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FIVE DECADES of DURAN DURAN

TEARS! BREAK-UPS! SEMI-NAKED PILLOW FIGHTS! BACK IN 2012, TO COINCIDE WITH HIS UPCOMING AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN THE PLEASURE GROOVE: LOVE, DEATH & DURAN DURAN, BASSIST JOHN TAYLOR SPOKE TO CLASSIC POP ABOUT THE HIGH HIGHS AND LOW LOWS OF BEING IN ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL BANDS…
At the Nokia Theatre in LA in 2011, Duran showed that 33 years and several line-up changes after their 1978 formation, they were still going strong…
…and the fans were still lapping it up

Duran Duran’s co-founder and bass player, John Taylor, is on the phone to Classic Pop, calling from… actually, he’s not entirely sure. He thinks for a moment, before tentatively suggesting that he might be in Memphis, Tennessee. The previous day was the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death and, tonight, Taylor’s band is headlining the city’s 6,500-capacity Botanic Garden. But this is the middle of a 15-date US trip, which is itself sandwiched in the middle of a year-long world tour, and – just like when the band first toured the US in 1981 – he’s struggling to keep track.

It’s hardly surprising: Duran Duran may now be veterans of an unusually long career, with sales of 80 million albums under their belt [100 million in 2018], but they’re working hard, hungry for success and eager to write. “You only have to walk out on stage to be reminded that we’re loved,” Taylor says, “and that there’s a good reason for us to continue doing what we do.”

It’s been an extraordinary journey. Formed in Birmingham at the tail end of the Seventies by Nigel John Taylor and his friend Nick Bates – who, like Taylor, would soon alter his name, in his case to the more seductive Nick Rhodes – Duran Duran took only a short time to reach dizzying heights of success. Indeed, it wasn’t long before they were christened The Fab Five in homage to The Beatles. The pop mainstream adored them, making them pin-ups for a generation of stirrup-trousered, featherhaired teeny-boppers. And a glamorous life beyond their wildest Brummie dreams made them friends with both the establishment (Princess Diana named them as her favourite band) and the antiestablishment (Andy Warhol was reputed to have said of Nick Rhodes, “I love him. I worship him. I masturbate to Duran Duran videos.”).

(L-R) John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon, 1982 Below (L-R) John and Simon pictured in 1981
© Redferns/Getty Images

But the music press rarely took them seriously, something Warhol can hardly have helped: the manner in which they were embraced by a youthful crowd dominated by young girls provoked critics to dismiss them as little more than pretty boys. Even now – though their work has been re-evaluated and their credibility is as high as it’s ever been – there are many for whom that image remains true. In his book, Spirit Of Talk Talk, Chris Roberts refers to Duran Duran as “sub-glam pop tartlets”, but their story is more complicated than that. It’s a classic tale of a talented, charismatic band getting swept up by the marketing machine, being forced to confront the mystery of what it was that made them who they are, before – having overcome numerous personal and musical difficulties – finding the conviction to emerge victorious once again. That they made it this far is almost beyond belief.

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About Classic Pop Presents

In the latest 132-page special edition of Classic Pop Presents, we celebrate 40 years of Duran Duran. Inside, we explore the band's roots in the New Romantic movement and take an in-depth look at their phenomenal success in the Eighties when they defined the decade with a string of chart-topping hits across the globe. We also tell the story of their critical and commercial rebirth in the Nineties and bring things bang up-to-date with the band fully enshrined as elder statesmen of pop. Elsewhere, we profile the band's best albums including the timeless Rio, Seven And The Ragged Tiger and Notorious plus we look through the lens at their blockbuster videos that shaped the MTV generation. We also hear from the band themselves through numerous archive interviews as well as a rare chat with former member Stephen Duffy. For your ultimate Duran Duran playlist, Classic Pop serves up the band's Top 40 greatest songs. The music. The videos. The style. The decadence – it's an unmissable treat for any Duran Duran fan.