You ask the questions: Bryan Ferry

(Such as: so, Bryan Ferry, how come you've always looked like you're 40 years old? And: after being on a hijacked plane, would you ever fly again?)
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The Independent Online

Bryan Ferry was born in Washington, Tyne and Wear in 1945. The son of a coal miner, he began his musical career as a singer with the Banshees while studying art at Newcastle Upon Tyne University under pop conceptualist Richard Hamilton. In 1970, after a brief stint working as a teacher, Ferry, with Brian Eno on keyboards, formed Roxy Music. Their self-titled debut was released in the summer of 1972 and was a massive hit. Roxy Music went on to release eight studio albums including For Your Pleasure, Stranded, Flesh and Blood and Avalon; Ferry soon became something of a style icon, famous for his outfits in leopard skin and black sequins, and for his trademark white tuxedo. He has been described as "a godfather of contemporary style", and as "the coolest man in Britain".

After the Avalon album you were quoted as saying that you hoped your masterpiece was still ahead of you. Do you feel you have reached that point with any of your subsequent albums, or even individual tracks, or are you yet to get there?

Inderjit Wassi, by e-mail

I'm sure I did say that, and no, I don't think I have got there yet, actually. I don't think you ever feel like that, or you'd stop. You always have to feel that your big pièce de résistance is ahead of you. I'm still thinking about it, still deluding myself.

Do you still feel like a North-easterner?

C Loach, Darlington

Yes, of course I do. I do still feel that I come from the North, even though I've lived away from there most of my life. There are certain things that, as a northerner, I feel very drawn to. The strange sort of humour that they have, certain phrases that say a lot in a few words. It's a good part of the world to come from. It was very unglamorous. Perhaps as a result of coming from there, I was attracted to very earthy, blues music. There's a definite connection.

Roxy Music doing "Virginia Plain" on TOTP changed my life. Name the record that changed yours, and what were you doing at the time?

Sara Austen, by e-mail

I don't really have a record, but I do have a concert that changed my life. I hitched all the way to London when I was a student in Newcastle to see Otis Redding, just before he died, along with the rest of the Stax revue, playing at the Roundhouse. The music was fantastic – it was Otis, Sam and Dave, and all the other great musicians on the label. The showmanship was amazing. They all looked incredibly flashy, whizzing round the stage in their different coloured mohair suits. It was so powerful, the best period of R&B ever.

How did you feel about Spitting Image using you as a human hair-gel pump?

Selina Buruman, by e-mail

Very amused.

Roxy Music – how much by design and how much by accident?

Clive Mundy, London

Certain parts of Roxy Music are very much by design. It was great to get involved in all of the visual aspects of the music world – designing the album covers and the stage shows. The music is the accident. It comes from nowhere, from somewhere that I don't know. One minute I'll be sitting there and a tune will come into my head and I'll build on it, or I'll be sitting at the piano and something will just sound right.

Why do your eyelids do St Vitus's dance when you sing?

Solomon Boynton, by e-mail

It must be some strange medical condition that I have no control over. I get very easily distracted, so I generally sing with my eyes closed to concentrate on what I'm doing. Occasionally they must flutter open.

That must have been a truly terrifying incident on the hijacked aeroplane. Did it change your life, and would you fly again?

S Prasad, Buxton

Everyone on the plane was sleeping at the time, which is how the guy managed to get right up by the cockpit. My son was sitting next to me and woke up first, so by the time I knew what was happening, it was all under control. Three men were already pinning the guy to the ground. It was very frightening – at the time I just felt helpless, I realised that in that situation, there's very little you can do. Afterwards, it made me feel like I would like to put Roxy Music together again, as I may never get another chance. It made me think very hard about the brevity of life. I've been watching closely what's been going on in America and having flashbacks, thinking that could so easily have happened to me, and thank God it didn't.

Twenty odd years ago when you were in Roxy Music, you looked 40 years old when you appeared on TOTP. Twenty years later, you still look 40. How do you explain this?

Allis Karim, Cambridge

Constant prayer.

Why re-form Roxy Music now, after all these years? Do you ever see Brian Eno, and would you consider working with him again?

Nicholas Daly, London

Last year I was touring a solo project, As Time Goes By, which was arrangements of songs from the 1930s with a small orchestra. I started doing arrangements of Roxy songs in the show, and began to think it'd be really nice to put the band back together and do a kind of celebration of the Roxy songbook.The others were very into it. I have been working with Brian Eno, and we've done a song which will be on the album coming out next year. We work together in the studio, but not on stage.

What did you learn from your fine art degree?

MN Silas, Durham

I learned how to see better. It opened my eyes not only to painting, but to design. Being taught by Richard Hamilton was very inspiring, he was so talented, he made art feel very important and he was very cool – he drove the right car and smoked the right cigars. It certainly influenced all the work I've done on the design of Roxy.

Sting said he had to lose his Geordie accent and sound like a newsreader to be successful. How did you lose your accent, and do you regret it?

K MacLeod, Whitley Bay

I think it was a gradual process for me. From the minute I went to university and started meeting people from the South, it started to change. In the beginning it was kind of deliberate. I was very shy and I felt that the Geordie accent made me more introverted. When I'm with other Geordies, though, it comes back full and strong.

Roxy Music play the Manchester Arena, 28 September; Glasgow SECC, 29 September; London Apollo, 1 and 2 October. For tickets, call 08705 344444

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