|Single by Roxy Music|
|Recorded||10–12 July 1972 at Command Studios, London|
|Roxy Music singles chronology|
"Virginia Plain" is a song by British glam rock group Roxy Music, released as their debut single in August 1972. Written by Roxy frontman Bryan Ferry, "Virginia Plain" was recorded by his band in July 1972 at London's Command Studios. Backed with "The Numberer" (an instrumental composed by Andy Mackay), as a single the song became a Top 10 hit in the UK, peaking at number four.
The song was not present on the original UK LP version of the band's debut, Roxy Music, and had not even been recorded when the album was released. After the success of the album in the UK, it was included on later reissues. In 1977, it was re-released as a single, together with "Pyjamarama", originally the second Roxy Music single, to promote their Greatest Hits album, and reached number 11. Both "Virginia Plain" and "The Numberer" can be found on "The Thrill of It All" boxset.
"Virginia Plain" features bass guitarist Rik Kenton, who joined after Graham Simpson left the band. It begins with a deceptively quiet introduction, followed by an instant increase of volume as soon as the vocals come in on the first verse.
Former art student Ferry took the title "Virginia Plain" from one of his own paintings, featuring an image of cigarette packaging - "Virginia Plain" is a variety of cigarette tobacco. The name "Robert E. Lee" refers to music industry lawyer Robert Lee, practising at law firm Harbottle & Lewis at the time. Warhol superstar Baby Jane Holzer is also referenced in the lyrics "Baby Jane's in Acapulco / We are flying down to Rio" and "can't you see that Holzer mane?".
- Bryan Ferry - vocals, piano, Mellotron, harmonica (on "The Numberer")
- Andrew Mackay - oboe, saxophone
- Brian Eno - VCS3 synthesizer, treatments
- Paul Thompson - drums
- Phil Manzanera - electric guitar
- Rik Kenton - bass guitar
Appearances in popular culture
- Virgin Atlantic Airways operated a Boeing 747-400 aircraft named Virginia Plain from 1997 to 2013 with tail registration G-VTOP.
- In the last episode (Episode 6) of the British Comedy series Big Train (Series 1), the song Virginia Plain was played at the end of the episode, when Mao Zedong, played by Kevin Eldon revived from his deathbed and started to sing the song with other cast members.
- In the Sex Pistols documentary The Filth and the Fury, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones mentions Roxy Music as a major childhood influence while a part of the Top of the Pops performance of "Virginia Plain" is shown. Jones later appeared in the 2009 BBC film More Than This - The Story of Roxy Music, discussing the same thing.