“I grew up listening to your music.” Those are very familiar words to Emmy Award winning composer Charles Fox, mainly because…well, we all grew up to his music. In fact, those are the exact words I said to him at the start of our telephone interview.
Fox has composed music for more than 100 motion pictures and television films. But, it is his iconic television themes that are whistled in households all over the world every single day. If you have ever watched an episode of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Love Boat, Wonder Woman, Love American Style or The Wide World of Sports, then you know the work of the brilliant Charles Fox. He is, in essence, Mr. Television.
“I hear that from so many people,” he said. “It’s always nice to meet people and hear that they relate to my music.”
Fox is a delightfully charming gentleman – humble and engaging. “It’s so good of you to talk to me about my career,” he said. Actually, it was a complete pleasure to listen to such an interesting and talented man.
He is an avid golf player in his limited free time, but lately he has been promoting his book, Killing Me Softly (2010 The Scarecrow Press), which details his 50 years in music working with some of entertainment’s biggest and most successful stars. Fox recounts his development as a musician, and describes his collaboration with legendary artists Jim Croce, Barry Manilow, Lena Horne, and Fred Astaire.
Fox spent two years studying music in Europe under the guidance and tutelage of the most renowned music instructor of the 20th century, Nadia Boulanger. Already 72 years old, her influence upon an 18-year old student is still evident more than 50 years later.
“She was more than a mentor to me,” Fox said. “She’s an inspiration to me to the day…She was a stickler for the most minute details, but what an extraordinary woman…and so much fun.”
The letters that Fox wrote home from 1959 to 1961 were the inspiration for writing his memoirs. “Those letters were a portal to looking back into the past for me,” he said.
The entire project was born after Fox’s literary agent read his letters and encouraged Fox to write a story about them. “He just kept telling me that there was a book in these letters and that people would find inspiration for pursing and chasing their dreams.”
Fox took two years to pen the book, which helped him become nearly as comfortable sitting at a desk as he is sitting at his beloved piano.
“I wrote every word in longhand on yellow legal pads,” he said. “I could hear the people speak to me…the memories are still very strong. The letters only confirmed things I had never forgotten.”
“In a sense, the book is about my music, my life, but it’s also about my teacher,” he said. “Maybe it is the only book every written by a student about her.”
The two time Academy Award nominee and twice winner of the Emmy Award is planning a busy summer, including a stint conducting a German symphony following his incredibly successful appearance at the head of the Polish National Opera Company in 2010.