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Duran Duran

Duran Duran



Pop group




When MTV dawned in the early 1980s, it changed the face of popular music forever, and the British rock group Duran Duran was the first act to take full advantage of its possibilities. The five-member band of young, sculpted faces often adorned with make-up and expensive clothes, saw in the music video the perfect vehicle for propelling them beyond obscurity and their musical abilities to fame, fortune, and good times. Combining the sounds of 1970s British punk and the more upbeat, danceable rhythms of disco, Duran Duran began producing clean, sparkling (if not critically acclaimed), pop tunes. But what set them apart immediately were their videos: somewhat surreal escapist fantasies that took the self-styled playboys to such far-flung locales as Sri Lanka and Antigua. Screaming, record-buying, television-watching teen-age girls everywhere ate it upand nobody could have predicted it better than the band members themselves. "Video to us is like stereo was to Pink Floyd," said Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "It was new, it was just happening. And we saw we could do a lot with it." But, with more than 25 years together and more than 70 million albums sold, the group has proven its significance well beyond the video screen.

While the conservative rock press liked to downplay the success of Duran Duran because of their obvious vanity and lack of attention to "serious" music, it should be noted that some of rock and roll's most time-honored heroes, such as Elvis Presley and even a few members of the Beatles, were never accused of being serious musicians. Success in pop music has always depended upon image at least as much as the music itself. And "serious music" is not necessarily for everyone as Rolling Stone 's James Henke realized when he referred to Duran Duran's eager fans as "young girls who were glued to their television sets watching MTV every waking hour. These girls had little use for the Clash's left-wing politics, or the ranting and raving of that weird-looking Elvis Costello. But Duran Duran, now they were something else. Five extremely good-looking young men. Dream dates."

Band Took Form


Duran Duran began coming together in 1978 (some sources say 1977) in the Midlands city of Birmingham, where Rhodes and guitarist John Taylor started performing with a variety of bandmates. The group, which takes its name from a character in the 1968 film Barbarella, became complete in 1980 when Simon Le Bon, a drop-out drama student, showed up one day in pink, leopard-skin leotards and said he wanted to sing in the band. Le Bon joined Rhodes, John Taylor (who switched to bass), drummer Roger Taylor, and guitarist Andy Taylor (none of the Taylors are related), and the quintet began performing in Birmingham, most frequently at a club called Rum Runners which had become established as the home of England's burgeoning New Romantic scene. "Donning the foppish clothes of the movement and playing a slick, if superficial, brand of dance-pop, the band was tailor-made for the style obsessed New Romantics," said the Encyclopedia of Rock.

For the Record . . .

Members include Sterling Campbell (group member, 1990-92), drums; Warren Cuccurullo (born on December 8, 1956; group member, 1986-2001), guitar; Simon Le Bon (born on October 27, 1958, in Bushey, England), vocals; Nick Rhodes (born on June 8, 1962, in England), keyboards; Andy Taylor (born on February 16, 1961, in Dolver-Hampton, England; group member, 1978-85, 2001), guitar, keyboards; John Taylor (born on June 20, 1960, in Birmingham, England; group member, 1978-1997, 2001), bass; Roger Taylor (born on April 26, 1960, in Birmingham, England; group member, 1978-85, 2001), drums.


Group formed in Birmingham, England, 1978; performed in the Birmingham area, 1980-84; toured internationally, beginning 1984; released debut album Duran Duran, 1981; released Rio, 1982; and Seven and the Ragged Tiger, 1984; split into two side projects: Power Station and Arcadia, 1985; re-formed minus Roger and Andy Taylor, 1986; released Notorious, 1987; Big Thing!, 1988; Liberty, 1990; released hits compilation Decade: Greatest Hits, 1990; released Duran Duran (The Wedding Album), 1993; Thank You, 1995; and Medazzaland, 1997; John Taylor left group, 1997; released greatest hits compilation Greatest, 1998; group left EMI/Capitol, 1998; signed with Hollywood label, released Pop Trash, 2000; Warren Cuccurullo left group, five original members reunited, 2001; Capitol released singles compilation box set The Singles 81-85, 2003.


Awards: Grammy Awards, Best VideoShort Form and Best Video Album, 1983; Ivor Novello Award, 1993; star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1993; MTV Video Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2003.


Addresses: Website Duran Duran Official Website: http://www.duranduran.com/.

Duran Duran quickly became the headliners of that movement, playing at large clubs and festivals throughout England, and in early 1981 they released their first single, "Planet Earth," which went to number 12 on the United Kingdom charts. Later that year their first album, Duran Duran, went to number three on the album charts and spawned two more hit singles, including "Girls on Film." They had already been shunned by the serious music press at this point, but newer, teen-oriented, image-conscious magazines like Smash Hits and The Face were more than happy to circulate glossy photos of "The Boys," as they had become known. The lavish videos helped transfer this new-found fame to the United States, where "Hungry Like the Wolf" reached number three. Their videos won the group two Grammy Awards for Best VideoShort Form and Best Video Album in 1983. By 1984 Duran Duran was an international phenomenontheir third album, Seven and a Ragged Tiger, debuted at number one and suddenly the boys were living the lives they had created for themselves on video, playing sold-out tour dates around the world.

Became Playboys of Pop


They were dandies, playboys, and their profiles became plastered on teen magazines everywhere. First there was Rhodes (his name was originally Nicholas Bates), the man who probably most personified the band's gaudy image. Rhodes grew up with John Taylor and both found that they liked the music of glittery stars like T. Rex. "We wouldn't buy records by ugly groups," Rhodes told People, adding that when he and Taylor decided to start a band they "had vivid ideas of what we wanted to look and sound like, but we looked at the instruments and said, 'Do we have to learn to play these things?'" John Taylor was the ladies' man and a huge target for the gossipy British Fleet Street press. His wanderings were well-chronicled there. "Being a rock star is like putting a huge sign in a window, 'For Sale,'" Taylor told People. "I did an interview with Penthouse and they said, 'What's your idea of a great woman?' I said, 'Someone who could tie me up and whip me and make great bacon sandwiches.'" Le Bon was an unlikely pop star in that he still opened doors for women, had a pensive streak that made him yearn for sailing alone on the sea, and because his bandmates once tagged him with the nickname "Lardo" because of his pudginess. Roger and Andy Taylor rounded out the band and were more known for staying in the shadows while the others baited the screaming girls at center stage.

By 1985 Duran Duran had started suffering from the personality conflicts that hamper many bands. Their production slacked off as the players spent more time apart, getting together only occasionally for certain projects, such as the immensely successful single and video for the James Bond movie A View To a Kill. John and Andy Taylor began work on an outside project with Robert Palmer in 1985 and formed a band called Power Station, which recorded an album of the same name (which was number 30 that year, according to Rolling Stone ) and played at the Live Aid benefit concert. In the meantime the remaining "thoughtful" members of the group briefly performed and recorded as Arcadia, spawning the LP So Red the Rose. It, too, climbed the charts; Rolling Stone found it harmless and bland: "Egan's lubricated bass line contrasts nicely with Simon's hog-calling tenor. like the Power Station's record, it's proficient, serviceable pop without any unifying drive or purpose. And no matter how obnoxious (or not) you may have found them, personality is one thing Duran Duran never lacked." By 1986 Duran Duran was back intact and recording again, although they would never regain the success of the early 1980s.


Struggled to Maintain Popularity


Their 1987 effort, Notorious, received the usual chilly reception from critics, but the videos were popular on MTV. Rolling Stone actually went so far as to call Notorious Duran Duran's "most consistently listenable work," but felt the band had lost personality in the search for musical maturity. Big Thing! of 1988 had none of the MTV audience and none of the backhanded compliments of earlier reviews. People panned the album; "As 'mature' musicians, they're marooned." The Encyclopedia of Rock summed up Duran Duran's impact on the music world in this way: "Musically, Duran Duran are no more than accomplished studio stylists, skillful welders of a host of disparate elementshard rock, electro, white soul and, latterly, scratch and hip-hopinto an eminently commercial sound. Far more important was their marketing success, whereby they capitalized on their obvious visual attractions through the media (video and the glossy pop magazines), a technique that became increasingly important in the music industry in the Eighties." Warren Cuccurullo, formerly of the group Missing Persons, began assisting Duran Duran on guitar in 1986; he became a permanent member of the group in 1990.

Liberty, released in 1990, was another of Duran Duran's efforts to renew their past success. This time the band combined "everything from disco to guitar rock, Motown, Philly soul, and new wave," according to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide, creating an album that was stylistically confusing and helped to continue the band's falling sales. The greatest hits compilation Decade: Greatest Hits was also released that year and would eventually earn platinum sales in May 1998.


Made a Comeback


The group's fortunes changed, though, in 1993 with the release of what was considered a comeback album, Duran Duran (The Wedding Album). The album topped the charts at number three and went platinum in June of 1993, powered by the hit singles "Ordinary World," which hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and "Come Undone," which charted in the top ten. The album also achieved broad international success, landing among the top-ten selling records in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina. The group toured and was also featured in an MTV Unplugged special.


Thank You, what MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide referred to as a "bizarre" covers album, followed in 1995. Duran Duran's ode to their influences "killed the momentum again," according to MusicHound Rock, eroding the resurgent popularity brought about by Duran Duran (The Wedding Album). "The idea was to do songs that we wish we'd written," Rhodes told Entertainment Weekly. Medazzaland was released in 1997, minus the contribution of John Taylor, who left the group that year to start a new band, Terroristen. Another greatest hits compilation, this one entitled simply Greatest, was released in 1998. The group left the EMI/Capitol label that same year.

With Le Bon and Rhodes the only remaining members of the original lineup, the group released Pop Trash in 2000 on the Hollywood label. The album "marks a bold departure from Duran Duran's signature dance-oriented pop sound into more avant-garde musical experimentation," said Carly Hay in Billboard. "That's what I like about this album: It spans," LeBon told Hay. "This is our statement on how it feels to live a little."


In 2001, Cuccurullo left to re-form Missing Persons, and all five of the original members of Duran Duran reunited to begin work on a new album, which was scheduled for release in 2004. While writing and recording, the band played periodic shows in the United States and around the world. They began a set of 2003 shows in the United States at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, and their United Kingdom shows at the Forum in London. The box set compilation The Singles 81-85 was also released in 2003. Duran Duran was slated to receive the BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music in early 2004.



Selected discography

Duran Duran, Harvest, 1981.

Rio, Capitol, 1982.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Capitol, 1983.

Arena, Capitol, 1984.

Notorious, Capitol, 1987.

Big Thing!, Capitol, 1988.

Decade: Greatest Hits, Capitol, 1990.

Liberty, Alliance, 1990.

Duran Duran (The Wedding Album), Capitol, 1993.

Thank You, Capitol, 1995.

Medazzaland, Capitol, 1997.

Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran (remixes), EMI/Capitol, 1998.

Greatest, Capitol, 1998.

Pop Trash, Hollywood, 2000.

The Singles 81-85 (box set), Capitol, 2003.



Sources

Books


Graff, Gary, and Daniel Durchholz, editors, MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, second edition, Visible Ink, 1999.

Hardy, Phil, and Dave Laing, Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer, 1988.


Periodicals


Amusement Business, November 2, 1998.

Billboard, June 26, 1993; May 6, 2000.

Billboard Bulletin, November 25, 2003.

Entertainment Weekly, April 14, 1995; August 1, 2003; September 5, 2003.

Hollywood Reporter, August 29, 2003.

People, July 22, 1985, November 7, 1988.

Rolling Stone, February 2, 1984, January 16, 1986, January 29, 1987.


Online


"Duran Duran," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (December 19, 2003).

Duran Duran Official Website, http://www.duranduran.com (December 19, 2003).

"Duran Duran to be Honoured with the 'Outstanding Contribution' at the BRIT Awards in 2004," BRIT Awards, http://www.brits.co.uk/2003/press/release.php?releaseID=32 (December 19, 2003).

Recording Academy, http://www.grammy.com (December 19, 2003).

Recording Industry Association of America, http://www.riaa.com (December 19, 2003).


David Collins

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Duran, Duran

Duran Duran

Rock group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

When MTV, the 24-hour music video network, dawned in the early 1980s, it changed the face of popular music forever, and the British rock group Duran Duran was the first act to take full advantage of its possibilities. The five-member band of young, sculpted faces often adorned with make-up and frilly, expensive clothes, saw in the music video the perfect vehicle for propelling them beyond obscurity and their musical abilities to fame, fortune, and good times. Combining the sounds of 1970s British punk and the more upbeat, danceable rhythms of disco, Duran Duran began producing clean, sparkling (if not critically acclaimed), pop tunes. But what set them apart immediately were their videos: somewhat surreal escapist fantasies that took the self-styled playboys to such far-flung locales as Sri Lanka and Antigua. Screaming, record-buying, television-watching teen-age girls everywhere ate it upand nobody could have predicted it better than the band members themselves. Video to us is like stereo was to Pink Floyd, said Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes. It was new, it was just happening. And we saw we could do a lot with it.

For the Record

Band formed in 1978, in Birmingham, England; members include vocalist Simon Le Bon (born October 27, 1958, in Bushey, England); guitarist and keyboards player Andy Taylor (born February 16, 1961, in Dolver-Hampton, England); keyboards player Nick Rhodes (born June 8, 1962, in England); bassist John Taylor (born June 20,1960, in Birmingham, England); drummer Roger Taylor (born April 26, 1960, in Birmingham, England).

Performed in the Birmingham area, 1980-84; toured the U.K., 1980; toured internationally beginning in 1984; Number 1 album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, in 1984; split into two groups: Power Station and Arcadia in 1985; reformed, 1986.

Addresses: Record company Capitol Records, 1750 North Vine St., Hollywood, CA 90028.

While the conservative rock press liked to downplay the success of Duran Duran because of their obvious vanity and lack of attention to serious music, it should be noted that some of rock and rolls most time-honored heroes, such as Elvis Presley and even a few members of the Beatles, were never accused of being serious musicians. Success in pop music has always depended upon image at least as much as the music itself. And serious music is not necessarily for everyone as Rolling Stones James Henke realized when he referred to Duran Durans eager fans as young girls who were glued to their television sets watching MTV every waking hour. These girls had little use for the Clashs left-wing politics, or the ranting and raving of that weird-looking Elvis Costello. But Duran Duran, now they were something else. Five extremely good-looking young men. Dream dates.

Duran Duran began coming together in 1978 (some sources say 1977) in the Midlands city of Birmingham, where Rhodes and guitarist John Taylor started performing with a variety of bandmates. The current group, which takes its name from a character in the 1968 film Barbarella, became complete in 1980 when Simon Le Bon, a drop-out drama student, showed up one day in pink, leopard-skin leotards and said he wanted to sing in the band. Le Bon joined Rhodes, John Taylor (who switched to bass), drummer Roger Taylor, and guitarist Andy Taylor (none of the Taylors are related), and the quintet began performing in Birmingham, most frequently at a club called Rum Runners which had become established as the home of Englands burgeoning New Romantic scene. Donning the foppish clothes of the movement and playing a slick, if superficial, brand of dance-pop, the band was tailor-made for the style obsessed New Romantics, says the Encyclopedia of Rock.

Duran Duran quickly became the headliners of that movement, playing at large clubs and festivals throughout England, and in early 1981 they released their first single, Planet Earth, which went to Number 12 on the U.K. charts. Later that year their first album, Duran Duran, went to Number 3 on the album charts and spawned two more hit singles, including Girls on Film. They had already been shunned by the serious music press at this point, but newer, teen-oriented, image-conscious magazines like Smash Hits and The Face were more than happy to circulate glossy photos of The Boys, as they had become known. The lavish videos helped transfer this new-found fame to the U.S., where Hungry Like the Wolf reached Number 3. By 1984 Duran Duran was an international phenomenon their third album, Seven and a Ragged Tiger, debuted at Number 1 and suddenly the boys were living the lives they had created for themselves on video, playing soldout tour dates around the world.

They were dandies, playboys, and their profiles became plastered on teen magazines everywhere. First there is Rhodes (his name was originally Nicholas Bates), the man who probably most personifies the bands gaudy image. Rhodes grew up with John Taylor and both found that they liked the music of glittery stars like T. Rex. We wouldnt buy records by ugly groups, Rhodes told People, adding that when he and Taylor decided to start a band they had vivid ideas of what we wanted to look and sound like, but we looked at the instruments and said, Do we have to learn to play these things? John Taylor is the ladies man and a huge target for the gossipy Fleet Street press. His wanderings have been well-chronicled there. Being a rock star is like putting a huge sign in a window, For Sale, Taylor told People. I did an interview with Penthouse and they said, Whats your idea of a great woman? I said, Someone who could tie me up and whip me and make great bacon sandwiches. Le Bon is an unlikely pop star in that he still opens doors for women, has a pensive streak that makes him yearn for sailing alone on the sea, and because his bandmates once tagged him with the nickname Lardo because of his pudginess. Roger and Andy Taylor round out the band and are more known for staying in the shadows while the others bait the screaming girls at center stage.

By 1985 Duran Duran had started suffering from the personality conflicts that hamper many bands. Their production slacked off as the players spent more time apart, getting together only occasionally for certain projects, such as the immensely successful single and video for the James Bond movie A View To a Kill. John and Andy Taylor began work on an outside project with Robert Palmer in 1985 and formed a band called Power Station, which recorded an album of the same name (which was Number 30 that year, according to Rolling Stone ) and played at the Live Aid benefit concert. In the meantime the remaining thoughtful members of the group briefly performed and recorded as Arcadia, spawning the LP So Red the Rose. It, too, climbed the charts;Rolling Stone found it harmless and bland: Egans lubricated bass line contrasts nicely with Simons hog-calling tenor. like the Power Stations record, its proficient, serviceable pop without any unifying drive or purpose. And no matter how obnoxious (or not) you may have found them, personality is one thing Duran Duran never lacked. By 1986 Duran Duran was back intact and recording again, although they would never regain the success of the early 1980s.

Their 1987 effort, Notorious, received the usual chilly reception from critics, but the videos were popular on MTV. Rolling Stone actually went so far as to call Notorious Duran Durans most consistently listenable work, but felt the band had lost personality in the search for musical maturity. Big Thing! of 1988 had none of the MTV audience and none of the backhanded compliments of earlier reviews. People panned the album; As mature musicians, theyre marooned. The Encyclopedia of Rock summed up Duran Durans impact on the music world in this way: Musically, Duran Duran are no more than accomplished studio stylists, skillful welders of a host of disparate elements hard rock, electro, white soul and, latterly, scratch and hip-hopinto an eminently commercial sound. Far more important was their marketing success, whereby they capitalized on their obvious visual attractions through the media (video and the glossy pop magazines), a technique that became increasingly important in the music industry in the Eighties.

Selected discography

Duran Duran, Harvest, 1981.

Rio, Capitol, 1982.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Capitol, 1983.

Arena, Capitol, 1984.

Notorious, Capitol, 1987.

Big Thing!, Capitol, 1988.

Sources

Books

Hardy, Phil, and Dave Laing, Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer, 1988.

Periodicals

People, July 22, 1985, November 7, 1988.

Rolling Stone, February 2, 1984, January 16, 1986, January 29, 1987.

David Collins

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Duran Duran

DURAN DURAN

Formed: 1978, Birmingham, England

Members: Simon Le Bon, lead vocals (born Herfordshire, England, 27 October 1958); Nick Rhodes, keyboards (born Birmingham, England, 8 June 1962). Former members: Simon Colley, bass/clarinet; Warren Cuccurullo (born Brooklyn, New York, 8 December 1956); John Curtis, guitar; Stephen Duffy, lead vocals (born Birmingham, Worcestershire, England, 30 May 1960); Andy Taylor, guitar (born Wolverhampton, England, 16 February 1961); John Taylor, guitar (born Birmingham, England, 20 June 1960); Roger Taylor, drummer (born Birmingham, England, 26 April 1960); Jeff Thomas, lead vocals; Andy Wickett, lead vocals.

Genre: Rock, Pop

Best-selling album since 1990: Duran Duran: The Wedding Album (1993)

Hit songs since 1990: "Ordinary World," "Come Undone"


Emerging from the tidal wave of British "new romantic" pop groups, Duran Duran established a reputation in the early 1980s with well-crafted songs coupled with an image-conscious presentation. Borrowing their name from a character in the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella, the group charted with a string of hits from their first three albums and became pop icons through their memorable music videos. By the late 1980s their popularity had subsided, and constant personnel changes hindered the quality and consistency of their subsequent albums. Loyal fans (known as "Duranies") assert that Duran Duran is developing into a new type of pop group, one that embraces funk, hip-hop, and, most especially, dance-club sounds and textures.

Nick Rhodes assembled the initial forerunner of Duran Duran in 1978, consisting of Rhodes, Taylor, Simon Colley, and Stephen Duffy. After Colley and Duffy left the group, Roger Taylor was recruited as the drummer, and Andy Wickett took over as the lead vocalist. This lineup recorded several demo tapes, producing the first version of the subsequent hit, "Girls on Film." Further changes ensued: John Taylor moved to bass guitar and John Curtis (guitar) and Jeff Thomas (vocals) joined the group. The lineup eventually stabilized with the introduction of guitarist Andy Taylor and vocalist Simon Le Bon, who soon became the group's primary lyricist.

Duran Duran gained early exposure as the opening act for Hazel O'Connor and was signed by EMI Records in late 1980. Their first single, "Planet Earth," did moderately well in the U.K. charts, but it was their second release, "Girls on Film," accompanied by a racy video directed by Godley & Creme, which brought them widespread acclaim. This emphasis on the visual medium led to a highly successful collaboration with the director Russell Mulchay, who almost single-handedly created the image of Duran Duran. The group traveled to distant locales (Antigua and Sri Lanka) and constructed video narratives that highlighted their sartorial style set against exotic backdrops. This formula was introduced in the colorful videos for "Rio" and "Save a Prayer" and developed further in the animal courtship of "Hungry Like the Wolf." MTV greatly contributed to their success by placing their videos in constant rotation.

Unlike other British pop groups such as the Human League and Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran did not eschew the role of the electric guitar in their songs. Rather they retained the rhythmic and harmonic possibilities of the distorted electric guitar along with the fashionable sounds of the synthesizer. "Is There Something I Should Know?," from Duran Duran (1983), displays this balance with a dominant guitar riff in the verse and ascendant synthesizer textures in the chorus. John Taylor's funk-inspired bass lines provided visceral propulsion, evident especially in such songs as the title track from Rio (1982) and the bridge section in the extended version of "Hungry Like the Wolf." This unique combination was further integrated in their 1983 album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, which produced three top-ten hits: "The Reflex," "Union of the Snake," and "New Moon on Monday." Le Bon extended his melodic ideas, from syllabic repetition in "The Reflex" to baritone crooning in the beginning of "New Moon on Monday." The melodies were intermittently augmented with backup singers, allowing Rhodes to further weave his melodic and harmonic riffs into the overall texture.

By the end of their 1984 tour and the release of their live album Arena, the members of Duran Duran decided to take a break and pursue solo projects. In 1986 the members of Duran Duran came together to record the theme song for the latest James Bond film, A View to a Kill.

When Le Bon, Rhodes, and John Taylor attempted to reconvene the group in 1986, they met with resistance from the other two members. Andy Taylor, who was pursuing a solo career, contributed to their next album, Notorious (1986), but was replaced for the subsequent tour by Warren Cuccurullo. While Duran Duran attempted new musical ground, most notably in the title-track and the funk-inspired "Skin Trade," the album as a whole was uneven and lacked focus. Most regrettably, the melodic economy and brilliance which had marked their earlier efforts now seemed repetitive and disjunct.

Although Duran Duran continued recording, they garnered little interest until their 1993 eponymous album, known as The Wedding Album. With Cuccurollo now a permanent member, the group received wide acclaim for two ballads, "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." The album seemed at once mindful of their legacy and propelled by fresh energy. Playing on the band's visually driven image of the 1980s, Le Bon now proclaimed in the opening song, "Destroyed by MTV I hate to bite the hand that feeds me so much information."

In 1995 the group released Thank You, an album of covers that included a wide variety of songs, from "Crystal Ship" (the Doors) and "Thank You" (Led Zeppelin) to "White Lines" (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) and "911 Is a Joke" (Public Enemy). Although Duran Duran collaborated with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five on the album and performed with them on late-night television shows, their appropriation of rap hits invited severe criticism. After this album the longtime member John Taylor left, and the group continued once again as a trio (Le Bon, Rhodes, and Cuccurullo). Medazzaland (1997) presented a shockingly new sound with dance-club grooves in "Big Bang Generation" and "Electric Barbarella," and a wry self-assessment in "Undergoing Treatment," which darkly proclaimed, "We are undergoing treatment watching others in the news studying our worst reviews." Pop Trash (2000) was equally ambitious, conjuring sonic textures reminiscent of the Beatles, with a renewed emphasis on melodic writing and pop craftsmanship.

Duran Duran has weathered more than two decades in the popular music world, surviving countless personnel changes, shifting public tastes, and a brief, self-imposed name change to Duranduran. While most of their peers from the early 1980s have disbanded and disappeared, Duran Duran continues to explore new musical directions.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Duran Duran (EMI, 1981); Rio (EMI, 1982); Seven and the Ragged Tiger (EMI, 1983); Arena (Parlophone, 1984); Notorious (EMI, 1986); Big Thing (EMI, 1988); Decade (EMI, 1989); Liberty (Parlophone, 1990); Duran Duran: The Wedding Album (Parlophone, 1993); Thank You (Capitol, 1995); Medazzaland (Capitol, 1997); Greatest (EMI, 1998); Night Versions (EMI, 1999); Strange Behaviour (EMI, 1999); Pop Trash (Capitol, 2000).

wynn yamami

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Duran Duran

Duran Duran

Duran Duran, one of MTV’s original great success stories; formed 1978, Birmingham, England. MEMBER-SHIP: Nick Rhodes (real name, Nicholas Bates), kybd.(b. Birmingham, England, June 8, 1962); John Taylor, bs., gtr. (b. Birmingham, England, June 20, 1960); Andy Taylor, gtr. (b. Dolver-Hampton, England, Feb. 16,1961); Roger Taylor, drm. (b. Birmingham, England, April 26, 1960); Simon LeBon, voc. (b. Bushey, England, Oct. 27, 1958). (Note: none of the Taylors are related.)

Nick Rhodes and John Taylor were both huge fans of David Bowie and Roxy Music. Beginning under the aegis of the post-punk “New Romantic” movement, they started playing together with several other musicians. Landing a steady gig at a Birmingham Club called Barbarellas, the group took on the name of the villain in the Roger Vadim film for which the club was named. Eventually, the lineup shook out to the three Taylors, Rhodes, and LeBon. They gigged steadily, landing a slot at the Edinburgh festival, which in turn landed them a contract with EMI.

The band became an instant success in England. Their first single, “Planet Earth/’ landing at #12 in the U.K. charts. With their next single, “Girls on Film,” the band started to capitalize on the newest medium for promoting records in 1980, music video. The provocative “Girls on Film” clip featured attractive, scantily clad women. Ironically the clip appealed most strongly to their female fans, who watched the clip to see a bunch of good-looking boys. The song went Top Ten in the U.K. in advance of their debut album, which hit #3 in the U.K. out of the box.

It took the release of their second album Rio before the U.S. caught on. The album entered the U.K. charts at #2 fueled by the hits “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Save a Prayer.” When MTV got onto the Sri Lanka-lensed video for “Hungry Like the Wolf,” fans in the U.S. finally caught on. The single rose to #3 and went gold. The video for their follow-up single, the album’s title track, was filmed in the Caribbean. “Rio” hit #14 and Rio rose to #6 and sold double- platinum.

Duran-mania was now planet-wide, overwhelming even the band. They likely made as much money from posters and other merchandise as they did from music. The band’s debut album returned to the charts, reaching #10 about six months after Rio peaked, selling platinum. Six months after that, they released Seven and the Ragged Tiger. It contained the hits “Is There Something I Should Know,” which topped the U.K. charts and hit #4 in the U.S.; “Union of the Snake” which went to #3 in the U.S., “New Moon on Monday” which hit #10, and their transatlantic chart-topping gold record “The Reflex.” This album went double-platinum.

The band next released a live album, Arena. They appended an English non-LP single to the U.S. version of the album. That tune, “The Wild Boys,” reached #2 on both sides of the Atlantic, selling gold in the U.S. The Arena album sold double-platinum.

The hunger for Duran Duran music was still great. They finally released the single “Save a Prayer” in the U.S. The three-year-old English hit rose to #16. The fevered pitch of releases was capped by the theme to the James Bond film A View to a Kill, which topped the U.S. charts, the first James Bond theme to do so.

In what some saw as the demise of the group, they split off in two directions. Andy and John Taylor, the more rock-oriented members of the group, hooked up with vocalist Robert Palmer and Chic drummer Tony Thompson to form The Power Station (named after the studio where the band recorded). The new album produced three hits. They took a cover of T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong” to #9; “Some Like It Hot” topped out at #6; and “Communication” charted at #34. Indeed, the group’s success (the album went platinum) might have spelled the end of Duran Duran had Palmer not wanted to return to his solo career. In Power Station concerts, Michael Des Barres, who was not nearly as impressive, replaced him.

Meanwhile, the remaining three Duranites went into the studio for their own project, under the new name of Arcadia. The album So Red the Rose was a more ethereal affair than Duran Duran and far less rocking than The Power Station. It did, however, go platinum and reach #23 on the charts with the singles “Election Day” (featuring vocalist Grace Jones) rising to #6 and “Goodbye Is Forever” topping out at #33.

The hiatus did change Duran Duran. Both Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor left the band. Duran Duran recorded Notorious as a trio in 1986, thinking in terms of making a white funk album. It was produced by Nile Rogers, who had helped remix “The Reflex.” The title track hit #2, and the tune “Skin Trade” nicked the Top 40 at #39. The album rose to #12 and went platinum. However, Duranmania had peaked, and now they were just another group of musicians—a situation they claimed they enjoyed.

The trio recorded Big Thing in 1988 as Duranduran. Despite the #4 single “I Don’t Want Your Love” and the #22 “All She Wants,” the album stalled at #24, and only sold gold. Their 1989 greatest hits package took three years to sell that much, eventually going platinum. Their next album, Liberty, didn’t even manage that, peaking at #46. The band needed new blood and added former Frank Zappa and Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo to the lineup. The group released Duran Duran (also called The Wedding Album) in 1993, reaching out to the adult fans who had been their core audience a decade before. The strategy worked. They scored two huge hits with the gold #3 “Ordinary World” and the #7 “Come Undone.” The album went platinum and peaked at #7.

However, their next effort, an eclectic album of covers called Thank You with songs by groups as diverse as Public Enemy, Led Zepelin, and Lou Reed only sold gold, peaking at #19. John Taylor left the band, making Duran Duran a trio once more. Their 1997 opus Medazzaland didn’t reap any heavy sales, though it did generate the #56 hitlet “Electric Barbarella.” The album peaked at #58 in its first week on the charts.

By the turn of the millenium, Duran Duran were still around and still recording. They had parted ways with their label Capitol after nearly 20 years. At the time of this writing, they released Pop Trash, a sign that they maintained both their dignity and also their sense of humor.

Discography

Duran Duran (1981); Rio (1982); Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983); Arena (live; 1984); Notorious (1986); Master Mixes (1987); Big Thing (1988); Liberty (1990); Duran Duran (The Wedding Album) (1993); In Conversation (1994); Thank (1995); Medazzaland (1997); Pop Trash (2000).

—Hank Bordowitz

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Duran, Duran

Duran Duran

Pop group

Members include Sterling Campbell (group member, 1990-92), drums; Warren Cuccurullo (born on December 8, 1956; group member, 1986-2001), guitar; Simon Le Bon (born on October 27, 1958, in Bushey, England), vocals; Nick Rhodes (born Nicholas Bates, June 8, 1962, in England), keyboards; Andy Taylor (born on February 16, 1961, in Dolver-Hampton, England; group member, 1978-85, 2001—), guitar, keyboards; John Taylor (born on June 20, 1960, in Birmingham, England; group member, 1978-97, 2001—), bass; Roger Taylor (born on April 26, 1960, in Birmingham, England; group member, 1978-85, 2001—), drums.

Addresses: Website—Duran Duran Official Website: http://www.duranduran.com/.

Career

Group formed in Birmingham, England, 1978; performed in the Birmingham area, 1980-84; toured internationally, beginning 1984; released debut album Duran Duran, 1981; released Rio, 1982; released Seven and the Ragged Tiger, 1984; split into two side projects, Power Station and Arcadia, 1985; re-formed minus Roger and Andy Taylor, 1986; released Notorious, 1987; released Big Thing!, 1988; released Liberty, 1990; released hits compilation Decade: Greatest Hits, 1990; released Duran Duran (The Wedding Album), 1993; released Thank You, 1995; released Medazzaland, 1997; John Taylor left group, 1997; released greatest hits compilation Greatest, 1998; group left EMI/Capitol, 1998; signed with Hollywood label, released Pop Trash, 2000; Warren Cuccurullo left group, five original members reunited, 2001; Capitol released singles compilation box set The Singles 81-85, 2003; toured with original members, 2003-05; released Astronaut, 2004.

Awards: Grammy Award for best video—short form, Recording Academy, 1983; Grammy Award for best video album, Recording Academy, 1983; Brit Award for best British video, for "Wild Boys," 1985; Ivor Novello Award, 1993; star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1993; MTV Video Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2003; Q Magazine lifetime achievement award, 2004; Brit Award for outstanding contribution, 2004.

Sidelights

When MTV dawned in the early 1980s, it changed the face of popular music forever, and the British rock group Duran Duran was one of the first acts to take full advantage of its possibilities. The five-member band of young men, with sculpted faces often adorned with make-up and wearing expensive clothes, saw in the music video the perfect vehicle for propelling their musical abilities to fame, fortune, and good times. Combining the sounds of 1970s British punk and the more upbeat, danceable rhythms of disco, Duran Duran began producing clean, sparkling (if not critically acclaimed) pop tunes. But what set them apart immediately were their videos: somewhat surreal escapist fantasies that took the self-styled playboys to such far-flung locales as Sri Lanka and Antigua. Screaming, record-buying, television-watching teenage girls everywhere ate it up—and no one could have predicted it better than the band members themselves. "Video to us is like stereo was to Pink Floyd," Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes told Keith L. Thomas in the Herald. "It was new, it was just happening. And we saw we could do a lot with it." But, with more than 25 years together and more than 70 million albums sold, the group has proven its significance well beyond the video screen.

While the conservative rock press liked to downplay the success of Duran Duran because of their obvious vanity and lack of attention to "serious" music, it should be noted that some of rock and roll's most time-honored heroes, such as Elvis Presley and even a few members of the Beatles, were never accused of being serious musicians. Success in pop music has always depended upon image at least as much as the music itself. And "serious music" is not necessarily for everyone, as Rolling Stone's James Henke realized when he referred to Duran Duran's eager fans as "young girls who were glued to their television sets watching MTV every waking hour. These girls had little use for the Clash's left-wing politics, or the ranting and raving of that weird-looking Elvis Costello. But Duran Duran, now they were something else. Five extremely good-looking young men. Dream dates."

Duran Duran began coming together in 1978 (some sources say 1977) in the Midlands city of Birmingham, where Rhodes and guitarist John Taylor started performing with a variety of bandmates. The group, which takes its name from a character in the 1968 film Barbarella, became complete in 1980 when Simon Le Bon, a drop-out drama student, showed up one day in pink leopard-print leotards and said he wanted to sing in the band. Le Bon joined Rhodes, John Taylor (who switched to bass), drummer Roger Taylor, and guitarist Andy Taylor (none of the Taylors are related), and the quintet began performing in Birmingham, most frequently at a club called Rum Runners which had become established as the home of England's burgeoning New Romantic scene. "Donning the foppish clothes of the movement and playing a slick, if superficial, brand of dance-pop, the band was tailor-made for the style obsessed New Romantics," declared Encyclopedia of Rock.

Duran Duran quickly became the headliners of that movement, playing at large clubs and festivals throughout England, and in early 1981 they released their first single, "Planet Earth," which went to number 12 on the United Kingdom charts. Later that year their first album, Duran Duran, went to number three on the album charts and spawned two more hit singles, including "Girls on Film." They had already been shunned by the serious music press at this point, but newer, teen-oriented, image-conscious magazines like Smash Hits and The Face were more than happy to circulate glossy photos of "The Boys," as they had become known. The lavish videos helped transfer this new-found fame to the United States, where "Hungry Like the Wolf" reached number three. Their videos won the group two Grammy Awards in 1983: Best Video—Short Form and Best Video Album. By 1984 Duran Duran was an international phenomenon—their third album, Seven and a Ragged Tiger, debuted at number one and suddenly the boys were living the lives they had created for themselves on video, playing sold-out tour dates around the world.

They were dandies, playboys, and their profiles became plastered on teen magazines everywhere. First there was Rhodes (his name was originally Nicholas Bates), the man who probably most personified the band's gaudy image. Rhodes grew up with John Taylor and both found that they liked the music of glittery stars like T. Rex. "We wouldn't buy records by ugly groups," Rhodes told People, adding that when he and Taylor decided to start a band they "had vivid ideas of what we wanted to look and sound like, but we looked at the instruments and said, 'Do we have to learn to play these things?'" John Taylor was a ladies' man and a huge target for the gossipy British Fleet Street press. His wanderings were well-chronicled there. "Being a rock star is like putting a huge sign in a window, 'For Sale,'" Taylor told People. "I did an interview with Penthouse and they said, 'What's your idea of a great woman?' I said, 'Someone who could tie me up and whip me and make great bacon sandwiches.'" Le Bon was an unlikely pop star in that he still opened doors for women, had a pensive streak that made him yearn for sailing alone on the sea, and because his bandmates once tagged him with the nickname "Lardo" because of his pudginess. Roger and Andy Taylor rounded out the band and were more known for staying in the shadows while the others baited the screaming girls at center stage.

By 1985 Duran Duran had started suffering from the personality conflicts that hamper many bands. Their production slacked off as the players spent more time apart, getting together only occasionally for certain projects, such as the immensely successful single and video for the James Bond movie A View To a Kill. The song was the only Bond theme to go to No. 1 on the charts. John and Andy Taylor began work on an outside project with Robert Palmer in 1985 and formed a band called Power Station, which recorded an album of the same name (which was number 30 that year, according to Rolling Stone) and played at the Live Aid benefit concert. In the meantime the remaining "thoughtful" members of the group briefly performed and recorded as Arcadia, spawning the LP So Red the Rose. It, too, climbed the charts; Rolling Stone found it harmless and bland: "Egan's lubricated bass line contrasts nicely with Simon's hog-calling tenor . like the Power Station's record, it's proficient, serviceable pop without any unifying drive or purpose. And no matter how obnoxious (or not) you may have found them, personality is one thing Duran Duran never lacked." By 1986 Duran Duran was back intact and recording again, although they would never regain the success of the early 1980s.

Their 1987 effort, Notorious, received the usual chilly reception from critics, but the videos were popular on MTV. Rolling Stone actually went so far as to call Notorious Duran Duran's "most consistently listenable work," but felt the band had lost personality in the search for musical maturity. Big Thing! of 1988 had none of the MTV audience and none of the back-handed compliments of earlier reviews. People panned the album; "As 'mature' musicians, they're marooned." Encyclopedia of Rock summed up Duran Duran's impact on the music world in this way: "Musically, Duran Duran are no more than accomplished studio stylists, skillful welders of a host of disparate elements—hard rock, electro, white soul and, latterly, scratch and hip-hop—into an eminently commercial sound. Far more important was their marketing success, whereby they capitalized on their obvious visual attractions through the media (video and the glossy pop magazines), a technique that became increasingly important in the music industry in the Eighties." Warren Cuccurullo, formerly of the group Missing Persons, began assisting Duran Duran on guitar in 1986; he became a permanent member of the group in 1990.

Liberty, released in 1990, was another of Duran Duran's efforts to renew their past success. This time the band combined "everything from disco to guitar rock, Motown, Philly soul, and new wave," according to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide, creating an album that was stylistically confusing and helped to continue the band's falling sales. The greatest hits compilation Decade: Greatest Hits was also released that year and would eventually earn platinum sales in May of 1998.

The group's fortunes changed, though, in 1993 with the release of what was considered a comeback album, Duran Duran (The Wedding Album). The album topped the charts at number three and went platinum in June of 1993, powered by the hit singles "Ordinary World," which hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and "Come Undone," which charted in the top ten. The album also achieved broad international success, landing among the top-ten selling records in Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina. The group toured and was also featured in an MTV Unplugged special.

Thank You, what MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide referred to as a "bizarre" covers album, followed in 1995. Duran Duran's ode to their influences "killed the momentum again," according to MusicHound Rock, eroding the resurgent popularity brought about by Duran Duran (The Wedding Album). "The idea was to do songs that we wish we'd written," Rhodes told Entertainment Weekly. Medazzaland was released in 1997, minus the contribution of John Taylor, who left the group that year to start a new band, Terroristen. Another greatest hits compilation, this one entitled simply Greatest, was released in 1998. The group left the EMI/Capitol label that same year.

With Le Bon and Rhodes the only remaining members of the original lineup, the group released Pop Trash in 2000 on the Hollywood label. The album "marks a bold departure from Duran Duran's signature dance-oriented pop sound into more avant-garde musical experimentation," said Carly Hay in Billboard. "That's what I like about this album: It spans," LeBon told Hay. "This is our statement on how it feels to live a little."

In 2001, Cuccurullo left to re-form Missing Persons, and all five of the original members of Duran Duran reunited to begin work on a new album. At first, Duran Duran had trouble getting signed to a new contract. "Every time we sidled up to a record label, the chief executives would get fired, or the company would be cannibalized by a bigger company," Rhodes explained to Europe Intelligence Wire's Robert Sandall. Duran Duran also had to deal with being considered has-beens. While writing and recording, the band played periodic shows in Japan, the United States, and other countries. On August 28, 2003, the band received a MTV Video Music Award for lifetime achievement. On February 17, 2004, Duran Duran received the BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. At the award ceremony, they played a selection of their hits, receiving resounding applause. In April of that year, the band launched an arena tour of the United Kingdom, their first full-blown tour with the original lineup in 18 years. The concerts were completely sold-out, helping prove that the band still had a faithful fan base. "It says something that 18 years after the original line-up disbanded, the mere mention of their name can reduce grown women to a state of teenaged hysteria," declared Europe Intelligence Wire's Jeff Magill. "But Duran Duran were the quintessential pop band. They had the good looks, sharp style, and brilliant music required to elevate them to iconic status, where they remain today." After noticing how much public support Duran Duran received, Don Ienner, the head of Sony Music Label Group, signed them to a worldwide contract in 2004. "These guys are very current," Ienner told Entertainment Weekly's Nicholas Fonseca. "They're not just a nostalgia band coming out and playing their history. They want to finish what they started."

In June of 2004, Duran Duran announced plans to release their first new album with this lineup since 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger. The album's first single, "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise," climbed the charts, prior to the album's release. After working on the album for more than three years, the band released Astronaut in October of 2004. Two versions were released: a CD-only version and a limited-edition CD/DVD package that included footage from the band's sold-out April of 2004 show at London's Wembley Arena. Co-produced by Don Gilmore (Linkin Park) and Dallas Austin (Boyz II Men), the album was a return to the band's new-wave sound. "We were very adamant that this has to be classic Duran Duran music," John Taylor told Fonseca in Entertainment Weekly. "But it also had to be modern. It took us several years to strike that balance." According to the Washington Times' Scott Galupo, the album is "better than anything put out under the band's moniker in more than a decade [and is] among the year's best improbable comeback albums." With the renewed interest in the band, John Taylor told Europe Intelligence Wire's Magill that the band just wants to please the fans. "It's not about the money, you know. We just want to make a difference, I suppose, even if it's just in a few people's lives for one night. That's all a musician can hope for."

Selected discography

Duran Duran

Duran Duran, Harvest, 1981.

Rio, Capitol, 1982.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Capitol, 1983.

Arena, Capitol, 1984.

Notorious, Capitol, 1987.

Big Thing!, Capitol, 1988.

Decade: Greatest Hits, Capitol, 1990.

Liberty, Alliance, 1990.

Duran Duran (The Wedding Album), Capitol, 1993.

Thank You, Capitol, 1995.

Medazzaland, Capitol, 1997.

Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran (remixes), EMI/Capitol, 1998.

Greatest, Capitol, 1998.

Pop Trash, Hollywood, 2000.

The Singles 81-85 (box set), Capitol, 2003.

Astronaut, Epic Records/Sony Music, 2004.

(Contributor) Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (soundtrack), Capitol, 2004.

The Singles, Vol. 2 (1986-1995) (box set), EMI, 2004.

Andy Taylor (solo)

Thunder, MCA, 1987.

Dangerous, A&M, 1990.

Arcadia

So Red the Rose, Capitol, 1985.

John Taylor (solo)

(Contributor) 9 1/2 Weeks (soundtrack), Capitol, 1988.

(With Neurotic Outsiders) Neurotic Outsiders, Maverick, 1996.

Feelings Are Good & Other Lies, Revolver, 1997.

Techno for Two (Japanese import), Cutti, 2001.

Power Station

The Power Station, Capitol, 1985.

Living in Fear, Chrysalis, 1996.

Sources

Books

Graff, Gary, and Daniel Durchholz, editors, Music-Hound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, second edition, Visible Ink, 1999.

Hardy, Phil, and Dave Laing, Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer, 1988.

Periodicals

Amusement Business, November 2, 1998.

Billboard, June 26, 1993; May 6, 2000; February 21, 2004, p. 49; February 28, 2004, p. 7; October 2, 2004, p. 5; October 23, 2004, p. 46.

Billboard Bulletin, November 25, 2003.

Entertainment Weekly, April 14, 1995; August 1, 2003; September 5, 2003; October 15, 2004, pp. 34-37.

Europe Intelligence Wire, February 20, 2004; April 5, 2004; September 17, 2004.

Herald, August 25, 1984.

Hollywood Reporter, August 29, 2003.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, February 10, 2004.

People, July 22, 1985; November 7, 1988; October 25, 2004, pp. 128-30; November 1, 2004, p. 37.

Rolling Stone, February 2, 1984; January 16, 1986; January 29, 1987.

UPI NewsTrack, June 16, 2004.

Washington Times, October 15, 2004, p. D7.

Online

"Duran Duran," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (April 5, 2005).

Duran Duran Official Website, http://www.duranduran.com (April 5, 2005).

"Duran Duran," Recording Academy, http://www.grammy.com/awards/search/index.aspx (April 5, 2005).

"Duran Duran," Recording Industry Association of America, http://www.riaa.com/gp/database/search_results.asp (April 5, 2005).

"Duran Duran to be Honoured with the 'Outstanding Contribution' at the BRIT Awards in 2004," BRIT Awards, http://www.brits.co.uk/2003/press/release.php?releaseID=32 (April 5, 2005).

—David Collins

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