Curly Fox

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During the '40s and '50s, Curly Fox and Texas Ruby were the preeminent husband and wife team in country music. Fox remains one of the great hillbilly fiddlers, while Ruby was one of the first female singers…
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During the '40s and '50s, Curly Fox and Texas Ruby were the preeminent husband and wife team in country music. Fox remains one of the great hillbilly fiddlers, while Ruby was one of the first female singers to become a major star.

Curly was born Arnim LeRoy Fox in Graysville, Tennessee. His father, a barber, taught him to play the fiddle, with help from James McCarroll of the Roane Country Ramblers. He began his professional career playing and traveling with Chief White Owl's "Indian" medicine show. Fox soon began working with Claude Davis and the Carolina Tar Heels in Atlanta and founded the Tennessee Firecrackers. He played and recorded with the Shelton Brothers in New Orleans from 1934 to 1936, also recording three singles himself. In 1937, Fox met Texas Ruby (born Ruby Agnes Owens in Wise County, Texas) at the Texas centennial celebration. Ruby, a true cowgirl and sister of radio cowboy Tex Owens, had sung several times on the Grand Ole Opry and various radio stations with Zeke Clements and His Bronco Busters. Soon after meeting Fox, the two married and began appearing on the Opry from 1937-39 and again from 1944-48. In between, they worked in Cincinnati and at other major stations as well.

The duo did make some recordings, but according to Fox, Ruby's throaty contralto didn't sound as good on records as it did on the radio. Her best recordings were made for King in 1947. In 1948 the couple moved to Houston, where they lived and worked for ten years bringing country music to local television. In 1960, they returned to the Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately, Ruby's health was failing, so Fox often played alone. They did manage to record an album for Starday in 1963, but shortly thereafter, Ruby burned to death in a mobile home fire while her husband was playing on the Opry. Fox continued his solo career for a while after her death, but then left for Chicago to live with one of his daughters. Though he too suffered ill health, he made some albums and occasionally appeared live. He returned to his hometown in the mid-'70s and worked with a local bluegrass band before retiring to live with an older sister.