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Duran Duran

Simon LeBon
(vocals)

Nick Rhodes
(keyboard)

Andy Taylor
(guitar)

John Taylor
(bass)

Roger Taylor
(drums)

headbangingandyinnice.jpg
Where's Simon?

Duran Duran have sold over 70 million records to date and have had an extraordinary career that has made them one of the most successful groups of the past few decades. They fused pop music, art and fashion to an unprecedented degree and single-handedly took music video making to a new level. They transformed what had previously been a simple marketing tool into what is now one of the music industry's most valuable assets. With exotic locations, beautiful girls and stunning visuals, Duran Duran set a whole new standard. Their success followed years of hard work and relentless touring. Good looks, great style and a wealth of confidence completed the package

They wrote classic, timeless pop songs combining rock guitars with infectious melodies and memorable lyrics. They played to sold-out audiences around the world and broke box office records everywhere they went. The media compared them to the Beatles as hysteria preceded them, both on stage and off. They tapped into the mood of the times and captured an army of adoring fans.

Now they are back together to do it all again.

Formed in Birmingham, England in 1978, by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor, Duran Duran's sound was inspired by the soul music of their youth, the vibrant New York underground music scene of the 70's (the New York Dolls and Velvet Underground), the iconic David Bowie and avant garde bands like Roxy Music. At the time, John was at art college and Nick was finishing up at high school.

The first incarnation of the band was rounded out by fellow art student Stephen Duffy and another friend, who was at catering college - Simon Colley. Simon played clarinet and bass. Nick had one small synthesizer and a drum machine. John played guitar and Stephen sang and played a fretless. The local college circuit became their practice ground, but before too long Simon and Stephen moved on to pursue other opportunities and Nick and John were left looking for replacements.

Over the subsequent months, a number of new faces came and went before Roger Taylor joined the band on drums. He was more experienced than many of his predecessors in the group, having played with local punk heroes, The Scent Organs. With Roger on board, John took up the bass and the newly christened Duran Duran (named after a character in Roger Vadim's sci-fi classic, Barbarella) started to develop a funky style, that was less about punk rock and more in tune with some of the up-and-coming bands of the day, like Simple Minds and Japan.
 
Although still newcomers, John, Roger and Nick were keen to find a label for themselves, so quickly started to send out their demos, visit London-based record companies and find higher profile gigs that they thought could further their cause. As part of this process, they approached the local Rum Runner nightclub - a fashionable spot where they were confident they would go over well.

Listening to their demos, the owners of the Rum Runner, Paul and Michael Berrow, saw something in the band that they were sure they could make successful. Immediately the band became residents at the club, writing and rehearsing in an empty room during the day and DJ'ing and working in the club at night.

Auditions for new band members followed - with Andy Taylor answering an ad in Melody Maker and Simon LeBon joining shortly thereafter, having been introduced by his ex-girlfriend, who bartended at the club. Unlike the rest of the band, Simon came from the South, but was studying drama at Birmingham University.

In the months that followed, the band worked tirelessly - writing and recording, and playing live whenever and wherever they could. By 1980, after supporting Hazel O'Connor on tour, their efforts were rewarded as the buzz built and a record company bidding war erupted. Eventually EMI Records came through, putting the band immediately into the studio with producer Colin Thurston.

Their eponymous debut album sold more than 2.5 million copies in 1981, staying on the charts for an astonishing 118 weeks and spawning the hit single 'Planet Earth'. That same year, they became the first pop act to do a 12" remix (also 'Planet Earth') and to release a controversial video (directed by Godley and Creme) for the dance mix of 'Girls on Film', that was subsequently banned by both MTV and the BBC.

With hindsight, it seems strange that the band so rapidly became the poster-boys for a new generation of teenagers, as 'Duran Duran' was the antithesis of a traditional pop album. The lyrical themes were obviously adult-orientated; the music - while pop-tinged and dance-fueled - had a much darker quality. As they themselves had initially stated, there was a hint of early Damned to their sound; a shadowed, European twist that filled the album with an almost gloomy atmosphere.


Duran Duran shot to fame as part of the "Second British Invasion" of the 1980s that included groups like Spandau Ballet, Human League, Ultravox and Culture Club - and yet, they always stood apart - delivering an electric live show, pushing the boundaries of new technology and enduring longer than any of their peers.

Classic chart-toppers such as 'Hungry Like the Wolf', 'Rio' and 'Save A Prayer' followed on their multi-platinum, sophomore release 'Rio', as the band shot to another level of success with their exotic and groundbreaking videos. It was during this time that Princess Diana declared Duran to be her favorite band, and friends like artists Andy Warhol and Keith Haring lent their support. By now the music had traveled outside the UK and the band were enjoying global success.

By 1983 'Hungry Like the Wolf' (which was filmed in Sri Lanka by director Russell Mulcahy) had become one of the most played videos on MTV. Later that year 'Is There Something I Should Know' went straight to #1 in the UK and hit #4 in the US.

The band's third album, 1984's 'Seven and the Ragged Tiger' earned Duran Duran their first Stateside #1, with 'The Reflex'. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine christened the band "The Fab Five", as their single 'Union of the Snake' exploded around the world.

By now, the band were playing sold-out arenas and breaking box office records everywhere they went. Awards, hits, and global branding became the norm. As one successful single followed the next, it seemed like they could do no wrong.

In only three years they had done three world tours, an unprecedented number of interviews and TV appearances galore. On this schedule there was no respite from the press, the pressure, the demands or the fans. The problem, however, was that although they wanted to pull back, the offers just kept coming - getting better and better all the time.

When you add up their chart successes, the awards, the album and singles sales, the number of concert tickets they sold, the stadiums they filled, the ground-breaking videos they made, and the influence they've had on generations of musicians, theirs' is a story that only a handful of artists, such as U2, the Rolling Stones, and Madonna, can tell.

As both individuals and founders of one of the world's most influential pop groups, the five band members have always pushed the boundaries and set new standards. Looking to set trends, rather than follow them, they have taken risks that others would have shied away from. The results speak for themselves.

Like all bands, Duran Duran have had their share of highs and lows - both personally and professionally. Unlike many bands, however, they have been able to maintain a clear vision of who they are, and continue to write great pop songs that will stand the test of time and enthrall generations of fans to come.

With the phenomenal success they have already enjoyed and their intense commitment to the future, Duran Duran are uniquely positioned. They are a household name around the world - a recognizable and respected brand to generations of music lovers. They have a rich and colourful past. They have an equally exciting and dynamic future.