William George Fox, singer, songwriter, guitarist (born 23 March 1960 in Calgary, AB). George Fox was a leading figure in Canadian country music in the late 1980s and 1990s. A cattle rancher turned singer-songwriter, his mellow, unassuming persona and light tenor twang were perfectly suited to classic, mainstream country. He had five gold records in Canada and won three Junos, seven Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards, and nine RPM Big Country Awards.

Early Years

Fox grew up on a cattle ranch near Cochrane, Alberta, and played in a rock band in his teens. Ironically, he only developed an interest in country music at age 21 while attending a farm exchange program in Sweden; his host family asked him to bring some American country albums, and he got hooked. He began performing in Southern Alberta in the early 1980s and sold some of his cows to invest $30,000 in the self-produced cassette recordings Trail of the Fox and Fresh Tracks. One of these recordings found its way to an executive at Warner Music, who called Fox while he was pitching hay with his father and offered him a record contract.

Major Label Releases, 1988-98

Fox’s self-titled debut album sold more than 50,000 copies in Canada and included the hits “Angelina,” “Long Distance,” “RBJ,” and “Goldmine” — all his own songs. Fox moved quickly to the concert stage, opening in Canadian cities for Randy Travis, Anne Murray, Willie Nelson, George Strait, and other major country stars. In 1989, he received the CCMA Award for best new artist and several Big Country Awards, including Country Artist of the Year, Single of the Year (“Angelina”), and his first of five wins for Male Vocalist of the Year.

His second album, With All My Might (1989), also went gold in Canada and included the Top 10 country singles “No Trespassing,” “Bachelor Girl,” “Lime Rickey,” and “With All My Might.” The latter reached No. 28 on the Canadian adult contemporary chart in addition to peaking at No. 5 on the country chart. With All My Might was released in the US in 1990 with a different cover and a revised track list that included three songs from his first album: “Angelina,” “Hey Johnny,” and “Goldmine.” Also that year, Fox won his first of three straight Juno Awards for Country Male Vocalist of the Year, and his first of three CCMA Awards for Male Artist of the Year.

Fox’s third album, Spice of Life (1991) — his first recorded in Nashville — yielded two Top 10 and two Top 20 Canadian country singles but failed to achieve gold status. He then teamed with legendary songwriter and producer Bob Gaudio (the Four Seasons, Neil Diamond) on his next two albums, which were both certified gold in Canada. Mustang Heart (1993) spawned six Top 10 Canadian country hits, including the patriotic “Clearly Canadian.” Time of My Life (1995) was equally successful, with two No. 1 hits on the Canadian country chart: “What’s Holding Me” and “First Comes Love.” A street in Cochrane — George Fox Trail — was named in his honour in 1995.

In 1997, Warner released the compilation album Greatest Hits 1987–1997, which went gold. Fox returned to Canada from Nashville that year and settled his family on a farm near Ancaster, Ontario. His sixth record with Warner Music, Survivor (1998), included four Canadian country hits but failed to crack the Canadian country album chart. That, combined with his failure to break through in the US, led to his being dropped from the label.

Independent Releases

Fox released his next three albums — “George Fox Christmas” (1999), “Canadian” (2004), and “With All Due Respect” (2006) — on his own record label, Trail of the Fox. He then effectively retired to his farm — where he grows winter wheat, soybean, and corn — though he continues to tour sporadically throughout Canada.

Television Appearances

Fox’s sincere, down-home geniality was a good fit for Canadian television. His CBC music specials, “George’s Fox’s New Country” (1990), “Country on Campus” (1991), “Time of My Life” (1995), and “George Fox Christmas” were all popular. “Time of My Life” drew 1.5 million viewers. He hosted the CCMA Awards on CTV every year from 1991–94, and made numerous guest appearances on such shows as Rita MacNeil’s “Rita & Friends” (1994–96), “Terri Clark: Coming Home” (1998), and “Anne Murray’s Family Christmas” (1998).

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Awards

Single of the Year (“Angelina”), Big Country Awards (1989)

Composer of the Year (“Angelina”), Big Country Awards (1989)

Country Artist of the Year, Big Country Awards (1989)

Male Vocalist of the Year, Big Country Awards (1989–93)

Vista Rising Star, Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards (1989)

Male Vocalist of the Year, CCMA Awards (1990, 1991, 1993)

Male Artist of the Year, CCMA Awards (1990, 1991, 1993)

Country Male Vocalist of the Year, Juno Awards (1990–92)

Album of the Year (With All My Might), Big Country Awards (1991)