Longtime local musician found dead | AspenTimes.com

Longtime local musician found dead

Naomi Havlen
Chris Cox, left, plays guitar with violinist Bob Yang and keyboardist Jason Perin at the R Bar in Aspen, circa 1995. Aspen Times photo/Stewart Oksenhorn.

Longtime local musician Chris Cox was found dead in his home late Wednesday night.Cox, 58, moved to Aspen in 1970 and quickly gained attention for his singing and songwriting abilities in the local music scene. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the Pitkin County coroner continue to investigate the cause of his death.Sources familiar with the incident said the death may have been a suicide.Judy Haas, an Aspen resident and artist, was married to Cox at one time, and together they have a daughter, Jessica Cox. Haas released this statement about her former husband’s death:”The family and friends of Christopher Caldwell Cox deeply regret his passing on the morning of March 9, 2005. Chris, beloved father of Jessica Cox, moved to Aspen in 1970 bringing nothing more than his guitar. At the time, Aspen was a small town attracting an eccentric mix of artists, writers and musicians.”Chris rapidly became a formidable music presence, playing with Bobby Mason, Dan Forde, Richard Hathaway, Brian DeWolf, Dave Johnson, Khristie Krantz, Jason Perrin, Tai Vare, Bobby Yang, Buddy Miles, Suzanne Paris and others. His daughter, Jessica Cox, was the light of his life, and grew up singing on the stage beside him.

“And he dearly loved his son, Aaron Cox, as well. “We will miss him dearly, and we carry the memory of his love and his music in our hearts. A memorial service is being planned and will be announced.”Sandy Munro, owner of the Great Divide music store in Aspen, had known Cox for more than 30 years.”Chris was a real good guy who was a very talented songwriter and singer,” Munro said. “In the early ’70s in Aspen he was one of the fixtures of the Aspen music scene. Whenever there was a big benefit for someone who had cancer or was in a bad automobile accident, he was always one of the first people to pitch in.”Musician Dan Forde said in the early ’70s, he, Cox and local musician Mason were referred to as “the three brothers” because of how much time they spent together.”Bobby called me today and said ‘One of the brothers is gone,'” Forde said on Thursday. “It’s something that gives you a real jolt – it makes a big hole in you. I thought he had been doing pretty good and working his way back out of it.”

“It” may be Cox’s struggle with drug abuse, made public last spring when he was arrested. The musician spent time in jail, and a number of his friends told the Times they hadn’t seen as much of him since the incident.Cox was charged with possession and unlawful distribution of cocaine after a man allegedly seeking drugs entered his home in March and beat Cox unconscious. Police found Cox in his apartment, bleeding an uable to move.Aspen Attorney Jeff Wertz represented Cox in court and said Cox became his friend over the course of the year.”He spent more than a few days in the hospital because of that incredible beating,” Wertz said. “He was beaten unconscious and remembers next to nothing about the incident.”Police arrested Cox in May after reportedly seeing drugs in plain sight in his apartment. According to police reports, 17.7 grams of “a white powdery substance” was found in the apartment, along with more than $8,000 in cash and a cocaine grinder.Cox later pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and was sentenced to 70 days in Pitkin County Jail and four years of probation.

“He was clean and sober the entire time I represented him,” Wertz said. “And he embraced that – he always spoke positively about where he was headed.”Wertz filed a motion with the courts to terminate Cox’s court case and probation on Thursday morning when he learned of his death.For the last several months, Cox had worked at Clark’s Market in Aspen, beginning when he was on work release from the Pitkin County Jail.”He had a great personality, and since he was from my era, being my age, we had a lot in common,” said Tony Welgos, manager at Clark’s. “There was no indication that this was going to happen – he seemed pretty mellow. It’s sad to see this happen because he was fun to be with here at the store.”Joe DiSalvo, a Pitkin County Investigator who is not working on the case but was Cox’s close friend, said Cox was still struggling with pain from being assaulted.”He was a nice, caring person that was going through a very hard time in the last year, and I thought he was doing OK but he was obviously in a lot of physical pain,” DiSalvo said. “Substance abuse was a private matter for him. I know he was working on it.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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