Home Entertainment Long-running AP Country Music Reporter Joe Edwards Dies at 75

Long-running AP Country Music Reporter Joe Edwards Dies at 75

by Ana Lopez
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Joe Edwards was an Associated Press journalist for four decades. During that time, he covered country music and helped “Rocky Top” become Tennessee’s state song. He was 75. Randall Dickerson, a former AP employee, reported that Edwards’ widow called to inform him that her husband had died Friday in Nashville after a long illness. Edwards conducted interviews with celebrities such as Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift to chronicle the rise of country music. From 1975 to 1992, he was the AP’s Nashville Sound country music columnist.

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In the 1980s, he provided analytics for the cable television station The Nashville Network. “I’ll never forget the first time you interviewed me early in my career, and I’ll never forget how kind you always were to me,” Reba McEntire (Facebook) said in a video tribute when Edwards retired in 2012. The General Assembly designated “Rocky Top” as the state song in 1982 because of an article Edwards wrote about the song’s popularity. At the time, the song’s co-writer, Boudleaux Bryant, said, “He got the ball moving.”

Joe Edward's death
Joe Edward’s death

Throughout his AP career, which was based entirely in Nashville, he also wrote about sports and other topics. At the Nashville agency, he held most positions, including sports editor, broadcast editor, and day and night supervisor. Edwards was one of the journalists present at Elvis Presley’s funeral in 1977. In addition, he covered or edited reports from more than 20 CMA Awards ceremonies. In the 1970s and 1980s, he was nominated for many AP writing awards.

“I just show up on time and do as I’m told,” he once said.

He wrote regularly on the syndicated television program ‘Hee Haw’ and he once shared the screen with several stars. After completing his degree from University of Eastern KentuckyEdwards began working for the AP in 1970. He previously studied at Vincennes University in Indiana.

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While in college, he held jobs at the Cincinnati Enquirer and Crawfordsville Journal-Review. He occasionally played basketball with Al Gore, who was working as a reporter for The Nashville Tennessean at the time, shortly after he started working in Nashville. Gore was later elected vice president. Edwards recalled, “He was an excellent rebounder.”

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