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Music / Roxy Music

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Roxy Music's early lineup. Left to right: Brian Eno, Andy MacKay, Bryan Ferry, Paul Thompson, and Phil Manzanera.

There's a band playing, on the radio,
With a rhythm of rhyming guitars,
They playing for you on the radio,
"Oh Yeah (On The Radio)"

Roxy Music was a British art rock/Glam Rock band in The '70s and The '80s, known mainly for being a significant influence on Punk Rock, New Wave, Sophisti-Pop, and Alternative Rock as well as being the band where musician and knob-twiddler extraordinaire Brian Eno started his professional career. It had the following members:

  • Bryan Ferry - vocals, keyboards (197183)
  • Phil Manzanera - guitar (197283)
  • Andy Mackay - saxophone, oboe (197183)
  • Brian Eno - synthesizer, "treatments", Record Producer, backing vocals (197173)
  • Paul Thompson - drums (197180)
  • Eddie Jobson - synthesizer, violin (197376)
  • Graham Simpson - bass (197172)

Roxy Music's early material was definitely art rock, defined by the ironic juxtaposition of nostalgia for the past (manifested in Ferry's lyrical and vocal Campiness) and futuristic, avant-garde experimentalism (Eno's "treatments", Manzanera and MacKay's predisposition towards atonality) within the context of rock music. This early lineup produced two critically acclaimed albums, Roxy Music and For Your Pleasure. These albums also introduced two other constant elements throughout the band's career: pop art-influenced "high fashion" album covers depicting scantily-clad models, and a well-defined visual presentation (see above).

However, the creative tension soon degenerated into outright conflict, and Eno left the band in 1973, taking all the jarring weirdness, experimentalism, make-up and freaky glam outfits with him. He was replaced by 19-year old keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson. Roxy Music afterwards slowly but surely evolved into a more straightforward pop/glam rock band but with still some unpredictability, largely defined by Ferry's obsession with glamour and suave, Chivalrous Pervert persona. The band handled this transition very well at first, increasing their popularity and gaining several hit singles while obtaining further good reviews for Stranded, Country Life and Siren. The band went on an extended hiatus in 1976 after touring for Siren, with Ferry taking the opportunity to concentrate on his solo albums, while Manzanera rejoined Eno for the 801 Live album.

When Roxy reunited in 1978, Jobson wasn't brought on board and Ferry took up keyboard duties again. The band changed its sound again, stripping any last remnants of their experimental art rock past in favour of super-smooth disco-influenced pop. The resulting albums, Manifesto and Flesh + Blood, garnered the band negative reviews for the first time in their career and didn't do much on the charts apart from a few hit singles. Thompson himself left the band after Flesh, initially temporarily after a motorcycle accident then permanently, due to his dislike of the band's new musical direction.

Marred by the departures and the critical drubbing they received, Roxy Music regrouped with the aid of additional session players and recorded what would be their last album, Avalon. More carefully recorded than the hit-or-miss Manifesto and Flesh and containing lushly-produced lounge-synth-pop soundscapes far removed from their art-rock roots, Avalon restored the band's good standing with critics and did way better on the charts, spawning a hit single. Having recovered their success, Roxy Music dissolved on a high note.

Ferry returned to his solo career, picking up where he left off with Avalon and recording more smooth lounge-synth-pop, to great commercial success and reasonable critical acclaim. Manzanera and MacKay went on to solo careers and formed a short-lived band called The Explorer. Thompson worked as a session drummer.

Roxy Music reformed in 2001, sans Eno, and toured steadily until 2011. They also recorded material for a new album with Eno, but these sessions were reworked into Ferry's 2010 solo album, Olympia. After their 40th anniversary shows in 2011 they went on hiatus, but in 2022 reunited for a 13 date tour across both North American and Europe.

The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

Studio Discography:


  • Album Title Drop: Stranded is derived from a line at the end of the first track, "Street Life."
  • Bowdlerization: The first U.S. pressing of Country Life was packaged in black shrink wrap to cover up the two topless women on the cover. It did inspire Hipgnosis to package Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here (1975) in the same way a year later. The cover was eventually changed to a forest (which was originally meant to be on the back cover). Later reissues restored the original cover.
  • Camp: They knowingly embraced this.
  • Camp Straight: Bryan Ferry, although he intentionally styled himself like a 1940s romantic crooner with an eccentric side, with more than a bit of James Bond influence, as evidenced by the cover of his solo album Another Time, Another Place.
  • Canon Immigrant: Bryan Ferry's Let's Stick Together compilation was created for the US market, as the label demanded an album off the back of his "Let's Stick Together" single and declined to release his "The Price Of Love" EP. He combined the two releases with the previous year's "You Go To My Head" single, some UK B-Side recordings of Roxy Music tracks and a then unreleased version of "Casanova", in order to create an 11 track album. Whilst initially intended as a US only release, "Let's Stick Together" became hugely popular on import to the point where their British label Island Records released it in the UK, and it has featured in all the reissue series since. Part of the reason is that it was the first Ferry release after Roxy Music announced their split.
  • Costume Porn: Being a Glam Rock band, Roxy Music's visual presentation revolved around elaborately flashy outfits. This was especially true for Brian Eno, who diverged from the mid-20th-century stylings of his bandmates in favor of outlandish, fantasy-inspired getups more in-line with future collaborator David Bowie.
  • Cover Version:
    • "Eight Miles High" was originally written and performed by The Byrds.
    • The band recorded and released a cover version of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" as a non-album single in 1981, just two months after Lennon's murder.
  • The Dandy: Ferry, again.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "In Every Dream Home a Heartache", which is an unnerving song to begin with.
  • Greatest Hits: Many.
  • Ho Yay: Ferry deliberately invoked this on his solo recording of "It's My Party", where he left the lyrics the same as they were when sang by a female— i.e. his boyfriend Johnny. He said he left this in on purpose to appeal to the band's gay fanbase.
  • Iconic Outfit: Ferry's suits, Eno's outlandish costumes, Phil Manzanera's sunglasses.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: While the band mostly stuck to traditional side-labeling schemes, their first two reunion albums got creative with it. Manifesto splits itself between an "East Side" and a "West Side", and Flesh + Blood doesn't label its sides at all, leaving the tracklist on the back the only way to determine the proper running order.
  • Intercourse with You: A lot of their songs, and Ferry's chief preoccupations.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: "Still Falls the Rain"
  • Ladykiller in Love: Ferry often adopted this pose in his lyrics.
  • Large Ham: Bryan Ferry. On every song, but especially "Do The Strand".
  • Love Is a Drug: Both "Love is the Drug" (natch) and "Just Another High" off of Siren liken romantic and sexual relationships to drug trips.
  • New Sound Album: Stranded marked a shift to a more straightforward Glam Rock style, Manifesto updated the band's sound to a more polished, disco-influenced pop rock sound, and Avalon furthered the polish and marked a change to a jazz-influenced sophistipop direction.
    • For Your Pleasure was a notable example as well. The band's self-titled debut garnered a good deal of criticism for the lengthy instrumental introductions to many of its tracks. The band took note of this and started the album with a jolt— "Do The Strand" starts immediately on Ferry's first line.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Note that the bass guitarist is not pictured above. In this case it's because Bryan Ferry's friend Graham Simpson quit the band around the time they signed to a label, and bass pretty much became a revolving door from then on.
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The band made it a tradition to design their album covers to look like fashion magazines, hence the abundance of bold logotypes and scantily-clad women. The practice even carried over to Bryan Ferry's solo work.
  • Recursive Reality: "Oh Yeah" describes the narrator and his partner listening to a song on the radio. What song, you might ask? "Oh Yeah".
  • Retraux: Bryan Ferry dressed like a 1940s film star and was fond of crooning pre-60s songs using more lush modern equipment. His most blatant example of this trope was his Extended Play EP, designed to look like a late '50s or early '60s 4-track 7" EP, complete with liner notes, despite one of the tracks being a Gallagher and Lyle song released the previous year. This doubles as "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, as though it would regain popularity in the punk era, the EP format was pretty much dead at the time.
  • Revolving Door Band: The band used different bassists after Graham Simpson left. The keyboard and drum spots also changed a lot after the band reunited in the late '70s and Paul Thompson left.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Just look at Bryan Ferry in the page image.
  • Song Style Shift: In reverse for "Mother of Pearl."
  • Three Chords and the Truth: "Trash", Roxy's attempt at capturing a punk/new wave audience, as well as Ferry's solo track "Sign Of The Times" and his version of "Shame Shame Shame" a few years before.
  • Titled After the Song: The band Ladytron are named after the song on Roxy Music's first album.
  • Unreplaced Departed: Bassist Graham Simpson left the band in 1972 and was replaced with various session bassists since. The same thing happened to keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson when the band reunited in 1979 without him and drummer Paul Thompson after he left in 1980.
  • Updated Re-release: The second pressing of Manifesto has the rerecorded single version of "Angel Eyes" and the single remix of "Dance Away" replacing the originals. Because it was released only two months after the originals, they are quite rare. Earlier CDs kept the rearranged tracklist, while the remastered CDs reinstated the original mixes.