Our society is so star-obsessed that we sometimes forget that the evolution of music also depends on lesser-known performers. Guys like Tibby Edwards, who was never a big star but still managed to be in the middle of things during the early years of rock and roll. In fact, at one point he shared the stage with another rising young singer, a guy who ended up a tiny bit more famous — Elvis Presley.
Born into a Cajun family in rural Louisiana, Edwin Thibodeaux reworked his name into Tibby Edwards when he started his musical career in the post-war years. Still just a teenager, he was pure twangin’ honky-tonk at first, following in the footsteps of his idols Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, and even touring with the latter for a while.
Before long he started what would be several years of regular appearances on Louisiana Hayride, a national radio show that closely competed with the Grand Ole Opry. It was there that his style gradually began to change, moving him closer to what he saw and heard from guys like Presley, who also appeared on the show.
The early 1950s provided a lot of opportunities for young performers, and Edwards was able to get a recording contract, which led to a surprising number of records. Some of his best, like “Play It Cool Man” and “Flip Flop & Fly,” had a definite rockabilly flavor that undoubtedly fed into the movement, but he never really hit the charts in a big way. After he was drafted in 1958 he pretty much faded as a performer, although he did make a couple of comeback tries. He died at age 64 in 1999