|Ferry’s Jewish manager defends Nazi outburst
By Bernard Josephs
THE Jewish manager of musician Bryan Ferry, Steven Howard, has defended his rock-star client’s reported remarks to a German newspaper which described Nazi parades and art as “amazing” and “really beautiful”. Mr Ferry, 61, said he was “deeply upset” by the row and apologised “unreservedly for any offence caused by my comments on Nazi iconography, which were solely made from an art-history perspective. I, like every right-minded individual, find the Nazi regime and all it stood for evil and abhorrent.”|
Mr Howard is a key backer of Norwood, British Jewry’s leading children and family charity. He told the JC: “[Bryan] does not have a drop of antisemitic or racist blood in his body. I have been his manager for three years. His [Jewish] accountant, Ronnie Harris, has represented him for over 20 years. He has sponsored and supported us both in our various Jewish fundraising efforts. If I thought for one second that he was antisemitic, I would never work with him. He is distraught at the insinuation that has been made.”
In an interview with the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag, Mr Ferry reportedly said: “My God, the Nazis knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves. Leni Riefenstahl’s movies and Albert Speer’s buildings and the mass parades and flags — just amazing. Really beautiful.” He also reportedly said that he jokingly referred to his West London studio as the “Fuhrerbunker”.
Mr Howard said that “Bryan feels that his comments were mistranslated, and subsequently misinterpreted and misunderstood by one UK Sunday newspaper, which was then followed up by all the newspapers. Articles then appeared without anybody trying to clarify the facts or validate what was actually said.
“It was the journalist who referred to his basement studio as a ‘Fuhrerbunker’. Bryan didn’t even utter this word, and has never ever referred to his studio as this.
Mr Ferry, the former Roxy Music lead singer, has a “King of Cool” image which has been exploited by Marks & Spencer as the face of its new menswear collection. An M&S spokesperson described him as a “great fashion icon” but declined to comment further.
Although welcoming the singer’s apology, Jewish leaders and politicians strongly criticised his original choice of words. Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin said that “while it is not our role to comment every time a celebrity or other media personality seems to go out of their way to make glib, insensitive statements on the Hitler era, there is nevertheless a real danger of turning history into a joke, and transforming the willing accomplices of Nazi genocide into objects of admiration.”
There were similar comments from the Jewish Leadership Council and from Lord Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust. In the Commons, Labour MP Andrew Dismore tabled an Early Day Motion condemning the singer’s remarks and attacking Marks & Spencer for continuing to use his image.