Born January 1947 in the South Bronx, Parnell “Stacks” Edwards was a former bodyguard, wheelman, and robber who became involved with organized crime in the early 1970s. Prior to his life of crime, he grew up as a lover a music, enjoying rhythm & blues and jazz musicians of the time. He would learn the guitar and take to blues music, even becoming a performer in New York City in the late 1960s into the 1970s.
Stacks Edwards was always involved in crime but became involved with organized crime through an association with best friend Tommy DeSimone. The two would meet as teenagers through their fondness of blues and jazz.
Also running in similar music circles in Queens, DeSimone was involved in small-time crime–robbery, selling bogus jewelry, carjacking, and so on. Not only this, but he had a pedigree in organized crime is as a third generation mobster and the grandson of Los Angeles crime boss Rosario DeSimone.
The two proved to be an effective team as far small-time crime. Stacks made his money after selling or fencing the portion of the loot he was paid by the mob. They also worked with other groups which would come into play as their lives near an end in 1978.
The Vario Crew’s main earning job was credit card fraud, which was Stacks’ wheelhouse. He would keep his daily charges under the $50 limit and had girls with inside information about security and the like with MasterCharge and a lead on credit cards.
Around this time, Stacks used his earnings from crime to back his blues band Grand Central Station. A short but powerfully built man, he also worked as a bodyguard in Muhammad Ali’s entourage during this period. In short, he was a busy man.
It would be in the early 1970s when Stacks Edwards became involved in the Vario Gang. This would also lead to him being involved in bigger money when DeSimone began working with gang boss Jimmy Burke. Through this association, he met Henry Hill, a close friend of Burke and DeSimone. Being in that circle, he began a friend of Hill’s as well.
Perhaps Stacks Edwards should’ve kept to credit card fraud or gotten out of crime altogether. He loved blues and wanted to be successful at music. As it often happens, passion isn’t guaranteed to pay the bills or allow for a comfortable lifestyle. As a result, he remained involved in crime and his life would be a short one as a result.