Fri. Apr 12, 2002
In Memory of Mr. Frank
In Memory of Mr. Frank – Mr. Frank Edwards, "elder statesman of Atlanta’s blues community", passed away recently at the age of 93 from a heart attack.
Just two hours before, he finished recording seven new tracks. " ’He played the best I’ve ever heard him play,’ says Tim Duffy, Music Maker’s founder."
Just two nights before, "Edwards was honored locally at his annual Northside Tavern birthday bash. Organized by Danny ’Mudcat’ Dudeck, the party featured performances by Cora Mae Bryant, Eddie Tigner, Carlos Capote, Ross Pead, Donnie McCormick and others. Edwards played for roughly an hour [...] ’He was [playing] strong—the strongest I’ve ever seen him,’ says Dudeck. ’Ever since I’ve known him, he’s just gotten better and better. But he was on fire that night.’ "
I pray that I’m so blessed, to live such a long life, creating, and celebrating creation, to the very end. Danny Dudeck puts it well: "He went out at the top of his game, with brand new songs, with fire, with a big party. He knew he was loved." But it makes the end no less sad.
I only had one brief conversation with Mr. Frank. As the bio at his web site says (yes, a 93 year old man with a website) "...Mr. Frank is a beloved and respected figure on the Atlanta blues scene. Almost every night he puts on a sharp suit and hat and drives himself out to various clubs around town to see live music. He can frequently be seen at Blind Willies or the Northside Tavern, sitting at his regular seat at the corner of the bar, drinking a diet Coke (He quit drinking when he was about 40 years old.)"
At Blind Willie’s, just like at Northsdie, there was one stool at the bar that was reserved, even if it was standing room only. That was for Mr. Frank, and I engaged him in small talk while getting a beer there one night. Not my normal behavior, but I knew who he was, and just wanted to acknowledge his contribution, as I told him, ”for all his grandchildren here tonight,” referring to those on stage and others he’d ”shown the way.”
As Eric King, owner of Blind Willie’s said, "He was the godfather of blues in Atlanta", and he’ll be missed by his grandchildren.