He’ll outlast us all:
Dead Eddie lives!

If you’re reading this right now, we have a correction to our headline. Eddie Wilchins—Dead Eddie—passed away on October 23, 2019 having succumbed to the Chron’s disease and its ancillary ailments that he batted for many, many years. 

Earlier in 2019, a number of us assembled the article below (the original is here) to celebrate the man while he was still with us, his moniker always threatening to come to pass. And now that it has, we remember our friend today—the consummate rock star

Rest well, Eddie.Ed.

“Eddie was the consummate front man,” explains Kenny Inouye, guitarist for seminal DC punk rock band, Marginal Man. “He was out in the audience working the crowd… some guys come off like they’re trying too hard when they do stuff like that, but for him it was like it was the most natural thing. Imagine Iggy Pop going out in the crowd and alternating between doing the songs and engaging the crowd in conversation between the songs.” “Is there such thing as a secular tent revival rabbi? Because I swear, I’ve seen one,” states longtime friend/fan Ben Gilmore.

Hailing from the Garden State, just outside of the Big Apple’s city limits, Edward Wilchins has been a member of hard rock bands Dead Eddie and 555 and a solo artist and session guitarist, playing the East coast from Atlanta to Boston. Dead Eddie was born after landing a gig with some fellow students at the Rathskellar at DC’s George Washington University in the late ’80s. Eddie, having suffered from Crohn’s Disease since childhood, was in the hospital and wasn’t sure he’d make the show. However, the show did go on and the band now had a name, Dead Eddie, and Eddie, a lifelong moniker.

A new local DC zine described them as the Rolling Stones on speed with Keith Moon on drums as Dead Eddie continued to play nightclubs throughout DC and Baltimore, including DC Space and 15 Minutes, also recording an EP (“Dad’s Sleeping,” 1990). However after 5 years as a regional band, Dead Eddie, the band, had run its course.

Dead Eddie, now solo, launched into doing studio work, and as an extra guitarist with touring bands. Then in early 1995, Jesse Boone, an old buddy from his GW days, called Eddie to record a few solos with his band. 555 were recording at WGNS studios in DC and at the time were composed of Jesse on guitar/vocals, Valente Miranda on bass, Mike Paggealogos on drums, and Steve Scharf on vocals. Eddie ripped out guitar solos for two songs, “Underwear” and “Green Monkey,” both in one take, for their soon to be released LP, Squirrel Covers. Jesse recalls, “They were great recording sessions with mostly full live takes and minimal overdubs.  There were also long days and endless nights of partying and soon we were forced to complete the record at Uncle Punchy Studios.”

Eddie returned to New Jersey, played with a few local bands, and did some session work.  One of those sessions led him to performing the solo on the theme song for Party of Five. Work was steady for Eddie when, in June of 1997 while coming home from a show, Eddie’s car was clipped by a passing driver. His car was sent hydroplaning into the middle barrier and then back across the street, directly into a telephone pole. When the police arrived, almost an hour later, they used the jaws of life to remove him from the crushed vehicle. Though narrowly escaping the inevitable with two broken femurs and his jaw in three places, and with almost 10 months of recuperation, Dead Eddie was back.

“Around the fall of ’98, I got a call from Jesse asking me to move back to DC and join 555 full-time,” Eddie recalls. Soon, the band started scoring gigs around town. Once, using “guerilla-marketing,” the band drove to DC’s annual HFStival and rocked the crowd in the parking lot from the back of the drummer’s flatbed truck.  Afterward, they took their “show” to the Washington Area Music Association Festival’s kickoff party at the Hard Rock Hotel. “Going to jail,” Eddie laughs, “was well worth the coverage we got in the Washington Post.”

The band then headed into the studio to record their follow-up with the new line up. Steve had taken over the drums while Eddie was on guitar and vocals and writing songs. Isle of Lucy, an homage to Spinal Tap, was released in 2000, full of raucous garage punk rock. “We just wanted to rock!” Eddie implores. Soon though, Eddie, was back in the hospital for surgery. “If there’s a silver lining to his condition, it’s certainly that he always lives every day, every moment to the fullest, and whoever has the pleasure of his company gets to vicariously experience life at that moment as if it were their very last,” Steve Scharf explains.

Soon after Isle of Lucy’s release, the band was on the road. With 2 years of touring up and down the east coast and winning the Washington Area Music Association Award for Best Hard Rock LP in 2000, three members remained—Eddie, Steve, and Valente. 555’s fourth LP took almost 5 years to record due to Eddie’s illness. During that time, Eddie learned that he was, in fact, dying.

Eddie’s attention, however, was on creating his opus. “It all came from a piece of toilet paper,” laughs Eddie bemusingly. “Dr. Lushington is a concept LP that came together while I was using the bathroom at my buddy’s apartment. The toilet paper had writing on it that talked about a “Dr. Lushington” who was a Belgian 19th century physician who used alcohol as a cure for his patients.” Adding dialogue, Eddie wove the songs together to tell the story of three young men living the rock and roll dream—heavily tainted with alcohol.

Unfortunately, 555 was never able to tour in support of Dr. Lushington. Eddie’s illness was crippling. When 555 disbanded, Eddie went to Toronto to record his final LP, Rock N’ Roll is Killing Me, which has been described as “an ode to Exile on Main Street (Side 2), Bob Dylan, and ‘the ether in the aura.’” After a short tour of the Northeast with a show at NYC’s Sin-e, Eddie retreated back to his hometown of Elizabeth, NJ. “I haven’t been doing too well, I’m in a wheelchair and using a walker. It’s not very rock and roll,” Eddie jokes.

Dead Eddie, though, is alive and well. “I have just two words to describe Eddie, ‘Rock God!’” exclaims longtime friend and fan, Steve Combs. “Eddie always reminded me of a French man from a B&W movie with his cigarette and fuck you attitude,” adds Kate Atwell.  “Eddie was one-part Lenny Bruce, one-part great guitar player, one-part old friend, and one-part insane maniac,” NYC artist Steve Lewis remembers. Steve (Scharf) notes pointedly, “I’m still sure he’ll outlive us all.”

Dead Eddie has worked with Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys), and Larry “Uncle Puncy” Packer (Clutch). He has played shows with Shudder to Think, Marginal Man, Thudd, Mother May I, Godsmack, Nashville Pussy, Verbena, Polyplush Cats, among many others.

DISCOGRAPHY
DEAD EDDIE:
Rock ‘N’ Roll is Killing Me, 2007
Produced by Erik Krosby and Dead Eddie

555:
Dr. Lushington, 2006
Produced by Larry “Uncle Punchy” Packer and Dead Eddie

Made Clothing Compilation, 2004

Rock School: Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation of America, 9/11 Benefit CD, 2002

Live at the Black Cat, 2000
Live Producer, Pete Karam

Isle of Lucy, 2000
Produced by Larry “Uncle Punchy'” Packer and Dead Eddie

Squirrel Covers, 1995
Produced by Larry “Uncle Punchy'” Packer

DEAD EDDIE BAND
“Dad’s Sleeping” EP, 1990
Produced by Eli Janny, Inner Ear Studios

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