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Terry Cox



Terry Cox


Drummer Terry Cox is probably best remembered in music for his time with the famous UK folk-jazz band Pentangle. From their formation in 1967 to 1973, the band included Jacqui McShee (vocals); John Renbourn (vocals and guitar); Bert Jansch (vocals and guitar); Danny Thompson (double bass) and Terry Cox (drums). Danny Thompson and Terry brought a key jazz influence to the band as they were already established musicians in the jazz world.

Some years ago I was on holiday on the Baleriac island of Menorca. By chance we came across a restaurant, Pan Y Vino, and decided to get Terry Cox at Pan Y Vinoa meal. Recorded jazz was playing in the background and at the time, we were the only customers. I noticed that the owner was named ‘Terry Cox’ and when he came to our table, I discovered that he was the drummer who had worked with Sandy Brown’s band in the 1960s. We talked about his time with the band and I mentioned that I had recently met up with trombonist Tony Milliner who had played with the band at the same time. The restaurant became busier and Terry went to serve other customers, but a while later he re-appeared holding his phone. Tony Milliner was on the other end wondering what was going on!


Terry Cox at Pan Y Vino on a hot Menorcan day.
Photograph by Ian Maund





Listen to Terry playing Work Song with the Sandy Brown All Stars in 1963. By this stage, with the addition of reeds player Tony Coe, the band was already moving away from a 'traditional' into a more 'mainstream' style.




Terry William Harvey Cox was born in Buckinghamshire in March 1937. His story, according to John Chilton’s Who’s Who Of British Jazz, tells how he started out sitting in at High Wycombe’s Cadena Club and took lessons from Jack Peach. Terry’s first professional work was with Michael Garrick in 1960/1961 and then with the Lennie Felix Trio from 1961-1962.

He joined the Al Fairweather – Sandy Brown band in late 1962 and was with them until 1964.

Terry was present when members of the Sandy Brown Band appeared with visiting American trumpeter Henry Red Allen for a concert at the Westminster Central Hall in January 1964 with Red Allen (trumpet, vocals), Mac Duncan (trombone), Sandy Brown (clarinet), Johnny Parker (piano), Diz Disley (guitar), Jim Bray (bass) and Terry Cox (drums).


Listen to Honeysuckle Rose from the session, unfortunately the audio quality is poor, but the recording is of historical importance.



Terry also played with the Alan Littlejohn / Tony Milliner band during 1963 and also with guitarist Denny Wright. Denny was an interesting character. He was a session musician,  prolific jazz and orchestra composer, arranger and "fixer" for recording sessions, and he led many bands from small ensembles to orchestras. It is said that Denny set up London's first bebop club in 1945, the Fullado in New Compton Street, where he played piano and guitar. In the late 1940s he toured Italy and the Middle East with the Francisco Cavez orchestra and performed in King Farouk's palace. Denny was also part of Lonnie Donegan's group who first took skiffle to the Soviet Union in 1957. In the 1960s, in addition to a great deal of session work providing backing for many top artists including Mary Hopkin and Tom Jones, with friend Keith Cooper he produced Tribute to the Hot Club as the Cooper-Wright Quintet.

Terry Cox then joined Alexis Korner. Korner (born Koerner), sometimes called ‘The Father Of British Blues’, had worked with Chris Barber’s band in 1949 where he met harmonica player Cyril Davies. Together they started the influential London Blues and Barrelhouse Club in 1955 and made their first record together in 1957. In 1961, they formed Blues Incorporated 'initially a loose-knit group of musicians with a shared love of electric blues and R&B music. The group included, at various times, Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Long John Baldry, Danny Thompson and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Cyril Davies left the group in late 1962, but Blues Incorporated continued to record until 1966. However, by that time its originally stellar line-up (and crowd of followers) had mostly left to start their own bands’.

We can listen to Danny Thompson and Terry Cox playing with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated in excerpts of Long Black Train and Sky Blues from an unreleased out-take from the 1965 Sky High LP sessions recorded at Ryemuse Studios in London: Duffy Power (vocals/harmonica), Alexis Korner (guitar), Danny Thompson (bass), Terry Cox (drums).








Terry Cox and Danny Thompson were two who moved on to take part in the formation of Pentangle.


According to Wikipedia: ‘Jacqui McShee had begun as an (unpaid) "floor singer" in several of the London folk clubs, and then, by 1965, ran a Pentangle 1969folk club at the Red Lion in Sutton, Surrey, establishing a friendship with Jansch and Renbourn when they played there.

She sang on Renbourn's Another Monday album and performed with him as a duo, debuting at Les Cousins club in August 1966. Danny Thompson and Terry Cox were well known as jazz musicians and had played together in Alexis Korner's band. By 1966, they were both part of Duffy Power's Nucleus (a band which also included John McLaughlin on electric guitar). Thompson was well known to Renbourn through appearances at Les Cousins and working with him on a project for television’.

‘In 1967, the Scottish entrepreneur Bruce Dunnet, who had recently organised a tour for Jansch, set up a Sunday night club for him and Renbourn at the (now defunct) Horseshoe Hotel in Tottenham Court Road. McShee began to join them as a vocalist and, by March of that year, Thompson and Cox were being billed as part of the band. Renbourn claims to be the "catalyst" that brought the band together but credits Jansch with the idea "to get the band to play in a regular place, to knock it into shape".


Pentangle in 1969
Photograph by Jac. de Nijs / Anefo - Nationaal Archief



This early Pentangle video from 1968 of Let No Man Steal Your Thyme has Jacqui McShee (vocals);
Bert Jansch and John Renbourn (guitars); Danny Thompson (bass) and Terry Cox (drums).




This 40 minute video, also from 1968, is from a Norwegian television broadcast.




Terry was a member if Pentangle from 1968 to 1973. In this video of Pentangle with Hunting Song
has Danny Thompson on bass and Terry Cox on drums and xylophone




Danny and Terry's influence on Pentangle is illustrated in this video of People In The Highway from around 1970. One commentator says: 'Obviously what sets Pentangle apart from Fairport, et al is the Danny Thompson, Terry Cox SWING FACTOR!!!... this late stuff is their best with Bert and Jacqui harmonising like the devil and an angel side by side', and another: '...when Terry Cox is giving it that face. I really don't think that there's a word for it in the English language but you know what he's thinking'.






The Humblebums


Around this time, Terry was also playing and recording with The Humblebums. The Humblebums were a Scottish folk band, based in Glasgow.

Its members included Billy Connolly, who later became the famous comedian and actor, guitarist Tam Harvey and the singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty.

The band was active from 1965 to 1971. When Harvey left, Connolly and Rafferty went their own way after recording two albums of material: The New Humblebums and Open Up the Door.







It is not clear which tracks Terry played on as drums are not heard clearly on some tracks, but they are on I Can't Stop Now.




Terry and his wife Jill moved to Menorca in 1970 and Terry 'commuted' working with Pentangle and freelancing with other groups. In the early 1970s he worked with the Roger Webb Trio, Bobby Lamb-Ray’s Premru Orchestra and accompanied many visiting American musicians including Benny Carter and Jon Hendricks. He toured with Roy Orbison and worked with Elton John and David Bowie and played with John Dankworth, Cleo Laine and Ronnie Scott. For six years he played regularly for French vocalist Charles Aznavour.

Eventually, Terry reduced his playing schedule and opened the restaurant 'Pan Y Vino' in Torres, Menorca.

However, in 2007, the original members of Pentangle were reunited to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and to record a short concert that was broadcast on BBC radio. In June 2008, the band, comprising all five original members, embarked on a twelve-date UK tour.

Here are Pentangle with one of their best-know numbers Light Flight on the TV show Later With Jools Holland in March 2008.






Terry Cox



Whilst continuing to run Pan Y Vino, Terry continued playing locally and in 2009 he gave a concert with Spanish friends to highlight the condition 'Bipolar Disorder' (referred to at one time as Manic Depression). It is not generally known that Terry has had the disorder for many years and he felt the need to give it more wide public recognition. "I gave the concert in order to try and break the taboo perceived by many people," says Terry. "I was motivated by two reasons, firstly to inform people of this condition affecting 1 in 10 worldwide, and secondly to repay Menorca for giving our family a magic life. If, as in my case, you are lucky enough to find something you love, concentrate on that (not easy!). Click here to find out more about Bipolar Disorder. There are a number of other information sites on the internet and others who have had the disorder include Mel Gibson, Nina Simone, Jaco Pastorius and Stephen Fry.



Here is a video of Terry and his Menorcan Trio - Sergi Martin (guitar) and Nito Llorens (double bass)
- playing Charlie Parker's Billie's Bounce at Es Forat in 2010.

Terry also issued an EP, the more folk-based Twice Upon A Time, that year - you can sample it if you click here.






In 2011, Pentangle played a muddy Glastonbury Festival. Jacqui McShee and Bert Jansch were interviewed
by Lauren Laverne for BBC Radio 6 Music -




... and then played the Cambridge Folk Festival. Here is a video of them playing a 2011 version of the Hunting Song - the composition from the classic album Basket of Light, based on the medieval story of a magic drinking horn sent by Morgana le Fay to the court of King Arthur. A video of the original version is earlier in this article).




In his 2011 interview with Lauren Laverne, Bert Jansch mentioned his poor health and he sadly passed away in October that year. John Renbourn passed away in 2015.

We go back to those days when Terry was with the Fairweather/Brown band and listen to him playing on Love For Sale from the Lake Records Worksong album. As I pointed out earlier, this was a time of change that was reflected in the way all of the musicians in this band went on to play. On this track, trumpeter Al Fairweather takes a break and the number features Sandy Brown and Tony Coe, both on clarinet. In his sleeve notes, Paul Adams writes: 'I defy even the most musical listener to hear everything in a Tony Coe solo the first time round ... When he moves to clarinet, with which he duets with Sandy on the fiendishly hard Love For Sale, he provides Sandy, perhaps for the first time in Sandy's life, with a worthy opponent on his chosen instrument ... almost certainly occasioned by Coe's prescence in the band - Sandy has begun to explore more adventurously ...'




Terry Cox has taken a long journey in music since his time with Sandy Brown's Jazz Band, but we can see from his Trio in Menorca and the influence he and Danny Thompson brought to Blues and Folk music that the spirit of jazz has always been present.

Terry has a website at, although it has not been updated for some years, if carries a number of videos of Terry playing.


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