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Bryan Ferry’s Sad Pleasures

Bryan Ferry’s Sad Pleasures


With his new album Avonmore, the musician is as lushly romantic as ever


Photography by M. Sharkey, Grooming by Angela DiCarlo

Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey, and Susan Boyle have all sung it. So, now, has Bryan Ferry. "Send in the Clowns" may be the most surprising choice for a cover for the man who put the glitter into glam, but Ferry has never been short on surprises. His new album, Avonmore (named for the address of his London studio), is no exception. It's been more than 40 years since Ferry formed Roxy Music -- recruiting Brian Eno, among others, to join him -- and the musician sounds as lushly romantic as ever. The lead track, "Loop De Li," is a master slice of smoky dance-pop, while the album closer, "Johnny and Mary," a collaboration with Norwegian producer Todd Terje, turns Robert Palmer's New Wave classic into a melancholic power ballad that plays like a world-weary denouement to Ferry's long and celebrated career. Here, the icon looks back.

Blues Are the Drug

"I like sad songs, and I guess I've been drawn to other people's sad songs -- blues songs to start with. The first voice that really stirred me was Lead Belly, and in the '50s there was skiffle music, which brought the blues of America to British radio. I still have my 78s of Fats Domino, Little Richard, and early Elvis."

On His First Rock Concert
"I was fortunate enough to see the first rock 'n' roll tour of Europe, which was Bill Haley and the Comets. I was only 10 and won two front-row seats at the Sunderland Empire. I went with my big sister, and it was wild -- teddy boys wrecking theaters. It was the beginning of that whole thing. After that came the Beatles and the rest of it. Up until then, we made music around the piano. My sister used to buy sheet music and play songs from the hit parade -- that's what people did. It was a different age."

On Getting His Hands Dirty
"When I was putting Roxy together I was teaching odd days, and this school asked if I could teach pottery two days a week. That was fun -- all the students were girls. It was a very good atmosphere, playing music during the lessons -- I'd let the girls bring their own records -- and then at nights rehearsing with the band. I made some pieces at the time, small experiments with different glazes and stuff. I still have some."

On His Romance With Amanda Lear
"She's a very big personality -- very funny -- although I haven't seen her for ages. We used to hang out at dinners in London in the '70s. It was a wild time. I guess the gay community loves her wit, and the glamour as well. It's a great combination."

Watch the video for "Loop De Li" below:

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