Phil Manzanera is one of the UK’s best-known musicians and record producers, having shot to prominence in the early ‘70s as the lead guitarist with the seminal band, Roxy Music. He is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading guitarists and is in much demand both as a performer and record producer.
The release of this Spring’s Spanish language Corroncho, a wry take on the life of the Latino male and the announcement that Roxy Music will be touring this Summer, after a hiatus of five years, epitomizes the duality of this most creative musician.
His six-part radio series, “A Plank of Wood and six strings” recently aired on radio station, Planet Rock following last year’s acclaimed fourteen-part series “The A-Z of Great Guitarists.”
In the Autumn of 2008 Phil Manzanera released Firebird VII, an instrumental album inspired by his signature Gibson guitar. In February 2009 Phil ,alongside Charles Hayward ,Yaron Stavi and Leszek Mozdzer played four dates at Ronnie Scotts club in London and in June a week’s tour of Poland.
Phil Manzanera was born in London to a Colombian mother and English father, and spent most of his childhood in different parts of the Americas: Hawaii, Venezuela, Colombia and Cuba. It was in Cuba that the young Manzanera, age six, encountered his first guitar, a Spanish guitar owned by his mother. Phil’s early musical accomplishments were Cuban folksongs learnt against the upheaval of the Cuban Revolution.
In Venezuela the eight –year-old Phil started experimenting with the sounds of the electric guitar, a cello electric. During his teenage years Phil was absorbing and marrying the twin influences of ‘60s rock and roll with the Latin-American rhythms of the merengue, cumbia and particularly the boleros of the Mexican, Armando Manzanero.
Manzanera was determined to join a professional band and by the New Year of 1972, aged 22, he had joined the recently formed Roxy Music as lead guitarist - the line-up at this time was Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Paul Thompson and Andy Mackay. Roxy’s rise was meteoric, with the band being hailed as the stylistic influence of the early 1970s. During the next twelve years, until 1983 when the band members went on a “long break,” Roxy Music released a series of international best selling albums, achieving ten UK top ten albums and touring extensively throughout the world. In parallel with Roxy Music, Manzanera has alway pursued solo projects, both recording his own albums and producing for others. All his previous solo albums have been digitally remastered and re-released with new artwork, available on his own label, Expression Records through his web-site, www.manzanera.com.
As a writer, producer and solo artist, Phil Manzanera has worked with many of the luminaries of modern music, such as Steve Winwood, David Gilmour, John Cale, Godley and Creme, Nico (Velvet Underground) and John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia). He has co-written material with many artists, including Brian Eno, Tim Finn, Robert Wyatt and David Gilmour. Manzanera co-wrote Pink Floyd’s single ‘”One Slip” from their 1988 Momentary Lapse of Reason album. In 2008 Manzanera co-produced David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk as well as David Gilmour’s 2006 chart topping album, On an Island, he also toured with Gilmour playing concerts in Europe and North America. Also in 2008 his production of Enrique Bunbury’s album Hellville DeLuxe, was Number One in Spain and Mexico enabling Bunbury to play the biggest ever concert in Mexico city to 120,000 people.
Manzanera has performed in concerts all over the world, including “Guitar Legends,” the five –day guitar festival in Seville where he was musical director for the event as well as playing with Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Jack Bruce and Richard Thompson. Phil has also played in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, France Italy and the UK, including a ten-date European tour with the Cuban band, Grupo Moncada. He played in WOMAD festivals in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Phil ended the 20th Century by appearing with Bryan Ferry at the British Gas Millennium Concert at Greenwich, the first time they had performed together in 18 years.
The Roxy Music “long break” came to an end in 2001 with a critically acclaimed, sellout 52 date world tour, featuring Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Andy MacKay and Paul Thompson. The world rediscovered Roxy Music and the band was shown to be as relevant and influential as ever. In the Summer of 2003 Roxy played ten dates in the US followed by thirteen European gigs in 2004, including performing at Live 8 in Berlin. After a five-year wait, Roxy fans will be able to see the band this Summer in Festivals in the UK, Europe and Japan.
Phil Manzanera has his state of the art Gallery Studios in West London. The first recording was Robert Wyatt’s Mercury Prize-nominated Cuckooland, and since then clients have included Roxy Music, Eno, Hot Chip, David Gilmour, Annie Lennox, Kevin Ayers, and Chrissie Hynde.
Phil Manzanera defies easy musical definition, preferring to continually explore new musical directions and experiment with sounds and styles, continuing Phil’s musical journey, one that takes many twists and turns , and shows his enduring passion and talent for making music.