Tony Fox, associate director of USC’s Marching Band, the Spirit of Troy, directed his last basketball game on Saturday. Fox has been arranging music for the band with Spirit of Troy Director Arthur Bartner since 1971.
Fox obtained his master’s degree in composition and began to teach at USC in 1981. He was the assistant director of the band and began to teach part-time at the school of music.
“My degree is in composition, and I have always been a composer-arranger,” Fox said. “I have done a lot of different arranging for orchestra band choir and jazz band, I have even arranged for a Chinese orchestra once. I am basically a professional arranger, who teaches band as well.”
Fox talked about the fond memories he shared with members of the band. He explained how each band section would split up into buses for away games and would pull various pranks.
“One year, they had t-shirts that said, ‘If you get in trouble, say you are Tony Fox,’” Fox said laughing.
Although Fox will miss his time at USC, he knows that he is ready for retirement.
“I have this philosophy that all great things come to an end,” said Fox, attributing his mindset to his Tibetan Buddhist belief system. “This was a great run; it is time for me to move on in life.”
Bartner and the USC band members said they will miss having Fox on campus.
Bartner recounted his times working with Fox to retune arrangements. He and Fox would work together after surveying their students to see what songs to play for each game and then would work to layer the different instrumental sounds. Bartner said that Fox has done an exceptional job working with USC, especially in developing the world-renowned song “Tusk” with Fleetwood Mac, featuring the USC Marching Band.
“Tony is the sound of the Trojan Marching Band,” Bartner said. “Together we have built the sound of the band.”
Fox recounted many of his memories he had while teaching at USC. His favorite arrangement was when the band performed “Frankenstein” by AC/DC for the first time.
“‘Frankenstein’ set the template for what the band sound was going to be. It was so unique,” Fox said. “That arrangement, we premiered in the season of ’73, at Notre Dame. That was one of the first rock songs that actually was performed in Rockne Stadium. It got a big standing ovation, and it has been a favorite of the band ever since.”
Antonio Ayala, a freshman bass drum player, will miss Fox’s passion for his work.
“Tony was a very skilled composer that knew how to expand both our musical capabilities and excitement about playing,” Ayala said. “I’m going to miss both his talents and his passion.”
But Fox said that the band’s greatness is because of the students and the work that they put into the band.
“The kids in the band have been very important to me,” Fox said. “My arrangements are their arrangements. I want to give them a good product.”
He notes that this hard work, Bartner’s vision for the band, the Trojan Family and the USC Fight Song are what made the band great and incredibly diverse over the years.
“You put all this stuff together, and you go. This is a great place,” Fox said.