A History of Roxy Music
A Brief History Of Roxy Music
In the winter of 1970/71, Bryan Ferry (ceramics teacher) advertises for a keyboard player to join with him and Graham Simpson a bass player he knew from his college band, The Gas Board. Andy Mackay replied to the advertisement, not as a keyboard player but as a saxophonist and oboist, however, he did posses a VCS3 synthesiser. Andy met Brian Eno during university days, as both were interested in avant-guard and electronic music. It was some time later that they met again, and as Brian could use a synthesizer and owned a Revox reel to reel tape machine, Andy co-opted him to join the fledgling band as a technical advisor. It wasn't long before Eno was a performing member of the group. Dexter Lloyd a classically trained timpanist joined the group as a drummer.
The first line up of the band: Bryan Ferry vocals/keyboards, Graham Simpson bass, Andy Mackay sax and oboe, Brian Eno synth and treatments, Roger Bunn guitar and Dextor Lloyd percussion recorded a the first demo tape of the embryonic stages of the Bryan Ferry songs The Bob (Medlay) Ladytron, Chance Meeting, 2HB and Grey Lagoons,
With some line up changes along the way an advertisement was placed seeking a 'wonder drummer'. It was in November of 1971 that Paul Thompson joined the line-up. Paul had played in a number of Newcastle bands, and he had moved to London with the band Smokestack.
After a succession of guitarists including Roger Bunn who left in September 1971, Phil Manzanera arrived via yet another advertisement, but failed the audition. He was passed over for David O'List. Ferry had admired David's work with the group The Nice. Phil Manzanera found a place with the band as road manager and assistant sound mix engineer. So by November 1971 there is a band that is formed, and initially called itself Roxy, after Bryan's passion for going to the movie theatres. He wanted to instil a sense of drama, theatre, and glamour. Doubtless the name Roxy would have sufficed, but there was already a band of that name in the US, so it was changed to Roxy Music.
By the end of 1971, they hadn't managed to get a recording contract. But they had a favourable review in the December 12th issue of Melody Maker, as journalist Richard Williams (a fan of O'List's work with The Nice) had been impressed with a demo tape he'd acquired. It was while they were playing gigs they were noticed by John Peel in a club where they were billed with Genesis. On the strength of what he saw, Roxy were booked for four sessions with John Peel on his Sound of the Seventies show at the beginning of January 1972. Davy O'List left the band soon after these sessions.
It took Phil Manzanera three days of auditions to be accepted as replacement guitarist. The band still isn't making money, Mackay and Ferry are still teaching, and Thompson is working on a building site. So Ferry enlists the help of Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and goes to E.G. Management in pursuit of a recording contract. Reluctantly they are persuaded to give the band an audition and on the strength of that, they sign the band and E'G orchestrate a deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records label.
Island Records gave a large advance payment, which went towards the purchase of some glamorous outfits for the band. Roxy's stage outfits were designed by Antony Price, Jim O'Connor, Pamla Motown but it was Carol McNichol who designed some of the memorably outrageous costumes worn by Eno.
In March of 1972, the first album is complete, suitably entitled "Roxy Music". The album is released in June 1972 to rave reviews after the departure of bassist Graham Simpson replaced with Rik Kenton for live work. The bassist in Roxy Music would take the trend of coming to Roxy through a revolving door over the rest of the life of the band. A set of dates around UK and the release of their first single "Virginia Plain" (c/w new piece "The Numberer") found them the wider audience they were looking for.
1973 was a busy year for the Roxy camp, the release of their second album "For Your Pleasure" confirmed them as one of the most important bands of the '70s. The album was promoted with the non album single "Pyjamarama" (c/w new piece "The Pride And The Pain") which climbed into the top 10 like it's predecessor. Roxy continued to play more live dates in UK and USA. The band lost original synth and treatments man, Brian Eno due to friction within the band. The two Bryan's were too much for the one band so Eno left to start a solo career which has led to his involvement with many major artists as a producer. Later the same year saw the release of their third album "Stranded" complete with Eddie Jobson from Curved Air who was a virtuoso violinist and pianist. The additional soloing instrument gave a new dimension to the Roxy sound. This album topped the UK album charts and the single "Street Life" (c/w new piece "Hula Kula") had Roxy blaring out of every radio in the country.
The album "Country Life" released in 1974 shocked the music world with its risqué sleeve with two semi clad females caught by headlamps of a car in the rhododendron bushes. The album spawned the fourth single "All I Want Is You" (c/w new piece "Your Application's Failed") which reached number 12 in the UK charts. The band toured UK, the rest of Europe, USA & Australia to return in 1975 with the smash hit "Love Is The Drug" (c/w new piece "Sultanesque) which was kept off the top spot by David Bowie's re-issue of Space Oddity. The accompanying album, "Siren" featuring unknown Texan model Jerry Hall on the cover and was a huge success and was the first album to produce more than one single with "Both Ends Burning" as the second release. The band toured the album right into Spring 1976 when they decided to take some time off from their collective duties and work on their own individual solo projects.
A live album "Viva! Roxy Music" was released in the interim in 1976 with a compilation of "Roxy Music's Greatest Hits" (1977) supported with the re-release of "Virginia Plain" and the Roxy anthem "Do The Strand" as a UK single for the first time.
With all the solo work out of the system, the band regrouped in 1979 with only four original members, Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay & Paul Thompson augmented with Dave Skinner on keyboards and Gary Tibbs on bass. The band's come back single, "Trash" stuttered at number 40. Chart success is soon restored with the single "Dance Away" reaching number 2 in the UK singles chart from the album "Manifesto" which Roxy took to the road throughout the World. A third single from "Manifesto" was a disco re-recording of "Angel Eyes" which had the first 12" mix of a Roxy song.
1980 saw the band down to three original members after the departure of Paul Thompson due to 'musical differences'. The single "Over You" was a taster from what was to come in the album "Flesh + Blood" which topped the album charts on four separate occasions that year, helped with the release of the singles "Oh Yeah (on the radio)" (c/w new piece "South Downs") & "The Same Old Scene" (c/w new song "Lover"). A World tour into 1981 saw Roxy perform "Jealous Guy" at the time of John Lennon's death as a tribute to the slain singer. The song was recorded at Phil's Gallery studios and released as a single which topped the UK charts, the only number one single to date.
March 1982 saw the release of the single "More Than This". This proved to be a smash hit throughout Europe and Japan. This was the opening track on the "Avalon" which was released May of 1982. The album topped the charts and stayed in the album charts for 60 weeks. This album is the biggest selling Roxy album to date. The title track, "Avalon" (c/w new song "Always Unknowing") was released as a single reaching number 12 and "Take A Chance With Me" in the top 30 were the last Roxy releases during the life of the band. The Avalon tour took Roxy on the road right up until May 26th 1983 finishing in Philadelphia. News of the bands split hit the press as differences within the band had brought Bryan, Phil & Andy to the end of their collective activities.
A compilation album, "The Atlantic Years" and a live mini album "The High Road" from the Glasgow 1982 show were released in 1983 and a video of the Frejus show titled "The High Road" were released.
The first compilation of both Roxy Music songs and Bryan Ferry's solo works was released in 1986. "Street Life 20 Great Hits" topped the UK charts confirming Roxy were not a forgotten band. A split with the record company in 1987 meant that there were several contractual obligations to be met under the old record company. E'G decided to release the compilation album "The Ultimate Collection" with a mixture of Roxy & Ferry tracks in 1988. 1990 saw the release of a live single "Love Is The Drug" from the live album Heart Still Beating, this single, album and the video collection were released much to the annoyance of Ferry. In a press statement he claimed that he wanted to distance himself from those releases and that their release was a record company decision outwith his control. The live album was recorded eight years earlier in 1982 in France.
1996 saw the release of a re mix of "Love Is The Drug" by Rollo & Sister Bliss form the band Faithless. This CD single with the original version with 3 new mixes that were such a favourite in the clubs that it reached number 33 in the UK charts, 21 years after it was originally released this is the last time Roxy Music would appear in the UK singles chart.
An album compiled from their first 3 albums simply titled "The Early Years" was released in 2000 with much of this music being relevant and influential to many of the contemporary artists of 2000.
Roxy announced their planned reformation and forthcoming world tour in a press conference in The Savoy in The Strand (of all places) in February 2001. The World tour kicked off in Dublin 9th June 2001 proving all doubters that Roxy Music were back and back with the style and class that oozed throughout their 12 years together. A compilation of Roxy Music material from all periods of their career titled "The Best OF Roxy Music" was released at the start of the world tour. The tour ended at Hammersmith Odeon 2nd October 2001. The show was filmed for a DVD and was released on 6th May 2002.
Roxy Music reformed in 2003 for a mini tour of USA and a one off show in Portugal. This tour coincided with the release of 'Roxy Music Live' a 22 song live double CD taken from 17 shows during the 2001 tour. In 2005 the band then announced they would play the Isle Of Wight festival as several other dates in Europe. This news was also greeted with the welcome news that Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Andy MacKay & Paul Thompson were to record together with the potential release of the 9th Roxy Music album. the band did some live shows in 2006 and this would be their last appeaances together until 2010 where they did several festival dates throughout Europe.
The fruits of the sessions for any potential new Roxy album seem to be on hold with no definate yes or no if the sessions will ever be completed and released.
Roxy Music toured UK and Australia in 2011 in what is called the 'For your Pleasure' tour and potentially is the last activity the band will do collectively
"...next time is the best time we all know..."
Album Chart History
A week by week chart placing of all the albums.
Andy Mackay's Solo Work
Featuring the solo and session work of Roxy Music member Andy Mackay.
Brian Eno and Eddie Jobson
Page detailing Brian Eno and Eddie Jobson's involvement with Roxy Music.
Bryan Ferry's Solo Work
Featuring Bryan Ferry's solo and session work throughout his career.
Paul Thompson's Solo and Session Work
Features the Solo and session career of Roxy Music drummer Paul Thompson.
Phil Manzanera's Solo Work
Featuring the solo and session work of Roxy Music member Phil Manzanera.
Roxy Music Chronology
A comprehensive timeline of the history of Roxy Music and the solo work.