Undoubtedly one of the most influential bands to come out of the seventies, Roxy Music’s charm is often attributed to their dynamic lead singer, Bryan Ferry. And while that’s certainly true, the band’s adventurous spirit came from the other Brian.
One moment for the band which will go down in musical history was their performance of the unique new single, ‘Virginia Plain’ on the BBC stalwart Top of the Pops back in 1972. It would be the moment Brian Eno introduced electronic music to the mainstream.
Roxy Music’s hip-swaying frontman, Bryan Ferry, may have won over fans with a flash of his incandescent eyes but it was the musical genius of his backing band, and most notably, Brian Eno, that would cement the group as the influential powerhouses they are.
Musos and aficionados alike will have been jumping on to the Roxy Music bandwagon for some time before their single ‘Virginia Plain’ was released and heralded a new age of rock and roll. But it was their performance of their debut single on Top of the Pops that introduced their swashbuckling sound to the mainstream.
The song was written by Ferry and was recorded in the summer of 1972, the lead singer said of the song’s inspiration some years later: “It was a watercolour or a painting on paper. It was just like a surreal drawing of a giant cigarette packet, with a pin-up girl on it. I liked that phrase Virginia Plain…so it later became the title of the first single I put out with Roxy Music—with a slightly imponderable lyric.”
The track remains one of the most important moments in the glam rock movement, it was embued with the sexual energy of Ferry and perhaps, more importantly, the technical prowess of Brian Eno. Much of the song’s charm flows from Ferry’s mind and through the wires connected to the wooden box Eno is playing in the video below.
It was one of the first moments that electronic music was given the spotlight on a mainstream TV show and it rightly falls to the avant-garde purists of bouncing disco rock and roll, Roxy Music, to be the pioneers.
Watch Roxy Music perform ‘Virginia Plain’ on Top of the Pops in 1972. For an extra early-seventies moment, keep an eye out for the futuristic graphics too.