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Fox may have a proclivity for equating feeling with decibels, but his playing is characterized by careful attention to rhythm and phrasing. Even his critics concede that he possesses one of the century's greatest organ-virtuoso techniques. Born in Princeton, Ill., where his mother was alto soloist in the Lutheran church and his father owned the local moviehouse and was the "best auctioneer the state of Illinois has ever seen," Fox began piano lessons at eight. A year later he discovered an old organ in a barn and taught himself to play, practicing up to 16 hours a day. At ten he was the organist of the First Presbyterian Church. At 20 he graduated with top honors from Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of Music, then studied with the celebrated French organist Marcel Dupré before returning to head Peabody's organ department at 26.
A bachelor, Fox lives in a 26-room gray stone mansion in Englewood, N.J. He keeps himself fit swimming 30 laps daily in his 70-ft. heated indoor pool. He usually takes his dip after a midnight-to-3 a.m. practice session. Then he retires around 5 a.m. and rises at 3 the next afternoon. "I had to wait until I was 58 years of age till I reached the height of my usefulness," Fox explains. "People need Bach and God, and there ain't one violinist or singer that can give the sweeping feeling an organist can. I play the king of instruments."