|Genres||Rock, New Wave, Pop, Synthpop|
|Labels||EMI, Capitol Records], Parlophone, Hollywood, Epic Records|
The Power Station
|Simon Le Bon|
Duran Duran is a British pop/rock band formed in Birmingham, United Kingdom. They were one of the most successful of the 1980s bands and a leading band in the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" of the United States. Since the 1980s, they have placed 14 in the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart and 21 in the Billboard Hot 100 and have sold more than 100 million records.
The band was created by Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Stephen Duffy, with the later addition of Roger Taylor and, after numerous personnel changes, Andy Taylor, and Simon Le Bon. (None of the Taylors are related.) The group has never disbanded, but the line-up has changed to include American guitarist Warren Cuccurullo from 1986 to 2001, and American drummer Sterling Campbell from 1987 to 1991. The reunion of the original five members in 2001 created a stir among the band's fans and music media. Andy Taylor left the band in summer 2006, and London guitarist Dom Brown has since been working with the band as a session player and touring member, but is not considered a full member of the band. A full time replacement guitarist for Andy Taylor so far has not been appointed.
1978-1980: The Early Days Edit
John Taylor first met Nick Rhodes in the winter of 1973. John was thirteen, Nick was eleven and they both lived in the same area in Birmingham. Nick had already been to a couple of concerts - Gary Glitter and Slade. So in the spring of 1974, they both went to see Mick Ronson's first solo tour that came in April at the Birmingham Town Hall. This was the first time Taylor's parents had let John out into the city at night. The next concert the pair went to was Roxy Music in September at the Odeon.
After playing in Shock Treatment, John Taylor joined Dada in the spring of 1978 and then enrolled at the Birmingham Polytechnic's College of Art and Design for a twelve-month foundation course in the summer. This was where he met Stephen Duffy. Dada had hit a wall and Taylor now wanted to play in a band with Duffy.
Seeing the Human League for the first time was a turning point for this early incarnation of Duran Duran. John and Nick saw them supporting Siouxsie and the Banshees at the Mayfair Ballroom in Birmingham's Bullring shopping centre and watched in stunned, amazed silence. They had no drummer, no guitars. The band had three synthesizers and a drum machine instead.
John Taylor wrote in his autobiography In the Pleasure Groove, that what made for a much more exciting proposition than for him to attempt to teach Nick guitar was to get hold of a synthesizer and make that his instrument.
They also bought a Kay rhythm box for £15. So with Nick controlling the keys, setting the tempo and pushing the buttons on the Kay, Stephen Duffy singing and on bass, and John on guitar, the three made their first ever recording on a cassette tape in the space above Nick's mother's toy shop. The resulting album was called Dusk and Dawn. The trio named the band Duran Duran, after the villain from the Barbarella film. The villian's name been "Dr. Durand Durand," played by Milo O'Shea in the Roger Vadim's science-fiction film.The band brought in Duffy's friend Simon Colley to play clarinet and occasional bass for Duran Duran's first ever live appearance, in Taylor's and Duffy's lecture hall on 5 April 1979 at 6:00pm - practically during class time. Their friends attended the show, around 30 people and Duran Duran took advantage of the projection screen to show abstract slides to enhance the meaning of the songs. Something the Human League had done.
Duran Duran played next at the Cannon Hill Arts Centre on 8 May (tickets 50 pence) and then at Barbarella's on 1 June. Walking back to Hollywood in Birmingham from the Maypole bus terminus, Nick and John were convinced Duran Duran were going somewhere. They had really connected with the Barbarella crowd. Some days later Duffy and Colley left Duran Duran to make music with TV Eye, another local band with Taylor's oldest friend David Twist among them.
Nick and John then called Andy Wickett, the singer of TV Eye, who they knew was now out of a job, and asked him to join Duran Duran. This was a game of musical chairs with a Birmingham accent. Wickett organised a meeting with Roger Taylor to join the band, the drummer with Birmingham's Scent Organs. This was a period when John Taylor was still playing electric guitar.
Duran Duran version 2.0 moved out of the toy shop and set up its gear on the second floor of the TV Eye Cheapside squat, where Andy Wickett still lived, while the Subterranean Hawks, Duffy and Colley's new band were on the third floor.
John Taylor first heard Chic's "Everybody Dance!" was in a Birmingham wine bar and the impact of that song on him was huge. He soon picked up the bass guitar in Andy Wickett's bedroom and started to play. Roger Taylor and John got excited at the idea of playing in the style of these disco bands and began to forge a sound together.The next step was to enter a real recording studio, one owned by Bob Lamb. Andy Wickett, Roger, Nick and John booked a day at Bob's studio. This was their first exposure to multitrack recording. Bob got the disco influence and had Roger record the hi-hat separately, a trick he had learned from American disco producers. On the demo cassette liner recorded on this day in the studio, John Taylor appears as Nigel. It wasn't long after this that he decided that a pop star named John Taylor sounded better than Nigel Taylor.
To accompany Taylor's new name and take the new sound Bob Lamb had helped create, Duran Duran needed a full-time guitarist. So in 1979 the band met Alan Curtis, a Londoner who lived in Cradley Heath, Birmingham. With Curtis, Duran Duran's onstage confidence grew.After several gigs, the band's relationship with Andy Wickett began to fray and he soon left. He was replaced with Jeff Thomas, the singer from Roger's old band, the Scent Organs. That winter, Nick and his girl friend (who was previously with Wickett) took their latest demo tape to London to try and secure a record deal, but returned without success.
Andy Wickett had a major part in the writing of "Girls on Film", during his tenure with the band. (Wickett is also featured on some of the demos that were presented to EMI including the 1979 Demo.) Further, according to the websites belonging to Andy Wickett and John Taylor respectively, Wickett also co-wrote an early version of the song that came to be known as "Rio", known then as "Stevie's Radio Station".In February 1980, Nick and John were going around venues in Birmingham looking for unconventional places to play, like art galleries and cafes. Although Dada's residency at the Crown had served that band well, Duran Duran all agreed that they would do anything to avoid the pub circuit. One Friday afternoon, Nick and John were walking up Hill Street and noticed posters for a 'Bowie night' at a nightclub called the Rum Runner. 'New Sounds, New Styles' the poster promised. The pair visited the Rum Runner and met Paul Berrow, where they handed him a tape, featuring another set of songs recorded at Bob Lamb's studio and he listened to it. "This is bloody interesting" Berrow said. The rest of the band came to the club that evening and Paul agreed to put on a gig in March with Fashion headlining and Duran Duran opening. A Few days later the band moved their gear into the Rum Runner. One of the bars wasn't being used and Paul said they could practise in there during the day. Having a connection with the Rum Runner was crucial for Duran Duran. Paul and Michael Berrow became their patrons. The deal was clear, the band's job was to write the songs and develop the sound, and it was Berrow's responsibility to find them places to play, buy the gear and ultimately find a record deal.
On 12 March 1980, Duran Duran played the Rum Runner for the first time, on a low makeshift stage set up next to the DJ booth. The next day John Taylor got a call from Alan Curtis who said he didn't like the scene and was going back to London. Soon Jeff Thomas and Paul were arguing, which led to Thomas also leaving the band.The band placed an advert in Melody Maker for a guitarist. Andy Taylor applied and the night before he came down to Birmingham from Newcastle, John Taylor had been watching guitarist Gary Moore on TV and was taken by his ability to switch from bluesy rock to choppy funk. John felt Duran Duran needed a similar level of skill and versatility. Gary Moore happened to be Andy Taylor's favourite guitar player. He joined the band.
Until the band found a singer, they were restricted to the rehearsal room. The answer would come by way of a student at the university who worked part-time at the Rum Runner on weekends. She suggested her roommate to come down and meet the band. The roommate was Simon Le Bon, hair cut short, bleached dirty blonde and he arrived wearing skin-tight leopard-print ski pants with loops under his boots. They didn't play together the first day Le Bon came, but talked about music.
He returned to the club a day or two later, bringing with him a battered blue book, his Dog Days lyric book, which was filled with lyrics and ideas for songs. That book contained the basis for many of Duran Duran's future compositions including "The Chauffeur". The four members of Duran Duran plugged in their instruments and played Le Bon an instrumental track. As the band played, Le Bon made notes in his book. He then stood up and walked over to the mic, and began to sing the lines to "Night Boat". The poetry had arrived.
Duran Duran later played their first live gig with this line-up on 16 July 1980 at the Rum Runner. After walk on music featuring "Tomorrow Belongs To Me", the band launched into a cover version of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", the first song sung live by Simon Le Bon as lead singer of Duran Duran. During this period Duran Duran were the resident band at the Rum Runner, working as doormen, disc jockeys and glass collectors when they were not rehearsing.1980, when touring as an opening act for Hazel O'Connor, the band attracted critical attention, resulting in a bidding war between the record companies EMI and Phonogram Records. "A certain patriotism" toward the label of The Beatles led them to sign with EMI in December. However, Nick Rhodes said in a 1998 interview with Deluxe magazine, that the band felt they were "appallingly ripped off" by the EMI contract.
Duran Duran were amongst the earliest bands to work on their own remixes. Before the days of digital synthesizers and easy audio sampling they created multilayered arrangements of their singles, sometimes recording entirely different extended performances of the songs in the studio. These "night versions" were generally available only on vinyl as B-sides to 45 rpm singles or on 12-inch club singles, until the release of the compilation Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran in 1998.
It is widely thought, nowadays, that the band Japan was probably the main inspirational force behind Duran Duran, at least until 1982's Rio. From hairdos to clothing, from soundscapes to arrangements, David Sylvian's sense of style and taste in music were imitated and exploited by Duran to a greater commercial success than Japan ever had. At one point, Nick Rhodes' entire look closely resembled that of David Sylvian, from his features to his platinum blond hair, make-up, and attire.
From the very beginning of their career together, however, all the band members each had a keen sense of visual style. They worked with stylist Perry Haines and fashion designers such as Kahn & Bell (Patti Bell features on the cover of Only After Dark and Antony Price to build a sharp and elegant image, soon outgrowing the ruffles and sashes of the pirate-flavoured early New Romantic look. They have continued to present fashion as part of their package throughout their career. In the 1990s, they worked with Vivienne Westwood and in the 2000s with Giorgio Armani. The band retained creative control of their visual presentation and worked closely with graphic designer Malcolm Garrett and many others over the years, to create album covers, tour programmes, and other materials.
All five members of the band were photogenic, labelled the "the prettiest boys in rock" by People magazine. Teen and music magazines in the UK latched onto their good looks quickly, and the U.S. soon followed. It was a rare month in the early eighties when there was not at least one picture of the band members in teen magazines such as Smash Hits or Tiger Beat!. John Taylor once remarked that the band was "like a box of Quality Street chocolates; everyone is someone's favourite" Duran Duran would later come to regret this early pin-up exposure, but at the time it helped attract national attention. In an interview with Rock Fever Superstars Magazine in early 1988 John Taylor stated:
"We used to be a very chi-chi name to drop in '79, but then the Fab Five hype started and something went wrong. Something went really wrong. That wasn't what I wanted. Not that I didn't like being screamed at. At one point I really did."
1981-1982: The Launch Of Fame Edit
A follow-up, "Careless Memories" stalled at Number 37. However, it was their third single, "Girls on Film, that attracted the most attention. The song went to Number 5 in the UK, before the notorious video was even filmed. That video, featuring topless women mud wrestling, pillow fighting and stylized depictions of other sexual fetishes was made with directing duo Godley & Creme in August. (The video was available on the Duran Duran Video 45.
The video was filmed just two weeks after MTV was launched in the United States. The band expected the "Girls on Film" video to be played in the newer nightclubs that had video screens, or on pay TV channels like the Playboy Channel. Kevin Godley explained the thinking behind it: The raunchy video created an uproar and was banned by the BBC and heavily edited for MTV. The band unabashedly enjoyed and capitalised on the controversy. The album peaked in the UK Top Twenty at Number 3. Later in 1981, the band embarked on their first United States club tour, followed by more dates in Germany and the UK. This second tour of Britain coincided with a wave of riots sparked by unemployment and racial tension, including those of Moss Side and Toxteth. The band played an eerily quiet Birmingham the day after the Handsworth Riots.
Duran Duran began to achieve worldwide recognition in 1982. In May, they released their second album, "Rio" which scored four UK Top Twenty singles with "My Own Way", "Hungry Like The Wolf", "Save a Prayer", and the title song "Rio". A headlining tour of Australia, Japan, and the U.S. was followed by a stint supporting Blondie on her Tracks Across America Tour. Diana, Princess of Wales, declared Duran Duran her favourite band, and the band was dubbed "The Fab Five" by the British press. The Fab Five moniker was an indirect tribute to The Fab Four, one of the many titles bestowed upon "The Beatles".
However, the Rio album did not do well in the United States at first. EMI in the UK had promoted Duran Duran as a New Romantic band, but that genre was barely known in the U.S., and Capitol Records (EMI's American branch) was at a loss about how to sell them. After "Carnival", an EP of Rio's dance remixes, became popular with DJs in the fall, the band arranged to have most of the album remixed by David Kershenbaum.
In June 1982, Duran Duran appeared for the first time on American television. They energetically performed "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Rio" on Dancin' On Air, the forerunner to the national hit show, Dance Party USA. Michael Nise, executive producer of both shows, recalls how shy the "boys" were, and how they kidded each other about how bad they looked on TV.
Only after it was re-released in the U.S. in November, with heavy promotion as a dance album, did Rio begin to climb the American charts, six months after its European success. MTV placed "Hungry Like The Wolf" and several other Duran Duran videos into heavy rotation, pushing it and Rio into the top twenty on the U.S. charts in early 1983; the seduction ballad "Save a Prayer" also did well. "The band was a natural for music television," noted Rolling Stone magazine. "They may be the first rock group to ride in on a video wave." In the end, the album peaked at number 6 in the U.S. and remained on the charts there for 129 weeks — almost two and a half years. In 2003, Rio was listed at number 65 in the NME 100 Greatest Albums Of All Time.
1983-1985:The Fab Five Edit
The band began 1983 by playing the MTV New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball, with "Hungry Like The Wolf" still climbing the charts in the US, and the American reissue of the "Rio" single to follow in March. To satisfy America's appetite for their music, the band re-released their eponymous first album in the US in the middle of the year, with the addition of the new single "Is There Something I Should Know?". On its release, this song entered the chart at Number 1 in the UK (a rarity then, and their first chart topper in their home country), and reached Number 4 on the American charts. During the promotion of this album, Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon were MTV guest VJs for a show, during which artist and admirer Andy Warhol dropped by to greet them. "Our first gigs in the United States were crazy and culty,” Rhodes said later. “But when we came back after 'Hungry' was a hit, it was mayhem. It was Beatlemania. We were doing a signing of the “Girls on Film” video at a store in Times Square. We couldn’t get out of the store. The cops sealed off the streets. Also in 1983, keyboardist Nick Rhodes produced the UK number 1 and US number 5 hit "Too Shy" for the English band Kajagoogoo and Andy Taylor became the first member of Duran Duran to get married. The band's main pop rivals were now Culture Club and Wham!.
The band spent the next year as tax exiles, writing songs at a chateau in France in May 1983 where The Tube with Jools Holland filmed a documentary with the band, before flying to Monstserrat and then Sydney to record and mix their third album. During the summer, they flew back to the UK to perform two concerts, the first on 20 July in front of the Prince and Princess of Wales at London's Dominion Theatre. Three days later on 23 July was Duran Duran's benefit concert at the Aston Villa football ground. The band was under enormous pressure to follow up the success of Rio and the recording process took over six months as different band members went through bouts of perfectionism and insecurity. A newly decadent lifestyle and substance abuse issues added complications. In the documentary film "Extraordinary World" filmed a decade later, Rhodes described the effect on their sound as "barely controlled hysteria, scratching beneath the surface".
The new album, "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" included the late 1983 hit "Union of the Snake" following "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Rio", "Save a Prayer" and "Is There Something I Should Know?", Duran Duran had had five U.S. Top Twenty hits from three different albums in a single year. The band made music headlines by deciding to release the "Union of the Snake" video to MTV a full week before the single was released to radio, at a time when the industry feared video really might kill the radio star. They followed up with "New Moon on Monday", which after reaching #9 in the UK dropped out of the UK charts very promptly, possibly threatening their success. However, their next single "The Reflex" taken from "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" and given a significant remix overhaul by Nile Rodgers of Chic fame, became their first number one hit in the United States. "The Reflex" was also their second and final UK #1 and was successful in numerous other countries around the world.
The band embarked on a global tour that continued throughout the first four months of 1984, including their first major stadium dates in America. A film crew led by director Russell Mulcahy followed the band closely, leading to the documentary film Sing Blue Silver and the accompanying concert film Arena (An Absurd Notion) was also recorded during the tour and was released with the new studio single "The Wild Boys", which went to Number 2 on both sides of the Atlantic. In February 1984, the band appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and won two Grammy awards in the brand-new Long Form and Short Form music video categories.
After the tour, Roger Taylor was married in Naples, and Nick Rhodes wed in London, famously wearing a pink velvet tuxedo and top hat. At the end of 1984, the group was featured on the Band Aid benefit single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" along with other popular British musical acts. Simon Le Bon sang between contributions from George Michael, Bono, and Sting.
1985: Side Projects Edit
Even with Duran Duran on hold, band members were soon anxious to record new music, leading to a supposedly temporary split into two side projects. John and Andy Taylor wanted to break away from the Duran Duran sound and pursue hard rock material; they collaborated with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form the rock/funk supergroup Power Station, which released two Top 10 singles. Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, on the other hand, wanted to further explore Duran Duran's atmospheric aspect and formed Arcadia, who released one LP from which the single "Election Day" was released. Roger Taylor was primarily the drummer for Arcadia, but also contributed percussion to the Power Station album.
Duran Duran were never the same after this break. According to Rhodes, the two side projects "were commercial suicide... But we’ve always been good at that." The band was still off balance when they regrouped to contribute "A View To A Kill" to the 1985 James Bond movie of the same name. This single remains the only Bond theme to go to Number 1 on the U.S. charts, and the highest-placed Bond theme on the UK chart where it reached Number 2. It was the last single the band recorded as the original five-piece for twenty years.
As a follow-up to the Christmas 1984 Band Aid single, Duran Duran performed in front of 90,000 people (and an estimated 1.5 billion TV viewers) at the Live Aid charity concert at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia (USA), on 13 July 1985 while their Bond song held the top spot on the American charts. It was not intended to be a farewell performance—the band planned only to take a break after four years of non-stop touring and public appearances—but the original five did not play live together again until July 2003. Their Live Aid set became infamous for Le Bon inadvertently hitting a falsetto note in the chorus of "A View To A Kill", which he later described as the most humiliating moment of his career.
1986-1989: The Trio EditAfter releasing three studio albums and one live album in five years, each accompanied by heavy media promotion and lengthy concert tours, the band lost two of its core members to fatigue and tension in 1986. After Live Aid and Arcadia, drummer Roger Taylor retired to the English countryside, suffering from exhaustion. This was originally announced as a one year sabbatical, but it soon became clear that he would not be returning to the band. An official press release was issued in April 1986 confirming his departure. In a 2004 interview with Live Daily, Roger confirmed his reasons for leaving: "I was burned out. I think I was just exhausted. It was a very intense five years. We didn't stop. It was constant touring, constant writing, recording. We broke internationally, as well--instantly, pretty well. It's a nonstop schedule, really. I had lost myself somewhere". Guitarist Andy Taylor, on the other hand, led the remaining members to believe he would return to work on a new Duran Duran album even as he was signing a solo recording contract in Los Angeles (he eventually released Thunder) The band resorted to legal measures to get him into the studio, but after numerous delays, they let him go at last. He played on only a few songs on the next album while the disagreements were being settled.
Without a guitarist or a drummer, the three remaining members, Le Bon, Rhodes, and John Taylor had producer (and former Chic guitarist) Nile Rodgers play a few tracks on guitar, and hired Steve Ferrone to play drums while they searched for replacements. Finally in September 1986, Warren Cuccurullo (formerly of Missing Persons and Frank Zappa's touring band) was hired as a session guitarist. With Le Bon, Rhodes, and Taylor, he recorded the rest of the Notorious album, which was released in October 1986. The black-and-white documentary film Three To Get Ready chronicled the recording of the album, legal tensions, and preparations for the tour.
Although the song "Notorious" went to number 2 in the U.S., number 7 in the UK, and album sales were strong, the band found they had lost much of the momentum and hysteria they had left behind in 1985. In the three years between the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious, many of their teenage fans had grown up, and the music was funkier, more mature, and less "pop", given the added experience of their work on Arcadia and Power Station and with other musicians."Skin Trade" and "Meet El Presidente", the two subsequent singles, made the charts but fared poorly compared to the band's earlier successes.
Subsequently, Duran Duran struggled to escape the teen idol image and gain critical success with more complex music. The new serious image was not accepted and their popularity began to wane. Rolling Stone said, "In their search for musical maturity, the surviving Durans have lost a good deal of their identity." Another factor was the band's dismissal of early managers the Berrow brothers. There was no announcement of the reasons for the decision, but disagreements over money, and the brothers’ involvement in Le Bon's yachting adventures (they were co-owners of Drum) were thought to have played a part. Whatever the reason, Duran Duran switched managers frequently and undertook periods of self-management in the later stages of their career. In addition, EMI (which fired its president and went through a major corporate restructuring that summer) seemed to have lost interest in promoting the band.
The next album Big Thing (1988) yielded the singles "I Don't Want Your Love" (number 4 in the US),"Do You Believe In Shame?" and "All She Wants Is" (the last top ten hit in the UK until 1993). The record was experimental, mixing influences from house music and rave music with Duran's atmospheric synth pop and Cuccurullo's creative guitar work, as well as more mature lyrics (the juvenile title track notwithstanding).
1989-1991: Decade and Liberty Edit
By the end of 1989 and at the start of the 1990s New Wave was out, but both Grunge and Gangster rap were in. After touring for the album finished, the band regained a five-man membership as Cuccurullo and tour drummer Sterling Campbell were made full members of Duran Duran.
The compilation album Decade was released late in 1989, along with the megamix single "Burning The Ground", which consisted of woven snippets of the band's hits from the previous ten years. The single came and went with little fanfare, but the album became another major seller for the band. However, the tepid 1990 release Liberty (a retreat from the experimentation of Big Thing) failed to capitalise on any regained momentum, a pattern the band repeated often in their later years. The album entered the UK album chart in the top ten, but faded away quickly. The singles "Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" and "Serious" were only mildly successful, and the album's soft rock did not fare well against contemporaries like Alice in Chain's and Janes Addiction while Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the grunge revolution were just around the corner. For the first time, Duran Duran did not tour in support of an album, performing on only a handful of club dates and TV shows.
Sterling Campbell left the band early in 1991, going on to work with Soul Asylum and David Bowie. The quartet of Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, and Cuccurullo would remain intact for six more years. In December 1991, Taylor (then 31) married 19-year-old model/actress Amanda De Cadenet, who gave birth to his daughter in March 1992.
1992-1996 EditIn 1993, the band released The Wedding Album featuring wedding photos of the band members' parents) to distinguish it from the 1981 release. Listener demand for leaked single "Ordinary World" forced it onto radio playlists months earlier than planned. It reached Number 3 on the U.S. chart and Number 6 in the UK and won a prestigious Ivor Novello Award for song writing. "Come Undone", a slinky number primarily written by Cuccurullo, made Number 7 in the U.S. and Number 13 in the UK. Both the band and the record label seemed to be caught by surprise by the album's critical and commercial success (#4 in the UK, #7 in the U.S.). Bassist John Taylor had been considering leaving the band but changed his mind. The band's largest tour ever, which included stops in the Middle East, the then recently de-embargoed South Africa, and South America, was halted after seven months when Le Bon suffered from strained vocal cords. After six weeks' recuperation, the band performed intermittently for another five months, including appearances in Israel, Thailand, and Indonesia. The band's upswing in momentum, however, was once again swiftly curtailed by the poor showing of the covers album Thank You. The album reportedly originated as a lighthearted tribute to the band's influences, in the vein of Bowie's Pin Ups. Some of the tracks were recorded in borrowed and makeshift studios in hotel rooms with the aid of programmer Mark Tinley while the band was on tour. The plan was to have an album ready to release soon after the tour was finished, with another studio album to follow quickly afterwards. Original drummer Roger Taylor even returned from retirement to contribute on a few songs. However, conflicts within the band and with Capitol/EMI caused repeated delays; mix after mix was ordered and rejected, and by the time it finally came out in 1995, the band had lost enthusiasm for the project.
Singles from Thank You included covers of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and Melle Mel's "White Lines" (with backing vocals from the original artists). In a video interview provided with the album's elecronic press kit, Reed said he considered Duran Duran's version the best cover ever done of one of his songs. Still, the critics lambasted the band's attempts at "911 Is a Joke", "Lay Lady Lay", "Ball of Confusion", and "Crystal Ship".
After that tour's completion, John Taylor co-founded the B5 Records label and recorded a solo album, founded and toured with the supergroup Neurotic Outsiders, and reunited the Power Station. However, the project proceeded without him when he had to withdraw to deal with his divorce from Amanda de Cadenet. Finally, after struggling for months to record the next album, Medazzaland, in January 1997, Taylor announced at a Duran Duran fan convention that he was leaving the band "for good". His departure reduced the band to two original members (Le Bon and Rhodes) and Cuccurullo, who decided to continue recording under the name Duran Duran.
1997-2000: Second Trio Edit
Freed from some internal writing conflicts, the band returned to the studio to rewrite and re-record many of the songs on Medazzaland. (Taylor's work remains on only four tracks.) This album marked a return to the layered experimentation of Big Thing, with intricate guitar textures and processed vocals. The track "Out of My Mind" was used as the theme song for the movie The Saint, but the only true single to be released in the United States was the quirky "Electric Barbarella", which was the first single ever to be sold online. The video for this single, featuring a sexy robot purchased and played with by band members, had to be censored before airing on MTV, but there was little of the controversy that had surrounded "Girls On Film". "Barbarella" peaked at #52 in the U.S. in October 1997. Although Medazzaland was released in the U.S. in October 1997, the album was never released in the UK. "Barbarella" was later released in the UK as a single from the 1998 Greatest compilation album and peaked at #23 on the UK chart in January 1999. The group played a set at The Princess Diana Tribute Concert on 27 June 1998 by special request of her family.
Duran Duran parted ways with Capitol/EMI in 1999, although the label has since used Duran Duran's back catalogue to release several compilations of remixes and rare vinyl-only b-sides. The band then signed what was intended to be a three-album contract with Disney's Hollywood Records, but it lasted only through the poorly received 2000 album Pop Trash. This slow-paced and heavy album seemed out-of-keeping with earlier band material. Rhodes' intricate production and Cuccurullo's songwriting and experimentation with guitar sounds and time signatures were not enough to hook the public, and the album did not perform well. The dreamy single "Someone Else Not Me" lasted barely two weeks on the radio, although its video was noted as the first to be produced entirely with Flash animation. While supporting Medazzaland and Pop Trash, Duran Duran toured with bassist Wes Wehmiller and drummer Joe Travers.
2001-2006: Reunion Edit
In 2000, Le Bon approached John Taylor with a proposal to reform Duran Duran's classic line-up. They agreed, and after completing The Pop Trash Tour fired Cuccurullo by letter. Cuccurullo then announced on his website that he was leaving Duran Duran to resume work with his 1980s band Missing Persons.This announcement was confirmed the next day by the Duran Duran's website, followed a day later by the news that John, Roger, and Andy Taylor had rejoined. To fulfill contractual obligations, Cuccurullo played three Duran Duran concerts in Japan in August 2001, ending his tenure in the band.Throughout 2001, 2002, and 2003, the band worked on writing new material, initially renting a house in St. Tropez where sound engineer Mark Tinley built a recording studio for their first serious writing session for the 2004 Astronaut album. They then returned to London to do some self-financed work with various producers (including old friend Nile Rodgers) and search for a new record deal. It proved difficult to find a record label willing to gamble on the band's comeback, so Duran Duran went on tour to prove the drawing power of the reunited band. The response of the fans and the media exceeded everyone’s expectations.
The band played a handful of 25th-anniversary dates in July 2003. Tickets sold out for each show within minutes, and celebrities turned out en masse for reunion shows booked at small venues the band had played on their first trip to America in 1981. In August, the band were booked as presenters at the 2003 MTV Video Music, only to be surprised with a Lifetime Achievement Award. They also received a Lifetime Achievement award from Q (magazine) in October, and the equivalent Outstanding Contribution award at the BRIT Award in February 2004.
The pace picked up with a sold-out tour of America, Australia, and New Zealand. The band played a full concert at a private tailgate party at Super Bowl XXXVIII, their performance of "The Wild Boys" broadcast to millions during the pre-game show. A remix of the new track "(Reach Up for The) Sunrise" was released on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy TV show soundtrack in February, while the Queer Eye guys (the modern "Fab Five") hailed Duran Duran as "the first metrosexuals". Duran Duran then celebrated their homecoming to the UK with fourteen stadium dates in April 2004, including five sold-out nights at Wembley Arena. The British press, traditionally hostile to the band, accorded the shows some very warm reviews. Duran Duran brought along bands like Scissor Sisters and Goldfrapp as opening acts for this tour. The last two shows were filmed, resulting in the concert DVD Live from London which was released in November.Finally, with more than thirty-five songs completed, the band signed a four-album contract with Epic Records in June, and completed the new album, now entitled Astronaut, with producer Don Gilmore. The album was released in October 2004 and entered the UK charts at Number 3 and the U.S. charts at Number 17. The first single was "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise", which reached #1 on the Billboard U.S. Dance Chart in November and peaked at number 5 on the UK singles chart, Duran Duran's highest chart position since "A View to a Kill" in 1985. A second single, "What Happens Tomorrow", debuted at #11 on the UK charts in February. After a world tour in early 2005, Duran Duran headlined the massive Live 8 on 2 July 2005.
2006-2008: Red Carpet Massacre Edit
In early 2006, Duran Duran covered John Lennon's song "Instant Karma!" for the Make Some Noise campaign sponsored by Amnesty International. Their version later appeared on Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur as an iTunes exclusive bonus track. They also performed at two high profile events — the Nobel Peace Prize Concert: 2005 and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. After a couple of weeks of songwriting in Northern California, the band began working with producer Michael Patterson in London, and continued intermittently for the next several months. At one point, they reported having fifteen tracks nearly complete for an album tentatively titled Reportage, but no further news emerged from the band for months afterward. In September, the band held meetings in New York City with Justin Timberlake and producer Timbaland with an eye to a potential collaboration and were soon reported to have completed three songs with the producer, including a duet with Justin Timberlake.
On 25 October, Andy Taylor parted ways with Duran Duran for the second time. In an official announcement on their website, Duran Duran stated that an "unworkable gulf" had developed between them and Taylor and that "we can no longer effectively function together". It was noted by Andy Taylor in his book Wild Boy: My Life In Duran Duran that tensions had arisen between the groups management and himself, and he was also diagnosed with clinical depression connected with death of his father. Dom Brown, who had previously toured with the band, took over guitar duties and has been performing with them since. After Taylor's departure, the band scrapped the Reportage album and wrote and recorded a new album which included the Timbaland tracks. Dom Brown is the featured guitarist.
In July, the band performed twice at Wembley Stadium, at the Concert for Diana and at Live Earth London. On 25 September, the Timberlake collaboration "Falling Down" was released as a download single on iTunes, and the band announced that they would play nine shows at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway to launch the album Red Carpet Massacre. The album launch was later extended to incorporate a show in London on 3 December 2007 and one in Dublin on 5 December 2007.
In May 2008, they toured the US leg of their 2008 world tour and were supported by fellow British quintet Your Vegas. In June 2008, they played the Louvre in Paris in a fundraising effort that contributed to the restoration of a magnificent Louis XV drawing room (The Louvre - Paris Concert 2008). Guests dined, privately viewed some of the museum’s works, and saw a performance from Duran Duran in the I.M. Pei-designed Pyramid Du Louvre. The group’s performance marked a first for both the band members and the 18th Century Museum (who have never before allowed a rock concert to take place anywhere within either the grounds or buildings).
On 2 July in Paris, Mark Ronson performed a unique live set with Duran Duran for an exclusive, invite-only performance. Together, they showcased specially re-worked versions of some of Duran Duran's classic hits re-created by Ronson, along with tracks from the band's new album, Red Carpet Massacre. Simon Le Bon also performed songs from Ronson's latest album, Version, as one of Ronson's featured guest vocalists. Unlike the band's previous album Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre sold poorly and received mixed responses from the music press. In 2008 the DVD Classic Albums: Rio was released as part of the Classic Albums series.
In the beginning of February 2009, Duran Duran started working on their 13th album. Band members have said that the next album will be a return to their roots. Guitarist Dom Brown has been said to have a bigger role in the creation of the album. In March 2009, Roger Taylor said on the band's website that they had "20 really great ideas" for songs and would be working with producer Mark Ronson. Ronson invited Kaiser Chiefs drummer, Nick Hodgson, to join and co-write some music. Later on the same month, Simon Le Bon announced through their official blog that the band is "now free from Sony Music", indicating that Duran Duran are without a record label once more. In April 2009, Mark Ronson commented that the new music will have the "energy" and "vibe" of the band's early work and that "as a Duran fan I'd be excited to hear it". John Taylor said in an April blog on the band's website that "Mark seems intent on delivering the DD album the fans have wanted for years. One that has the drive and freshness of the first few albums, that is quintessentially hip, without sacrificing any of the hard-earned personality and character of the musicians, something which sadly was lost when Timbaland and Timberlake were in the house. So Mark has me playing, and Roger playing, and Nick playing, hotter and harder than we have in years." In a phone interview in April 2009, Roger Taylor said he was hopeful new material would be played at select summer shows and that a new single or EP would be released in Summer 2009 and a full album in Q1 2010. The band headlined the Lovebox Festival in London in the middle of July. They are also playing select shows throughout the US.
In November 2010, Duran Duran announced the worldwide release of their 13th studio album, entitled All You Need Is Now, that would be released on indie label S-Curve Records. The album was produced by the Grammy Award-winning Mark Ronson and mixed by Mark Stent. It was released exclusively on iTunes on 21 December 2010 and hit the #1 spot on download charts in 15 countries (including the UK). The first single from the record “All You Need Is Now”, was free to download worldwide on 8 December 2010 exclusively in iTunes. Guitarist and songwriter Dominic Brown co-wrote all but two of the songs.
In March 2011 the band embarked on a concert tour in support of the album – called The All You Need Is Now Tour. There was a warm-up show in London and the tour officially started on 16 March 2011 in Austin, Texas.
The expanded physical album and various format special packages was released in March 2011, the 30th anniversary of the band's first release "Planet Earth". The CD features 14 tracks – or 5 additional tracks: "Mediterranea," "Other People's Lives," "Too Bad, You're Too Beautiful," "A Diamond in the Mind," and "Return To Now." In a video posted 14 Feb 2011, on the band's website, Rhodes mentioned the mixing of another 4 tracks: "Too Close to the Sun," "Early Summer Nerves," "This Lost Weekend," and "Networker Nation." The album entered the UK chart at #11 and the Billboard chart at #29.
On 25 February 2011, while in Milan, Duran Duran Received Style Award. Letizia Moratti, the city’s mayor, presented the Band with a key to the city, honoured to be presented with an award recognizing them as Style Icons of the 20th century.
On 23 March 2011, the band performed live at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles as the kickoff to the second season of “Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express." The concert was live-streamed on YouTube and directed by David Lynch. The band was joined onstage by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Beth Ditto of Gossip, and Kelis.
In May 2011, Le Bon contracted laryngitis leading to either cancellation or rescheduling of most of the European dates for the 'All You Need Is Now' World Tour.
In October 2011, rumours circulated that Duran Duran would be involved in writing the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film, Skyfall with producer Mark Ronson. It would be their second time recording a Bond theme.
Although they began their career as "a group of art school, experimental, post punk rockers", the band's quick rise to stardom, polished good looks, and embrace of the teen press, almost guaranteed disfavour from music critics. During the 1980s, Duran Duran were considered the quintessential manufactured, throw-away pop group. However, according to the Sunday Herald, "To describe them, as some have, as the first boy band, misrepresents their appeal. Their weapons were never just their looks, but self-penned songs."As Moby said of the band in his website diary in 2003: "... they were cursed by what we can call the 'Bee Gees' curse, which is: 'write amazing songs, sell tons of records, and consequently incur the wrath or disinterest of the rock obsessed critical establishment'.
Several of the band's contemporaries including The Bangles, Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Paul Young and even The Monkees, have named themselves fans of the band's stylish, uplifting pop. Le Bon described the group as "the band to dance to when the bomb drops". Successors like Barenaked Ladies, Beck, Jonathan Davis of Korn, The Bravery, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears and Pink have all cited Duran Duran as a key band in their formative years. Singer Justin Timberlake has openly admitted to being one of their biggest fans. The newest crop of performers to name Duran Duran as influences include Dido, Franz Ferdinand, Panic! at the Disco, Lostprophets (who took their name from the title of a Duran Duran bootleg tape), Goldfrapp and Brandon Flowers of The Killers, who said, "Nick Rhodes is an absolute hero of mine - their records still sound fresh, which is no mean feat as far as synths are concerned".
Nick Rhodes has directly lent his production techniques to Kajagoogoo album White Feathers and its Number One single "Too Shy", and to The Dandy Warhols album Welcome to the Monkey House. The band's music has been used by several hip hop artists, most notably Notorious B.I.G., who sampled Duran Duran's 1986 single "Notorious". Numerous bands have covered their music on record and in concert.
Other big name celebrities who have admitted to liking Duran Duran include Nicolas Cage, Kelly Ripa, Janet Jackson, Mischa Barton, Eva Longoria, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Lopez, Rosie O'Donnell, Emeril Lagasse, John Leguizamo, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Donald Trump. Jennifer Aniston has called herself a "Duran Duran freak" during interviews and even waited for the band after their concert with a rose when she was a teenager. Renee Zellweger has been spotted at several of their concerts and coyly admitted during an interview in 2005 while promoting her movie Cinderella Man to liking them as a kid. Christina Applegate was seen attending their 2003 concert at The Roxy in Los Angeles and said she has been a fan of theirs since she was 11-years-old and is such a devoted fan she even invited John Taylor to play her ex boyfriend on an upcoming episode of her hit series Samantha Who?. Drew Barrymore calls them her favorite band and even admitted to having a crush on the entire band, especially Simon Le Bon and John Taylor. Rose McGowan told Teen People magazine in 2006 that she was obsessed with Duran Duran when she was only 10 and talked about having lunch and dinner with Nick Rhodes, but has confessed John Taylor was the man of her dreams. Hilary Swank told a reporter after the 2005 Academy Awards that John Taylor was among her first crushes.
The MTV cable channel and the band were launched at about the same time, and each had a hand in propelling the other to greater heights. MTV needed showcase videos with charismatic performers. Les Garland, senior executive vice president at MTV, said "I remember our director of talent and artist relations came running in and said, “You have got to see this video that’s come in.” Duran Duran were getting zero radio airplay at the time, and MTV wanted to try to break new music. “Hungry Like the Wolf” was the greatest video I’d ever seen". The band's video work was influential in several ways. First, Duran Duran filmed in exotic locales like Sri Lanka and Antigua, creating memorable images that were radically different from the then-common low budget "band-playing-on-a-stage" videos. Second, rather than simply playing their instruments, the band participated in mini-storylines (often taking inspiration from contemporary movies: "Hungry Like The Wolf" riffs on Raiders of the Lost Ark, "The Wild Boys" on The Road Warrior, etc.). Videos were obviously headed in this direction already, but Duran Duran led the trend with a style, featuring quick editing, arresting graphic design, and surreal-to-nonsensical image inserts, that drew attention from commentators and spawned a wealth of imitators.
Duran Duran were among the first bands to have their videos shot with a professional movie camera on 35 mm film, rather than on videotape with cheaper video cameras, making them look superior to many of the quickly and inexpensively shot videos which had been MTV staples until then. MTV provided Duran Duran with access to American radio markets that were unfriendly to British music, New Wave music, or "anything with synthesisers". Because MTV was not available everywhere in the United States at first, it was easy to see a pattern: where MTV went, listener demand for Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Def Leppard and other European bands with interesting videos went through the roof.
The band's sun-drenched videos for "Rio", "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Save A Prayer", and the surreal "Is There Something I Should Know?" were filmed by future movie director Russell Mulcahy, who made eleven videos for the band. Duran Duran have always sought out innovative directors and techniques, even in their later years when MTV gave them little airplay. In addition to Mulcahy, they have had videos filmed by influential photographers Dean Chamberlain and Ellen von Unwerth, Chinese director Chen Kaige, documentary filmmaker Julien Temple, and the Polish Brothers, among others. According to Nick Rhodes, "Video is to us like stereo was to Pink Floyd".
In 1984, the band introduced video technology into their live stadium shows by being among the first acts to provide video screens above the stage. They have recorded concerts using IMAX and 360 degree panoramic "immersive video" cameras, with 10.2 channel audio. In 2000, they experimented with augmented reality technology, which allowed three-dimensional computer generated images to appear on stage with the band. They appeared on several century-end video countdowns: The MTV "100 Greatest Videos Ever Made" featured "Hungry Like The Wolf" at #11 and "Girls On Film" at #68, and the "VH1: 100 Greatest Videos" listed "Hungry" at #31 and "Rio" at #60. MTV named "Hungry" the fifteenth of their most-played videos of all time.
The band has released several video compilations, starting with the self-titled "video album" Duran Duran, for which they won a Grammy award, up to the 2004 two-disc DVD release Greatest, which included alternative versions of several popular videos as Easter eggs. In addition to Greatest, the documentary Sing Blue Silver, and the concert film Arena (An Absurd Notion) (both from 1984) were released on DVD in 2004. Live from London, a concert video from one of their sold-out 2004 reunion shows at Wembley Arena, was released in the fall of 2005.
Other video collections, concert films, and documentaries remain available only on videotape, and Duran Duran have not yet released a collection which includes all their videos. The band has said that a huge amount of unreleased concert and documentary footage has been filmed over the years, which they hope can be edited and released in some form in the near future. The video for "Falling Down" was released in October 2007.
Official band line-ups Edit
- 1978-1979 Stephen Duffy, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon Colley
- 1979-1980 Andy Wickett, John Taylor, Alan Curtis, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor
- 1980 Jeff Thomas, John Taylor, Alan Curtis, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor
- 1980-1986 Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor
- 1986 Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes
- 1986 Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Warren Cuccurullo, Nick Rhodes
- 1987-1991 Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Warren Cuccurullo, Nick Rhodes, Sterling Campbell
- 1991-1997 Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Warren Cuccurullo, Nick Rhodes
- 1997-2001 Simon Le Bon, Warren Cuccurullo, Nick Rhodes
- 2001-2006 Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor
- 2006-Present Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor
Record Label Timeline Edit
Main article: Duran Duran discography