Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon and John Taylor recalled the seismic shift of watching Roxy Music make their UK television debut and described their long-standing affinity for the band while inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In a recent maintenanceTaylor remembers being fascinated by Roxy Music after seeing them on television in the early ’70s. “They were unlike anything we had ever seen before,” he said. “They were almost from outer space.”
Years later, Duran Duran would cover the Roxy Music cut they watched on that fateful BBC show, “Virginia Plain”, using it as an intro for their own hit, “Rio”. Taylor would also continue to cover Roxy Music. “Just another top” to Dream Home Heartaches… Remake / Remodeling Roxy Music, a tribute album he also produced.
Read Duran Duran’s induction speech below.
Simon Le Bon: August 24, 1972; one evening at the end of summer. School holidays are almost over – one of those days when it seemed like England was about to choke on its own nostalgia; nostalgia for the war years, the best hours as we teenagers inside screamed for something, anything, to arrive, and the music was where we were looking for signs of life.
David Bowie and the Spiders made their debut earlier in the year; Queen’s was just around the corner. It was in this atmosphere that Roxy Music dropped its pop culture bomb on British audiences, performing their debut single, “Virginia Plain”, on prime-time BBC television.
The sound was a shock to the system – a psychedelic Sinatra, singing pop-art poetry to rousing drums on oboes and saxophones, heavily processed electric guitars and the most extravagant synth parts you’ve ever heard. . The musicians themselves were dressed outrageously, each with an individual and well-defined look.
Put it all together, and what you got was pulp science fiction.
John Taylor: Their hugely exciting self-titled debut album was equally cinematic. It took the listener to burnt battlefields, sunny beaches and dark cinemas. There was funk, country & western, rock & roll, German experimental music, doo-wop. everything has hybridized into something entirely new. But it was more than music; it was a pioneering and global lifestyle brand. It was a genre in its own right. It was Roxy Music!
Nick Rhodes and I went to see Roxy in 1974, when they came to Birmingham. I was 14 years old. One Saturday afternoon, we met in the Odeon hall, where we met two fans. They told us that if we rushed down the alley that ran alongside the building, we could hear them repeat. It was there that I discovered the secret world of soundcheck.
There were a dozen children standing, all wearing Roxy T-shirts and scarves. We listened as they warmed up to songs from their latest album, Country life.
Suddenly the music stopped, and at the signal, a black Mercedes drove to the backstage door – I had never seen a black Mercedes in my life. In a sudden frenzy of activity, the group rushed into the light and piled into the car, which took off at high speed. One girl shouted, “They’re staying at the Holiday Inn!” So we raced through Birmingham city center. When the car pulled up at the entrance to the hotel, we were already there. I remember thinking [guitarist] Phil Manzanera was the tallest person I had ever seen, although knowing him now it had to be the platform boots.
At the concert that night, I recorded Roxy on my portable cassette player – you could do that back then! And the next night, in my dark suburban room, I listened back and realized what I wanted to be. I knew my fate.
Good : Roxy Music’s subsequent journey, piloted by the open heart surgery of Bryan Ferry’s lyrics writing, would immerse us deep in emotion and romance. As listeners this was not what we expected. We came to party, but what we learned was to feel.
Over a 12-year span, they recorded eight studio albums, each a masterpiece, each filled with moments that defy the dry eye. Always experimentation, dynamism, humor, articulate and versatile musicality. A work that has fulfilled all the promises of the era of electric rock.
After leaving the group in 1973, Brian Eno would become the most innovative studio musician in the world: a man of the times. Eno has helped shape some of the most important artists of our time. He also has the distinction of being the musician most frequently cited as the answer to clues in the New York Times crossword. “Musician, Brian, three letters. “
Taylor: Eno once said of the Velvet Underground, “They didn’t sell a lot of records, but everyone who bought one formed a band. Roxy has sold many more records than the Velvet Underground, and they have influenced the lifestyle choices of everyone who came in contact with them. The name Bryan Ferry has become synonymous with cool. He’s like Cary Grant, another Englishman, whose phenomenal drive and determination is behind an image that was made to appear so easy. Aspiring, but deeply rooted in his working-class roots, Bryan is one of the most restless minds in 20th century art.
In his memoir, Nile Rodgers wrote that after seeing Roxy in London, he tapped into what he called the “Deep Hidden Meaning” that would fuel the concept of his own group, Chic. The Sex Pistols were also heavily influenced by Roxy, so they indirectly helped spark the punk-rock revolution. And, of course, I’m always proud to say that without Roxy Music there would be no Duran Duran. Along the way, in the early ’80s, we were able to inadvertently introduce Roxy’s music to our young American audience when radio stations like WLIR started playing the two groups back to back.
Good : Our musical paths finally crossed in ’85, when Nick [Rhodes] and I invited Andy Mackay to play with us on Arcadia ‘s “So Red the Rose”. Andy’s unique style of playing the saxophone and clarinet turned out to be the extremely rich element of sound we were looking for.
Roxy Music’s influence is immense and impossible to calculate. We are happy to see them here tonight and honored to be the ones who brought them to this sacred institution.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to induct Roxy Music into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!