The Fox (left to right) Steve Brayne, Tim Reeves, Alex Lane, Winston Weatherill, and Dave Windross


The Fox

With just an album and a single to their name on Fontana Records in 1970, The Fox have have not been forgotten, their only album, "For Fox Sake" is collectable today and the group have become cult figures on the psychedelic market. For the first time, the story in full can be told. Andy Morten talks to Steve Brayne, guitarist and singer with the legendary UK pop-psych band.

Steve, tell us about your first band

The Beatroute was formed in late 1965 and lasted till 1966/67-ish, actual dates very vague. I wrote my first song when in this band and we used to do it live.

Presumably you already knew the future members of The Fox

Thats right. Alex (Lane), Tim (Reeves) and I were all at primary school together and Alex lived quite nearby. I met Nick (Apostiledes) for the first time when I saw The Alex Lane Group play. They were supporting the Small Faces in the days of "Whatcha Gonna Do About It?" They asked me to join when the Beatroute were doing a gig at the Art College. Their original singer had left but I decided not to at the time. They were very good but an out-and-out soul band and it didn't quite fit me at the time. Tim, Alex and Nick were all in the band but I didn't meet Dave Windross until The Fox got together. He'd played Hammond in another band called Omega Plus with Tim on drums and they used to do the American bases and toured in Germany and Sweden I think. Dave switched to bass when the Fox got together. He's got a good grasp of harmony and his bass playing was great.

Early Fox
(An early Fox photo featuring Nick Apostilides in the center)

So what did you do between playing with The Beatroute and The Fox?

In 1968 I came back to Brighton after having been away at college in Bristol for a year. It had been the 'summer of love' and I found I had been spending more time majoring in psychedelia, growing my hair and playing the guitar than doing any study, so I ended up dropping out. While I was there I had got together with a couple of friends - a good acoustic blues guitarist and a singer, Pete and Martin, and we'd spent hours jamming and called ourselves The Magic Theatre. A mix of blues and a touch of Pink Floyd. When the students occupied the union building we managed to borrow some electric guitars and amps from Dave Arbus of East of Eden, who were a local band. They didn't know us at all but that was the spirit of the times. That's when I discovered feedback and a lot of what we played sounded like the last few seconds of "Madame Magical" but went on for a lot longer. I don't know if it helped the students' cause but we enjoyed it!
Anyway, Martin met up with some friends of mine who were at Exeter and also into music and he went off with them to form Principal Edward’s Magic Theatre, taking our name with him. I went on to do a bit of jamming with John Dummer's Blues Band and got fired with the idea of getting my own band together.

Were you writing your own music at this point?

I'd written a few songs before I went to Bristol like "Mr Blank", which I wrote when I had a period working in the corporation dustyard! "Glad I Could" is also from that time. I wrote a few in Bristol too, like "Butterfly" and "Madame Magical", both about the same girlfriend who was a very good singer-songwriter and guitarist herself. So when I got back to Brighton and bumped into my old mate Tim Reeves and he told me that he and Alex and Dave Windross and Nick Apostiledes were getting a band together and had some good songs, we agreed to all meet up.

What kind of music were you into?

I was listening to everything from Hendrix (particularly Axis: Bold as Love), The Doors, Blue Cheer, Country Joe & The Fish (Electric Music For Mind And Body), Pink Floyd (Piper At The Gates Of Dawn), The Beatles (Sgt Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour), Traffic (Mr Fantasy), Small Faces (Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake), MC5, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn (Bert & John), Dylan (John Wesley Harding), Leonard Cohen, The Rolling Stones (Their Satanic Majesties Request), Cream (Disraeli Gears), The Nice (The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack), The Soft Machine and last but not least good old John Mayall. Oh, and Wes Montgomery in my cooler moments. But let's not forget Procol Harum and Hapsash & The Coloured Coat. What a period that was!

So what happened when you met up with the guys?

Tim and I met in a pub and he told me that he, Alex, Nick and Dave Windross had got together with a bunch of songs ("Second Hand Love", "Birthday Card") and were planning to go professional as a band playing originals. I said I had a few songs too ("Mr Blank", "Man In A Fast Car", "Butterfly", "Glad I Could", "Madame Magical") and that maybe we should get together. We did - it clicked.
Alex and I started writing together and came up with songs like "Look In The Sky" and "As She Walked Away". Lenny Barker, who’d been the bass player in the Alex Lane Group and who’d also been at school with Alex, Tim and I, became our manager. We rehearsed and rehearsed in a room above a pub and eventually we recorded a demo at Regent Sound in Denmark Street. Not long after that we got Winston Weatherill in on guitar. He was the local guitar hero from Gary Farr & The T-Bones. Nick left the band and Alex and I took over vocals from Nick. That was the final line-up.

What was your repertoire in those days?

We started rehearsing in late summer 1968 and were doing our own material plus a song by The Idle Race (can't remember the title), a Vanilla Fudge (slowed down and heavy) style version of "Day Tripper", "Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart", "The Cat" (an instrumental by Jimmy Smith) used to be our stage intro, one or two R&B things - one was called "Sure Gonna Mess Him Up" (by who?) and so on. Mostly we played our own thing.

What kind of venues did you play?

Our first gig was supporting The Herd on Brighton seafront and we gigged round the local colleges, like the Art College and the Polytechnic. A local agent called Mike Clayton (known to The Mike Stuart Span as well!) got us a few gigs round the southeast but he was more hot air than performance.
Other gigs we got through our own contacts. Our first gig supporting The Herd on the seafront at Brighton during the festival, supporting Aynsley Dunbar's Blue Whale at Bristol University, supporting Principal Edward’s Magic Theatre at a couple of different venues in Bristol and Kettering. Those are the ones I remember.

Tell us more about your experiences with Mike Clayton

OK, Mike Clayton was a local Brighton agent and he got a few gigs for the band, mostly college gigs, supporting Juicy Lucy at the Brighton College of Art, lots of gigs at the Poly and various gigs around Sussex, Hampshire, Norfolk even, at various clubs and corn exchanges!
The biggest gig he got for us was at The Dome in Brighton, opening for David Bowie, The Edgar Broughton Band and The Strawbs. It was a very odd gig as he had promoted it as a vehicle for his new band called Success. He'd put together a six piece with two drummers, two bassists and two guitarists on the basis that if heavy music was coming in, this would be doubly heavy! It was like two versions of Cream playing side by side - can you imagine the noise? They were under rehearsed and very loud. They had three instrumentals which all sounded a bit similar. Anyway, in the middle of their set, someone pulled the plug on them. One minute there was this huge wall of noise and then there were just two drummers banging away til they eventually stopped. It was hilarious. Nobody knows who did it but the rumour was it was the Edgar Broughton roadies and there was certainly a fight backstage afterwards involving Mike Clayton and various roadies. To my knowledge I don't think Success ever played again. Poetic justice.

How did the recording of the album come about?

An old girlfriend of mine phoned from London to say she knew some guys with a record company who were looking for acts and did I know any good bands in Brighton. What could I say? So Patrick Meehan and Adrian Miller came down to the pub we rehearsed in, wearing sharp suits, driving a Rolls Royce and flashing wads of money. We were naturally impressed. They had a company called M & M Records who did lease tape deals. We didn't know at that time that the Roller was on hire, they were London management and that was good enough for us.
We played our set and they agreed to put us in a studio for a test recording, with a view to signing a recording contract if it sounded good. Then we would record it properly, they would manage us, set up an American tour, get a photo session sorted out in London, buy us any equipment we needed etc. Were we happy?

Tim ReevesWas the album recorded quickly?

We started at about 6pm and finished about 7am, by which time we had largely completed the album in a great rush of adrenaline, enthusiasm, kebabs, nicotine and coffee. We recorded live, including guitar and organ solos, and overdubbed vocals. We had rehearsed hard for a year or so and so we felt we could handle that OK and we just ploughed through the numbers. With hindsight..?
Anyway, it was a test recording… or so we thought. We thought we had passed the test and were taken aback when they decided that it was good enough for release. We protested. They said "it's got great energy, don't worry lads". After more protests, they agreed to re-record a couple of tracks and we sort of acquiesced. We were young and wanted an album out.

What were your opinions of the album?

We all felt the result could and should have been a lot better but we were talked out of the re-recording option and told that we would spend a lot more time on the second album. There are still bits on the album that could have been sorted out in the mix and we also felt that the mix in general was too washy with reverb. There are also some bits of the performance which aren't as good as we could have made them. Everything was done in one, two or three takes.
There was talk of an American release and a US tour, so we thought we were on the way.

How did the deal with Fontana come about?

The deal with Fontana was negotiated by our management. It was a lease tape deal so all the recording was arranged by and paid for (maybe!) by them and then sold on to Fontana.

Who thought of the title For Fox Sake?

It certainly wasn't our idea! The management again. We thought it was a cheap shot and didn't reflect the way we felt about the band or the music. Let's face it, the album is hardly brimming with the rebellious sentiments the title suggests. However, over the years it has become a name which has caused a few laughs and people do remember it.

Did the album receive much publicity?

It was reviewed by Anne Nightingale very favourably in The Daily Sketch. We were her ‘band to watch for’ in 1970. She lived in Brighton and used to come to the gigs, she really liked the band. It was also reviewed by Jeremy Pascall in Honey magazine, again a good review. Melody Maker panned the single ("Second Hand Love/Butterfly") - thank you Chris Welch! I don't know about any other reviews apart from the Radio One new releases programme. There was also a big photographic session sometime with Dezo Hoffman who had done The Beatles, The Kinks and loads of others.

How did the American release come about and why does the cover state Volume One?

Again, the Meehans had some connection with Bob Crewe in the States and set up the deal. It was Volume One because there was to be a Volume Two. This was recorded but never completely finished and who knows where it is now. Pity.

How did the album sell?

No idea about sales I'm afraid. We would be the last to know about anything like that, never having had any figures.

Did you continue to play live to promote the album?

We played Hatchetts in Piccadilly about this time, and were booked to play the Plumpton Jazz and Blues Festival soon after the release date but by that time we had been forgotten about by the management because they had got hold of Black Sabbath. Late sixties psych-folk-rock was out and HEAVY was in.

Did The Fox do any radio or TV shows?

Perhaps the best thing we did was a session for Radio One which went out on the Stevie Merrick (?) breakfast show and was repeated on Radio One Club. The BBC engineers did a great job, the band played brilliantly, much better than on the album and we thought it sounded great but it is now totally lost -aaaaagh! It would be great to think that some collector somewhere had recorded it and that it might just turn up one day.

Did Meehan and Miller do anything to help?

They were totally involved with Black Sabbath by then, and had already given us a string of broken promises about buying us new gear (we were half way to London in a van to pick it up, when we were told to turn back because the paperwork wasn't ready), about buying a van for the band (we got the van, but the cheque bounced and it had to be returned), about the "test recording", about the forthcoming US tour and other such crap, David and Winston decided they'd had enough and left a couple of weeks before Plumpton. There wasn't enough time to get replacements and I guess the rest of us were equally despondent, besides, we thought we had the best musicians locally anyway and we were a bunch of mates. So I guess you could say we promoted the new album by breaking up! A novel approach and one to which we owe our lasting aura of mystery and obscurity.

What did the band members do next?

After all that, I decided to turn my back on the music industry but carry on playing and writing.
Alex, Dave and Winston stayed in Brighton and got involved in all sorts of music projects locally. Alex toured for a while with American soul singer J J Jackson who had a great band. He also worked with Dave Courtney and Adam Faith before emigrating to the States in 1977 where he played in cabaret at Lake Tahoe. Last heard of living in Sacramento.
Winston plays locally in Brighton, anything from Django Reinhardt to bop and Buddy Holly.
Dave gave up music for a while and went off to university but eventually couldn't keep away from playing, moved over to Hammond organ which he had played before joining The Fox and now plays jazz. He and Winston had a band together in the 90's and they currently have a duo.
Tim joined a band called Octopus (of Restless Night fame - Ed) which included two future members of Crowded House. He then joined Mungo Jerry and toured and recorded with them. Then he auditioned and made the shortlist of three for Wings, so he actually got to play with McCartney! He and I played together in Big Road until he emigrated to Australia around 1990 where he now plays in a successful trio called The Old Spice Boys, doing festivals, radio etc.

Any final thoughts?

The Fox was a great band, which we were all committed to. It was a labour of love and a great exciting project for us. We slaved over the songs and arrangements and loved each other’s playing. Live, we were loud and righteous and better than we sound on the album, but the music business we saw was full of shit, lies and deceit. It killed the music. This is not a new story and no doubt continues today - another wreck on rock's highway!

How do you feel about the album’s reputation among 60’s music fans today?

I'm delighted with any interest that there is today in our music and the enthusiasm you have shown. It's great to know that something survived after all the effort.
I'm currently working on getting a proper re-release for the album, since we've now been bootlegged by Flash, but with better sound, a booklet, new photographs and so on. It would be good to repossess the music and I think the band deserves it.


Album Title For Fox Sake For Fox Sake
Released 1970
Label Fontana
Cat. Number 6309 007
Track Listings Secondhand Love - Lovely Day - As She Walks Away - Glad I Could - Butterfly - Look In The Sky - Goodtime Music - Mr. Blank - Man In The Fast Car - Birthday Card - Madame Magical

The Fox's lone album is essential and worthy of any record collection. Originally released on Fontana Records in 1970, the album is an work of art with some great haunting guitar work and hammond organ. All the songs included here are expertly crafted pop with enough experimentation, psychedelia, and intelligence to make it worth your while and if the works on this album are anything to go by then, they must have been a great live act.
For many of us the Fox were first introduced to us via the fourth Rubble compilation, '
The 49 Minute Technicolour Dream', anyone remember "Butterfly"?, which despite it's majestic sound and liner notes, actually featured no sitar at all!
Top picks from the album include the single, "Secondhand Love" which has some nice guitar and organ interplay; "Glad I Could" has a nice feel to it making it a nice beaty pop number which would have made an excellent single; "Birthday Card" has some really nice harmonies and lovely organ work; "Madame Magical" is real brain stormer and the most psychedelic sounding clocking in at almost ten minutes.


At last, the Fox album is to be re-issued, go HERE for more details

Early Photo shot The Fox in support to David Bowie
Special thanks to Steve Brayne and Andy Morten for the time and patience in getting this page set-up, much appreciated

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