Bryan Ferry est un auteur-compositeur-interprète britannique, né le 26 septembre 1945 à Washington dans le Tyne et Wear, au Nord-Est de l’Angleterre. Collégien à Sunderland, près de Newcastle-upon-Tyne, il est chanteur dans un groupe amateur, les Banshees. Il fait des études dans une école d’art de Newcastle, où il s’intéresse particulièrement au pop art et à l’art conceptuel.
En 1968, il s’installe à Londres et exerce différents métiers tout en s’essayant à l’écriture musicale. En 1970 il tente vainement d’intégrer King Crimson, mais Robert Fripp l’adresse tout de même à son agent de la firme E.G. Il fait alors la connaissance d’Andy Mackay et de Brian Eno, étudiants à la Winchester School of Art. Après le recrutement de Paul Thompson, c’est la fondation de Roxy Music. Il ménera parallélement une importante carrière solo Son nouvel album, intitulé Dylanesque, sorti en mars 2007, est entièrement consacré à des reprises de compositions de Bob Dylan.
1973 : These Foolish Things
1974 : Another Time Another Place
1976 : Let’s Stick Together
1977 : In Your Mind
1978 : The Bride Stripped Bare
1985 : Boys And Girls
1987 : Bête Noire
1993 : Taxi
1994 : Mamouna
1999 : As Time Goes By
2002 : Frantic
2007 : Dylanesque (reprises de Bob Dylan)
1988 : The Ultimate Collection
1986 : Street Life : 20 Great Hits
1995 : More Than This : The Best Of Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music
2000 : Slave To Love : Best Of The Ballads
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Bryan Ferry (born 26 September 1945 in Washington, Sunderland) is an English singer, musician, songwriter and occasional actor famed for his suave visual and vocal style, who came to public prominence in the 1970s as lead vocalist and principal songwriter with Roxy Music. He is also noted for his subsequent solo career.
Before Roxy Music (before 1971)
Born into a working-class family (Ferry’s father Fred Ferry was a farmer who also looked after pit ponies), Ferry studied fine art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne under Richard Hamilton. He had applied to study History of Art at the world-renowned Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, but was rejected.His contemporaries included Tim Head and Nick de Ville. He became a pottery teacher in London, all the while aiming for a career in music. Ferry formed the band the Banshees, and later, together with Graham Simpson, the band The Gas Board.
Early Roxy Music (1971-1976)
Ferry formed Roxy Music with a group of friends and acquaintances, beginning with Graham Simpson. The Roxy Music line-up expanded to include 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.)
Roxy Music’s first hit, « Virginia Plain », just missed topping the charts, and they 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.
For many years, Ferry has collaborated with fashion designer Antony Price for clothing and image consultations. Price is famous for his London shop on King’s Road. He created suits recognized worldwide for their elegance, and gained fame when celebrities and rock stars dressed in his designs.
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, which was photographed 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 to help her remove the paint. Her stay at Ferry’s Holland Park (London) home, following the album cover photo shoot, marked the start of their doomed affair.
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 bandmembers, 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 that was released as a single 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. Jerry Hall and Bryan Ferry eventually moved in together, sharing homes in London and in the ritzy Bel Air section of Los Angeles. While Ferry was away on tour, Jerry Hall began a simultaneous affair with Mick Jagger, leading to the break-up between Ferry and Hall.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, who left him for Mick Jagger in late 1977. 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)
After a couple of years as a solo artist, Ferry re-formed the band. Roxy Music recorded the successful albums Manifesto in 1978, Flesh and Blood in 1980 and Avalon in 1982. The pinnacle of their success being their only UK number one hit, « Jealous Guy », released in tribute to John Lennon – ironically, the only one of their singles not written by Ferry.
After lengthy tours like the gruelling schedule used 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’s performance at the London Live Aid in 1985 was judged by some as a disappointment, but his appearance was described as one of the most eagerly anticipated by the BBC. He was hit with technical difficulties on sound and the drummer’s drumstick broke at the start of the first song ‘Sensation’ and his guitarist for the performance David Gilmour’s sunburst Fender Stratocaster went dead and switched 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. » By the end of his set the crowd were up dancing again. 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 belatedly promote the previous year’s Bête Noire release. He spoke enthusiastically about the experience and repeated it for Mamouna in 1994/1995.
Ferry continued with Taxi in 1993, and teamed up again with Brian Eno for Mamouna in 1994 (collaborating with Robin Trower on guitar and as producer).
In 1996 for the Phenomenon soundtrack Ferry’s performed the song Dance With Life 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 (from As Time Goes By) and songs of his own, including several from the Roxy collection. Surprisingly for anyone familiar with his 1980s persona, so focussed on intricate and ambitious studio work, Ferry has rarely been away from the stage since: there have been several tours, significant changes of personnel within his tour band and the largely successful reformation of Roxy Music as – so far – a live act, playing its repertoire to great acclaim. Ferry has admitted in interviews that all this might be a way of keeping his mind from other things, such as his divorce from his wife Lucy, granted in 2003.
Ferry and his family experienced a big scare in December of 2000, when his British Airways flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to Kenya was disrupted in a hijack attempt. A man named Paul Mukonyi burst into the cockpit of the Boeing 747 flying to Nairobi. As three crew fought to restrain Mukonyi, 27, a mental patient from Kenya, the jet plunged downward about 10,000 feet (3,048 m). But disaster was averted when pilots recovered the aircraft and all passengers landed safely.
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. However, with the help of Manzanera and Thompson, in 2002 Ferry returned with Frantic, the long-awaited follow-up for As Time Goes By, where he was assisted on a couple of tracks by Manzanera and Thompson; the final track is a collaboration with Brian Eno. The album Frantic mixed Ferry originals with covers – something that Ferry hadn’t 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, 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 and has appeared with Bryan Ferry on several TV appearances to promote the Frantic album. Katie also appeared 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. Turner is 35 years younger than Ferry.
In 2004, Ferry starred in the short film The Porter. Also in that year, guitarist David Williams was involved in some recording sessions for Ferry.
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 has remarked how the bands dynamic has not changed since he was a member in the early 1970s. He has 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, plays 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 became the face of the men’s 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 planned to promote the album. In the fall 2006, Ferry’s Don’t Stop The Dance was in the Scandinavian men-clothe store’s Dressman TV ad.
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. 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. »On April 17 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 ». On the Swedish TV show « Stina » on April 28 2007, Ferry denied that his studio was ever called « Führerbunker » and that his comment were never about Nazis but rather about art. He also said that he was very upset over this incident. On his personal website, Ferry made the statement
I did not describe fascism in these terms, neither ever would I, nor did I even discuss fascism in this interview-period. I have never referred to my studio as a ‘fuhrer-bunker’ [sic]. (…) Like all sane people, I find the politics of fascism and Nazism to be abhorrent and I deeply apologize to anyone who was unintentionally hurt by the way my comments were misrepresented in the media.
On May 14 it was announced that Ferry had been dropped by Marks and Spencer. The April edition of Private Eye magazine featured a cartoon of Bryan Ferry singing ‘These foolish things I keep saying’ under the caption ‘Bryan Führerry’.
On June 29, the Daily Mirror apologized for its article run on April 16 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. »
These Foolish Things (October 1973, UK #5)
Another Time, Another Place (July 1974, UK #4)
Let’s Stick Together (September 1976, UK #19, US #160)
In Your Mind (February 1977, UK #5, US #126, Aust.#1)
The Bride Stripped Bare (April 1978, UK #13, US #159)
Boys and Girls (May 1985, UK #1, US #63)
Bête Noire (October 1987, UK #9, US #63)
Taxi (13 April 1993, UK #2, US #79)
Mamouna (20 September 1994, UK #11, US #94)
As Time Goes By (15 October 1999, UK #16, US #199)
Frantic (18 May 2002, UK #6, US #189)
Dylanesque (5 March 2007, UK #5, US #117)
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