January 25, 2017 – Tom Edwards (Adam’s Ants) was born on February 21, 1975 in Ipswich, England. Little is officially known about his early days, except that he grew up in a normal family and his dad “Bib” had musical talents. From what I could find, Tom must have chosen the path of music rather early on in his life. He grew up in Bildeston and went to Great Cornard Upper School where he fostered a love of music that would go on to become his livelihood.
And reflecting on what I learned via Google, Facebook and several more websites, I learned that Tom was a more than adequate guitar player, who shared his talents easily and with many. His life was music from the occult to straight forward classic rock. He made a living in the performance of music and it took him around the globe with various bands and outfits such as Adam Ant, Roddy Frame, Fields of the Nephilim, Rebelles, Edwyn Collins, Andrea Corrs, Arno Castens and Spiderbites, as well as his brother Dickon’s band Fosca.
On the night of Wednesday 25th January 2017 that suddenly and unexpectedly came to an end, as this versatile guitarist and musical director touring with Adam Ant’s band, died from what was reportedly a heart condition, just two days into a revival of Ants early 80s tour “Kings of the Wild Frontier”.
Most rockers that I feature on this website have at least a Wikipedia entry, but to my surprise, this well loved and by all reports brilliant musician, has very little written about him. But I felt an instant connection and decided to dig more than the surface and while doing that Tom Edwards became a musician of proportion to me. I looked at several of his youTube videos, I checked out his partner Charis Anderson’s Facebook page and her musical involvement with a band named Farra and an interesting London music initiative called Curse of Lono, and I learned that rock is still alive, even if only in pockets.
I learned that Tom Edwards was the first signature artist signed up for Chapman Guitars, the company started by Rob Chapman in 2009 and put this against the notion that guitar giants like Gibson and Fender are barely surviving these days.
I learned that he also presented a music show on Soho Radio, ‘Rock Hard in the Morning’. He loved sitting in with local cover bands when he was not on tour. Now that’s a sign of a musician!
It also says something about a person when a fundraising site is activated to bear the cost of funeral expenses and the target amount is reached inside of a week and almost a year later there are still donations coming in.
I think I would have liked Tom Edwards who was 25 years my junior when he passed suddenly. I hope my peers in rock and roll heaven allow him a spotlight on the big stage. He definitely seems to have deserved it.
Here are Some thoughts about Tom by his older brother Dickon:
Being a sibling is a predicament. Some are better at it than others. Like all younger siblings, Tom found himself thrust into a competition for attention, against someone who’d already had a head start. Indeed someone who might not be keen on sharing. But we shared our parents’ attention without too much conflict – I can’t recall any actual fights. When Tom was small we also shared a green metal bunk bed. I can’t recall if there were any arguments over who got which bunk; we just got on with it.
But I now realise how good Tom was at sharing. He could ascertain what other people wanted, and how strongly they felt about it, and work around that. It was a talent that not only won him many friends, but also served him well when playing in bands. Musical ability is not enough on its own. When a group splits up, it’s often due to the lack of another skill, one which Tom had in abundance: diplomacy. So in Tom’s case, a good brother made for an excellent band member.
And if music is territorial, then Tom was a skilled crosser of borders. There can surely be few guitarists who can move between playing for a daytime radio-friendly artist like Andrea Corr, and the rather more divisive Fields of the Nephilim. In fact, when Tom and I were growing up, we tended to divide up music like our bunk beds: I had the introspective indie bands, he had more outgoing acts like the Beastie Boys, Prince, and (usefully as it turned out) Adam Ant.
I have a very clear memory of Tom when he was aged about 6. It was at the Butlin’s holiday camp in Clacton in the early 80s. Like many small boys, Tom found himself dressed as a pirate at the slightest opportunity, complete with a cardboard cutlass. Butlin’s ran a children’s disco, and this included a chart hit of the time that managed to be compatible with both pirate costumes and child-friendly dance routines. It was ‘Prince Charming’ by Adam Ant. I can see Tom now, a tiny boy dressed as a pirate, throwing up his arms in perfect time, committing fully, taking it seriously.
When I think about Tom, I also have in mind the title of a recent film about the band The National. It’s really about the relationships between brothers, especially brothers who play music. The title is Mistaken for Strangers. That was often the case with Tom and me, perhaps because we had divided up our respective worlds so neatly.
But despite our differences, when I sometimes needed a guitarist for my own band Fosca, Tom would help out. We played concerts together in Sweden and Britain, and he played most of the instruments on the third Fosca album. I know the music wasn’t to his taste, but that didn’t stop him. It was the brotherly thing to do.
Another tribute by fellow musician Ray Fox
This is so hard. This beautiful man meant so much to me, as he did to so many and I simply can’t believe we’ve lost him like this. I’m so sad, angry and confused and can’t really see past this at the moment.
Tom Edwards was a living legend to all that new him. A phenomenal guitarist and musician, so clever, so generous, so charming and so bloody funny.
I feel blessed not only to have known him but to have stood side by side with him on many stages over the last ten years.
He was a world class performer and yet loved to join our little covers band every other weekend when he wasn’t touring the world, and play in pubs and clubs alongside me and many of our musical friends in The Dirty Dog Band. There are so many wonderful memories that I will always treasure but I am so so sad that we will not be making more together.
As amazing and talented as Tom was, he was so encouraging to me as a fellow guitarist. He stunned us all with his blistering lead solos and rhythm playing and just made our performances incredible rather than just pretty good. And yet, he always wanted me to take a solo regularly, even though he and everyone else knew that he could done the job a hundred times better. But that didn’t matter to Tom. He was humble, inclusive, fun loving and had no ego whatsoever. That’s the kind of guy he was.
When I look and the musician I am today, I realise that so much of it is because of Tom Edwards. My attitude to playing, my guitar, my amp (which he gave me), my pedal board is all his doing. He was so giving and so generous. He has given me so much. Confidence, many laughs, pride in what I do, friendship, love…guitars, amps, pedals, all sorts of kit that has helped me be a better player and a better person.
I would listen to him and Ewen on Soho radio every other week, sneaking my headphones in at work between 10 and 12 and trying not to laugh out loud at their corny, witty banter but loving their choice of songs and the obvious love and lifelong friendship they had, coming across the airwaves. My stomach keeps turning over at the thought of person after person who will be shocked and saddened by his death. His passing will reverberate forever.
I will miss him so much and my heart goes out to his family and close friends and his band mates in the Adam Ant band and the Nephilim. He has suffered such loss of his own in recent years, with the death of close friends who were taken way before their time. And he honoured them by carrying on and carrying their names on his guitars. He never forgot them and we will never forget him.
My heart is in a thousand pieces right now but I hope that soon I’ll be able to patch it together with all the great memories of Tom, and carry on in his honour.
It’s funny, just the other night, I realised how much Tom meant to me as I sat on the couch at home, with the telecaster that he got me on my lap, going through some double picking scale exercises (I’ve been trying for 35 years to nail this!) and the only thought on my mind was how proud Tom would be of me if I turned up at a gig and could rip off the best lead break I’d ever done. And he would know. He’d be listening, he’s always listening to the whole band, and he would look over to me with that big gorgeous smile on his face and give me the nod of approval like he’s done so many times before when we’re kicking’ ass on a Saturday night. And I would feel on top of the world. That’s how much he meant to me. I wanted to be as good as I could for him. I still do and I will. And hopefully he’ll be looking down from somewhere and smiling. That’s my hope anyway. I already miss you so much my friend. Rest in peace Tom.