Having studied Fine Art at Oxford University, Ed designed and built his own 5-string electric violin (hand-carved from walnut, maple and American oak), and developed a unique style of multi-layered playing using digital delays and effects pedals while busking on the streets of Europe.
He came to the attention of cult band 'New Model Army' and was asked in 1989 to play session violin on their top 30 single 'Vagabonds' (featuring a one minute violin solo intro) and on their 'Thunder and Consolation' album.
This was the start of a five year association with the band, during which time he played electric violin, keyboards and guitar with the band for over 200 concerts worldwide, supporting acts as diverse as Simple Minds, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Cure, Midnight Oil and Faith No More.
Over the next few years his violin was featured on the New Model Army albums 'Impurity' (1990) and 'Raw Melody Men' (1991), also the singles 'Green and Grey' (1989), 'Purity' (1990) and the Ballads EP 'Living in The Rose' (1993).
His live solo violin sets, which often opened New Model Army gigs, led to the recording of two solo instrumental albums, Purple Electric Violin Concerto (1992) and Ultraviolet (1994) and the associated singles Red (1994) and Oxford Suite Part 1 (1994) which Ed performed live on TV on 'Later With Jools Holland'.
Helped by airplay on both Radio 1 and Classic FM, 'Purple Electric Violin Concerto' sold over 80,000 copies and has gained a cult following in Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and New Zealand as well as the UK. Album tracks have been used on TV adverts and as documentary soundtracks on BBC2 and Channel 4. 'Oxford Suite' was used on the 'Children in Need' appeals on BBC1.
In 1994, Ed married singer Denyze D'Arcy, who had previously toured with bands such as The Pretenders and Ultravox, working as a vocalist and sax player with Wayne Hussey (Sisters of Mercy & The Mission) with whom she was signed to Sire Records.
Ed and Denyze toured extensively as a duo, building up a substantial cult following and releasing two Indie Rock albums together, Fly Before Dawn (1995) and 2020 Vision (1998), both on their own Wingspan label.
At the end of 2000, Ed made some guest appearances with New Model Army on their 20th anniversary tour in Nottingham and Cologne.
Purple Electric Violin Concerto 2 was released in September 2001, and sold well thanks to a live session on Radio 2's Johnnie Walker Show and extensive airplay throughout Europe. The album was a return to the roots of 'Purple Electric Violin Concerto' featuring instrumental arrangements for Ed's electric violin & digital delay/sampler and ambient vocal harmonies from Denyze. Like the first album, it was largely recorded as a live performance, building up the harmonies one by one using an 8 second delay pedal and multi-effects which transform the violin into a double bass, string section and heavy metal guitar sound.
Ed's next album, Echoes (2004), was an ambitious double album of 32 rock and pop classics arranged for solo violin and performed in his own inimitable style. It sold over 30,000 copies in the first few weeks of it's release, due largely to Ed's live performance of Guns & Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine' on Radio 2's Johnnie Walker Show which was repeated by popular demand and resulted in 'Echoes' briefly overtaking Coldplay and Natalie Imbruglia by reaching No. 2 in the Amazon CD charts!
This was followed by the release of Reflections in 2006 which was another rock covers album, this time featuring Ed's favourite 70's tracks which he grew up with as a teenager. Highlights include a full 13 minute version of Pink Floyd's 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' with all the parts played on electric violin, 'Freebird' and Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir'.
All this time, Ed has continued to perform live on the streets, which he has been doing now for nearly 30 years! He has busked in nearly every major city in Europe, across the USA and Canada, and even in Brasil.
A YouTube clip of him busking in Chester has attracted over 600,000 viewers. He now mainly busks in York, using customized solar panels to power his amp and effects pedals!
Ed's new CD, Symphony (due for release on Oct 6th 2008) is his eighth solo album, and his most ambitious to date. It is a return to original compositions and features his first 4-movement classical symphony, 'Symphony No. 1 in G minor' which he wrote and recorded for his father, who sadly died of liver cancer in February. Ed plays over 20 overdubbed electric violins on the Symphony, and performs all the other instruments as well, using an orchestral sampling keyboard and a computer – literally a one-man orchestra! The other six album tracks are pieces for electric violin, four of which are performed live with digital delays in Ed's trademark style, while the other two are multi-instrumental rock tracks on which he plays lead violin, bass, guitar, synthesizer, electronic drums and percussion.
In July this year Ed performed the Beatles tracks 'Yesterday' and 'Eleanor Rigby' in front of 7,000 people at Liverpool's Echo Arena for a Beatles Day charity gig.
'Symphony' was composed, recorded and produced in Ed's home city of Liverpool, as his contribution to the European Capital of Culture year 2008.
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Last updated on 18 Nov 2012
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