Features

Vicki Fox Tributes

She had:

The figure of a catwalk model.   
A cheeky grin worthy of Minnie the Minx.
The wackiest dress sense since Cruella de Ville on bingo night.
Exquisite taste in music, from blues, soul, R&B, through to belly dancing music and beyond.   
Similar great taste in art, film and books.
A love of animals. Cats the world over have received the Vicki double-handed super stroke.   
Loyalty. Most of her friends go back 30+ years.
Empathy for the waifs and strays of this world. Always keeping in touch and including people other may consider uncool.
A vinyl collection of only great records,
Cooking skills to satisfy the fussiest of dinner guests.
Encyclopedic knowledge of all good music.
But most of all, a great sense of fun, mischief and a cheerful disposition, despite the awful chemo side effects, right up to the end 
What's Not To Like.

It was a privilege to be her partner for 18 years. I enjoyed every second. I miss her terribly.

Tony Berrington

I only met Vicki a few times, but she still stands so clear in my mind. She was such a live wire! I last saw her in 2013. I came over to pick up the guitar Tony so graciously offered to lend me for my tour. Vicki was fighting her illness even then. But I never suspected it. All I sensed was her disarming friendliness, her uninhibited energy and her near-manic enthusiasm. We laughed a lot that day. Despite not knowing her well, I felt so relaxed and welcome in her presence. Her mom was there and Vicki proudly introduced her to me. The sweet and genuine mother-daughter bond was tangible. I sat out on the patio and played a few songs. Vicki, Tony and Val listened with such passion and attentiveness that for those moments, I felt like the most important person in London. It was only later that I learned the truth of Vicki's condition. Even now, I can't think of her as ever being sick, only as a strong stream of warm light that enhances all my happy memories of England.

Bob Lind

I remember when Vicki strolled into Rock On, Kentish Town Road, one day in either ’76, or more likely, ’77. It had to be a day between Tuesday and Friday, because Rock On was shut on Sunday and Monday – if you can believe that of a Camden shop in the seventies – and I didn’t work Saturdays. Was she a student at art school at the time? Probably. She had been in touch with Ted asking if there was any work of an artistic nature for her. He had obviously been impressed by her wonderful artwork, and more than that, I’m thinking, her tenacious energy and ferocious willingness to be involved in something – anything – to do with (good) music in London. Ted, the 'man upstairs', sent her down to the shop floor. There was, I guess, nothing for a budding artist at Chiswick quite yet. There were two of us working that day, one was the co-owner, and she laid out a spread of really great drawings of Little Walter, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker and the like. We were both, like Ted, more than a little impressed. I think we were just as impressed that this young buckess was fresh out of Southend, the industrial wasteland that had spawned Doctor Feelgood, Lew Lewis, the Kursaals and Mickey Jupp, all of whom were legendary to us London snobs. Vicki seemed to be living proof that time had stood still out in the Estuary, she really seemed to think that it was 1964.

Fact is there was nothing anyone could do with or for her at Rock On at that time. But her persistence very quickly led to her taking over from me at the Rock On branch on Golborne Road off Portobello that opened on Saturdays only, and stayed there until Ted sold that branch. Oh yeah, at this point I will point out that Vicki stuck with whatever job she was doing until the job itself was no longer there. Well, over the years, our intrepid heroine would crop up in a thousand places. She became a well-known face at the main Rock On shop at last, while lending her incredible talent with a paint brush to the outer walls of Sea of Tunes on Buck Street– they should list this standard of wall art – and part of Sounds That Swing on Inverness Street much later. Her face would become familiar at a couple of other record stores in later years, she would turn up at gigs you might be playing, and as long as it was booting R&B, she would leap on stage and rattle a tambourine or blow a mouth harp. Not forgetting her career as a frontwoman with her punk outfit, Girls On Top. For me, sitting beside her sometimes while she practised her magic at Ace, it was always like the years in between hadn’t happened.

Lindy has reminded me that Vicki used to enjoy listening to recordings of old weather forecasts. This was a seriously unusual hobby! She was never known not to greet anyone with a smile. Boundless enthusiasm and creativity to more than back it up. We will always need people like Vicki to prevent the world from turning black & white. Trouble is she was a one-off.

Cheers

Brian Nevill

PS Can't do Vicki justice, man

I first met Vicki at school in 1970 and we've been best friends ever since.

Vicki’s love of music influenced and informed everything in her life, including the people who she became close friends with. We grew up together in the “Thames Delta” of Southend-on-Sea in the ‘70s watching all the great local bands such as Dr Feelgood and Lew Lewis Reformer, who subsequently became great friends. Vicki’s love of music also brought her together with her much loved long term partner, Tony Berrington, when they played together in their band - Girls on Top. Vicki was my closest friend for almost 46 years, and “Soul Auntie” to my son, Luke, for 36 of these.

Vicki’s work at Rock On, with Adrian Boot, with Girls on Top, and at Ace Records provided perfect outlets for her artistic and musical talents. Vicki’s great love of music also contributed to our impulsive and potentially risky decision to hitchhike from Toronto to Santa Monica including the full length of Route 66 from Chicago, as 18 year old girls! This was followed 2 years later by hitchhiking from Austin, Texas to Florida, via New Orleans!

Vicki and I have been to countless unforgettable gigs together, and have been fortunate enough to have met some of our heroes including Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins and Bo Diddley – to name just a few. This good fortune was brought about by Vicki’s outgoing and gregarious personality, as she was never too shy to approach anyone - however legendary they were.

Vicki loved working at Ace Records. It was the perfect job for Vicki – mixing her love of great music with her fantastic art work, as well as the opportunity to produce a compilation of cat songs!

Vicki’s record collection was amazing. Vicki’s knowledge about music was vast – almost encyclopaedic, although Vicki’s favourite music was always life affirming and expressive – just like her outgoing, fun loving and incredibly engaging personality. These fantastic attributes enriched the lives of all the people who were lucky enough to know Vicki.

My family’s nickname for Vicki was ET – Eternal Teenager! Vicki was full of energy, enthusiasm, and wanted to enjoy every minute. She immediately lit up any room she walked into, and was always the most fun person at any party, gig, or gathering of friends.  Vicki will be sorely missed by her family and many close friends – she will always live on in our hearts and memories.  

Lesley Cawthra, August 2016

Devastating news. A wonderful person all round. Great to hang out with and a pleasure to work with. One of my favourite memories is of her skipping around Rock On with "The Legend Of Xanadu" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich blaring out, a beer in one hand and an imaginary whip in the other. So talented, she had it all. A great artist, her sleeves for Kent are among the labels finest. Her work with photography, be it painting on a false pavement for the John Lee Hooker Ace LP or bringing to life dull b/w photos by hand tinting, she did this for my late friend Danny Rivers with the result being made into a postcard. Then of course she was a top DJ, she could pick the right unhip 45, spin it and make everyone else feel stupid for not thinking of it first. And on top of all that she fronted the last of the great punk bands in Girls On Top.

She, like me, was a fan of the Nitty Gritty Club, the last few times I met up with her was there, and she did dj there on occasion. Last night, at the last Nitty Gritty, DJ Debbie stopped the music at around 10pm and read out a heartfelt tribute to Vicki, which brought a tear to the eye and much applause.

We will all miss her, and my heart really, really, goes out to Tony at this time.

You meet a lot of people who love the same musical styles as us, but very few live the life every day. Vicki was one of these and had rock 'n' roll oozing out of every pore. A gal you don't meet every day, that's for sure.

Nick Garrard

We are all born unique but some more unique than others. I can’t even begin to imagine ‘another’ Vicki: that fantastic collection of boundless energy and cheery good nature topped off with a great talent for art, photo work and music as a DJ and artiste. Anyone who went to the Ace 40th party cannot forget the sight of Vicki in leather hot pants and waistcoat fronting Girls on Top with such pizazz and will certainly believe that she was indeed ‘Too Wild For You’. A while back she DJd at the Constitution Club one Sunday and only Vicki could drop Jet Harris’s ‘Some People’ into a bunch of R&B tunes and make it work. She had a vast knowledge across a wide range of music, but more importantly impeccable good taste. Vicki was one of that elite group of Rock On people who cut their musical teeth at one or other of the legendary record shops (2 in her case) and at the Camden branch she turned retailing into showtime.

At Ace she added immensely to the look of the CDs, salvaging photos, in one case that really had been savaged by the dog, and breathing new life into an old black and white pic with tasteful and appropriate colouring. Back in the early days she designed some unforgettable sleeves for Kent and Ace LPs. More recently Vicki compiled two favourite Ace CDs "Feline Groovy" (a great Vicki title) which combined her love of cats with love of music and "All Aboard" an all stations ride along the tracks of her train songs.

Vicki lived her allotted, all too short, time with more style, verve and outrage than anyone else I know and always with an immense joy for life and at times a wicked sense of humor. Her premature passing has deprived her friends of that remarkable older woman, who would undoubtedly have still dressed in purple.

It was a privilege to have been counted as her friend for 36 years and though I will miss her so much, that wild mercurial spirit will stay with me, a reminder of the good stuff that life has to offer. There will always be the afterglow of Vicki - memories, stories and the great love engendered by a life lived to the full that will overflow into the future. Adieu dear friend, until the next memory. 

Roger Armstrong

I think of Vicki as a very lucky person—she really had so many enviable talents and gifts.  I first met Vicki through her loving partner Tony.  He and I were band mates in the 1980s, and anyone who has been in a band for a long while, and especially a band that tours, will know that you come out of it as family.  So Vicki was my de facto sister-in-law.  The first time I met her, she quickly sussed out what I was all about: she concocted seemingly out of nowhere and in no time an expertly-presented gourmet vegetarian meal (in a tiny kitchen), and then gave me a vintage British ship’s flag, a perfect parting gift for me to take back to the USA.  Later, when I met my Alex, the four of us went out to dinner.  Before the main course arrived, she had figured out Alex and knocked out on a menu the most perfect caricature.  He has been painted in oil by some serious artists, but this little sketch is my favourite portrait; she really captured him, which is the sign of a very good artist.  And she executed this like she did everything, quickly and quietly going about her business, producing results before you even knew she was working on something.  But perhaps what I admire most, aside all of her talents—musical, artistic, culinary—is her profound wisdom in living her life to the fullest, because it is so short for all of us, no matter how long we are fortunate enough to live.

Suzy May

Today I lost my very good friend Vicki de Vice, after more than 30 years of fun, laughter and mischief-making together. She was so full of life it's been hard to watch her struggling to maintain that vibrant spirit in the last few months when she was in such pain but it was a privilege to be part of her journey and we laughed a lot, even in the darkest moments. She was in a very happy relationship with the lovely Tony Berrington and I'm so pleased they found each other and had many wonderful years together. I'm so very sad that she has gone - but so very glad to have known her and proud to have been her friend. RIP Vicki. I'll treasure the memories... and there are, thankfully, lots of them xxx

Denis Richardson

Sad news today that one of our punk rock'n'roll number has gone to join the good and the great elsewhere. Thinking about Vicki de Vice will always raise a smile, from her mischevious shop manner to her manic blues punk stage personna and understanding of music...and of course, her life & soul of the party manner, she always had that enviable great sense of the joy of living full throttle, gigs havent been the same since she quietly disappeared from the scene a couple of years back to battle her illness...Vicki leaping about at the end of the night possessed by Dionysus, Bacchus and all the other gods of fun will be the memory I will always carry, along with her immense, dirty cackling laugh. Raise hell elsewhere sister Vicki, we'll be joining soon enough.

Ashley Davies

I will miss Vicki's ready smile and sunny personality. Her skills and enthusiasm added greatly to the appearance of all our CDs. Thanks Vicki.

Ian Saddler

Vicki first arrived in my life one Saturday afternoon around 1974, when she and a teenage friend (probably Lesley), came bouncing into the rock on stall on Golborne Road.

We struck up an immediate rapport over music and records and it didn't seem very long before she was clambering over the counter to help me as back-room assistant at Rock On, probably in return for a vinyl fix.

On request, Vicki would dig out boxes of precious old 45s from the dusty archives. These would have been inscribed with names such as, Ben E. King, Dusty Springfield, Ike & Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis etc., etc. Vicki would hand them out to me to pass along to customers. 

A punter might ask if we had any records by, say, Ray Charles and instantaneously, a virtually disembodied hand would appear from behind the shelves at the back of the stall. Vicki enjoyed being this mysterious unseen person, fulfilling requests within seconds.

She called herself ‘the hand’; she thought that this was hilarious!

Over the years that followed, Vicki became indispensable around Rock On, always keen to help with odd jobs, filing records, helping behind the counter in the Camden shop, doing window displays and so on. Vicki was artistically talented and although she had no formal training in art, she created wonderful primitivo illustrations for several early Ace and Kent albums including Oscar McLollie and Howling Wolf.

Around 1978, Vicky encouraged her friend Alf to bring a cassette of her blues band to me at Ace. After a listen, i told Alf that i didn’t think the band was good enough, but Ace would love to make a record with her. Alf declined (she refused to abandon her band) but re-surfaced a few years later as Alison Moyet in Yazoo.

Vicki loved music and bands; the more blues flavoured the better. She was pals with all the Canvey contingent and was always keen to get musically involved herself. She would whip out a harmonica at the drop of a hat and of course, inevitably she created 'Girls On Top'.

I was chatting with Vicki not long ago - we were reminiscing about the early days at Rock On and we remembered one particular Sunday about 30 years ago when she was manning a 'pop-up' Rock On stall in Camden Market.

It was a very cold morning with snow on the ground. When I went out to check on her after an hour or so, to make sure that she was still alive, she complained that her feet were freezing. So i got a hundred-count cardboard LP box, wrapped it in a bin liner, with several layers of cardboard insulation on the bottom and balls of rolled up newspaper as extra insulation. Soon Vicki's feet were warm as toast and she was a happy camper once more.

This was typical of Vicki, she was up for anything, always enthusiastic and in good humour.

We shall all miss her terribly.

Ted Carroll

How wonderful it was to have known you for so many years, you could always brighten my day with your smiles and laughter and our wonderful chats on gardening and of course our cats.

You drew me two fantastic pictures, one of the Clash and the other Little Anthony, they both take pride on my walls at home and each time I look at them I will remember you with such love and admiration.

Love always.

Yvette Deroy

I met Vicki at Rock On in 1979. She was working for Ted in Golborne Road on Saturdays and I’d just started helping him to sort out his singles collection. We hit it off immediately: she was funny, clever and had great dress sense. Being so slender she could wear some fairly unusual combos but make them work. I was really interested in music but not very expert; although Vicki was five years younger than me she had a head start when it came to R&B. I never really caught up.

We went to lots of gigs together. Two highlights: Screaming Jay Hawkins at Dingwalls and Tina Turner at the Venue, shortly after she split from Ike, prior to her propulsion to megastar. Vicki was a fantastic dancer. I could never create the same shapes, but was an enthusiastic companion and admirer. Her in-depth study of stage craft practised by American R&B stars and acts such as Dr Feelgood fed into her own live performances.

She was an excellent cook, loved food and sharing it with others. She was a great hostess and continued to have friends over even when she was feeling really unwell.

Latterly she was utterly resolute in the face of her illness. She was so determined to have a good life and enjoy things as much as she could and I am full of admiration for how seldom she complained about her pain or her treatment. She insisted Ace continued to give her work as she wanted to be useful right into her last weeks. Her last piece was colouring the black and white photo of Rita (Syreeta) Wright for the CD cover.

Ace had hoped we’d be able to get a bit further with Vicki’s compilation “Sounds Unexpected”. The tracks haven’t yet all cleared, but at least she saw and approved the first draft of the cover, which was designed to her brief, although she wasn’t able to write notes for the package.

Vicki was one of the most loyal and trustworthy people I’ve known. She was always on your side – supportive and loving. A true friend. 

Carol Fawcett

Vicki was a total sweetheart. When I started there her face was familiar from Rock On because she was just gorgeous and had an unforgettable naughtiness in those eyes. I had a secret crush on her. At Ace we worked different days in different parts of the building but I enjoyed visits to her desk to see what she was working on and after work chats in the car back from the wilds of Park Royal. Vicki was one of the old school Ace lot, punky, rockabilly and fun. We were a week apart in age but to me she was a teenager with a wise head.

Simon White

The heartfelt tributes reflect what a very special person Vicki was.

During my time as an Ace Records consultant and afterwards, she was relentlessly professional and caring in dealing with requests for photographic scans or handling project illustrations (especially the fairly recent Tampa Red overload).

I will forever treasure her hand-coloured front-cover artwork for the Gumbo Stew, Fats Domino and Shirley & Lee releases. There she totally captured the good-time spirit of New Orleans R&B, as only a talented artist and dedicated music fan could.  

She will always be remembered here with great fondness – and a big smile.

John Broven

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