Plenty of rock stars claim they've seen everything, but in the case of Roxy Music's legendary guitarist Phil Manzanera, it's actually true. Thanks to a British father who worked for an airline, the still-rocking and still-relevant musician — his guitar riff from "K Scope" is sampled on Jay-Z and Kanye West's Grammy-nominated "No Church in the Wild" track from Watch the Throne — spent his childhood in such exotic locales as Venezuela, Hawaii, and Cuba, where he first picked up a guitar when his Colombian-born mother decided to get lessons to learn Cuban folk songs.
Following a stint at Dulwich Boarding School, the then 16-year-old Manzanero announced to his mother that he wanted to be a rock musician, prompting his older brother to suggest that the family turn to a Cambridge classmate for advice, as he'd just joined a band. The friend was Dave Gilmour, and the band was Pink Floyd.
Manzanera didn't disappoint, enlisting DJ Javier to play tracks from his own musical memory (yes, from the guitarist's original, amazing, well-maintained vinyl collection). Children's TV theme songs gave way to Cuban cha-cha-cha music, Hawaiian folk music, Elvis Presley's "Teddy Bear," and tracks from The Savages, The Beatles — Manzanera confessed to once sending away for a Beatles jacket and wig — Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, and, finally, Roxy Music.
As luck would have it, Manzanera actually failed his audition for "inspired amateurs" Roxy Music, but was later given the green light when the guitarist they'd hired instead got into a bust-up with the drummer. And the rest, as they say, is history.
No longer "humping around" heavy equipment with Bryan Ferry, Manzanero is hard at work on his second all-Spanish album as well as a new instrumental album.
"My solo albums were just about getting my mates in and having a good time, not selling any records," he said of his solo career.
But hey, if Jay-Z and Kanye West are calling, he must be doing something right.
Photo: Courtesy of LN-CC