While his tenure as the frontman for the legendary Roxy Music remained his towering achievement, singer Bryan Ferry also carved out a successful solo career which continued in the lush, sophisticated manner perfected on the group's final records. Born September 26, 1945 in Washington, England, Ferry, the son of a coal miner, began his musical career as a singer with the rock outfit the Banshees while studying art at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne under pop-conceptualist Richard Hamilton. He later joined the Gas Board, a soul group featuring bassist Graham Simpson; in 1970, Ferry and Simpson formed Roxy Music.
Within a few years, Roxy Music had become phenomenally successful, affording Ferry the opportunity to cut his first solo LP in 1973. Far removed from the group's arty glam-rock, These Foolish Things established the path which all of Ferry's solo work -- as well as the final Roxy Music records -- would take, focusing on elegant synth-pop interpretations of '60s hits like Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" and the Beatles' "You Won't See Me," all rendered in the singer's distinct, coolly dramatic manner.
Roxy Music remained Ferry's primary focus, but in 1974 he returned with a second solo effort, Another Time, Another Place, another collection of covers ranging from "You Are My Sunshine" to "It Ain't Me, Babe" to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." His third venture, 1976's Let's Stick Together, featured remixed, remade, and remodeled versions of Roxy Music hits as well as the usual assortment of covers. 1977's In Your Mind was Ferry's first solo collection of completely original material; the following year's The Bride Stripped Bare, a work rumoured to be inspired by his broken romance with model Jerry Hall, split evenly between new songs and covers.
Ferry did not release another solo album until 1985's Boys and Girls, a sleek, seamless effort that was his first "official" solo release following the Roxy breakup in 1983. Boys & Girls contained one of Ferry's best-known solo compositions, "Slave To Love".
1987's Bête Noire displayed a similarly hazy, detailed yet rhythmic soundstage. A long world tour in 1988 and 1989 followed, after which he started recording another album of original material to be called Horoscope, which however developed into an overly complex project and was not released in its original form. Instead, Ferry released another album of re-interpretations in 1993, called Taxi, and re-worked the Horoscope tapes as well as adding new compositions. The result was the highly atmospheric and impressionistic Mamouna album, finally released in 1994, containing nine Ferry originals plus - unprecedentedly - a co-write with Brian Eno, who also performed on the album. Another world tour followed, likewise another delayed release: an album called Alphaville was recorded and produced with Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, though Ferry eventually chose not to release it. Again, he resolved to re-interpreting other people's songs, this time classic material from the 30s and 40s (including standards by Cole Porter), and the album that ensued was 1999's warm, largely acoustic As Time Goes By. It was presented in live concerts throughout late 1999 and 2000. With more and more Roxy Music tracks being added to the setlist, it was one of the factors finally convincing Ferry to reunite with his former Roxy Music colleagues.
Shortly after the Roxy Music reunion tour, an album called Frantic emerged in 2002, collecting some of the original material planned for Alphaville in the mid-90s, albeit mostly in re-worked form, plus a number of cover versions. The album suggested comparisons to The Bride Stripped Bare, in its more rock-ist, guitar-laden sounds. Not having been inclined to large amounts of touring in earlier years, Ferry undertook another long agenda of live commitments. Only in 2007 did he release his next solo album, a collection of Dylan interpretations - appropriately named Dylanesque -, ranging from introspective, closely-miked ballads to more straightforward rock workouts.