Hungry Like The Wolf. Rio. Save A Prayer. The Chauffeur. Lonely In Your Nightmare.
At one point in your lives, you have heard these songs. The five listed above are just a few of Duran Duran’s hit songs. The band has probably released over 100 singles in their long, illustrious career. What makes these five stand out, though, is the fact that they all came off one album, Rio. Usually, these days anyway, a band or an artist will have one hit, radio single off their album and the rest is filler. Not Duran Duran. Every song has a purpose.
Duran Duran has had top ten hits off every album. And the five I just listed, was from 1982, before I was even born. They’ve been crushing it musically and fashionably, since 1978, the year they officially became a band of five. Originally from England, among them, there is: Simon LeBon (lead singer), John Taylor (bass guitar), Andy Taylor (electric guitar), Roger Taylor (drums) and Nick Rhodes (keyboard). For almost 40 years, and over 100 million albums sold worldwide, Duran Duran has been making music flow with the best of them.
It wasn’t always this pretty though. Despite their good looks, wild hair and crazy outfits, there was fame and fortune turned to heartache and famine.
The year was 1978, and a band of instrument players were looking for a lead singer. Enter, Simon LeBon. He of the leopard wearing pants, strolls in to a club, at the request of an ex-girlfriend no less, to audition for the band. The 3 Taylor’s (none of them are surprisingly related) and Nick Rhodes loved him. Bring him in, they did, almost immediately using his book of lyrics to fit their required and recorded sound.
Now, to come up with a name… hmmmm. What to call themselves, indeed. One night, bassist John Taylor was watching a new-age space movie, “Barbarella” starring Jane Fonda and came across a character in the movie, Durand Durand. Bingo! Duran Duran (taking the latter D’s off) sounds like a pretty eclectic name, and so it shall be, the name of the band!
With the 1980’s advent of MTV being created, a 24 hour music television channel, Duran Duran ruled the decade. Yes, MTV actually used to only play music videos! A novel idea, right? No Real World, no Rock and Jock competitions, and certainly no fucking Teen Mom. Straight music videos and music video countdown shows. The truest form of getting one’s name and music out there, before there was the internet and social media alike.
Video killed the radio star, indeed.
Duran Duran became famous for their music videos, along with the millions of albums being sold. The pretty boys would shoot multiple locations for a video, set in these James Bond expedition types, exotic and erotic. They had heart. They had soul. They had pretty women. They had sex. They had pride. They had it all. Every music video would go on to be better than the one that came before it, oftentimes pushing the buttons of technology story telling.
Many times, their music videos would be the talk of the club scene, with movements and actions being performed as they were on screen. Their videos gained them the notoriety in America as much as their sound had, overseas. Duran Duran had now been dubbed the “Fab Five,” in reference to their popularity in America, as the band before them from England, The Beatles once were. Their Rolling Stone magazine cover is still one of the most iconic of the publication. Yes, Duran Duran had arrived.
The eighties were filled with excess, music and mousse. Hair, hair and yes, more hair was the theme. Outfits being torn, tattered, and stretched to unimaginable limits. This was the new age look, and it was wild. Duran Duran lead the charge, becoming known as “The Wild Boys.” The hair, the looks and the songs, what else could you want in a band?
The Wild Boys were calling, and the world was taking it all in.
In a strange twist of fate, 1985 would be the finale for this band of five, though, as infighting and the constant touring took its toll. The band released albums in 1981, ’82 and ’83. They also toured worldwide with each release. Needless to say, they needed a break. Except, only some of them, would actually want that break. Thus, the arguments and clashing began, leading to a 3 member band (LeBon, J. Taylor and Rhodes) for the remainder of the eighties and nineties. The albums, unfortunately, would never sell as good as they had with those three as they had with the original fab five.
In between, though, Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes would create the band, Arcadia, as a side project, releasing one album. Another side project between guitarists John Taylor and Andy Taylor, plus vocalist Robert Palmer (R.I.P.), would become The Power Station. They would produce the hits, “Some Like It Hot” and “Get It On (Bang A Gong).” Andy Taylor, left for good, seemingly, until his return almost 20 years later.
The name’s Bond, James Bond.
But first, the band would pull out one more number one hit. They were signed on to write and record the theme song for Roger Moore’s James Bond finale, “A View To A Kill.” Anyone who is anyone, has probably seen a James Bond movie in their lifetime. After all, there have been 24 of them officially released. The movies are a worldwide success, and so, back in 1985, Duran Duran had the pressure to succeed, together, one last time.
Not only was the “A View To A Kill” theme song a success, but it is still to date, the ONLY James Bond theme to go number one in the United States. It would top the charts in numerous other countries as well. To put this into perspective even more, such wonderful present and past James Bond theme song performers cannot claim this. From artists like Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Tom Jones and even the uber popular Adele. Duran Duran sits alone on the James Bond theme music mountain top. And if you know me, you know I am a huge fan of James Bond movies. Needless to say, the band separated from their original five with a bang.
In fact, the James Bond movie series is how I would first come across the band, Duran Duran, in the first place. You see, back in mid nineties, I was turned on to the movie, “Goldeneye,” starring Pierce Brosnan as the new leading man for the James Bond series. It would become a huge commercial success, and back then, I wanted to live that lifestyle, as a teenager, no less. I wanted the life of girls, espionage and thrill seeking adventure. I instantly became a fan of the movies, getting the entire collection on VHS within a year’s time. I would also play the Nintendo 64 video game of the same moniker, “Goldeneye.” Me and my friends played the shit out of that game. An instant classic.
And so, one fateful day, while sitting in my mom’s car perusing her cassette tape collection (CASSETTES!), I came across one that would change my musically inclined ears forever. My uncle was also in the car and had said to me, “If you like James Bond movies, you’ll like this band. They did the theme song for “A View To A Kill.” The cassette tape happened to be the first, eighties greatest hits release (they would have another in 1997) of Duran Duran. It was titled, “Decade.” I was hooked. I would take that tape and listen to it everywhere I went. I would listen to it day and night.
I wanted more Duran Duran, and buying every album consumed me. I had to have every one released. It would take a few years, as every single store I went to I would search for a Duran Duran album (there are currently 19 albums, as of 2018). This was before eBay or the internet, remember, so if you wanted an album, it was found in stores, in tape or CD format. Whether it was Best Buy, rummage sales, a shopping mall or even an old record store, I would buy anything Duran Duran I laid my eyes on. I would even dye my hair like members of the band did from the eighties! John Taylor being my inspiration for quite a few, actually.
And thus, you can imagine all of the history I would learn, throughout the years, as the internet became more advanced, VH1 Storytellers and Behind The Music gave me even more Duran Duran info. I became a Duran Duran fanatic. In the early 2000’s there was even a rumor of the original “Fab Five” reuniting and making albums again!
Well, it happened. The Wild Boys would join musical forces once again, and I was ecstatic. I didn’t grow up with the original band, so to have this opportunity was a blessing to me. I would get to listen to new Duran Duran material with Simon, John, Andy, Roger and Nick as it would be released from now on. I would be present for the magic and mousse.
“But I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world.”
In 2005, I would attend a concert of theirs, at the Riverside Theatre, in Milwaukee, WI. Of course, I took my mom as my date, because without her, I never would have known this band. And she told me all about their history, the cool music videos and dancing club scenes from the eighties highlighted by them, before the internet destroyed the aura that surrounded music. It was a chance for her to see a band she so loved back then as well, and that which I so loved now and forever.
In addition to the tattoo on my upper left arm, of the album cover art from “Rio,” I would also create my backyard wrestling name, “New Moon,” from a Duran Duran song, “New Moon On Monday.” To read about and watch my backyard wrestling experience, click here: Are You Tough Enough? And, with John Taylor always being my favorite member, I would pick up the bass guitar for a few years in my early twenties. I only wanted to learn Duran Duran songs though, so that never really got me far, haha.
To this day, the band still records new music, and still releases albums. They still tour, they still break records. And without them, who knows where music videos would be. Who knows what new sounds we would have or what styles would be prevalent in the music industry.
A few other awards, records and “firsts” of Duran Duran are noted are as follows:
100 Million Albums Sold Worldwide
Andy Warhol Parties With The Band At Studio 54
Princess Diana Claims Duran Duran As Her Favorite Band
Recorded On The 1984 Live Aid Charity Songs “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” And “Feed The World” Which Would Raise Over $24,000,000
Only Band To Have A James Bond Theme Song Reach Number 1 On American Charts
Been Said To Have The Most Videos Requested And Played On MTV
Star On Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Lifetime Achievement Award From MTV
Multiple Grammy Awards
First Music Video Recorded In Flash Format (Someone Else Not Me, 2000)
First Digital Music Download Off The Internet (Electric Barbarella, 1997)
Performed On VH1’s Storytellers Show
Broken Hundreds Of Attendance Records At Numerous Venues
First Band To Use Animated, Computerized Characters On Stage At Concerts (Pop Trash Tour, 2000)
Music Video For “Rio” Is Voted Best Of All Time From AOL And MTV Award Shows
As you can see, the band has done a lot in the world of music, and fashion. They have withstood the test of time (with Andy Taylor recently deciding to bow out once more), and my brief blog about them, is really only giving a generalization of them. They have accomplished so much more, and continue to push the boundaries and limits of sound and production. Duran Duran will forever be my number one, and I’m so glad that they continue to ride through everything together. And that’s just fab.