Death of a rock star 

Little Rock music community mourns the loss of TC Edwards.

PUNKERS VS. ROCKERS: Edwards at a flag football game held at Deaf Leopard Field in Little Rock in his honor in March.

PUNKERS VS. ROCKERS: Edwards at a flag football game held at Deaf Leopard Field in Little Rock in his honor in March.

Terry Charles "TC" Edwards, the lead singer of TC and The Eddies, TC and The Ponies and The Piranhas and one of the most familiar and beloved faces in the Little Rock music scene over the last 25 years, was found shot to death Sunday, Dec. 7, according to friends. He was 43. At press time, police had yet to identify Edwards as the homicide victim.

The news of his murder prompted hundreds of social media tributes and nights of toasts at bars across Little Rock, including his regular hangout, Pizza D'Action. Friends remembered that he knew their birthdays. That he knew the history of their hairstyles. That he knew that when they were young they had a red tricycle and liked to play kickball, or had blonde pigtails and were ballerinas. That he loved to rest his hand on their elbows and guess their weight. That he loved wrestling. That he loved sneakers — so much so that if he found a size 6 or 7 that he really liked, he would endure the pain of squeezing his size 9-and-a-halfs inside. That he loved to give bear hugs. That he loved to smoke weed. But most of all, that he loved metal.

After a fifth-grade teacher gave him a copy of Hit Parader with the band Dio on the cover, heavy metal and hard rock became an obsession that he carried with him the rest of his life. "I bet you used to be metal," he would say to strangers by way of introduction. Whether he was washing dishes at a restaurant or performing onstage, he dressed like a rock star. That often meant suffering for fashion. He would wear a black leather biker jacket in the summer. If he had a new tattoo on his arm, he'd wear a cut-off '80s metal band T-shirt in the winter. Friends remember him manning a pizza oven in leather pants.

AT KISS: In 2009 in North Little Rock, Edwards caught Paul Stanley's pic during his favorite song, "Black Diamond" image
  • Mike Poe
  • AT KISS: In 2009 in North Little Rock, Edwards caught Paul Stanley's pic during his favorite song, "Black Diamond."

When he talked about his favorite bands, a heavy metal encyclopedia would spill out of him, starting with AC/DC and Accept ('80s German heavy metal) and half an hour later ending with Zebra ('70s New Orleans hard rock).

"If people could have a singular pursuit and love like TC did, they'd be a lot fucking happier," Mike "Sterno" Keckhaver, his longtime friend and bandmate in TC and The Eddies, said. "I envied him."

"He loved to sing. He loved to play. He. Loved. To. Rock," another bandmate and friend Krel Philssen said. "Life is so hard. Whenever he got to the stage or the studio, everything else fell away. He was in the moment. He was that moment. That was the only thing that mattered. He was there and he was rock god No. 1."

TC and The Eddies specialized in what later bandmate Bill "Jag" Jagitsch called "experimental, freeform metal." Live, that meant The Eddies didn't know what song to play until Edwards started singing. "He had 5,000 songs in his head," Keckhaver said. And he always wanted his band to play all of them heavier and faster.

Later, Edwards formed The Piranhas with Adrian Bozeman, Jeremy Brasher and Andrew Darezzo. It drew from all of Edwards' favorite influences, "hair bands, the new wave of British heavy metal, maybe a little thrash," Brasher said. At one show, Edwards led the band through all of its songs. When they got to the last one, Edwards kept playing. "Following his cue, we played every one of our songs again. Once we finished the second set, TC was still going strong. We unplugged our instruments and became members of the adoring crowd. TC played for 20 or 30 more minutes."

  • Isaac Alexander

Edwards' ability to shine onstage was especially impressive considering the fact that he was autistic, his longtime best friend and partial caretaker Mike Poe said. His condition went undiagnosed until 2005, when Poe helped Edwards, who'd been arrested for resisting and possessing drug paraphernalia after police found him sleeping on a friend's front porch, secure a lawyer and see a psychologist. The diagnosis had followed a string of unfortunate events for Edwards — a lost job, an eviction, another arrest — that might have been avoided had someone intervened to explain his condition. Thereafter, Poe became that person, a protector and near constant companion of Edwards'.

"More than any other friend I had, he was in my life," Poe said. "We told each other how much we loved each other all the time. He called my mother his mother. He called my sisters his sisters. He was my brother."

Poe, a filmmaker, shot years of footage of Edwards and his friends and fans for a planned "rockumentary." He organized massive concerts featuring TC and The Eddies and semi-annual flag football games called TC's Punkers vs. Rockers at the Arkansas School for the Deaf football field (a.k.a. Deaf Leopard Field). He took Edwards on trips to see bands in New Orleans, Hollywood and Austin, Texas.

The Hollywood trip was a turning point for Edwards, Poe said.

He got to get onstage with the L.A. glam metal group Steel Panther and won a battle with the singers in a scream off. He got to see all the places where Motorhead's Lemmy Killmister hung out. "I said, 'This is where a rock star sits. Wherever he goes around town, he gets his drinks paid for, he gets his food paid for, he has people smacking him on the back.' " Poe said. "I said, 'That's you in Little Rock, Arkansas. You're Lemmy.' His attitude completely changed after that. He was already a rock star in his own town."


Speaking of...

  • Legends of Arkansas builds partnership with The Van

    August 9, 2016
    At a fundraiser Saturday night, Legends of Arkansas announced a partnership with The One, Inc., the outreach program that locates and serves Central Arkansas's homeless community. /more/
  • Smalley pleads guilty to one count, charges related to TC Edwards dropped

    July 27, 2015
    A Pulaski County prosecutor today asked that five counts pending against Andre Demetrius Smalley be dropped, including three counts involving the aggravated robbery of Little Rock musician Terry Charles "TC" Edwards. Smalley plead guilty today to a single count of battery, a class B felony, in the shooting of a Little Rock man last April. Smalley's sentencing on that count has been set for September. /more/
  • $5,000 reward announced in murder of LR musician TC Edwards

    January 28, 2015
    The best friend of Little Rock musician TC Edwards, who was killed on December 7 in Little Rock, said that $5,000 in donations left over after Edwards' funeral service and burial have been put toward a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Edwards' killer. /more/
  • Photos from March for TC

    December 17, 2014
    Last night, dozens of friends of TC Edwards, the Little Rock musician and man on the scene who was found murdered Dec. 7, marched in his memory, chanting "Justice for TC" and "TC is metal" as they walked from Pizza D' Action up Kavanaugh. /more/
  • The TC Edwards memorial roundup

    December 12, 2014
    TC Edwards had hundreds of friends. If you were among them or even somewhere on the periphery, your Facebook feed has been dominated this week by tributes and photos and news of benefit concerts. Here's an attempt at a roundup of everything that's out there, with a focus on all the things you can do or attend. /more/
  • Police confirm TC Edwards was victim of homicide

    December 11, 2014
    Police today made official what we'd reported Monday, that Terry Charles "TC" Edwards, a familiar figure on the local music scene, was the man found shot to death in a carport on Howard Street last Sunday. /more/
  • Homicide victim identified as TC Edwards, local musician

    December 8, 2014
    Little Rock police are still withholding identification of a man found shot to death early Sunday on Howard Street, but multiple reports on social media are tying the death to that of a well-known figure on the local music scene, TC Edwards. The suspect in a criminal case brought over crimes against Edwards will likely be reviewed for potential involvement in his death. /more/
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