How JAY-Z & Kanye West Made Guitarist More Money Than His 50 Years With Roxy Music

Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera released his new book, Revolución To Roxy, on Friday (March 22). Per Music Radar, Manzanera writes about how he learned a riff from his 1976 solo album, K-Scope, had been sampled on the opening track to Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2011 album, Watch The Throne. As a result, Manzanera has made more money from royalties than he ever did during his 50 years with Roxy Music.

As he explains, Manzanera fielded a call from a Roc-A-Fella Records representative one day, but he thought there’d been some kind of mistake. He noted, “I’m sometimes confused with Ray Manzarek who’s from The Doors. I think you probably mean him.” But it wasn’t an accident; the track “No Church in the Wild” featuring Frank Ocean and The-Dream includes Manzanera’s riff throughout its 4:32 duration.

“Delving as deep as I knew how into the furthest recesses of my memory, I vaguely recalled being near the end of recording and at a loss for something new to play,” Manzanera writes in the book. “One evening I’d been sitting on the sofa and noodling with my guitar when I came across this riff which I quite liked. I played it only a few times, recorded it in the studio the next day, and then forgot all about it.”

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Manzanera discovered he had no control of it being used by Jay-Z and Kanye West on the track, which was produced by 88-Keys (who sourced the sample), Mike Dean, Om’Mas Keith and West.

“I called the business affairs people at Virgin and spoke to an executive,” Manzanera continued. “I told her about the phone call from Roc-A-Fella Records and asked if she knew anything about it. She replied, “Oh yes we know about it. We’ve been discussing it with them for weeks.”

The representative explained the label owned the copyright, but they still wanted to give Manzanera one-third of the royalties. Watch The Throne album was released in August 2011 and ended up going platinum in the United States and Denmark, gold in the United Kingdom and was used in two car advertisements.

“Who knew that I would earn more money from a short guitar riff that I wrote one evening on a sofa in front of the telly in 1978 than I ever earned in the entire 50 years as a member of Roxy Music?” Manzanera writes. “Thank you, Kanye West, thank you Jay-Z, thank you Virgin and Universal, and thank you to the capricious mistress that is rock ‘n roll.”

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