David R. Edwards, the legendary frontman of the experimental rock group Datblygu, has passed away at the age of 56 at his home in Caerfyrddin.
Datblygu was formed by Edwards and his friend T. Wyn Davies in 1982 while they were pupils at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi.
Datblygu's influence on the Welsh music scene has been profound, and the group has been cited as a major influence on the generation of Welsh bands that followed, including Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals.
Musicians, artists, public figures, and fans have been among those who have paid tribute to Edwards.
Singer Gwenno Saunders said: "No one has been able to express the feeling of being from Wales more truly than Dave. Thank you very much for being there. xxx"
Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell described his passing as a "loss to our nation".
The statement in full from Datblygu's record label Ankst
"The terrible, sad news has reached us that David R. Edwards (Dave Datblygu), lead singer and composer of Welsh band Datblygu has died at 56 years old.
"David died at his home in Carmarthen over the weekend. He had been struggling with health issues including epilepsy and diabetes.
David was widely recognised to be one of the giants of modern Welsh culture whose unique talent as a poet and a musician was instrumental in creating the rich modern culture we enjoy today in Wales.
“Since the 1980s the existence of Datblygu made it clear that there was much more to Welsh language culture and music than some pale copy of Anglo-American culture. As a poet David existed in hostile opposition to the traditional establishment and with his music he was determined to drag the ‘Sgymraeg’ culture and music screaming into the modern age in the 1980s. David formed Datblygu as a schoolboy back in 1982 and their most recent album – Cwm Gwagle – was released last Summer in the middle of the pandemic. Between these two dates David’s voice and words have been a huge inspiration on generations of artists and musicians here in Wales and beyond.
“Three of their most important works, the albums – Wyau (1988), Pyst (1990) a Libertino (1994) – are recognised to be the pinnacle of modern Welsh language rock culture. A body of work that crossed cultures, languages and borders and also made John Peel one of their most loyal fans.
“At the height of Cool Cymru in the late nineties David withdrew from performing and releasing music and began a painful period of treatment for mental health problems. At the beginning of the new century it was wonderful to see his health improve and David once again living an independent life in Carmarthen and once again releasing music as Datblygu with his life long friend and musical soul mate Patricia Morgan.
“He also published his autobiography in 2009 – ‘Atgofion Hen Wanc’ – which he described as ‘no fflim fflam, no repetition, no boring bits that will send you to sleep’. Here he could share his feelings about Aberteifi, the love he felt for his parents and his musical heroes like Mark E.Smith, Captain Beefheart, Frank Sinatra and Ryan Davies. It also featured his loathing of authority and the disciplinarian nature of school and work, and also the nature of his life-long love/hate relationship with Wales and the Welsh which fed so much of his creativity.
“In the press release for his last album ‘Cwm Gwagle’ released last year, he again re-iterated the unique nature of the band and his work ‘Datblygu have only one thing in common with other Welsh bands and that is their shared use of the language, nothing else’.
“David was a loving, faithful, creative, kind, funny and wise individual whose loss to us all will be immense. Without David there would not have been any Ankst Records or Cool Cymru and without his friendship, talent and love over the decades life here in Wales would have been so much poorer and duller. His voice and his words will definitely live on and continue to astonish. Our debt to David is enormous and we thank him for sharing his life and talent with us. Our condolences go out to his family and friends as we deal with this heart-breaking news.
“Nos Da Dave x”