Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Roxy Music History
In the winter of 1970/1971, ceramics teacher and aspiring rock musician Bryan Ferry advertised for a keyboard player to collaborate with him and Graham Simpson, a bass player he knew from his art college band, "The Gas Board." Earlier in 1970 Ferry had auditioned as lead singer for King Crimson (who were seeking a replacement for departed vocalist Greg Lake) and although Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield decided that Ferry's voice was unsuitable for King Crimson's material, they were greatly impressed by his talent and they subsequently helped the fledgling Roxy Music to obtain a contract with E.G. Records.
Andy MacKay replied to Ferry's advertisement, not as a keyboard player but as a saxophonist and oboist; however, he did possess a VCS3 synthesiser. Andy met Brian Eno during university days, as both were interested in avant-garde and electronic music. It was some time later that they met again; although Eno was a self-confessed non-musician, he could operate a synthesizer and owned a Revox reel-to-reel tape machine, so Mackay convinced him to join the fledgling band as a technical adviser. It wasn't long before Eno was a performing member of the group. After Dexter Lloyd, a classically-trained timpanist, left the band the group placed an ad in Melody Maker magazine saying wonder drummer wanted for an avante rock group.. Soon after "Virginia Plain", Rik Kenton departed the band.
The next album, For Your Pleasure (recorded with guest bass player John Porter) was released in March 1973. Although initial reviews were lukewarm, the LP was influential and went on to be recognized as one of the most original and enduring progressive rock recordings of the early 1970s. It also marked the beginning of the band's long, successful collaboration with producer Chris Thomas and recording engineer Bill Price, who worked on all of the group's classic albums and singles in the 1970s. The album was promoted with the non-album single Pyjamarama, but no album track was released as a single. At the time, Ferry was dating French model Amanda Lear, who was photographed with a black jaguar for the cover of For Your Pleasure (Ferry appears on the back cover as a dapper driver standing in front of a limousine).

Formation and first two albums (1970–73)
Soon after recording For Your Pleasure, Brian Eno left the band amidst increasing differences with Ferry over the direction and running of the group (and as some have contended, over a personal feud that developed between the two). Their fifth album, Siren, contained their only US hit, "Love is the Drug" (Ferry said the song came to him while kicking the leaves during a walk through Hyde Park). At this time Ferry was involved in a high profile relationship with Texas-born supermodel Jerry Hall. Hall had a major impact on the group, being the subject of the influential Roxy song "Prairie Rose" (from Country Life), a song that directly inspired the Talking Heads' song "The Big Country". Hall is also featured on the cover of the Siren LP and in the video for Ferry's 1976 international solo hit, a cover of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Stick Together".
Following the concert tours in support of Siren in 1976, Roxy Music disbanded. During this time Ferry released two solo records on which Manzanera and Thompson performed, and Manzanera reunited with Eno on the critically acclaimed one-off 801 Live album.

Stranded, Country Life, Siren and solo projects (1974–77)
Roxy Music reunited in 1978 to record a new album, Manifesto, but with a reshuffled line-up. Jobson was not present (reportedly not contacted for the reunion) as Ferry decided to perform keyboards himself. After the tour and prior to the recording of the next album, Flesh + Blood, Thompson broke his thumb in a motorcycle mishap and took a leave from the band (and soon after left permanently). The three remaining members were supplemented by a variety of session players over the next few years, including Andy Newmark, Neil Hubbard and Alan Spenner.
The changed line-up reflected a distinct change in Roxy's musical approach. Gone were the jagged and unpredictable elements of the group's sound, giving way to smoother musical arrangements (some would say blander arrangements; Rolling Stone panned Manifesto, "Roxy Music has not gone disco. Roxy Music has not particularly gone anywhere else either" Later, with more sombre and carefully-sculpted soundscapes, the band's eighth and (until their 21st Century reunion) final album Avalon in 1982, was a major commercial success and restored the group's critical reputation (Rolling Stone: "Avalon takes a long time to kick in, but it finally does, and it's a good one.") The trio toured extensively until 1983, when Bryan Ferry dissolved the band and band members devoted themselves full time to solo careers (see below).

Final albums and break-up (1978–83)
Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, and Thompson re-formed in 2001 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band and toured extensively for a couple of years. Absent was Brian Eno, who criticized the motives of the band's reunion. "I just don't like the idea," Eno explained, "It leaves a bad taste."

Reunion and new album (2001–present)

Main articles: Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera, and Paul Thompson (musician) Solo work
Roxy Music was one of the first rock groups who created and maintained a carefully crafted 'look' and style that included their stage presentation, music videos, album and single cover designs and promotional materials such as posters and badges. Legendary critic Lester Bangs went so far as to say that Roxy represented "the triumph of artifice." standing in a forest. As a result, in many areas of the United States the album was sold in an opaque plastic wrapper because retailers refused to display the cover.
Roxy Music were a significant influence on the early English punk movement, as well as providing a model for many "New Wave" acts and the subsequent New Romantic and experimental electronic groups of the early 1980s. Ferry and co-founding member Brian Eno have also had broadly influential solo careers, and Eno in particular has emerged one of the most significant record producers of the late 20th century, with credits including landmark albums by Devo, Talking Heads and U2.

Style and legacy

Main article: Roxy Music discography Discography

Roxy Music (July 1972)
For Your Pleasure (April 1973)
Stranded (December 1973)
Country Life (November 1974)
Siren (November 1975)
Manifesto (April 1979)
Flesh and Blood (May 1980)
Avalon (June 1982) Studio albums

Viva! (July 1976)
Heart Still Beating (October 1990)
2001 World Tour Live CD (Double Album) (June 2003) Live albums

Band members

Bryan Ferryvocals, keyboards (1971-1983; 2001-)
Phil Manzaneraguitar (1972-1983; 2001-)
Andy Mackaysaxophone, oboe (1971-1983; 2001-) Core members

Brian Enosynthesizer, "treatments" (1971-1973)
Paul Thompsondrums (1971-1980; 2001-)
Eddie Jobsonsynthesizer, violin (1973-1976) Session and touring musicians

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