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Yeah, my father, you know, I wish I could say my father meant well, but I know he didn’t mean well. He meant to harm me, he meant to undercut me, and why is it that people do that? I don’t know. I don’t know why people want to destroy their own flesh and blood.
And then there’s your brother, if you don’t mind talking about him.
Aw. That’s a touchy one.
Well, let’s face it, you did accidentally cut him in half with a machete.
The memories I have were of great, fun times — you know, stuff that all kids do — catching rattlesnakes, playing with blow torches and playing chicken with tractors and horses and .?.?.? we got into a whole mess o’ stuff. On the farm, that’s just something all kids do, you know, they tempt death. And if my father had properly tied the sheath to the machete, then the thing you’re referring to might not have happened.
So I lay it at his feet. If you don’t know proper machete maintenance, then you have no business owning a machete, let alone leaving ’em out where children can find ’em.
You’re saying your father was responsible in that situation?
Oh, absolutely. Those things have a tie on them, and that’s what it’s for, to keep the blade from slipping out of the sheath when you don’t want it to. And he was lazy about it — “Oh, I’ll tie it later, I don’t wanna deal with my machetes.” He just cared about sharpening them, unfortunately. If he’d been as lazy about the sharpening as he’d been about the sheath, then, you know, maybe it might hadn’t passed all the way through and we could’ve done something.
You started to amass a new family at a very young age when you eloped with your high school sweetheart. Very quickly, you sired a sizable brood.
Yes, well, Edith, her sexual voracity is matched only by her fertility — I mean incredible fertility. I’m convinced that she had one growing and another one fertilizing at the same time. The doctors have told me that that’s not possible, but I know a couple of them kids came in a shorter span than eight months from each other. I just blinked my eye, I had six kids, and, you know, that’d put any man out on the road.
Do you think your high sexual drive is linked to your creative drive? Do they work together?
Well, that’s the whole package. You know, when people come to the show, they come for Cox in every way — you know, they come not only because they love Cox, but they love what Cox does to them. Especially for the female segment — and I’m told a certain part of the male segment — yeah, people want a little excitement in their life, and, you know, maybe they even have a husband who can please them, but can he play 12-bar blues while doing it? There’s very few men that can do that.
Speaking of the 12-bar, there’s a well-known story about when you were first starting off, you were a cleanup boy in a black-owned nightclub, and you had the cojones to get up and front the band one night when the bandleader was sick. And what were you, 16 years old?
I was 15 at the time, yeah.
Were you nervous?
It was terrifying, but you know, it’s a different thing down in the South with black and white, and I felt like the people in that club had already accepted me in a way, though not as a performer. The main thing was, as Big Sam, my boss there at the club, told me, “People come here to dance erotically,” and that’s the most important thing — that transcends any type of racial hatred or judgment they might put on me. If I start to deliver the goods and they could close their eyes and make believe it was Bobby Shad and dance erotically at the same time, well then, everybody’s happy.
Were “making people dance erotically” words of wisdom that you kept in mind when you went on to compose your own material?
Well, Sam reminds me of it often — my drummer Sam, who I poached from Bobby Shad. Honestly, Bobby, he was happy that I did well that night, and he was happy that he was able to come back and keep his gig going at the club. But he was awfully miffed when I took Sam — that did not sit well with him at all. So some say that Sam was the real horse behind Bobby Shad. Bobby just sort of faded away after Sam left the band.