He has been called the Nat “King” Cole of Jamaica, and in many ways, it is an apt description of this talented, versatile singer and songwriter.
Born Wilfred Gerald Edwards in 1938, and one of fifteen siblings, he began performing at the age of fourteen. In 1959, he came to the attention of producer Chris Blackwell. After securing four, self-written number one singles in Jamaica, in 1962, he traveled to London with Blackwell, where he joined the latter’s Island Records. There he worked as a singer-songwriter, recording as a solo artist and also half of a duo with Millie Small. He also performed more mundane tasks such as delivering records.
Edwards wrote both “Keep on Running” and “Somebody Help Me”, which became No. 1 singles in the UK for The Spencer Davis Group in the mid-sixties.
When Blackwell began steering Island toward rock in 1972, Edwards returned to Jamaica, and worked with Bunny “Striker” Lee who paired him with the Aggrovators backing and session band.
Somewhat forgotten today, possibly because he was more mainstream than the dreadlocked Jamaican singers of that era, Edwards was a versatile performer and as good a songwriter as the island has ever produced. He died on August 15, 1992 of a heart attack.