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Roy Fox was born in Denver, CO, on October 25, 1901, and raised in Hollywood, CA. He took up the cornet at the age of 11, gave his first public performances in a Bijou Kinema, became a member of the Los Angeles Examiner Newsboys' Band when he was 13, and then served as a bugler at one of Cecil B. DeMille's first film studios on Sunset Boulevard. At the age of 16 Fox began performing with Abe Lyman & His Orchestra at the Sunset Inn in Santa Monica. His bandmates included trombonist Miff Mole, clarinetist Gussie Miller, and pianist and future bandleader Gus Arnheim. Fox was asked to serenade the clientele by walking among the tables and blowing his horn softly so as not to interfere with their conversations. So adept did he become at this specialty that Roy Fox soon became known as "the Whispering Cornetist."
He formed his first band in 1920 and took it on the road, performing regularly at the Club Royale, next to the MGM Studios in Culver City, until it burned to the ground. In 1925 Fox began making records and broadcasting live from the Biltmore Hotel with Art Hickman & His Orchestra under the direction of pianist Earl Burtnett. It was with this group that Fox embarked upon a 3,000-mile tour that ultimately brought him to Miami. After fulfilling all of his contractual obligations in Florida Fox headed for New York City, where he put together a modest-sized ensemble and played the Avalon and Beaux Arts clubs. In 1927, Fox settled into a 15-month schedule of nightly radio broadcasts from Hollywood's Ambassador Hotel with Gus Arnheim's Cocoanut Grove Orchestra, followed by more live broadcasts with his own band from the Montmartre Café on Hollywood Boulevard. Fox, both as soloist and with orchestra, was also employed by many of the major motion picture studios during the transition from "silents" to "talkies."
While leading the band at the Embassy Club and working as assistant musical director at Fox Film Studios (no relation), Roy Fox received a transatlantic cable containing an offer to perform at the Café de Paris in London. He and his band opened there on September 29, 1930, and were gradually accepted by the public as their performances were broadcast on BBC radio. When it came time to return to the U.S., Fox's band went back but he remained in London, forming a new ensemble for the purpose of making records for English Decca in the acoustically challenged Chenil Galleries in King's Road, Chelsea. An extended engagement at the Monseigneur Restaurant in Piccadilly began in May 1931, but was terminated six months later when Fox, stricken with pleurisy, was forced to retreat to a Swiss sanatorium.
By the time he returned to England, his bandmembers had decided to form their own group. Fox went talent scouting and found a solid little outfit gigging at a tavern on the outskirts of London called the Spider's Web. Recruiting these players and rehiring his trusty vocalist and trumpeter, Sid Buckman, Fox took his new orchestra into the Café Anglais and the Kit Kat Club, as well as over the Channel to Brussels and onto the stage of the London Palladium to give Royal Command Performances for the Kings and Queens of Belgium and Great Britain, respectively. In 1933 and 1934 Fox made his first feature films, On the Air and Big Ben Calling, and rode a crest of popularity, switching over to the HMV record label in 1936 and touring the U.K. and Europe until health problems caused him to break up his band in August 1938.
Moving to Australia, Fox led the Jay Whidden Orchestra for a little while, then toured the U.S. with a series of small ensembles. Returning to England during the winter of 1946-1947, Fox led an orchestra in performances on the Isle of Man and at the Potomac Club in London. In 1952 he scaled back his bandleading activities and opened a booking agency. His last working group was a small combo apparently patterned after the popular George Shearing Quintet. Roy Fox passed away in London on March 20, 1982.