Kenny Edwards, a founding member of the Stone Poneys country-rock band that launched Linda Ronstadt's career and a valued supporting guitarist and singer for Stevie Nicks, Don Henley and numerous others, died Wednesday after battling cancer and a blood disorder in recent years. He was 64.
Edwards had collapsed earlier this month in Denver while on tour with singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff, a longtime musical partner. He was diagnosed with the blood disorder thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP, and also had been undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer. He was hospitalized in Denver, then airlifted to a hospital near his home in Santa Barbara, where he died.
"He was always a beacon to me," Ronstadt said Thursday. "He introduced me to so much stuff, and his opinion always counted a lot to me." She credited him with creating the musical framework for her only No. 1 single, "You're No Good," in 1974.
"He came up with that guitar and bass idea that gave it a very different sound, and really gave Andrew [Gold] and Peter [Asher] something to build on."Shortly after the Stone Poneys disbanded after their 1967 breakthrough hit "Different Drum," which established Ronstadt as a rising star from the nascent Southern California country-rock scene, Edwards teamed with singer-songwriter Wendy Waldman, Karla Bonoff and Andrew Gold to form the folk-rock band Bryndle.
Bonoff issued a statement Thursday thanking Edwards "for being my teacher, my musical partner and my best friend for the last 43 years."
Barely out of high school, Edwards formed the Stone Poneys in 1965 with Bobby Kimmel, a Tucson musician who had moved to Los Angeles to explore the burgeoning folk-rock scene that had been spearheaded by the Byrds and would soon yield Buffalo Springfield and later the Eagles, who were Ronstadt's backup singers and musicians before the group's own career took off.
Edwards was known during the '70s primarily as a guitarist and singer, but in 1976 he collaborated with Ronstadt and her father as a songwriter on "Lo Siento Mi Vida," a ballad from her "Hasten Down the Wind" album.
Edwards downplayed his abilities as a singer and a songwriter for years until he put out his debut solo album in 2002. He finished and released a second album, "Resurrection Road," last November.
He is survived by his mother.