George Fox has not forgotten his roots
Cochrane native George Fox will be making his fifth appearance at Big Valley Jamboree on Friday at 3:30 p.m. on the main stage. Daniel Alexander Photography/ Supplied
Canadian country music legend George Fox, a long-time performer at the Big Valley Jamboree is coming back for the 2017 edition.
Fox was there for BVJ’s debut in 1993, with this being his fifth trip to the festival.
“We’ve had some good times and a number of shows there at the Jamboree,” Fox said. “I always say the best country fans are out west, you’re singing to the people who have good taste in music, let’s put it that way.”
A native of Cochrane where he has a street named after him, Fox spent most of his early days helping out on the cattle ranch. In fact, when the president of Warner Music called up the Fox residence in 1988, George was out weening cattle with his dad.
“I remember him saying that ‘George I think that you’ve got a story to tell,’” he said.
Fox later had his self-titled debut album hit the shelves in 1988, which reached gold selling status. A lot of things have changed since Fox debuted in the late 80s.
“I remember when I started I was at that time there was Ian Tyson from Alberta but there were very few other western Canadian artists,” he said. “I still think you need to have that strong identity and know who you’re representing, but I guess the whole model of the artists signing with record labels 20, 30 years ago is gone out the window, CDs are like wooden hockey sticks now, you don’t see too many.”
Fox has been named the Male Vocalist of the Year three times, and the Juno Country Male Vocalist Of The Year three times. He also hosted the CCMA Awards from 1991-94, but music isn’t the only thing Fox is good at it.
“I know I was the celebrity cow milking champion in Yorkton, Sask. one year so I’m not just a good singer,” Fox said with a laugh.
Cow milking aside, Fox has had a number of smash hits, including “What’s Holding Me”, “First Comes Love”, and “Wear and Tear on My Heart.” Fox still gets emails about certain songs from people wondering where they could get them.
“There were some songs there, some special ones that I still get emails about, they want to get a hold of it or wonder why it’s not on iTunes,” he said. “Songs like ‘The Night the Barn Burned Down’, ‘Rodeo Man’ and ‘Here’s Hoping.’”
There have been plenty of tunes that have captivated country music fans all over Canada.
“I was in a coffee shop out in B.C. not long ago, and a guy recognized me and says ‘Oh George I remember we were partying to your music,’” Fox said. “He got all sentimental because he remembers those party days. So I think part of the music that Mustang Heart album was at the bush parties and that kind of stuff. It was kind of neat to be a part of the legacy of the musical soundtrack through that time.”
Fox now lives in Southern Ontario on a 300 acre cattle ranch with his wife and two daughters. He hasn’t released any new music in quite some time, but it’s not completely off the table yet.
“I still love to get out and play the music with the band, I like working with my guys, they make George Fox something to be proud of when I get out there and play with those guys,” he said. “The music’s still in me, and I write stuff.”
When asked if he is comfortable with being called a Canadian country music legend, Fox said he’s also been called the professor of country music because of his knowledge of the genre.
“If somebody thinks that I fit the status I guess I would be pretty flattered, I’ve been called a lot worse,” he said. “In the show I usually try and talk about and sing some Hank Williams, Charlie Pride, because I know a lot of the people that appreciate some of the traditional stuff and I spend a lot of years singing those country standards and they still hold up pretty good.”
Fox’s music still holds up today, with more than 10,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Fox is looking forward to sharing his music at BVJ.
“I’m real proud of the songs over the years, I think there’s some pretty good ones so it’s always nice to get out and let ‘em rip,” he said. “To me it’s a real celebration with the music and I’m hoping it’ll bring some memories back it’s just pure fun for me.”