Knoxville’s music community took its second big hit in 2012 when Ed Corts died on Jan. 30. Corts, 61, died just days after 83-year-old saxophone player Rocky Wynder.
Corts played drums for several notable Knoxville rock and blues groups after moving here from Indiana in the 1970s, most recently in the Relentless Blues Band with “Detroit” Dave Meers and Michael Delaney. From 2005 to 2008, he was co-owner of the revived Corner Lounge on North Central Street. The old Corner Lounge had been a popular night spot in the 1970s, and the 21st-century version of it was one of the first significant sparks in the redevelopment of Happy Holler.
Tim Lee and his band were among the regulars at the Corner Lounge, as both performers and patrons.
“The Corner Lounge was the Tim Lee 3’s home base when we were getting up and running,” Lee says. “It was a great place to hang out and a great place to play, which can be pretty rare. Ed was quite a character as a bar owner.”
Corts had battled health problems in recent years: He fell ill in late 2010 with a rare bacterial infection and had his gall bladder removed. In November, he was diagnosed with late-stage esophageal cancer. A benefit concert, the Pinecone Jam, was held at Preservation Pub in January.
“Anyone doing something stupid was a ‘pinecone’ to Ed,” Meers says. “But everybody was a pinecone. He didn’t discriminate; even Ed was a pinecone.”
Corts’ daughter, Adrienne Corts, who worked at the Corner Lounge, says her father’s multiple connections to the music scene in Knoxville will help his memory last. “Every time I see somebody he knew, everybody has something to say,” she says. “I grew up with people I still see today, people he had known since the ’70s. They’re like an extended family. And he’ll live on through friends and family and the music I hear in Knoxville.”