Inductee Insights: Roxy Music
When Bryan Ferry and Graham Simpson formed Roxy Music in 1970, they weren’t creating just any rock and roll band. Their now-famous 1971 Melody Maker magazine ad asked for an original, creative and scary guitar player to join their “Avant Rock Group.” Inspired by David Bowie, King Crimson and the Velvet Underground, the ad teased the group’s experimental sound. Take a ride through the band's sonic history in our PNC Bank Inductee Insights episode.
Inductee Insights Roxy MusicThe sonic history of Roxy Music
Inductee Insights Roxy Music
Roxy Music pushed listeners’ perceptions about the essence of pop music. Their album art and stage dress were high fashion, ready to impress with its sense of modern style, elevating their music and aesthetic to new heights.
Roxy Music’s first two albums built an experimental rollercoaster ride on the back of glam rock guitar chords. Their 1972 self-titled debut fused elements of fashion, cinema, art and the avant-garde. On the opening track “Re-make/Re-model,” Brian Eno’s revolutionary synthesizer sounds poked through the fabric, while Ferry’s soulful, detached vocals pulled you close. Songs like “The Bob (Medley)” are postmodern trips into cinematic rock and roll dreams.
Their first single, “Virginia Plain,” became a hit, reaching number four on the UK charts. Released shortly after their first album, the song showcased what would become Roxy Music’s signature sound; a melodic artful sax, oboe, guitar and synth over thundering drums. Ferry’s crooning vocals helped drive the song, staking Roxy Music as an experimental powerhouse.
Less than a year later, Roxy Music released their sophomore album, For Your Pleasure. The album built upon the wild instrumentals of the band’s debut, featuring fan favorite songs “Do the Strand” and “In Every Dream Home A Heartache.”
The sound was a shock to the system — heavily treated electric guitars and the most out-there synthesizer parts you’d ever heard.
The albums Stranded and Country Life saw multi-instrumentalist Andy Mackay and guitarist Phil Manzanera join the songwriting team. Eddie Jobson refined the group’s experimental synth sounds while also contributing electric violin. The tracks “Street Life” and “Out of the Blue” were a polished mix of Roxy Music’s daring instrumentals and pop hooks.
Their 1975 album Siren spawned the worldwide hit “Love is the Drug” – since featured in countless video games, TV shows, and movies. The drums and bass of Paul Thompson and John Gustafson built a soulful, funky beat – it’s easy to understand how a young Nile Rodgers was inspired to form Chic after seeing Roxy Music. Other artists, including the Talking Heads, U2, and Duran Duran also paid attention and Roxy Music soon became the catalyst that sparked the New Romantic and New Wave movements.
Roxy Music transitioned into the 80s with two more records; the lush, lounge-style albums Flesh and Blood and Avalon. Released in 1982, Avalon saw the band end on a high note with a pop tune laden sound filled with vast musical landscapes both cerebral and emotional. The album’s melancholy single, “More Than This” alluded to the band’s earlier, extended instrumental breaks, with the title-track “Avalon” following suit.
Roxy Music was an experiment that envisioned the future of rock and roll. They extended the accessibility of an art rock and glam with Ferry’s soulful voice and the band’s pop sound. In doing so, they changed the course of music.
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