on the Welk weekly television show during the time of being with ABC-TV (up to 1971) and then in syndication; he left in 1979 being replaced by reedman Skeets Herfurt. The sax/reed section for the Lawrence Welk Show would finally be settled into having Edwards-lead, Dale-2nd, Cuesta-jazz tenor/clarinet soloist, Klein-2nd tenor, Davis-baritone. During this time Edwards proved to be one of the finest lead alto players for big bands and orchestras of a generation being able to fit any style, display incredible consistency, and having total command of playing lead picollo/flute/clarinet/soprano sax or alto sax. The schedule for rehearsing and taping the show was rigid, constant, and sometimes hectic; the musicians were expected to play almost exclusively for the Welk T.V. production rehearsals plus live taping (with studio audience) every week at the Hollywood Palladium from 1968 to 1976, 1976-77 at the Hollywood Palace, and CBS Television City from 1977 to 1979.
Later professional work and style
Edwards was prominent on movie and T.V. soundtracks and is most well known for playing the credits theme (soprano saxophone) for the 1980s T.V. show Moonlighting. During this time he lived in Burbank, CA near NBC Studios. While working in Los Angeles during the late 1960s, 1970's and 1980s Edwards played and recorded with a wide range of artists to include Ernestine Anderson, Nat Pierce, Roger Neumann, Frank Capp, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Madeline Vergari. Though his musical style could readily transform to the many venues or artists he played with, Edwards' personal saxophone playing was most heavily influenced by the alto saxophonists Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley. This style was much better shown when Edwards had the rare opportunity to be featured (at length) in 1987 on the premiere of Charlie Richard's Suite for Alto Sax and Jazz Orchestra.
Edwards later relocated in the 1990s to the Orlando, Florida region (with his wife Phyllis and sons David and Charles) and continued to work for Disneyworld, several bands locally, and across the country. Edwards commented on the need to move away from the difficulties of living in the Los Angeles area and wanted to relocate back to the South.
Edwards died suddenly on August 12, 2000, from cardiac arrest at the age of 59.
- 1966: The NORAD COMMANDERS, The NORAD Commanders Jazz Band (Columbia Records special issue)
- 1977: Music from New York, New York, Bill Tole
- 1987: In the Mood (original movie soundtrack)
- 1987: Live at the Alley Cat, Frank Capp
- 1994: Here's That Swing Thing, Pat Longo
- 1995: This Is My Lucky Day, Madeline Vergari