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Bryan Ferry Biography

Home > Music > F > Ferry, Bryan > Biography

Birth Name: Bryan Ferry
Born: 1945/09/26
Birth Place: Washington, England
Years Active: 1971–Present
Genres: Rock, Pop, Glam Rock, Art Rock

Bryan Ferry was born September 26, 1945 in Washington, County Durham, England, and is a singer known for his unique vocal style. Ferry rose to prominence in the early 1970s as vocalist and principal songwriter with the band Roxy Music, who were internationally successful with three #1 albums and 10 Top 10 hit singles in the U.K.

Roxy Music attained popular and critical success in Europe and Australia during the 1970s and early 1980s, beginning with their debut album, “Roxy Music” in 1972. The band was highly influential, as leading proponents of the more experimental, musically sophisticated element of glam, as well as a significant influence on early English punk music. The group is distinguished by their visual and musical sophistication and their preoccupation with style and glamour. They also provided a model for many New Wave acts and the experimental electronic groups of the early 1980s.

Their second album, “For Your Pleasure,” was released by Island Records in 1973. It was their last to feature Eno. “For Your Pleasure” peaked at #4 on the U.K. Albums chart. Later in 1973 the band released their third LP, “Stranded,” which reached #1 on the U.K. Albums chart. The cover featured Ferry's then girlfriend and 1973 Playmate of the Year, Marilyn Cole. It was the first Roxy Music album on which Ferry was not the sole songwriter as multi-instrumentalist Mackay and guitarist Manzanera also contributed to the album.

“Country Life,” their fourth album, was released in 1974 and reached # 3 in the U.K. It also peaked at #37 in the United States, their first record to crack the Top 40 there. The album is considered by many critics to be among the band's most sophisticated and consistent. Shot by Eric Boman, the cover art featured two scantily-clad models, Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald. Ferry met them in Portugal and persuaded them to do the photo shoot as well as to help him with the words to the song “Bitter-Sweet.” Although not credited for their photos they are credited on the lyric sheet for their German translation work.

The cover image was considered controversial in some countries such as the United States, Spain, and the Netherlands, where it was censored for release. As a result, a later American LP release of “Country Life” (available during the years 1975 to 1980) featured a different cover shot. Instead of Karoli and Grunwald posed in front of some trees, the reissue used a photo from the album's back cover that featured only the trees.

Their fifth album, “Siren,” was issued in 1975 and is one of Roxy Music's most critically acclaimed albums. The record reached #4 in the U.K. and contained their only U.S. hit, “Love Is the Drug.” The cover featured Ferry's then-girlfriend, model Jerry Hall, on rocks near South Stack, Anglesey. Graham Hughes, working during August 1975, took the cover photo directly below the central span of the bridge on a south-side slope. He worked from sketches produced by Antony Price, with photography featuring Hall striking various poses. The idea for the location was Ferry's, after he saw a TV documentary about lava flows and rock formations in Anglesey, in which South Stack was heavily featured.

After the concert tours in support of “Siren” in 1976, Roxy Music disbanded. Their live album “Viva!” was released in August 1976. 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.

Roxy Music reunited during 1978 to record a new album, “Manifesto,” but with a reshuffled cast. Jobson was not present, and was reportedly not contacted for the reunion. The sleeve of “Manifesto” explicitly identifies the revived Roxy Music line-up as a septet of Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, Thompson, and new members Gary Tibbs (bass), Alan Spenner (bass) and Paul Carrack (keyboards). However, these newest three members were downgraded to session musician status (as opposed to full band members) on all subsequent releases. The album reached #7 in the U.K. and became their second to reach the Top 40 in the U.S. The cover design which featured a variety of mannequins, was created by Ferry with fashion designer Antony Price, among others. The picture disc version of the album featured a version of the design in which the mannequins are unclothed. The cover's typography, as well as the album's title, was inspired by the first edition of Wyndham Lewis's literary magazine “Blast.”

After the tour and before the recording of the next album, 1980’s “Flesh + Blood,” Thompson broke his thumb in a motorcycle mishap and took a leave from the band. Soon after, he left permanently. At this point, Ferry, Mackay and Manzanera became the only permanent members of Roxy Music, and were supplemented by a variety of session players over the next few years (including Tibbs, Spenner, Carrack, Andy Newmark and Neil Hubbard.) The trio's 1980 album “Flesh + Blood” became a huge commercial success in their homeland, as the album went to #1 in the U.K., and spun off three UK hits: “Oh Yeah,” “Over You” and “Same Old Scene.”

In 1981, Roxy Music recorded the non-album single “Jealous Guy. “A cover of a song written and originally recorded by John Lennon, Roxy Music recorded “Jealous Guy” as a tribute to Lennon after his 1980 death. The song topped the U.K. charts for two weeks in March 1981, becoming the band's only #1 single.

Later, with more somber and carefully sculpted soundscapes, the band's eighth—and final—studio album, 1982’s “Avalon,” recorded at Chris Blackwell's Compass Point Studios, was a major commercial success and restored the group's critical reputation and contained the successful single “More Than This.” The album also included several Roxy Music classics, such as “Avalon” “The Main Thing,” “The Space Between” and “True to Life.” The trio (augmented by session players) toured extensively until 1983, when Ferry dissolved the band and band members devoted themselves full-time to solo careers

Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay and Thompson re-formed in 2001 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the band and toured extensively. A festival performance in Portugal and a short tour of the U. S. followed in 2003. Absent was Eno, who criticized the motives of the band's reunion. Later Eno remarked that his comments had been taken out of context. Manzanera and Thompson recorded and toured with Ferry on his 2002 album “Frantic.” Eno also contributed to “Frantic” on the track “I Thought.”

In 2005 Roxy Music began recording a new studio album, which would have been their ninth. It would have been Roxy's first record since 1973 with Eno, who wrote two songs for it as well as played keyboards. However, Ferry eventually confirmed that material from these sessions would be released as a Ferry solo album, with Eno playing on a couple of tracks,” and that he doesn't think they'll record as Roxy Music again. Subsequently, this was confirmed by the announcement of a solo Bryan Ferry album, titled “Olympia.”

Next, Ferry founded The Bryan Ferry Orchestra jazz ensemble to exclusively play his work in a 1920s jazz style. Ferry formed the orchestra out of a desire to focus on the melodies of his songs. Ferry neither plays nor sings with the orchestra.Their album, “The Jazz Age,” was released in November 2012 via BMG Rights Management. The Orchestra also appeared on the soundtrack to the 2013 film, “Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.”