Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 15)
This time, our fave violinist gets to appear on the last Jonathan Ross Show (and nicks his script and swoons at David Beckham), plays the LoveBox festival in her new catsuit (and has males swooning at her) and interviews the man who made that very suit. Read all of Anna’s columns here.
What a week!
Got to play on the last-ever Jonathan Ross BBC TV show with Roxy Music. Was amused by how starstruck I was with David Beckham – who knew?! Myself and Bryan Ferry’s PA stopped dead in our tracks as he walked past us on our way to find wine… and after he floated past in a glowing aura of shining light, we did what can only be described as a ridiculous Rumpelstiltskin-style dance down the corridors, much to the amusement of the security guard. (If you were brought up as a child starved of the Grimm Fairytales, to visualise a Rumpelstiltskin-style dance just imagine a goblin jumping up and down stamping his foot. Or for more info go here).
We played Virginia Plain and Love is The Drug to be streamed on TV (check it out here) and then Every Dream Home Has a Heartache for the studio audience, after which Ross gave a heartfelt thank you and goodbye speech –I almost choked up! I had assumed he would be a bit of an arrogant twat – but actually, he came across as a genuinely humble and lovely person! And everyone I met, who’d worked with him on the programme for the last nine years, only had good things to say about him. Very pleasant surprise!
There was a party afterwards in the studio – sparkling fizz, ice sculpture and Mark Ronson DJ’ing. The highlight was meeting and making friends with the guys from 4 Poofs And A Piano (they are lovely!). I found a copy of Jonathan’s script for the last show which I am keeping for posterity. I also found two rubber ducks which are now in my bathroom.
On Saturday July 17, Roxy Music headlined the LoveBox Festival in London. So fantastic playing to a home crowd! And family too – my mum flew over from Ireland (we were brought up on Leonard Cohen and Roxy in our household). She, my brother and sister were all watching from the sidelines. My brother was threatening to storm the stage during the encores Do The Strand and Let’s Stick Together. Luckily, that never materialised. His name is Max McElligott – you can check out his music at www.myspace.com/thisiswolfgang.
Most excitingly of all, I got to wear my fabulous new Ray Brown catsuit for the first time on stage! It felt so good! Wearing one of Ray Brown’s outfits makes you automatically feel like a rock star – knowing that something has been custom-made for you to wear to perform in by someone so legendary is fantastic! I first started wearing clothes by him for the Trans Siberian Orchestra – he designed the sleeveless tux jacket.
Even though some of you reading this may think you have no idea who this guy is, you have probably all seen your favourite bands wearing his clothes on stage – or at the very least seen pictures of them. His client list starts with Alice Cooper and ends with Yngwie Malmsteen via names like Black Sabbath, Cher, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Randy Rhoads and Smashing Pumpkins. (Full list here.) His clothes are in over 25 Hard Rock Cafes around the world, and several items are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
Ray Brown, who is originally from Brisbane in Australia, moved to Los Angeles with just $300 in his pocket and started making clothes on a rented sewing machine. As word spread around about his incredible abilities as a tailor and designer he soon became known as the guy to get stage clothes from, if you wanted something original and striking. Actually, a music insider I met a couple of years back was totally impressed when I told him Ray Brown had made clothes for me… his words were. “Wow! You have a Ray Brown? He’s THE guy! Back in the 80s, a band’s first goal was to get a record deal – and as soon as the first pay cheque came in you were straight off to Ray Brown to get your outfit made!”
After building his behind-the-scenes empire in the USA, he’s now moved to England and set up a studio and showroom in North London. During my last fitting for the catsuit I asked him a few questions to share his genius with you!
How/When did you get started?
“I first started sewing on mum’s machine when I was a small boy – the first rock person I made stage clothes for was in 1980 for Bon Scott (AC/DC) right before he died. The first rock band I worked with were Styx – I was making jeans for a video producer and took them to the studio for him to try on. By pure coincidence, Tommy Shaw was there editing a video and he asked me to make him something – this became his famous red jumpsuit. Three days later they had me picked up in limo and flown in a private jet to Chicago. I did the clothes for Styx on the Paradise Theater Tour, and it just went on from there. Next one after that was Ozzy, and then all the rest of the guys throughout the 80s, Guns N’ Roses, Motley, Judas Priest.”
Some of your designs are quite crazy and inspired! Where do you get inspiration from?
“Always from the band or artists themselves – my thought is that anyone creative enough to make music also has a good idea how they want to look onstage. I listen to their thoughts of what they are trying to put across, and try and interpret their ideas for stage. Some come to me with a clear idea of what they want – others I come up with. I don’t want to tell people how to dress – I’m here to channel their ideas into a design that is wearable. Although I am a designer, it can’t be about my ego – it is all about the bands and what their music is about – after all, I’m not onstage wearing the clothes – they are!”
Which outfits are you most proud of or are most memorable to you?
“Because I make each one by hand from start to finish, I have a personal relationship with every item of clothing – so they’re all memorable to me! But the ones that are most significant are probablyJon Bon Jovi ‘s skull coat (now with the Smithsonian in NY), Alice Cooper’s Nail jacket, Rob Halford’s Chrome coat, the bejewelled biker jacket in Spinal Tap (now in the Hard Rock Cafe). I’m also really excited to be working with the new generation of bands – like Matt Bellamy and the guys in Muse. I recently made Matt a silver two piece suit which I’m really pleased with.”
What are your plans for the future?
“Well, I’m really excited about moving here to London, and working with some of the newer British bands. I’m also excited about getting my clothing line launched as a British label. Although I will always work with musicians, I also want my clothing to be made available to people beyond the stage.”
Ray Brown has now got an ‘appointment only’ showroom in North London. For more details you can contact Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org. You too can go and have clothes made directly from one of the world’s most legendary rock designers!
Inspiration Track For The Week: ZZ Top – Sharp Dressed Man
Tags: 4 Poofs And a Piano, AC/DC, alice cooper, Anna Phoebe Column, Black Sababth, Bonn Scott, Bryan Ferry, Cher, Guns N' Roses, Jon Bon Jovi, Jonathan Ross, Judas Priest, Leonard Cohen, Mark Ronson, Matt Bellamy, Megadeth, Motley Crue, muse, ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Ray Brown, Roxy Music, Smashing Pumpkins, Spinal Tap, Styx, Tommy Shaw, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Yngwie Malmsteen