Tony Cox (South African musician)

For other people of the same name, see Anthony Cox (disambiguation).

Anthony (Tony) Cox (born 24 January 1954) is a Zimbabwean-born guitarist and composer based in Cape Town, South Africa. A master of the fingerpicking style of guitar playing, he has won the SAMA (South African Music Awards) for best instrumental album thrice. His music incorporates many different styles including classical, blues, rock and jazz, while keeping an African flavour.

Tony Cox
Tony Cox performing at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, South Africa, in June 2005. He is pictured playing a long scale length acoustic baritone guitar custom made for him by Ian Corr.
Tony Cox performing at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, South Africa, in June 2005. He is pictured playing a long scale length acoustic baritone guitar custom made for him by Ian Corr.
Background information
Born (1954-01-24) January 24, 1954 (age 67)
Redcliff, Zimbabwe
GenresSouth African fingerstyle, Afro-Beat, World Music
Years activeEarly 1970s–present
Associated actsWith Steve Newman

Early lifeEdit

Born in Zimbabwe, multiple award-winning South African acoustic guitarist, singer/songwriter, Tony Cox has become a veritable icon of the instrument in his own country and has been described as one of South Africa’s finest musical exports. For a number of years now he has undertaken regular forays into Europe and North America and has seen a loyal fan-base begin to develop in the UK, Germany and Canada.

When he was just nine years old Tony began, incredibly, learning and playing the Hawaiian guitar in what was then Rhodesia. This was brought about by one Archie Pereira arriving from Lisbon and for reasons unknown decided to settle in the backwater of Kwe-Kwe, a town 20 miles away from Tony’s mining-town birthplace, Redcliff.

In his teens and after Archie disappeared back to Lisbon, Tony changed to a conventional guitar style and later, in order to ‘get the technique’, he studied the classical guitar. In 1969 the family left Rhodesia to settle in Cape Town, South Africa and it is here the young guitarist really started to absorb and assimilate the multi-textured rhythms and facets of the rich, indigenous music of his upbringing and surroundings.

He began to compose his own music early and immediately charged it with the African imagery that is very much a part of this unique guitar player's world perspective. Using all the finger�style techniques he had absorbed over the years from such greats as Leo Kottke and Bert Jansch and closer to home, Sipho Mchunu and Noise Khanyile both great exponents of Zulu Maskandi guitar style, Tony honed and developed a style all his own. With the rigorous precision of classical technique juxtaposing the loose, laid-backed delivery of a master at work, Tony’s music tumbles out at you, hitting your tapping feet with its solid groove and taking your heart and mind on harmonic journeys that stretch away to African horizons.

Tony Cox on-stage is as warm and engaging with his audience as he is off-stage. Telling stories and anecdotes and using much wry humour, he draws a person in and you find yourself listening really closely to a tune you may never have heard before and then being punched in the solar�plexus at the power and delivery of that tune. Besides being a solo performer Tony has collaborated and recorded with many other musicians to produce three SAMA award-winning albums and a string of nominations. China (UK/SA slang for friend) is just such an album. He recorded it in 2002 featuring many of the cream of SA musicians and is a fine example of Tony’s ability to work beyond the confines of solo guitar playing. The album won the ‘best instrumental’ category at the 2003 SAMA awards. He went on to win the same award another two times for his albums, Matabele Ants in 2003, and Blue Anthem in 2008. His 2014 album Padkos, Tony's homage to great SA composers, was nominated for the 2015 SAMA awards. 2016 saw Tony return to his roots as a singer with the release of his album, Enormous Flowers, an album that is destined to become a South African classic.

Known throughout South Africa for being a dedicated teacher of the acoustic guitar, Tony runs his own online school of the acoustic guitar. Besides his face-to-face students Tony teaches online and has students as far afield as India, Sweden and the UK. When not teaching he travels the world performing. In 2020 the Cox family uprooted from South Africa and moved to the UK.


  • 101 Ways to use an acoustic guitar (1983) with Steve Newman
  • Out of Line (1984) Out of Print Cassette
  • Planetarium Live (c. 1989) with Steve Newman - Out of Print Cassette
  • In to nation (1991) Out of Print LP
  • Alive at Le Plaza (1993) with Steve Newman - Out of Print Cassette
  • Cool friction (1996)
  • Looking for Zim (1998)
  • Matabele ants (2001), SA Award-Winner
  • The Aquarian Quartet - Live (2002)
  • China (2003)SA Award-Winner
  • About time (2002) with Steve Newman
  • Tony Cox - In Concert at the Grahamstown National Festival of the Arts (2005)
  • Blue Anthem featuring Benguela (2007)SA Award-Winner
  • Audient (2008)
  • Tony Cox & Steve Newman - Return of the Road Warriors (2010)
  • The Summer Comes My loves (2011)
  • Padkos (2014)
  • Enormous Flowers (2017)
  • The World Went Quiet (2021)

External linksEdit