Mike and Louise Edwards

Mike and Louise Edwards
Gary at 2 years old
Gary (Lynn) Edwards was born in the small town of Corbin, Kentucky on February 9, 1941. The Edwards family lived on Mitchell Street across from the Corbin Hospital. Gary's Mother was Margaret "Louise" Dooley (1919 - 1989) and his Father was Micha "Mike" Saufley Edwards (1902 – 1991).  Gary has one sister "Barbara Jean" who is 3 years younger! 

1951 - Gary is circled 

As a young boy, Gary  attended all 12 years of school at St. Camillus Academy in Corbin, Kentucky. He was a shy boy and lived a very average, normal life, interested in all of the things young boys have an interest in, but Gary always had a unique talent for music and the ability to really sing a song, even as a youngster. Gary would perform anytime he was given the opportunity. He did have voice lessons with Sister Gregoria at St. Camillus Academy and he sang in the choir while in high school. When Gary was a young boy, his Father took him to luncheons at various clubs and restaurants such as the Kiwanis Club, the Moose Lodge and The Steak House. In fact, Gary looked for an audience  "anywhere" and "everywhere", which would allow him to perform!  It is believed that these singing opportunities are where Gary developed a strong interest and powerful love for music and entertainment. Gary was ask what kind of songs he did at these venues, He responded: "I sang popular songs of that time. The first song I ever sang was "I Believe". I also liked Tony Bennett's "Rags to Riches", "Cold Cold Heart", Eddie Fisher's, "Oh My Papa" and my favorite singer, of course, Elvis. Songs like "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You", "Hound Dog", "Love Me Tender", "It's Now or Never" or pretty much any Elvis song".  
Gary at 7 years old

I mentioned earlier about Gary being quiet and shy.  He remembers being so shy, that very early in life, he would "cringe" when his family had visitors at home, because his Mother would always want him to sing. She was very proud of Gary and Barbara Jean!  However, Gary eventually overcame the shyness and began to appreciate the fame, applause and recognition!  One factor that helped Gary overcome the shyness was working as a bellman at Cumberland Falls State Park during the summers while in college.  Every summer he met and talked with hundreds of people from all over the world.

First Record "I Believe" at "10 Years Old"


Gary Edwards, 1951

Gary was only 10 years old, when he recorded his first song "I Believe" The 78rpm record was made in 1952 in the studios of WCTT Radio station.  Gary said; "That song was also the first song I ever sang in public and it was in Corbin at The Rotary Club".

In 1980 Gary added this recording to his "Life is a Song" CD.  Also when he was 10 years old, his father began taking him to the radio station (WCTT) each Saturday, to sing a couple of songs, with his dad's four piece band, on "The Mike Edwards" radio show!  This was a very exciting experience for Gary, a young, shy, impressionable boy that loved music!  

Every time Gary was permitted to sing on his Dads show, the radio audience loved him so much, the station's phone lines became jammed with too many calls from listeners wanting to hear more!   The station simply couldn't keep up with all of the calls requesting more of the young Gary Edwards!

WCTT management knew a good thing and when Gary was 16 years old (and could drive), he was given his own radio show called "The Gary Edwards Show" (no money but super publicity). 

This was another great experience for Gary, it provided him with the opportunity to perform behind a "live" microphone in front of a live radio audience!  Not only did it improve his music, it taught him stage and microphone presence, which matured over the years and gave him the skill he needed to perform!  Gary  became very comfortable in front thousands!  He also developed a large local following as a singer and young local entertainer. 

As you might expect, everyone and especially the girls, loved Gary, in fact, Gary's public appearances and the radio show made Gary Edwards a big "local star" in and around Corbin. However, even though he had "local fame" he was still very shy and it was difficult for him to even talk to the girls. Gary learned to let his singing do the talking, and it worked! This may very well be why, he often says "Life is a Song"  "Everything can be said in a song"! 

During high school, Gary formed his first back-up band called "The Shades".  The Shades provided him back-up on the radio show, other local venues and continued performing with him in college.  During High School, Gary and The Shades performed at school functions such as homecomings, proms and special events, private parties and dances, on WCTT radio, at the local skating rink, Cumberland Falls State Park, The Kiwanis Club, Moose Lodge and anywhere they could!

Mike Edwards and WCTT Radio Station

Mike Edwards in 1971

In the 1930's, long before Gary was born, his father, Mike, had his own orchestra, "The Mike Edwards Orchestra." Mr. Edwards also worked for the L & N railroad most of his life and in the early 1950's (when Gary was a very young boy), Mike had a Saturday morning radio show on WCTT radio station in Corbin,KY, called the “Mike Edwards Show."  Gary's father was a "Piano Player" and did "scat singing". He also was the announcer/MC, introducing the singers, songs and doing the commercials. Gary's early professional experience came during the time his father had the "Mike Edwards" radio show.  

Margaret Louise (Dooley) Edwards

M. Louise Edwards
Gary and Barbara Jean were very close to their mother. Gary was much like Elvis Presley about his mother, they both grew up in a home where their mother was the foundation of the family and everything the family did was centered around their mother!  Gary told the story about buying a clothes washer and dryer with the first money he earned as a young boy delivering newspapers for the Corbin Times.  Gary fondly recounted,  "The first thing I did, when I saved enough money, was buy my mother a new washer and dryer".  

Gary and Barbara Jean both had many stories and memories about their mother!  She must have been a very special lady and as you can see by the picture, she was a very beautiful lady!  Even as Gary discusses his mother for this story, he teared up from time to time with obvious warm and special memories.

When Gary was nine and Barbara Jean was six years old, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards owned a restaurant and night club called "The Steak House" in Corbin.  Louise Edwards managed "The Steak House", Mike Edwards provided the entertainment, with several other entertainers!  Gary watched and learned from all of them, but one performer, in particular, was a beautiful lady singer by the name of "Reba Smith."  Reba allowed Gary to sing with her from time to time!  The patrons of "The Steak House" always enjoyed the young nine year old's music!  In fact, there were many requests for him to perform when he was at the restaurant.  Gary listened and learned from Reba as well as the other musicians associated with his Dad. In fact his Father, Mike, brought the piano player, Bill Felts, to the Edwards home for rehearsal at least once or twice a week. This gave Gary the opportunity to observe and learn first hand and close-up from another professional.    

On weekends, Gary and Barbara Jean spent many hours at "The Steak House"!  Both mom and dad were working the restaurant and club. In a small town like Corbin, the townspeople went out to eat and be entertained on the weekends, so "The Steak House" was a very busy place and most of the locals visited once or twice.  

They both enjoyed the time at the restaurant, many times they got their homework at one of the tables or booths and assisted in busing tables, washing dishes and anything else that they could do at such a young age.  Both Gary and Norma Jean told me about looking under the booths for loose change after the restaurant closed for the night, Gary said: "that was a great brother and sister experience and lifetime memory!  We sometimes found as much as ten dollars between the two of us. I am sure Barbara Jean also has this memory"!  

Gary Edward talks about his early work experience:

"After I saved enough money, to buy my mother a new washer and dryer, then I saved $350.00 to buy my first car, a Black 1949 Studebaker with white wall tires, chrome rims and dual glass pack mufflers. I kept the Studebaker through high school! It was pretty cool, cruising the local Colonel Drive-in restaurant, Main St. in Corbin and Finely's Drive-in in London, KY.  I remember there was a skating rink behind Finely's where I played and sang with "The Shades" many times". 




"When I was 14 yrs old I had a two newspaper routes for the Corbin Times Tribune!  St. Camillus Academy gave me permission to leave school each afternoon at 2:00, so I could go to the Tribune and pick up my newspapers.  (The school allowed me to substitute working at the paper for class credit).  After a year with the paper, I was promoted to Head Carrier with about 10 other carriers working for me. I worked in the press room where the papers were coming off the printing press and I divided the papers to each carrier. When I finished sorting the papers, I delivered my own routes.  During the summer months, I continued working for the Tribune and also mowed about 30 lawns every week".
Gary went on to say: "After graduation from high school, I bought a 1954 Ford, with custom made white upholstery and blue piping around the seats. The hood and trunk were shaved, custom horizontal chrome grille, whitewall tires, spinner hubcaps WOW, Loved that car!"  

He also said: "The summer before college, just out of high school, and for three summers during college, I worked as a "bellman" at Cumberland Falls State Park.  The state park paid me about a thousand dollars each summer, the money was used to pay for my college.  That was a lot of money in those days."  
In the evenings, if good weather, Cumberland Falls had a recorded music and light show overlooking the Falls. One of Gary's assignments was to take up tickets for that show two or three times a week.  Taking up the show tickets provided him the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and improve his social skills. It also helped him overcome the shyness he lived with in early life! The Falls State Park had a nondenominational Church service on Sunday mornings and he sang for a those services.

Lee Majors and Gary have been friends since 1960 at EKU

From St. Camillus, Gary attended Eastern Kentucky University.  At Eastern, he was a very popular, well  liked student, he was a friend to everyone. Gary continued to perform whenever he was ask throughout his college life! When Gary was asked about St. Camillus Academy and Eastern, this is what he had to say:   "I enrolled in St.Camillus when I was only five and a half. You had to be seven years old to enroll in the public schools and that was one of the main reasons I didn't go to Corbin's Public Schools. 
Tony Lanham 
One of my good friends from Corbin, was Tony Lanham (deceased). Tony and I were classmates and friends throughout Grade School, High School and College. Tony and I remained friends throughout his life. Tony was a very good athlete throughout school and his life! However, I was sort of a later bloomer, kind of small for my age and didn't play sports because I was too busy singing. I guess I was sort of a nerd, but then again, I thought I was a lover and not a fighter, haha. When I was a freshman in high school I was about five feet seven inches tall. When I graduated from high school, I was six feet two and weighed about 140 pounds".

While at Eastern Gary performed at a college hangout and restaurant called "Specks" and had help from Frank and JoAnn Nassida (owners of Specks)!  Gary had this to say about the Nassida's and Specks:  "I may have not been able finish college had it not been for their support. They hired "The Maroons" and me to play at SPECK'S and they also fed us well. I recently saw a menu from Specks at the EKU reunion a while back and you could get a hot dinner for .75 cents, a burger and fries was .50 cents. Ahh, the good ole days".

Lee Majors at WEKY Radio Station
He went on to talk about a famous person from Eastern; "Probably one of the most famous people to attend  Eastern was Harvey Lee Yeary, better known as Lee Majors. He was a year or two ahead of me but we were friends and crossed paths thru the years.  Several years after college and after Lee Majors became famous, he was in Lexington and my sister, with whom I was sharing an apartment, met Lee and some other friends at a night club.  My name came up and my sister ended up bringing Lee by the apartment to say hello. We all went to Denny's for a late night breakfast and a great time, remembering old times at Eastern University and Kentucky, since Lee was from Middlesboro (near Corbin), Ky."  
Gary spent much time at the local radio station WEKY in Richmond, just hanging out and visiting with the announcers and DJ's.  In fact he recorded his first 45rpm record in the studios of WEKY.  Gary Edwards and the Maroons  "At The End of Each Day"  and "Just Checkin" an instrumental by the Maroons!  The recordings were made after the station signed off the air at midnight and took until about 4 to 4:30 am.  Announcer, John Sullivan, signed the station on at 5 am so the recording session had to be finished and everything cleaned up before John arrived.
The Maroons
He Graduated from Eastern University in 1963 and enrolled in the University of Kentucky Law School, at which time Gary formed the band called "The Embers" and continued to perform all over Kentucky, at fraternities, sororities and sock hops, anywhere they could perform


Gary and Sherry Edwards

In the early 1960's Gary was performing throughout the Louisville area at clubs such as The Rathskellar at the Seelbach Hotel, Jim Porters, Flagherty's, The Toy Tiger and the Patio Lounge.  He was also very much in demand  throughout the region!
Gary and Sherry - 1998 Gig
"Gene Snyder, owner of The Joni Agency in Louisville signed me to a contract in 1965 and that's how I met Sherry Chenault, who was singing with another group called The Chateaus in Louisville". Sherry began her musical career as a teenager performing around the Louisville area and on U.S.O. shows. When she joined the "Chateaus", a local Louisville Rock 'n' Roll band, it opened the door to a long and well deserved professional career. From the very beginning, Sherry possessed a strong sultry voice and a stage presence to captivate an audience, not only with her incredible stage performance but with her powerful, soulful voice.  Her musical career has included The Chateaus, Gary and Sherry Edwards (S.A.G.E.), Jerry Kirk and the Heavyweights, Sheer Magic and The Wulfe Pack. 
"It was love at first sight, we dated for about a year and were married in July 1966 and she started performing with my group,
we did mostly sock hops, fraternities, sororities and private  functions all over Kentucky, Indiana  and Ohio.

















 In 1968 the song, "I've Got a Lot of Love" which was recorded in Cincinnati on The Fraternity label and had soared to the top five on the radio station charts in Louisville and all over Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.  Gary thought he was on the way to national stardom, success and recognition, with a great band, a new wife, a song on the charts and bookings every night......but, as luck would have it, later in the year, he was drafted into the US Army.  Basic training was in Fort Knox, KY and Fort Benjamin, IN then he was sent to Vietnam.  While in Vietnam, they tried to keep their marriage together, Sherry kept the band together and performing, he called every chance he got and letters were written nearly every day, but as happens too many times, they drifted more and more apart!  Both of them became different people during these trying times.  Returning home  from Vietnam in 1970, Gary and Sherry realized that things were not the same with their marriage!  

They tried to put their life and music back on track for more than a year but, too much time and life had moved on, they separated in 1971 and were divorced in 1972 however, they remained friends and are still friends today.  Both Gary and Sherry went on to have successful entertainment careers and from time to time perform together today. In fact, Gary and Sherry got together in late early '88 and did several shows up and down the east coast, Hilton Head and some locally around Louisville. 

Richard Williams of 1956 group called "The Casuals"

Richard Williams 1957

Richard Williams, a native of Nashville, Tennessee has lived in Florida for over twenty years where he continues to be one of the top singer/keyboard artists of our time. Richard, with Buzz Cason, Billy Smith, Chester Powers and the late Johnny McCreery formed Nashville’s original rock ‘n roll band, "The Casuals" in 1956. 


Richard, Buzz and a Fan
"The Casuals" toured all 50 states and Canada with rock stars of the day including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, The Big Bopper and ultimately became Brenda Lee’s first full time back up band during the time of her mega hits and for several years thereafter. 

Richard becomes a mentor to Gary Edwards and SAGE
In 1971, Gary formed a new band and called it "Gary Edwards and SAGE"!  The group was made up of: Mike Winebrenner on keyboards, Richard Streander on lead guitar, Wes Scott on bass guitar and Glen Howerton on drums.  Gary said; "This group of musicians were absolutely awesome". They played The Rebel Room in Lexington, Kentucky for about six months in 1971 and at the end of their contract, took the show on the road. They played clubs all over the South, Midwest, North, as far up as Maine and South to the Keys in Florida.  The first gig after hitting the road was at The Harness House in Springfield, Illinois where Gary met Richard Williams, who, along with James "Buzz" Cason founded Nashville's first Rock n Roll Band in 1956 called "The Casuals". By the time Gary met Richard, "The Casuals" had become the "Casual Teens" and toured as Brenda Lee's backup band and recorded for Dot Records. The Casuals under the leadership of Richard and Buzz became the teen heartthrob of the time! 
"Richard and I have been friends for over 40 years. He and Buzz Cason were part of the original Casuals that backed Brenda Lee when she had her hit Sweet Nothin. They toured with her for many years".

In 1970 Buzz Cason opened a recording studio, Creative Workshop. in Nashville. Buzz co-wrote, with Mac Guyden "Everlasting Love" which was a huge hit for Carl Carlton in the late 60's. The song has been recorded by numerous artists over the years. 
"Buzz and Creative Workshop produced my first album in 1976 On With the Show. They also did Jimmy Buffet's music and many other big name stars!  We have been friends since the early '70s". 
Richard Williams mentored Gary and the group and helped   create a Las Vegas style show. Taking Richards advice and recommendations from 1971 through 1974 Gary and SAGE  worked 50 weeks a year in nightclubs all over the United States. Richard continued to provide them suggestions, based on his experience with The Casuals, Brenda Lee and many others. In the summer of '74 Gary and SAGE were booked into "The Breakers" in Panama Beach, Florida. 
Gary said;"I finally realized it was during this period that I had developed into an "Entertainer" and not just a singer".  My shows and style, even today are the result of Richard Williams' coaching and molding".
He also said; "After much hard work, rehearsals, pure perseverance and the teachings of Richard Williams, our dream did eventually come true, we opened in Vegas on the first of January 1974 at the Hilton Hotel with Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, B.B. King and the comedian Mort Sahl was a smaller lounge". It appeared that Gary was on his way to international stardom."The experience was tremendous and working with these stars was one of the most exciting experiences in my career"!

BB King, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition at Las Vegas Hilton


In 1975 Gary signed with Epic Records which was part of Columbia Records at that time.  His producer was Billy Sherrill, who was the biggest producer around in those days, with artists like Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich, George Jones, and Andy Williams.  The songs Gary did in those sessions were "Again" and "Life Has It's Little Ups and Downs.  On January 1, 1974 Gary opened for B.B.King, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition at the Las Vegas Hilton!  

Okinawa, Japan


The year was 1989, (the same year Gary’s Mother Louise, passed away). A very busy year for Gary!  He was performing at the famous “Thunderbird Hotel” in Miami Beach on weekends and performing through the week on the cruise ships of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

The “Hugh Rogers Booking Agency” of Atlanta, contacted Gary with a nine week engagement proposal at “The Manza Beach Hotel” in Okinawa, Japan. The only problem was Gary didn't have a band at that time and didn’t have time to put together a new group!  He called Sherry Edwards and asked if she and her band would be interested in backing him for this Japan gig. Sherry discussed the opportunity with her band members and they were excited to do it. The members of her band were, Mike West on guitar, Larry Landry on keyboards, Ron Morrow on drums, and Sonny Stephens on bass, they were excellent musicians.
Mike West on guitar, Larry Landry on keyboards,
Ron Morrow on drums, Sonny Stephens on bass and
Sherry Edwards 1989

Gary Said:  We really had to scramble to get passports, shots and such to make this trip.

The Manza Beach Hotel was at a 5 star resort, a very high end resort, in Okinawa located on the beach of the East China Sea, absolutely breathtaking!  The hotel catered to affluent Japanese business people, a few American Military Officers and tourists from all over the world, many spoke little or no English. We stayed on the resort property and performed in the large dinner club for 60 straight nights, doing two shows nightly, 7:00pm and 9:00pm. In fact, Sherry had to learn a song in Japanese called "Koibito-yo" which means “My Dear Lover”, she learned it phonically and according to the great applause, did a pretty good job!

Gary went on to say: While at the resort, there was little time to do too much else, except rehearse and perform.  Our transportation was only bicycles and we could ride into a couple of  small villages nearby.

"Life is a Song" (Click on the song to hear)

                                       Gary Edwards 1988                    
                               "To Be Loved"                             
Gary Edwards and The Embers  1962 
"To Be Loved" was recorded in 1962 in the studios of WEKY Radio Station in 
Richmond, Kentucky. It was the first record ever recorded by Gary 
and one of the first recordings on the new "JimBo" Records, 
a company created and owned by Jim Kincer (Jimmy K), 
a student at Eastern University and a 
DJ at WEKY Radio at that time!
               "At The End of Each Day"            
Gary Edwards and The Maroons   1963
This record was also recorded in the studios of WEKY. 
After Midnight and the station had signed off the air, Gary and The Maroons 
set up their equipment in the studios of WEKY.  All of the stations microphones were used.  
To control the loudness of the drums, the drummer was placed in another studio. 
It took all night to get it done and even longer to edit the tapes. 
JIMBO records was a record company that was created by DJ Jimmy K.
                                 "Just Checkin"                            
The Maroons    1963
Also recorded in the WEKY Studios, Just Checkin (an instrumental) 
is the back side of "At The End of Each Day"
                                     "Hitch Hike"                                 
Gary Edwards and The Embers  1966
                          "Yesterdays Hero"                       
Gary Edwards and The Embers  1966
                "I've Gotta Lot of Love"               
Gary Edwards and The Embers  1968
I've Got a Lot of Love was on the charts in Louisville and stations all over 
Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio in 1968.  It was recorded in Cincinnati on 
"The Fraternity label".
                                       "Over You"                                   
Gary Edwards  1982
          "Every Time I Fall in Love"            
Gary Edwards  1982
"Begin The Beguine"
Photography by David Doll

"He Stopped Loving Her Today"

Photography Gary Edwards File Copies 

"Funny How Time Slips Away"

Photography by Jim Kincer
"It Takes The Best"
Photography by JimKincer
"Beautiful"
Photography by David Doll
"Pretty Woman"
Photography by David Doll & Jim Kincer
"My God and I"
Photography by Jim Kincer

Pictures



1963 Photo - Gary is first on the left






 






Gary and Sherry 2012
Gary Edwards 1990

Sherry Edwards - "You're No Good" 1970

Sherry Edwards & Cosmo - "I Need Your Lovin"

Maroons Reunion Gary Edwards remembers Speck's  

Gary Edwards at 10 years old




Gary Edwards, (In Orlando) 2013