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Bryan Ferry (born 26 September 1945, Washingtonmarker, Tyne and Wear) is an English singer, musician, songwriter and occasional actor known for a suave visual and vocal style, earning him the epithet 'The Electric Lounge Lizard'. Ferry came to public prominence in the early 1970s as lead vocalist and principal songwriter for Roxy Music, which enjoyed a highly successful career with three albums and ten single 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), Ferry attended Washington Grammar-Technical School (now called Washington School) on Spout Lane from 1957 where he studied alongside former Everton manager Howard Kendall and achieved nine O levels, then studied fine art at the University of Newcastle upon Tynemarker under Richard Hamilton.His contemporaries included Tim Head and Nick de Ville. He became a pottery teacher in London. Ferry formed the band the Banshees, and later, together with Graham Simpson, the band The Gas Board.

Roxy Music and solo years (1971–1983)

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 Dexter Lloyd 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.)

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.

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 Roadmarker. He created suits recognized worldwide for their elegance, and gained fame when celebrities and rock stars dressed in his designs. Indeed, one comment by Nicky Haslam about Ferry was that he was more likely to redecorate a hotel room than to trash it.

After the first two albums, Eno left Roxy Music, leaving Ferry its undisputed leader. 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.
Cover of The Bride Stripped Bare

The 1978 album The Bride Stripped Bare 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.

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. 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 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 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, again accompanied by David Gilmour. He was hit with technical difficulties on sound, the drummer's drumstick broke at the start of the first song "Sensation" and Gilmour's Fender Stratocaster went dead, so he had to switch to his candy-apple red Stratocaster for the rest of the performance. 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.

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.

Roxy Music reunion and continuing solo career (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.

In 2003, Ferry provided the entertainment for the Miss World election, a show with an expected 2 billion viewers worldwide.In 2004, Ferry starred in the short film The Porter. In 2005, it was confirmed 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. Brian Eno has confirmed that he has worked in the studio with Roxy once more and has co-written songs for the new album. He remarked how the band's dynamic has not changed since he was a member in the early 1970s. He also confirmed he will not tour with the band.

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.

Personal life

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.

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.Her stay at Ferry's Holland Parkmarker (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.

During his solo career in late 1970s, Ferry went through a rough period in his private life. 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. 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 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.

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.

Following his split from Lucy, British newspapers photographed Ferry with Katie Turner, 35 years younger than Ferry, naming her as his new 'girlfriend'.

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, and in 2005 briefly dated ER's Alex Kingston. In 2006, he resumed his relationship with Katie Turner.

Nazi controversy

In April 2007, a controversy arose after Ferry praised the work of Nazi-era German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and architect Albert Speer. Ferry apologized for the comments and said that they were made "solely from an art history perspective".

Political views

In 2008, Ferry alluded to support for the Conservative Party, referring to himself as "conservative by nature," but essentially apolitical. Without elaborating, he stated he was "proud" of his right-wing son Otis and declared the ban on fox hunting "futile." He also alluded to an opposition to "left-wing bitterness" and the spectre of "political correctness," but the model of free speech he cited was the anarchic 1970s and not, as might have been expected from a strong Tory, the Thatcher era or a more distant past.

Ferry is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance and has played concerts to raise funds for the organisation.

Flight disturbance

Ferry and his family experienced a big scare in December 2000, when his British Airways flight from London's Gatwick Airport to Kenyamarker was disrupted in a hijack attempt. Paul Mukonyi, a 27-year old student from Kenya, burst into the cockpit of the Boeing 747 flying to Nairobimarker. 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. During the incident Ferry famously remained calm and unflappable, even taking the time to challenge his son, Otis Ferry, about his bad language while assisting to restrain Mukonyi.

Chicken controversy

Ferry once accused James Roper, a one time employee, of stealing an entire chicken (cooked by his personal chef) that disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Ferry made this accusation with the phrase "Where is the chicken, did that boy steal the chicken!".

In other media

In 1985, Ferry contributed the song "Is Your Love Strong Enough" to the Ridley Scott-Tom Cruise film Legend. The song (featuring guitar work by David Gilmour) plays during the end credits of the U.S. theatrical release, and was released with the Tangerine Dream version of the soundtrack on CD (although this is out of print and rare). A promotional music video was created, integrating Ferry and Gilmour into scenes from the film; this is included as a bonus in the 2002 "Ultimate Edition" DVD release.

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.

Ferry is referenced in the comedy show The Mighty Boosh in the episode 'Hitcher', as Vince Noir's adopted father and King of the Forest. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that 'Brian Ferry' actually resembles Terry Wogan.

The song "Which way to turn" from the album Mamouna, is the feature song to the 2007 Woody Harrelson movie "The Walker".


Studio albums


  • Bracewell, Michael Roxy Music: Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Art, Ideas, and Fashion (Da Capo Press, 2005) ISBN 0-306-81400-5
  • Buckley, David The Thrill of It All: The Story of Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music (Chicago Review Press, 2005) ISBN 1-55652-574-5
  • Rigby, Jonathan Both Ends Burning: The Complete Roxy Music (Reynolds & Hearn, 2005) ISBN 1-903111-80-3
  • Stump, Paul Unknown Pleasures: A Cultural Biography of Roxy Music (Quartet Books, 1998) ISBN 0-7043-8074-9

See also


External links

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