Ed Townsend grew up in Tennessee and studied law at Arkansas State College. He enlisted in the Marines in 1951 and served a tour in Korea. After his military career ended, he began recording singles for a few smaller record companies.
In 1958, Ed approached Capital Records hoping to get Nat King Cole to record a song he had written, For Your Love. The record label instead offered Ed a recording contract. He recorded the song himself and it jumped onto the charts. The single reached #13 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B chart. The song was popular enough that Ed toured with Alan Freed, appeared on American Bandstand during its first month on the air, and he even sang his single on the Ed Sullivan Show.
His next two other singles failed to chart. He then covered a song written by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II in 1934. When I Grow Too Old To Dream reached #59 on the Hot 100 in late 1958. Ed continued to release singles through most of the sixties, but that was the last time Ed reached the charts.
Ed continued to write songs throughout his career. His most successful composition came in 1973 when he co-wrote Let’s Get It On with Marvin Gaye. He began singing on oldies shows (such as those on PBS) until his death in 2003.