Meet the real “Foxy”…
Fun Fact: The character of “Foxy Thunders” in HOT SINATRA is based on my dear departed pal Ryan “Foxy” Fox, who was the singer and guitarist for the Calgary-based psychobilly band The Nightstalkers.
The real Foxy was a gangly, ginger goofball, and one of the most naturally funny people I’ve ever met in my life. There is not a single memory of him that doesn’t cause me to erupt in laughter, from the times we wore crash helmets while surfing his ’66 Malibu through flooded streets; the time he stole a 40 year-old Disneyland hotel concierge jacket by throwing out of a 3rd floor window onto the same green Chevy monstrosity; the time we spent 45 minutes laughing over the name of a breakfast sandwich at Denny’s (Moons Over My Hammy); all the many times we sat around his mom’s basement on summer nights, watching Jerry Lewis movies and trying desperately to pick along to my scratchy old Dick Dale records; when we drove out to the mountains and pretended to work for his uncle one day, just so we could eat lunch there; So many nights driving home from gigs at the Night Gallery, geeking out to the Von Zippers, The Mants and the almighty Forbidden Dimension… The day my grandfather died, which remains one of the worst times of my life, Foxy did little more than give me a hug, shove me into the passenger seat and drive us off on a jaunt around town. By the end of the day, just being in the same airspace as Foxy, I had gone from sinking into an abyss of my own unhappiness, grief and solitary blackness, to smiling, and laughing and remembering my ol’ Grandad as he deserved. Foxy was like that. He could turn any situation into a celebration, could turn any enemy into a friend and anytime he found himself in trouble, he just flashed that grin and shrugged and got away with anything and everything.
My very favorite memory, though, is from shortly after I began dating the girl who would become my wife and the mother of my children. The three of us were at a house party, up in the old ‘hood, and Foxy decided he needed to wander to the 7-11 for smokes and a Dr. Pepper. My highly inebriated best friend and my equally hammered future wife bounced and wobbled and stumbled off ahead of me, each singing a different song but, in their state of absolute drunkenness, believed they were performing a duet. As I shuffled contentedly behind them, slightly less corked and believing myself to be performing a service by safeguarding them on their quest, I’ll be good and goddamned if “Sweet Caroline” and “Happy Together” didn’t morph and congeal into one and the same song. I smiled, chuckled to myself and shook my head at their goofy accidental harmony but, as I look back now, I can still hear it, and it is beautiful.
Foxy was walking through a downtown neighborhood on his way to his day job, early one January morning, when the Fates stole him away from us. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years, but still chatted every few weeks, always promising to get together “soon”. He had a lovely and talented girlfriend, and a hilarious pet pig he left behind. His folks that had always been good to me, his little brother that we always teased. The whole local music scene and most people he’d ever met showed up for his memorial. I didn’t go. At the time I said I was too heartbroken, too busy, some stupid shit like that. The truth was I didn’t know how to say goodbye. I still don’t. I got a tattoo. I put him in my book. I still send him messages on Facebook and play his record in the car all the time. I request his songs on the College Station on his birthday and I fucking cry every time I hear “Sweet Caroline”. It breaks my heart that I can’t hear his laugh anymore.
I couldn’t recreate him perfectly in my book. Nobody could. He was one-of-a-kind, A force of Nature. A one-man-army of fun. So I mixed him with some other guys. A couple of other rockers I’ve known, a kid I grew up with in elementary school… these guys, because this is the kind of shit he would have pulled. Did you hear the news, Foxy? There’s good rockin’ tonight.