Bryan Ferry Explained

Bryan Ferry
Birth Name:Bryan Ferry
Born:26 September 1945
Origin:Washington, County Durham England
Instrument:vocals, keyboards, harmonica, guitar
Genre:Rock, Pop, Glam rock, Art rock
Occupation:Singer, Songwriter
Years Active:1971–Present
Label:UK: Island, E.G., Polydor,,Virgin, EMI
US: Reprise, Warner Bros. Records, Atco, Atlantic
Associated Acts:Roxy Music

Bryan Ferry (born 26 September 1945 in Washington, Tyne and Wear) is an English singer, musician, songwriter and occasional actor famed for his suave visual and vocal style. Ferry came to public prominence in the 1970s as lead vocalist and principal songwriter for Roxy Music, which enjoyed a highly successful career with three albums and ten singles entering the top ten charts in the United Kingdom. He continues to have a successful solo career earning a Grammy nomination in 2001.


Before Roxy Music (before 1971)

Born into a working-class family (his father, Fred Ferry, was a farmer who also looked after pit ponies[1]), Ferry attended Washington Grammar-Technical School (now called Washington School) on Spout Lane from 1957 where he achieved nine O levels, then studied fine art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne under Richard Hamilton.[2] His contemporaries included Tim Head[3] and Nick de Ville.[4] He became a pottery teacher in London.[5] Ferry formed the band the Banshees, and later, together with Graham Simpson, the band The Gas Board.[6]

Early Roxy Music (1971–1976)

See main article: Roxy Music. Ferry formed Roxy Music with a group of friends and acquaintances, beginning with Graham Simpson, in November 1970. The line-up expanded to include saxophonist/oboist Andy Mackay and his acquaintance Brian Eno, who owned tape recorders and played Mackay's synthesiser. Other early members included a timpanist and ex-Nice guitarist David O'List, who were replaced respectively by Paul Thompson and Phil Manzanera before the band recorded its first album. (Early Peel sessions for UK radio station Radio 1 feature O'List's playing.)[7] Roxy Music's first hit, "Virginia Plain", just missed topping the charts, and was followed up with several hit singles and albums, with Ferry as vocalist and occasional instrumentalist (he taught himself piano in his mid-twenties) and Eno contributing synthesiser backing. On a personal level, Ferry was known to date very beautiful women, who often appeared as cover models on the Roxy Music albums. Ferry dated singer and model Amanda Lear, who was photographed with a black jaguar for the cover of the For Your Pleasure album. She later went on to date and create music with David Bowie.[8] For many years, Ferry has collaborated with fashion designer Antony Price for clothing and image consultations. Price is famous for his shop on London's Kings Road. He created suits recognized worldwide for their elegance, and gained fame when celebrities and rock stars dressed in his designs.[9] Indeed, one comment by Nicky Haslam about Ferry was that he was more likely to redecorate a hotel room than to trash it.[10] After the first two albums, Eno left Roxy Music, leaving Ferry its undisputed leader. Ferry then began a relationship with model Jerry Hall. Hall appeared in several of Ferry's music videos, including "Let's Stick Together" and "The Price of Love." Ferry first met Hall when she posed for the Roxy Music album cover for Siren in Wales during the Summer of 1975. Hall's autobiography ("Tall Tales") describes the photo session, and she elaborates on how the blue body paint she wore to look like a mythical siren would not wash off; Hall says that Ferry took her back to his house, claiming he would help her to remove the paint.[11] Her stay at Ferry's Holland Park (London) home, following the album cover photo shoot, marked the start of their affair. Jerry Hall and Bryan Ferry moved in together, sharing homes in London and in the ritzy Bel Air section of Los Angeles.

Solo success years (1976–1978)

After the concert tours in support of Siren, Roxy Music temporarily disbanded in 1976. Ferry had already started a parallel solo career in 1973, specialising in cover versions of old standards on albums such as These Foolish Things. Notably Ferry's Roxy Music band-members, particularly Paul Thompson, Phil Manzanera and Eddie Jobson took part in recording his subsequent solo material. The solo album Let's Stick Together was a commercial success; the title track reached 4th place in the UK single charts. Additionally in 1976, Ferry covered a Beatles song, “She's Leaving Home” for the transitory musical documentary All This and World War II. In his private life, Ferry went through a rough period. His relation with Hall ended when Hall left him for Mick Jagger in late 1977. To this day, Ferry rarely speaks about Hall, but fans often speculate that his song "Kiss and Tell" from the Bête Noire album was Ferry's response to Hall's tell-all book about their relationship.[12] Ferry often refuses to discuss his feelings about Hall or talk about their romantic history during interviews. Bryan Ferry's solo album The Bride Stripped Bare is widely believed[13] to contain references to his break-up with Hall. Ferry's original songs on the album were in fact written some time before the relationship ended, although it was recorded afterwards. The album was commercially not very successful, the highest-peaking single "Sign of the Times" only reaching 37th position in the UK charts. After this album failed to catapult his solo career, Ferry decided to reunite with Roxy Music to record new material.

Second Roxy Music years (1978–1983)

In the second period of Roxy Music, Ferry re-formed the band. Manzanera, Thompson and Mackay stayed, while Jobson was not present anymore. Ferry remained the main song writer. Roxy Music recorded the successful albums Manifesto in 1978, Flesh and Blood in 1980 and Avalon in 1982, with Flesh and Blood and Avalon reaching number one in the UK album charts.[14] The pinnacle of their success was their only UK number one hit, "Jealous Guy", released in tribute to John Lennon—the only one of their singles not written by Ferry. After lengthy ("debilitating") tours to promote the Avalon album in 1983, Bryan Ferry decided to put a hold on Roxy Music and continue as a solo artist.

After Roxy Music (1983–2001)

Ferry eventually settled down to married life with Lucy Helmore, and they had four sons, including huntsman and political activist Otis Ferry, infamous man-about-town Isaac Ferry, Tara and Merlin. Ferry continued to record, and in 1985 the album Boys and Girls reached the number one position in Britain. Ferry performed at the London Live Aid.[15] He was hit with technical difficulties on sound, the drummer's drumstick broke at the start of the first song "Sensation" and the Fender Stratocaster of David Gilmour (guitarist for the performance) went dead, so he had to switch to his candy-apple red Stratocaster for the rest of the performance.[16] The difficulties in sound were overcome for "Slave to Love" (featured on the soundtrack to 9½ Weeks) and "Jealous Guy." As with other successful Live Aid acts, his current album, Boys and Girls, remained in the chart for over a year. After the Avalon promotion tours, Ferry was rather reluctant to return to life on the road; however, a change of management persuaded him to try touring again in 1988 to promote the previous year's Bête Noire release. Following the tour, Ferry teamed up again with Brian Eno for Mamouna (collaborating with Robin Trower on guitar and as producer). The album took more than five years to produce, and was created under the working title Horoscope; during production, Ferry released another covers album, Taxi in 1993, which proved to be a greater commercial and critical success than Mamouna would be when it was finally released in 1994. In 1996 Ferry performed the song Dance With Life for the Phenomenon soundtrack, which was written by Bernie Taupin and Martin Page. In 1999 Ferry appeared with Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan) on BBC's Comic Relief. The song "Which way to turn" from the album Mamouna, is the feature song to the 2007 Woody Harrelson movie "The Walker".

After taking some time off from his music, Ferry returned in 1999. He began to perform a mix of 1930s songs and songs of his own, including several from the Roxy collection, and recorded them on the album As Time Goes By, which was nominated for a Grammy award.[17] Ferry and his family experienced a big scare in December 2000, when his British Airways flight from London's Gatwick Airport to Kenya was disrupted in a hijack attempt. Paul Mukonyi, a 27-year old mental patient from Kenya, burst into the cockpit of the Boeing 747 flying to Nairobi. As three crew fought to restrain Mukonyi, the jet plunged downward about 10,000 feet (3,000 m). The pilots recovered the aircraft and all passengers landed safely.[18]

Roxy Music reunion (2001–present)

Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay and Thompson re-reformed Roxy Music in 2001 and toured extensively for a couple of years while not releasing any albums. With the help of Manzanera and Thompson, in 2002 Ferry returned with Frantic, the long-awaited follow-up for As Time Goes By; the final track is a collaboration with Brian Eno. The album Frantic mixed Ferry originals with covers - something that Ferry had not attempted on a solo album since The Bride Stripped Bare, twenty-four years before. Following his split from Lucy, British newspapers photographed Ferry with Katie Turner, 35 years younger than Ferry, naming her as his new 'girlfriend'.[19] Ferry and Katie Turner met while she worked as one of the dancers during Roxy Music's concert tour in 2001. Katie is also featured on the DVD of the 2001 Hammersmith Odeon Show, has appeared with Bryan Ferry on several TV appearances to promote the Frantic album, and in the live show during the Frantic 2002 tour. After their break-up, Ferry had a relationship with Lady Emily Compton, a socialite,[20] and in 2005 briefly dated ER's Alex Kingston.[21] In 2006, he resumed his relationship with Katie Turner.

In 2003, Ferry provided the entertainment for the Miss World election, a show with an expected 2 billion viewers worldwide.[22] In 2004, Ferry starred in the short film The Porter. In 2005, it was confirmed[23] that Roxy Music (Ferry, Eno, Mackay, Manzanera and Thompson) would be performing further shows at that year's Isle Of Wight festival and that they would also be recording a further album of new and original songs, with no indication of when such a project would reach completion.[24] Brian Eno has confirmed[25] that he has worked in the studio with Roxy once more and has co-written songs for the new album. He remarked how the bands dynamic has not changed since he was a member in the early 1970s. He also confirmed he will not tour with the band. In 2005, Ferry appeared in Neil Jordan's movie, Breakfast on Pluto, starring Cillian Murphy as a young Irish transvestite who goes to London in the glam 1970s to find his mother. Ferry, appearing in a bit part as Mr. Silky String, played a suave but creepy john who picks up the sexually ambiguous young man and, after a short conversation, attempts to strangle him in the front seat of his car. In October 2006, Bryan Ferry modelled clothing range Autograph with British retailer, Marks and Spencer. His album Slave To Love: Best Of The Ballads was reissued to commemorate this. Bryan was back in the studio in 2006 recording songs from the Bob Dylan canon with the Dylan tribute album Dylanesque, released in March 2007 with a UK tour to promote the album.The album charted in the UK Top 10- just as the first Roxy Music album had done 35 years previously.

Nazi controversy

In March 2007, a number of newspapers reported that Bryan Ferry calls his West London studio his Führerbunker, a title associated with Hitler's headquarters. In an interview in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Ferry allegedly praised the Nazi regime, specifically "Leni Riefenstahl films and Albert Speer's buildings".[26] There was some condemnation from the Jewish community and calls for Ferry to be dropped from his contract with Marks & Spencer. Lord Janner said "Marks & Spencer should have a serious rethink about employing him. This man should stick to singing and stay away from making offensive comments of this sort. Any praise of the Nazis is not acceptable in the Jewish world."[27] On 17 April 2007, Ferry apologized for the offence caused by these comments, reinforcing that they "were made solely from an art history perspective" and stating that he finds "the Nazi regime, and all it stood for, evil and abhorrent".[28] On the Swedish TV show "Stina" on 28 April 2007, Ferry denied that his studio was ever called "Führerbunker" and said that his comments were never about Nazis but rather about art, and that he was very upset over this incident. On his personal website, Ferry made the statement On 14 May it was rumoured that Ferry had been dropped by Marks and Spencer,[29] although Marks and Spencer denied this and stated that Ferry completed his running contract, and it was normal to change model after two seasons.[30] On 29 June, the Daily Mirror apologized for its article run on 16 April and the misquotation of Ferry it carried, stating that their claim "Mr. Ferry had been singing the praises of the Nazis [...] was not true." The apology goes on to say that the Daily Mirror "accept[s] that Mr. Ferry abhors the Nazi regime and all it stood for".[31]


See main article: Bryan Ferry discography.

Studio albums

  1. These Foolish Things (October 1973, UK #5)
  2. Another Time, Another Place (July 1974, UK #4)
  3. Let's Stick Together (September 1976, UK #19, US #160)
  4. In Your Mind (February 1977, UK #5, US #126, Aust.#1)
  5. The Bride Stripped Bare (April 1978, UK #13, US #159)
  6. Boys and Girls (May 1985, UK #1, US #63)
  7. Bête Noire (October 1987, UK #9, US #63)
  8. Taxi (13 April 1993, UK #2, US #79)
  9. Mamouna (5 September 1994, UK #11, US #94)
  10. As Time Goes By (15 October 1999, UK #16, US #199)
  11. Frantic (18 May 2002, UK #6, US #189)
  12. Dylanesque (5 March 2007, UK #5, US #117)


See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. News: Bryan Ferry's solo work. 2007-08-10.
  2. News: Richard Hamilton Biographical chronology. 2007-06-15.
  3. News: Soundtrack of my life: Bryan Ferry. The Observer. 18 March 2007. 2007-06-15.
  4. News: The best of both worlds?. Interview. Arena Magazine. September 1994. 2007-06-15.
  5. News: Bryan Ferry. 2007-06-15.
  6. News: Look Back In Languor. The Guardian. 14 June 1997. 2007-06-15.
  7. News: Getting Roxy Music in with 'The 'In' Crowd' - An Interview With Davy O'List. 25 April 2004. 2007-06-15.
  8. News: Amanda Lear Biography. 1998. 2007-06-15.
  9. News: Peter Yorke on Antony Price. The independent magazine. 2008-08-10.
  10. Web site: Bryan Ferry: 'I don't want to be controversial'. 2008-04-12. Nigel Farndale. 11 April 2008. The Daily Telegraph.
  11. Book: Hall, Jerry. Jerry Hall

    . Jerry Hall. Christopher Hemphill. Tall Tales. 1985. June. 2007-06-15. Pocket Books. New York. 0-671-50911-X. Siren.

  12. News: Songfacts: Kiss And Tell by Bryan Ferry. Songfacts. Songfacts. 2007-08-10.
  13. News: Jerry Hall Prefers Rockers Over Brad Pitt. Stephanie R. Myers. Softpedia. 2007-08-10.
  14. News: Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music UK chart statistics.
  15. News: Live Aid (13 July 1985): Bryan Ferry. MTV. January 2002. 2007-06-15.
  16. News: Live aid in their own words. The Observer. 17 October 2004. 2007-06-15.
  17. News: Diversity marks Grammy nominations. CNN. 3 January 2001. 2007-11-30.
  18. News: Doctors assess cockpit intruder. BBC. 30 December 2000. 2007-06-15.
  19. News: Melting moment for King of Cool. Evening Post. 11 October 2002. 2007-06-15.
    News: Frantic Tour. Boston Globe. 10 November 2002. 2007-06-15.
    News: Bryan Ferry surrenders the depths of his soul. Boston Globe. 13 November 2002. 2007-06-15.
    News: Bryan Ferry at The Chicago Theatre. Chicago Sun Times. 21 November 2002. 2007-06-15.
  20. News: Bryan Ferry: Back in style. The Independent. 12 August 2006. 2007-06-15.
  21. News: Answer blowing in the wind. Scotland on Sunday. 4 March 2007. 2007-06-15.
  22. News: Irish Eyes Are Smiling. Sky News. 2 December 2003. 2007-11-30.
  23. News: Roxy Music To Play At The Isle Of Wight Festival. 17 March 2005. 2007-04-17.
  24. News: Roxy back in the studio. Phil Manzarena. 30 June 2005. 2007-04-17.
  25. News: Working with someone is like dating. Guardian. 19 May 2006. 2007-04-17.
  26. News: "Ich wäre gern ein Amateur" . Die Welt. 4 March 2007. 2007-04-17.
  27. News: Nazi Ferry gaffe. SomethingJewish. 16 April 2007. 2007-04-17.
  28. News: Singer Bryan Ferry apologises after praising 'amazing' Nazis. ABC. 17 April 2007. 2007-04-17.
  29. News: Bryan Ferry dropped by Marks & Spencer. NME. 14 May 2007. 2007-06-15.
  30. News: M&S denies Ferry ad campaign axe. BBC. 14 May 2007. 2007-11-30.
  31. News: Bryan Ferry: An Apology. Daily Mirror. 29 June 2007. 2007-07-06.