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The moment he emerged on the fledging British glam rock scene in 1970 with his band Roxy Music, two things were crystal clear – Bryan Ferry was a man way ahead of his time and the artist who can bring the rock music all the style and sophistication it so desperately needed, perhaps even more so than his friend and peer David Bowie.  After eight LPs with ‘Roxy Music’ and thirteen solo works, Bryan Ferry (67) has recently gone back to the music that has always inspired him, the jazz of the old days and produced an extraordinary album of covers of his songs in the style of the 1920s simply called ‘The Jazz Age’.

(Images via Bryan Ferry.)

Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry

Early Years

The Gentleman of Rock and Roll was born on September 26, 1945 in Washington, a small mining town Tyne & Wear, England  in a working class family. After he had graduated from Washington Grammar-Technical School, Ferry went on to study fine art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne under Richard Hamilton. Ferry eventually became a pottery teacher at Holland Park School in London in late 1960s, where he met most of the future Roxy Music members.

Roxy Music

One of the most iconic bands of the 1970s was formed in November 1970 by Ferry, Andy Mackay and Brian Eno. As all three member came from the art school background, the band’s sound and appearance were carefully crafted from the beginning, making them stand out from the rest of the artists at the time.

The band’s debut album ‘Roxy Music’ was released in 1972 to critical acclaim and commercial success that would stay with the band throughout its existence. Brian Eno left the band after the second album ‘For Your Pleasure’ in 1973, leaving the Ferry as the main creative force in Roxy Music.  Roxy Music recorded eight albums in total, eventually disbanding in 1982, soon after what was possibly their greatest artistic achievement, ‘Avalon’ was released.

Roxy Music reunited in 2001 for a series of successful tours, but they didn’t record any new material.

Roxy Music Siren 1975

Jerry Hall on the iconic cover photo of Roxy Music’s Siren LP in 1975

Solo Career

The solo career of Bryan Ferry began in 1973, when he released an album of cover songs called ‘These Foolish Things’. Parallel to his work in ‘Roxy Music’, Ferry released  several successful solo albums during the 1970s, mostly of cover songs, that would leave more and more space to his original material as time went by. He continued to record and perform actively after Roxy Music split, becoming one of the best selling artists of the 1980s. Ferry’s greatest solo achievement is his 1985 album ‘Boys and Girls’, that remains his greatest success both in the UK and the USA and one of the most beloved albums of the 1980s.

One of the most iconic aspects of both Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry’s work have always been the album covers. Often depicting stylized women, the covers extended the sophistication of the music. Several of the women who appeared on the album covers were Ferry’s girlfriends at the time, or became so after the photoshoot, like Jerry Hall  who modelled for Roxy Music’s 1975 Siren cover art.

In more recent years, Ferry made successful albums of cover songs, the 1999 ‘As Time Goes By’, an album of popular songs from the 1930s and the 1940s, and the 2007 ‘Dylanesque’, Ferry’s tribute to Bob Dylan. Ferry’s latest project,  ‘The Bryan Ferry Orchestra – The Jazz Age’ was released in November 2012, bringing jazz versions of greatest hits of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music.

Today, in his late sixties, Bryan Ferry remains one of the most influential artists and a true gentleman of rock, the man who introduced style and sophistication to popular music. One of the few.

 


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