Revised May 2017Jon Fox lead vocal, guitar
One of the many local groups who formed in the early 1960s, Jon Fox and The Hunters were known on the famous "Regan circuit" of groups who played at the Plazas in Handsworth and Old Hill just to name a few. The Hunters front-man Jon Fox kindly sent their story shown here and written mostly in his own words as follows:
Jon Fox and The Hunters were formed from a band originally called "The Downbeats" who played local gigs in the Sheldon area of Birmingham. Some of the venues were the Dame Elizabeth Hall in the Bordesley Green area and Tile Cross school. Having lost their drummer, the band advertised in Kay Westworth music shop and were joined by Ted Powell who later told the band of his next door neighbour Jon Fox who was invited to join the as vocalist.
Like many in those days, Jon Fox had picked up the guitar after discovering American rock 'n' roll. He recalled; "My main influence was Buddy Holly and The Crickets and I had all his records. My first guitar was a Hofner Congress. The first gig I played was in 1959 at 'The Britannia' in Summer Lane, Aston when I was 16. I was 20 when I joined The Hunters."
Bookings (gigs) were always available to groups who could accurately "copy" the hit records of the day. Although the Hunters were "semi-pro" with most having day jobs, they invested in better instruments and equipment to improve both their sound and their visual image on-stage.
Jon Fox said; "The band played mainly covers as was the norm in those days. As we improved our repertoire and gig diary, we invested in a new fashion in instruments called Fender." Fender was of course the famous Fender guitars - previously only available in America and made popular in the U.K. by hit groups like Cliff and The Shadows.
Now fronted by Jon Fox on lead vocal, The Hunters were taken on by Mary Reagan and played "The Ritz" in Kings Heath and "The Plazas" in Handsworth and Old Hill on a regular basis along with regular stints at the Atlas Ballroom in Stechford.
Joe and Mary Regan were instrumental in the development of the West Midlands music scene as it was in the 1960s. The Regan's operated four venues which included Old Hill and Handsworth Plaza's, The Ritz ballroom in King's Heath, and The Brum Kavern (formerly The Garryowen Club) on Wordsworth Road.
Jon Fox; "The Regan circuit in Birmingham was very memorable as we worked one or two every week - Plaza Handsworth, Plaza Old Hill, The Ritz Kings Heath, and a place called 'The Station' Brownhills twice a week, The Atlas Ballroom in Stechford and many more."
"The group were driven around by Roy Lewis's dad in his Bedford Dormobile - always overloaded due to so much equipment." Their rhythm guitarist Tony Hancocks remembered; "Roy's brother used to be our transport and he also made our Linear Amps (until we got Fender to go with the Strats)." At this time The Hunters did some TV work appearing on ATV's 'For Teenagers Only'.Jon Fox remembered; "We did a TV show called 'For Teenagers Only'. We worked with many stars of the time including Gene Vincent, The Hollies, and The Beatles etc. The then rhythm guitarist (Tony Hancocks) left the band and I took on the job."
Tony Hancocks said; "I was their rhythm guitarist from the groups start until I managed to crack my head open at the Ritz or Plaza. I retired injured with six stitches in my head!"
Jon Fox and The Hunters were also due to play The Cherry Orchard Rooms in Blackpool for the season as 'Cliff and The Shadows' opened the ABC Theatre just down the road. However, this had to be cancelled due to Ted Powell leaving the band (Ted was working as a commercial artist).
Jon Fox; "The Hunters carried on for a while with different members including Geoff Roberts (ex J Men), Ian "Sludge" Lees later with The Montanas, and Terry Ward who went on to reportedly be Tom Jones's demo singer. The band finally folded when I sought pastures anew and joined Johnny Neal and the Starliners."
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