More than you'd ever want to know about Neal
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Fox formed his first band at age 15. When his accordion was stolen (yippee!) he bought a Farfisa organ. He was then introduced as “Neal Fox and his 90 pound organ.” He played gigs from Manhattan clubs to Catskill Mountain resorts, and survived the wedding and bar mitzvah circuit—although his tux did not. He hasn’t owned a suit since.
Neal studied piano for a while with noted jazz teacher, John Mehegan. And in the 1970s, he studied composition with Paul Creston and Alexander Tcherepnin at the New York College of Music. While the other students were writing long and involved contemporary classical pieces, Neal was writing anti-war songs. (Much to the chagrin of his teachers.)
It was at this time he met sax player Gus Mancini and drummer Keith Falling. Together they played many clubs on Long Island, first as the "High Times" and later as "The Feather Merchants".
Eventually, Neal and Gus were signed to Polydor’s Event label. Their album, Mancini & Fox, received solid reviews and Fox’s song, “But I Could Reach the Wisdom of Solomon,” was a charted single.
Then Neal was signed as a solo artist on Columbia Records, under Clive Davis. But the celebration was short-lived. While watching the news one night, Fox heard an announcement that Clive had been fired! With no one at the label to support him, nothing happened for 2 and a half years. So he had to figure out a way to get out of his contract.
One afternoon Neal went up to the CBS offices and played them his best songs. Some of the titles were, "We're Locked Out" about being locked out of your apartment. "A Doctor in a Girl's School," and one particularly poignant song called, "Why Don't You Sit On My Face."
He was FREE! They let him out of his contract on the spot.
Next in line to sign Fox was RCA Records. His album, A Painting, was highly praised, producing a Top Ten Dance Club Hit—“In the Jungle”—about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This is where his activism began to blossom. Billboard claimed he “was equally at home in blues, rock, pop and jazz motifs.” With an indie spirit and eclectic style, he wasn’t easily pigeonholed. “I don’t follow trends; don’t write what’s popular. Just stay true to myself.” And that was a marketing nightmare.
Fox’s band opened at Tramp’s in N.Y.C, where his song, “Babe” was to be tied in with the launch of Fabergé’s fragrance of the same name. The event was attended by the president of Faberge and the famous songwriter, Sammy Cahn, among other celebrities. Things were looking up and the band was ready to hit the road. Then—the president of RCA was fired! No joke. There were cutbacks, pink slips, the label was in chaos—and the tour was cancelled.
Seems RCA was more excited about Elvis and the Pope. (Can you blame them?)
That's Neal holding the apple. Sammy Cahn to his left.
Famous model and Fabergé folks on the right.
While working at a music production house (Tuesday Productions), Neal met his future partners, Rick Patterson and Ron Walz. Known as Patterson, Walz & Fox, the trio composed music for hundreds of commercials, TV themes, and promos for all the major networks from CBS to VH-1.
Fox’s personal contributions were writing and producing music for Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, Bryant Gumbel’s Public Eye, CBS Saturday Morning, and the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. He received his share of Clio, Addy and Telly awards—which he found made convenient doorstops. He also co-scored two of the Killer Tomato movies with Rick Patterson, and was the voice of Fuzzy Tomato (“FT”). He’s still waiting for George Clooney to invite him to dinner. (Not really.)
Since music on demand can dry up your creative juices, Fox needed a new challenge. Locked away in his custom-built home studio, he wrote his first full-length musical (Meat Street), and pre-released the score on his label, Wire Duck Records (www.wireduck.com). Show music hosts played the CDs and raved about the music even though the show hadn’t yet been produced.
He followed up with Jingle This! a romantic comedy loosely based on his experiences in the jingle biz, and two more CDs: Hotel del Swell, a mix of vocals and lite jazz instrumentals, and the adult contemporary CD, HiPOCRACY. Another 10 albums followed.
In the late 1990s, Fox and his wife Naomi, along with partner Stuart Weiner, created a children's book series called, The Confetti Company. Narrated by actor Robert Guillaume (Benson), it inspired the HBO series, Happy Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.
Fox missed being on stage and wanted to do something unique. He taught himself animation and videography and created a one-man multimedia show, Pigeonholes. It was his tongue-in-cheek knock at the major labels because that’s what he fought all those years—creative restriction for the sake of marketing. Pigeonholes showcased in San Diego and Hollywood in 2005. Each song was a self-contained story, with live performance interacting with the videos and animation. He received standing ovations every night.
You can see the trailer on YouTube.
Things were rolling along until Dan Rather made an Oopsy, and he—and his theme—exited CBS leaving a dent in Fox’s wallet. With his wry sense of humor in tact, he seized the opportunity for another one-man show— Thank You, Dan Rather— which he performed in Ft. Lauderdale in 2007. One critic cheerfully commented that Fox must be “a lot of fun at parties.”
Since then, Fox has won acclaim for his indie CDs, music videos, art, short films and full-length documentary — The Conspiracy Project.
Music Connection declared his Now It’s Personal CD (2008) to be “edgy and alternative” with “a Billy Joel soundalike that is quite uncanny.” It ranked #4 on their Top 25 new music chart. And Mainly Piano raved about Solo Piano, Vol. I. (2009): “An exceptionally strong player, Fox’s music reflects a wide range of musical styles and influences, creating a unique voice...Very highly recommended!”
Neal’s outrageous but accurate music video about the Federal Reserve System, F**k the Fed, won two film festival awards in 2008 and is still being played and shared all over the internet(www.Youtube.com/NealF).
In December 2010, his digitally enhanced work, Life Sucks won First Prize for Photography in Through the Eyes of Love, an exhibit honoring World AIDS Day.
His first short film, The Life and Times of Satchel Tomain—a lighthearted mockumentary about an eclectic musician who mysteriously vanishes—screened in two film festivals.
The controversial, Deliberate Dumbing Down of America—created for the multimedia collaboration, EXPOSED the Art Project—stirs things up on YouTube where it has received over 880,000 views as of October, 2016. It won Best Documentary award from Artists for a Better World in 2011.
As an activist who is making a name for himself through his music and videos, Fox has appeared at the Save American Convention (with his F**k the FED video), and as host/performer at LibertyFest NYC. He is pro-Constitution, anti-New World Order, and doesn’t favor either democrats or republicans since he doesn’t trust either side.
The Conspiracy Project continues to win recognition and awards from film festivals, including Best Score. And it's now available so see on YouTube for free (Check out the film's website for more info).
Neal's latest adventure is animation. You can see his first ever animated short film, "Hat" here. It's destined to be a series. Action figures, berets with eyeballs, dolls, the works.
Now, at age 71, Neal has started a whole new career (or two.)
He's created a comedy web series on YouTube called, "Uncle Neal's Neighborhood." Filled with music, stories, animation and zany antics. It's a bit like the old Soupy Sales show, a bit like Monty Python, and a bit like... Hell, just go and watch it. From episode 1.
Spinoffs from the show will be lots of merch (see our store for that) a podcast, and hopefully a live concert production of Uncle Neal's Neighborhood.
So there you have it. But if that’s not enough you can always sign up for Neal’s infrequent newsletters. Meanwhile, poke around, have fun, and maybe spend some money and support the artist. He still has a wife to feed. 🙂