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Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera honoured with OBE

Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music (Nick Ansell/PA)
Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music (Nick Ansell/PA)

Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera has become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

The 73-year-old English songwriter and record producer was mentioned in the King’s Birthday Honours List for his services to music.

His most well known band, including singer Bryan Ferry, oboist Andy Mackay and drummer Paul Thompson, is famed for hits like Virginia Plain and Love is The Drug and topped the singles charts just once with a cover of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy.

Born in London in 1951 to a British father and Colombian mother, Manzanera spent a chunk of his early life in South America.

Earlier this year, his memoir Revolucion to Roxy was released which explored him growing up in 1950s Cuba, Hawaii and Venezuela amid changing Governments and Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s rise before he began his music career.

Roxy Music reunion
Roxy Music: Phil Manzanera, Bryan Ferry, and Andy Mackay (John Stillwell/PA)

He was part of Quiet Sun along with Charles Hayward and Bill MacCormick, who had worked with Robert Wyatt as part of the Canterbury scene with Matching Mole.

In 1972, aged 21, Manzanera became lead guitarist in the line-up of Ferry, Brian Eno, Thompson and Mackay and the band released their self-titled debut album Roxy Music.

They followed that up with 1973’s For Your Pleasure before Eno quit, and the band came out with Stranded, Country Life, Siren, Manifesto and Flesh And Blood.

However, they went on hiatus in 1983 following the release of their chart-topping record Avalon, one of the band’s four UK number ones.

They reunited in 2001 for a world tour, and Ferry, Mackay, Thompson and Manzanera have all performed together off and on since, most recently in 2022 for a series of shows to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Classic Rock Roll of Honour – London
Phil Manzanera is a winner of the Musicians’ Union Maestro Award at the Classic Rock Roll of Honour (Steve Parsons/PA)

Roxy Music were also the last musical guests of the final episode of the BBC’s Friday Night With Jonathan Ross in 2010 along with former England footballer David Beckham.

The band have pursued their own paths with Ferry releasing a string of solo albums and Manzanera and Mackay briefly collaborating as The Explorers.

On Manzanera’s website, he says: “I once had a band with Andy Mackay called The Explorers, it was more wanderlust  than wonderful, but I’m a musical explorer and the exploration never ends… there’s a world of music out there to discover and new musicians to play with.”

He has also worked on Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s hit album On An Island and Rattle That Lock and co-produced the psychedelic group’s record The Endless River.

Manzanera released his own 2015 album The Sound Of Blue and has toured with Gilmour in the UK, Europe and South America, and in 2011, his 1978 record K-Scope was sampled by the rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West on the song No Church In The Wild.

In 2012, he collected the maestro award at Classic Rock magazine’s Roll Of Honour prize show.

Three years later, he was made concert master of La Notte della Taranta, Italy’s largest free festival.

In 2019, Ferry, Eno, Manzanera and Mackay were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by John Taylor and Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran and were hailed by the body for their “iconoclastic” sound that has “changed drastically while balancing fine taste with maverick style”.

Manzanera has also written for Eno, Tim Finn, Wyatt and Gilmour, and started the North West London recording studio Gallery Studios which Roxy Music, Hot Chip, Eurythmics vocalist Annie Lennox, Paul Weller, Kevin Ayers, and The Pretenders star Chrissie Hynde have all used.