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David Fox: Scratches and Dust

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My musical career...

...has been a long and winding David Foxroad, and a very enjoyable ride at that. Here are a few highlights:

The Living Ends (1964-65), singer/songwriter/drummer. The group was originally called The Flames when we played local dances. The band released a single “I Don’t Mind/Self-Centered Girl” on Hudson Records. Writing “Self-Centered Girl” was a group effort based on a tune by group member Paul Blum and a storyline by manager Jack Peters. “I Don’t Mind” was really my first attempt at songwriting from scratch. The single got regional airplay and the band appeared on TV in Philadelphia and with WABC New York’s radio DJ “Cousin” Bruce Morrow in the 1965 Paterson Thanksgiving Day Parade. The other band members were: Paul Blum (guitar), Mike Dudelshik (guitar), and Larry Gonsky (saxophone live, organ and second vocal on the record). Years later, the original recording of "I Don't Mind" showed up on a compilation CD titled "Hang It Out to Dry" (under the incorrect song title "I Don't Like"), and "Self-Centered Girl" can be found on one of the "Teenage Shutdown" CD collections titled "She's a Pest!" Twenty-eight years after the original recording was released, "Self-Centered Girl" was recorded and released as a single by a Boston-based group called Lyres. Both a live and a studio version of the song can be found on their CD titled "Those Lyres".

The Rock Collection (1966), singer/drummer. The group, later called The Butchers after the banned Beatles “Yesterday and Today” album cover, mostly played Penn State bars and fraternity houses. The other band members were Frank Siegel (vocals/guitar), a guy named Sandy (keyboard), and a guy named Rusty (bass). Unfortunately, their last names have long faded away.  Occasionally, a female vocalist by the name of Nancy Wilson joined the group.

We the Living (1967-68), singer/guitar player. My first experience playing guitar in a band. WTL was a very popular cover band that played all over the Penn State campus with weekly appearances at HUB and FUB “Jammies”. The group played just-released songs by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cream, Blues Project, The Hollies, Bee Gees, Jimi Hendrix, Yardbirds and more. On occasion, when we played the Blues Project's version of "I Can't Keep From Crying", I played a home-made Theramin built by one of our fans... a lot of fun and very psychedellic! The other band members were: Ken Mathieu (vocals/bass), Bill Johns (vocals/guitar), and Tom Barragone (drums/stick twirling).

The Wooley Thumpers (1968-69), singer/songwriter/guitar player. The Thumpers were purely a performance/entertainment band, a bizarre cross between folk, pop, rock, bluegrass, jug band and parody. The band played all over the Penn State campus, and through happenstance was the opening act for Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company's October 1968 concert at Penn State’s Rec Hall. The group also appeared at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA and The Bitter End in New York City. One of my parody songs titled “Ring Around My Rosie” was a send up of the bubblegum-type songs popular at the time (Take a Giant Step, One-Two-Three Redlight, etc.). Another State College musician, Craig Bolyn, suggested we actually make a serious demo recording of the song and we wound up recording it for real at Herb Abramson’s A-1 Sound Studios in New York City. The song was released as a single on Buddah Records under the band name of Protozoa. It reached #4 in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania regional area and, I believe, #103 nationally on Billboard or Cash Box. Amazingly, the single is still in demand by esoteric Bubblegum music collectors around the world (google "Ring Around My Rosie Protozoa" to see it offered on eBay in Japan and other foreign countries) Go figure. The other band members were: Frank Siegel (vocals/guitar), Jerry Zolten (vocals/guitar), and Pete Schwimmer (banjo).

The Stigwood Years (1970-71), singer/songwriter/guitar player. Along with my partner Ken Mathieu, one of my bandmates from We the Living, I was signed to a songwriting/publishing, recording and management contract by Rik Gunnell, USA President of The Robert Stigwood Organisation. At the time, Stigwood’s other acts were: Eric Clapton, The Bee Gees, John Mayall, Elliot Randall, Bobby Bloom, and The Staples Singers. One June 1970 evening, I had the privilege of sitting next to Jimi Hendrix in his downtown New York City Electric Lady Studios, with Eddie Kramer producing and engineering, as we watched and listened to Elliot Randall record a few songs for his “Randall’s Island” album. Elliot later recorded the guitar lead for Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years”, rated one of the best guitar leads of all time. Elliot was a nice guy and a great talent. Still is. Tragically, Jimi died three months later.

The Solo Years (1971-1976), singer/songwriter/guitar player. In addition to playing coffee houses, bars and traveling to regional colleges, I opened concerts for David Bromberg, Brewer and Shipley, Bloodrock, and others. During this period I also played two and three-man gigs with Jerry Zolten, one of my bandmates from The Wooley Thumpers, Peter Hennings, Ken Mathieu of We the Living, David Rudick, and Jamie Rounds, a future bandmate in Backseat Van Gogh.

Beatlemania (1978) I was chosen to play the part of George in a Pacific Rim tour of the Broadway show. The tour didn’t happen but the rehearsals were a blast.

Backseat Van Gogh (1979-81), singer/songwriter/guitar player. The most fun I’ve ever had in a rock band with lots of original songs, primarily written by Jamie Rounds and myself with a few by Ken Mathieu. The other band members were: Ken Mathieu (vocals/ bass), Jamie Rounds (vocals/guitar), and Rocco Fortunato (vocals/drums). Here’s a description of the group from an article written by Charles C. DuBois for Town & Gown magazine in July 2004:
"Fronted by Kenny Mathieu's edgy stage presence, infused with the guitars of Jamie Rounds and David Fox, and driven by Rocco Fortunato's backbeat, these guys had 'it' - musical chops and that particular alchemy of performers who don't simply capture the energy of a time, they own it." Thank you, Charlie!

The Targets (1982), singer/songwriter/guitar player. A short-lived band that played some originals and some popular hits. What I liked most about this band was that we played a lot of the more obscure, lesser-played-but-great songs from the 60s and 70s (The Hollies' "Look Through Any Window", The Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind", and The Knickerbockers' "Lies" for example). The other band members were: Ken Volz (guitar/vocals), Roger Schultz (bass/vocals), and Andy Jackman (drums).

John Lennon Songwriting Contest (1999) Grand Prize winner for “We’re All a Part of It All”

North Star Rising Completed the book, music, and lyrics of an inspirational musical play for audiences of all ages. The play contains twenty original songs with the JLSC prize winner, “We’re All a Part of It All” as the finale. "In the youthful world of popular music, to some it's about validation or money, and to others, it's about passion and musical immortality. In the whirlwind of opportunity, lives are altered, and the soul can be lost…or found. North Star Rising is a musical play in two acts; the story of an impressionable, young musician/songwriter trying to be true to himself and his art; a whimsical, spiritual journey of conflict and betrayal, faith and love, unity and triumph, with one ultimate lesson… When the spirit sings, the song lives forever."   

"Scratches and Dust" released 2012.  This first solo CD is a collection of sixteen original songs that range from Retro Rock to Power Pop to Acoustic.  The sixties influence is evident throughout with catchy melodies, jangling guitars, rich harmonies, and thoughtful lyrics from the personal to the historical, from the political to the philosophical.

"Driving by the Light of the Moon" set for release in Spring 2018. The new album will contain eleven original songs about love, loss, and times gone by, in styles that range from power pop to classic rock, to thoughtful piano and acoustic guitar ballads. It will include the song "Paterson" which has gotten a lot of attention, and airplay in the New York City area.