Irish Independent - Fri 26th Aug

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His music has been revered for 40 years. He continues to influence a whole new generation of musicians. His name is a veritable by-word for cool. Yet, Bryan Ferry was beside himself with nerves when asked to provide the music at a wedding a few weeks back.

The happy couple was supermodel Kate Moss and rock singer Jamie Hince, but Ferry had grave reservations. "I was conscious of all these cool people that were going to be there and that played on my mind a bit," he says, speaking from his home in London, "but it all went smoothly and it was the most memorable wedding."

Both Moss and Hince had been huge fans of the Roxy Music star and laid on a helicopter for him to get to their celebration. He had had another commitment that evening, but the celebrity nuptials of the year (well, after a certain royal wedding) was an event he didn't want to miss.

Ferry got to know the model when she agreed to pose provocatively for the cover of his latest album, Olympia -- named after the exhibition centre in west London near where his studio is. "It was my son's idea to have Kate on the cover. Her pose was inspired by édouard Manet's painting, Olympia."

Ferry is celebrated for his racy album covers -- especially in the Roxy Music days -- and the Moss artwork suggested his fascination with the female form is as strong as ever. "What can I say?" he says, chuckling heartily. "I've always liked having glamorous, beautiful women on my cover. I suppose it's been a recurring theme for me, right from that first Roxy album. And Kate is a truly beautiful woman. Jamie is a very lucky man."

A former fiancée, Jerry Hall, graced the cover of Siren in 1975 while his then-wife Lucy Helmore featured on Roxy Music's last album, 1982's Avalon. The latter, Ferry says, was photographed in front of a lake in Ireland. Lucy's wealthy parents had had a summer retreat here.

Ferry formed Roxy Music with a group of like-minded arts lovers -- including Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno -- 40 years ago this year. "If someone had told me I'd still be making music at 66, I would have thought they were mad," he says. "Back then, I couldn't imagine what life would be like five years into the future, let alone 40 years.

"But looking back, I feel incredibly fortunate that I've been allowed do something I've loved for so long. I was lucky that Roxy came of age in the 1970s because that might just have been the most interesting decade for music.

"There was such a sense of creativity then and the feeling that you could produce something that was genuinely new. In a way, I feel sorry for musicians today because it is much harder to do something really different when virtually everything has already been tried."

His four sons -- Otis, Isaac, Tara ("we named him after the King of Tara") and Merlin -- have shown an interest in the music business and work with their father on different aspects of his trade.

"I don't think I've ever heard any of them sing a note," he says. "But they have inherited my love of music and, of course Otis shares my interest in hunting and traditional country sports."

Ferry's vehement support for hunting has made him a controversial figure. "I'm on the opposite spectrum to [renowned vegetarian] Morrissey," he says. "Rock and roll and keeping an open mind are supposed to go hand-in-hand, but people can be very closed-minded when it comes to hunting. You have all these city people who just don't understand what an important part country sports have to play in rural areas and in Ireland too, of course.

"Otis has a great affection for Ireland because it was there that he learned to hunt -- with the Galway Blazers. Unfortunately, I can't ride at all."

It's all a far cry from Ferry's poor upbringing in the North-East of England. "We really didn't have much, my family, when I was growing up."

Besides his visionary avant-garde music, Ferry is renowned for being the most sartorially elegant man in rock. "When I was a teenager and started taking an interest in clothes, I'd see these Mods wearing the most interesting clobber, but I couldn't afford any of it. My love of clothes really begun when I got a part-time job working with a tailor, and when we started Roxy I could see no reason why I should ditch the suits in favour of denim. I guess we showed that it was possible to be in a band and care about how you looked."

His latest dapper look will be unveiled at the Arcadian setting of Killruddery House and Gardens in Co Wicklow tonight. "It's going to be a career-spanning set," he says. "I don't think it's fair to dump new material on people who've paid good money."

There are likely to be one or two covers included for good measure. From his reinterpretations of Bob Dylan's songs to a peerless version of John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy', Ferry is seen as a master of the art.

"The only songs worth covering are the ones you really love, the ones you feel you could have written yourself. Otherwise, what's the point?"

Bryan Ferry plays Killruddery House, Bray, Co Wicklow, at 8pm tonight. Tickets, from €49, are still available.

Irish Independent

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