We received the sad news that, Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Member, “Big Mike” Edwards, 63, died on August 13, 2013. Our hearts go out to all Big Mike’s loved ones.

A memorial concert will be held to honor Big Mike’s life on August 24, 2013 from 1 pm to 5 pm at the Simon Estes Amphitheater in downtown Des Moines. Performers should RSVP to 515-309-6550.

Mike is survived by his life partner, Janet Michael; his daughter, Shearise Auston; his siblings, Carl (Debbie) Davis, Terry (Nirobi) Davis, Connie Russell and Stanley Thompson; aunts, Lois (Leslie) Buchanan, Nora Fowler and Tressa Edwards, extended family and many, many friends.

Performers and friends are welcome to make donations to Henderson’s Funeral Home in Mike’s name.

The information below is from Big Mike’s IBHOF page.

Big Mike Edwards

“Big Mike” Edwards, of Des Moines, is a singer known over the years for his great, Gospel-trained voice, which he first developed as a 14-year-old with a children’s church group. Influenced by classic Blues and Soul singers like Bobby “Blue” Bland, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles, he started playing the Blues professionally at the age of 17 with the band Tuff Enuff in 1967. The band was a fixture at Gabe & Walker’s in Iowa City for a couple years, and were unique at the time in that they featured a violinist. The biggest show that Big Mike has ever performed at is the Wadena Rock Festival in August of 1970, which brought about 10,000 people to a farm outside of the little northeast Iowa town to see acts that included The Doobie Brothers, Sons Of Champlin, REO Speedwagon, Joan Baez, Poco, and The Flying Burrito Brothers.


In the ’70s, Big Mike joined Midwest Express, which also featured Bobby Parker, Marcia Miget and Dartanyan Brown, becoming a fixture at Ernie’s Urban Lounge for several years. The band eventually became, simply, Dartanyan. Mike has been a familiar sight at jams around Des Moines, especially The Cloud, and more recently the Blue Sky Lounge. Big Mike has been experiencing health problems of late, battling his illness with the same fervor that he put into his many performances. We certainly wish him well.

– Don “T-Bone” Erickson