Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Medallion Sax man Johnny Cox was a helleva player

1968 Swingin' Medallion lineup: Front Row, Johnny Cox, saxophone; Jimbo Doares, guitar; and Joe Morris, drums; Back Row: Hack Bartley, saxophone; Grainger Hines, saxophone; John McElrath, keyboards; Charlie Webber, trumpet; and Carroll Bledsoe, trumpet

Medallions Johnny Cox and Hack Bartley at Medallion reunion in 1987

Medallions Perrin Gleaton, Johnny Cox and Freddy Pugh share memories in 2007

He was one helleva sax player! In a band known for horns, he stood out and now he joins Medallion band mates Steve Caldwell and Charlie Webber in the greatest horn section of them all! Johnny Cox died this past weekend in South Carolina. He had been suffering from lung cancer but his memory will be with us always. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him perform. It was in the Jacksonville Beach Coliseum, a venue long gone but forever etched in the memories of those who loved to see the bands of the Hey Baby Days in action. “Shotgun, git ‘em for they run “ “What Does It Take (To win your love)” “Hot Cha” Johnny was another Jr. Walker but don’t take what I say as gospel. Ask those who saw him perform. Yes! In a band where the “S” in Swingin’ stood for Saxophone, John Cox was nonpareil.

One of the stories that should have been in the book:

One of the mainstays of any Swingin’ Medallion shows is their presentation of Jr. Walker’s “Shotgun.” You know how it goes. The riveting song begins with a Medallion sax player playing the role of Jr. Walker. He blows the horn so hard that about halfway through, he doubles over on the floor, apparently passed out. Bandleader John McElrath asks “Is There a Doctor in The House?” Concern runs rampant as band members gather around trying to see if Jr. is going to make it. In the era of non-political correctness, there was always a Nurse Goodbody available to resuscitate the sprawling Junior. It seemed to always work because Jr. is so revived that he starts blowing the saxophone lying on his back and continues as he is pulled up off the floor by two band mates and held upside down still blowing the sax. It’s a Medallion trademark. It started way back with Brent Fortson and Freddy Pugh and continues today with Shawn McElrath. But Johnny Cox may be the only one of the Medallion sax players to ever be dropped during “Shotgun.” He was not just dropped to the stage but off the entire stage. It occurred at the Riverside Woman’s Club in Jacksonville, Florida. Johnny was smiling when he told me the story but I bet he wasn’t at the time as he missed several jobs as a result of the fall.

He apparently made a great recovery as he came back and continued to blow that horn from every angle with a great amount of passion and acumen.

Another ticket has been issued for “The Party to End All Parties” May Johnny Cox rest in peace.
Memorial Sevices:

Johnny Cox, original member of the Swingin' Medallions, who passed away
Saturday afternoon at 4:15pm at MUSC in Charleston. His body will be
cremated and there will be two memorial (celebration) services; one at Ocean
Drive Beach, and one in Johnny's hometown of Woodruff.

The two services to be held to celebrate Johnny's life are as follows:

Sunday, March 29, at 3:00pm, memorial services will be held at Lanford
Funeral Home Chapel on Main Street in Johnny's hometown of Woodruff, SC.

Sunday, April 05, at 11:30am, at The Pavilion at Ocean Drive Beach, A
memorial service will be conducted by Rev. Harold Beaver and Richard Carr.
After this service, everyone is invited next door to The O.D. Beach Club for
a celebration of Johnny's Life.

1 comment:

Cielo said...

Just stumbled on very sad to learn of Johnny's passing. I had the privilege of working with him in his 'other' career as a tech geek, but we also a common bond in music. He was a very, very sweet man, and so very humble with respect to his talents. I always thought I'd meet up with him again at some point.