Beauty Queen

Album: For Your Pleasure (1973)
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Songfacts®:

  • Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry breaks up with a girl named Valerie in this melodramatic crooner ballad. While he describes her as "an ideal of beauty," Ferry is loath to commit. Valerie was said to be a model from Newcastle, England, where Ferry studied fine art in the late 1960s.
  • Ferry said this song was inspired by The Walker Brothers. Fronted by Scott Walker, the American trio specialized in baroque-pop ballads such as "Make It Easy on Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)."

    In an interview with Melody Maker, Ferry said "Beauty Queen" had a "Northern working men's club feel to it." Popularized in Northern England to provide recreation for industrial workers, the clubs were infamous for their cabaret acts.
  • "Beauty Queen" was the last song Brian Eno performed live with Roxy Music. Ferry and Eno had a strained relationship due to their creative differences, with the pair making their final appearance together at the York Music Festival on July 2, 1973. While Ferry was singing "Beauty Queen," the crowd started to drown out his voice with a loud chant of "Eno! Eno!"

    Eno left the stage out of embarrassment, but Ferry was fuming, vowing to never again perform live with the synthesizer player.

    Despite this incident, Eno revealed that "Beauty Queen" was his favorite song by Roxy Music. In an interview with NME in 1977, four years after quitting the band to become a solo artist and producer, he said: "I thought 'Beauty Queen' – which Bryan did practically by himself, incidentally – was spectacularly beautiful."
  • The line, "Your swimming pool eyes, in sea breezes they flutter," is likely a reference to "Sea Breezes" from Roxy Music's self-titled debut album.
  • In his memoir, 2016's Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol, Sex Pistols founding member and guitarist Steve Jones said he had this song set as his cellphone ringtone: "I loved those first two Roxy Music albums so much when they came out – the self-titled one and For Your Pleasure. I still love them now. The third and fourth albums are great too, but it was the first two that changed everything for me. I've got the intro of 'Beauty Queen' as my mobile ringtone even now."
  • "Beauty Queen" is the second song on Roxy Music's sophomore album, For Your Pleasure. Shot by Karl Stoecker, the album cover depicts French model and singer Amanda Lear posing in a leather dress beside a black panther on a leash. Even though she was dating Ferry at the time, Lear is perhaps most famous for being the long-term muse of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí until his death in 1989.

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