Tony Barrell makes a pilgrimage to a Roxy Music photo location in Germany
This wonderful photograph from May 1973 shows Roxy Music by a fountain in a park in Munich. These are the Alter Botanische Garten (Old Botanical Gardens) and this is the Neptune Fountain, graced by an imposing sculpture of the Roman sea god. The band were in the Bavarian city to play a concert on the evening of Monday, May 7, at a venue known as the Circus Krone. Although this was a real circus, many rock bands had played here before, including the Beatles in 1966, The Who in 1967, Led Zeppelin in 1970 and Alice Cooper in 1972.
Roxy were on a long tour that had taken them from England to Scotland, Wales, Italy and Switzerland, and would take them from Germany to France, Belgium and the Netherlands. There is one person missing from this shot of Eno, Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Paul Thompson and Andy Mackay: their bass player on that tour, John Porter – which leads me to suspect that he took the picture.
Recently I happened to be visiting Munich, so I decided to follow in the band’s footsteps and make a pilgrimage to the Old Botanical Gardens. I found them quite near the city’s Hauptbahnhof, or main railway station (see the map below). I photographed the fountain as it is today:
And here I am in front of the fountain, 46 years after Roxy stood here (wearing a suitable T-shirt for the occasion):
The naked, bearded Neptune carries a trident on his right shoulder, and the fountain spouts water from two places: a horse on the left, and an instrument blown by Neptune’s small companion on the right. In the 1973 picture, the horse is hidden by Manzanera, but the instrument-blower can be seen behind the orange-haired, green-suited Mackay. Most of the band were positioned on the paved area by the fountain (Manzanera was higher up, standing on the rim of the fountain), and they would have had a clear view of a very grand building across the road, known as the Justizpalast (Justice Palace), the city’s law courts. This is the view today (below) from the band’s standpoint:
In the 1973 shot, part of a yellow building can be seen just to the right of Neptune’s left leg. My visit confirmed that this is the Kunstpavilion (Art Pavilion), a small gallery that still holds exhibitions. Over the stout wooden door is the slogan “Kunst ist kein Luxus” – “Art is not a luxury” – a sentiment with which the band would surely have concurred. Here is how the Kunstpavilion looked when I visited:
While I was in the park, I snapped some views from the back and the right-hand side of the fountain:
At the Circus Krone gig, Roxy played a series of songs from their latest album, For Your Pleasure, along with a few favourites from the first LP (plus ‘Virginia Plain’), and during a guitar break in ‘Re-make/Re-model’ Manzanera threw in an excerpt from the German national anthem – a witty variation on Jimi Hendrix’s version of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, played at Woodstock less than four years before. The whole Munich concert is preserved in a bootleg recording, released as The Pride and the Pain.
There was time for the band to indulge in a proper German-style booze-up, as evidenced by this photograph from the same period (in which Eno apparently wears the same clothes as in the fountain picture):
After Munich they were off to play Frankfurt, and they would soon perform in Paris and have tea with Salvador Dali. Following a festival gig in York on July 2, Eno announced that he was leaving the band. As the shutter clicked in Munich’s Old Botanical Gardens, he may have already begun to consider a variety of possible futures – or think about his laundry. ♦
© 2019 Tony Barrell