:: Bill "The Fox" Foster - Bawdy Medley ::
Guys out there probably remember The Fox from his years on The Man Show, the old dude with coyote grin and funny hat who would lead the audience in a German beer hall chant before consuming a beer in one mountrous swoop, but few know what a legend this man was. He got his start working in Los Angeles pubs, before ultimately finding his calling in life: leading crowds in drunken and improper songs...at pubs. His glory days were spent at The Fox Inn Rathskeller in Santa Monica, at 26th and Wilshire, where he entertained thousands of happy drunks over the years. When it closed in 1989, The Fox took his act on the road to another crowd that can appreciate beer and swear words -- college campuses. During the 90's he moonlighted at other pubs, sometimes completely spontaneously, and our pal Mark caught him at the Fireside Inn a time or two, the lucky bastard.
This recording was pretty much self-made, no record label, and the only address on the thing is the address of The Fox Inn itself. It was pressed at Rainbow, which would have been stumbling distance from there. Production is credited to Jake Butts. They basically just let tape roll and didn't even try to edit anything, as it just cuts off abruptly at the end of each side. There's not even a date on here, but from the looks of the cover and one Gong Show reference made inbetween numbers, I am pretty sure it's from between 1975-79. I don't know why it was made, but I am happy someone was sober enough to get it done.
This sort of frivolity doesn't exactly translate well to record, and it's certainly a disadvantage to not be able to witnesss The Fox drink two beers in two seconds, or one while he stands on his head, but you can feel the mood of the crowd as they laugh and try to sing along, and every once in a while you can hear a thud that must be The Fox's empty mug triumphantly returning to the table, empty. This was a man doing what he loved, and not just playing the part of a drunk like Foster Brooks did, but living and celebrating it. They don't make 'em like The Fox anymore, and today's cultural climate doesn't really allow for this kind of fun anymore, at least not in big cities. It's off-color jokes, and old standards played on piano with bathroom humor rewording, and you kind of had to be there. Some are classics you've heard before, some aren't. The sides aren't separated into tracks, so I just took out some bits from the evening that give a sense of what it was all about.
The Fox lost his battle with cancer at the age of 68 in 2000, but he probably lived the lifetimes of a hundred men. Even though by appearances he might seem a lout, he was actually a family man who was a longtime member of the Chamber of Commerce. He was a community institution. I wish I knew more about him and the history of The Fox Inn, and if anyone has stories or more info, please pass them along in the comments. ZIGGY ZAGGY ZIGGY ZAGGY HOI HOI HOI!!