Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Roxy Music is a British Art-rock group founded in the early 1970s as a collaborative project between art school graduate Bryan Ferry (vocals, keyboards) and electronic music specialist Brian Eno. The band existed from 1971 through 1983 (though without Eno after 1973), then reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and has announced that they will be recording a new album in 2005.
The group's name was partly an homage to the titles of old cinemas and dance halls, and partly a pun on the word 'rock'. The juxtaposition of nostalgic and contemporary (or futuristic) themes was a distinctive feature of the band, particularly in their earliest incarnation. The group is noted for their combination of idiosyncratic experimentation and sophisticated wit, evident in their literate lyrics, restrained instrumental virtuosity, and highly developed visual presentation.
Roxy Music was a significant influence on the early British 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 Eno have also had broadly influential solo careers.
In the winter of 1970/71, ceramics teacher Bryan Ferry advertises for a keyboard player to join collaborate with him and Graham Simpson, a bass player he knew from his art 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 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, and as Brian could play a synthesizer and owned a Revox reel to reel tape machine, Andy convinced him to join the fledgling band as a technical advisor. It wasn't long before Eno was a performing member of the group. After Dexter Lloyd, a classically trained timpanist left the fledgling band, the group placed an ad seeking a 'wonder drummer'. Drummer Paul Thompson joined the line-up in June, 1971. Soon after that guitarist Phil Manzanera made them five-piece.
Their first single Virginia Plain, which reached the top three in the British charts, was typical of the band's blend of highly literate lyrics and musical inventiveness, combined with a powerhouse glam rock backbone. During that decade, they emerged as one of the foremost bands of the time, popular throughout the UK and Europe. In the US, the band was esteemed by critics and an ardent "cult" following, but they remained little known among the general public. Eno left after the group's second album - For Your Pleasure - amidst differences with Ferry over the direction of the group. He was replaced on keyboards by Eddie Jobson, late of progressive rockers Curved Air. Bassist John Gustafson also performed and toured with the band on next 3 albums.
The other key members of the band—the classically trained Mackay , the experienced progressive rock guitarist Manzanera and drummer Paul Thompson are reported to have shared some of Eno's concerns about Ferry's dominance of the band, but they elected to remain in the group. Gradually, Manazanera and Mackay's songwriting became more integral to the band's sound, although all but one of Roxy's singles were written either wholly or jointly by Ferry. The exception was their only number one hit, Jealous Guy, which they recorded as a tribute to John Lennon shortly after his death.
Manzanera and Mackay also undertook solo projects, and they, along with Thompson and Jobson, took part in some of Ferry's solo recordings and concert tours. Ferry's solo career began in 1973, when still very much a member of the band, and his solo albums (mostly containing ironic cover versions of pop standards) alternated with Roxy's releases.
Following the concert tours in support of fifth album, Siren in 1976, Roxy Music temporarily disbanded. During this time Ferry released two solo records on which Manzanera and Thompson performed. Roxy Music reunited in 1978 to record a new album, Manifesto, but with a reshuffled line-up. Jobson and Gustafson weren't present (reportedly they weren't contacted for the reunion). After the tour and prior recording of the next one Flesh + Blood Thompson left the band because he broke his thumb during a motorcycle incident (and soon after that he left permanently). The three remaining core 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 was reflected in a distinct change in Roxy's Music, with the jagged and unpredictable elements of the groups sound giving way to smooth, brooding musical arrangements, culminating in the sombre perfectionism and beautifully sculpted soundscapes of their eighth and final album Avalon in 1982. The trio toured extensively till 1983, when Bryan Ferry dissolved the band and devoted full time on a solo career.
Solo work (1983-present)
After their last album and tour, Mackay, Manzanera and Ferry all released solo albums. Ferry's solo career has continued uninterrupted; Newmark participated on all of Ferry's subsequent records and tours. Thompson worked as a session drummer for various artists; His post-Roxy session work included such diverse acts as a punk band, The Angelic Upstarts on their 1983 album Reason Why and blues-rocker Gary Moore on his Emerald Aisles Live In Ireland-tour in 1985, which was released on video.
Reunions (2001 - present)
Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, and Thompson reformed in 2001 and toured extensively for a couple of years. Conspicuously absent was Brian Eno, who criticized the motives for the band's reunion. "I just don't like the idea," Eno explained, "It leaves a bad taste."
Manzanera and Thompson also recorded and toured with Ferry on his 2002 album Frantic.
In March 2005 it was announced on Phil Manzanera's official site that the band, including Brian Eno, have decided to record an album of new material, their first since Avalon in 1983. The project marks the first time Brian Eno will work with Roxy Music since 1973's For Your Pleasure. As of Saturday 19 March, the Manazanera site was updated with more info, explaining that the band are in the studio working on new material. Since then this paragraph mysteriously vanished, raising doubts about the validity of the original announcement.
Roxy Music has also announced that they will return to the stage (still without Eno) for a live performance at this year's Isle of Wight Festival on Saturday 11 June, 2005, their first UK concert since the 2001 world tour.
- Bryan Ferry - vocals, harmonica, keyboards
- Phil Manzanera - guitar
- Andy Mackay - saxophone and oboe
- Paul Thompson - drums (left the group in 1980, rejoined for the 2001 reunion)
- Brian Eno - synthesizer and "treatments" (1971-1973)
- Eddie Jobson - synthesizer and violin (1973-1976)
- Graham Simpson - bass (1971-72)
- Rik Kenton - bass (1972-73)
- John Gustafson - bass (1973-1976)
- Alan Spenner - bass (1978-1982)
- Andy Newmark - drums (1980-1982)
- Colin Good - keyboards (2001-present)
- Roxy Music (1972)
- For Your Pleasure (1973)
- Stranded (1973)
- Country Life (1974)
- Siren (1975)
- Manifesto (1978)
- Flesh + Blood (1980)
- Avalon (1982)
Compilations and lives
- Viva! Roxy Music Live (1976)
- Greatest Hits (Compilation) (1977)
- The First Seven Albums (Box Set) (1981)
- Ladytron (Live performances)(1979)
- The High Road (Live Mini Album) (1983)
- The Atlantic Years (Compilation) (1983)
- Street Life 20 Great Hits (Compilation With Bryan Ferry Solo Songs) (1986)
- The Ultimate Collection (Compilation With Bryan Ferry Solo Songs) (1988)
- Heart Still Beating (Live) (1990)
- More Than This (Compilation With Bryan Ferry Solo Songs) (1995)
- The Thrill Of It All (4 CD Box Set Compilation) (1995)
- The Early Years (Compilation) (2000)
- Slave To Love (Compilation With Bryan Ferry Solo Songs) (2000)
- The Best Of Roxy Music (Compilation) (2001)
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