13 THINGS YOU GENUINELY NEVER KNEW ABOUTÖ
No, we can barely believe that Duran Duran are still going, but the New Romantic "pioneers" are back this week with a new album, Pop Trash, and an even wider face for lead singer Simon Le Bon. Hey - here are 13 things you genuinely never knew about the
formerly foppish, lavender-scented dandies.
- Everyone in the western world knows the name Duran Duran was inspired by one of the characters in 60s sci-fi/sex movie Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. John Taylor (real name Nigel John Taylor) and Nick Rhodes (Nicholas James Bates) were drinking in Birmingham pub The Hole In The Wall when they came up with the name. Rhodes says: "It was individual. It could become us; we didn't want a name that meant anything else."
- The original line-up was Nick Rhodes - wasp synth, rhythm unit; John Taylor - lead guitar; Stephen "Tin-Tin" Duffy - vocals and occasional bass guitar; and Simon Colley - bass and (snigger) clarinet. "Tin Tin" and "Clarinet Boy" would leave to form Subterranean Hawks, a short-lived project which would see "Tin Tin" go solo - and spend the next 25 years kicking himself in the shins.
- As Duran Duran become resident band at Birmingham nightclub Rum Runner (that's "Rum" - not "Rim"), new recruits to the cause include Andy Wickett on vocals and Roger Taylor (none of the Taylors are related), who would become the drummer, moving non-brother (?) John to bass. Andy Taylor also joins up on guitars, as does new vocalist Oliver Guy Watts - who lasts two weeks. Andy supplements his income frying burgers at the club.
LeBon, a native of North West London, studying drama at Birmingham University, is suggested as a vocalist for the band by barmaid Fiona Kemp - possibly the sister of Spandau Ballet and EastEnder Martin Kemp. He gets the job to keep him busy over the summer.
- Spotted by the London big boys, the band supports Hazel "where she now?" O'Connor and signs a deal with EMI records. Debut album Duran Duran is released in 1981, containing the song which would shoot them to the tabloid front pages - Girls On Film, a tune which had been around since the dawn of the band, and had been rewritten by each successive line-up, until Simon's version stuck.
- Girls On Film arguably made the band. After Godley and Creme directed a soft-porn video for the song, featuring mud-wrestling boobie girls, pop video station MTV banned it - causing much outrage. "It was damned by the British press," says Simon. "It was the best coverage we'd had so far!". Nick Rhodes chimes in: "More people heard about the video because they couldn't see it than if they had been able to see it." The official line from the band is that it's "tastefully smutty". Nick Rhodes' mum complains she gets phonecalls asking how she could let her son be involved in such filth (which would probably be hard pushed to outrage anyone these days and be given a PG rating).
- Follow-up album Rio broke the band in the USA, spawning hit singles Hungry Like The Wolf, Save A Prayer and the title track. Seven And The Ragged Tiger followed, seeing Duran Duran peak their success in 1984 with gruelling world tours and an appearance on TV show Pop Quiz opposite deadly New Romantic rivals Spandau Ballet. When the show finished in a tie, the bands took it outside and had a fight in the car park with broken bottles and nunchakas (not true).
- The band's movie Arena (subtitled An Absurd Notion), backed with a live album, had an "amusing" plot. The real Duran Duran (from Barbarella) had heard people on Earth calling his name so returned to his home planet. On arriving, he found the whole planet was in fact chanting for the band! So Dr Duran went about taking his revenge. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds.
- 1985 saw the band split into two, though they would reform to do one last single with the best-known line-up. Andy and John formed Power Station with Robert Palmer, while Simon, Nick and Roger formed Arcadia. John Taylor, a huge Bond fan, bumped into Bond movie guru Chubby Broccoli (one of the best-named people in history) at a post-Wimbledon tennis tournament hosted by Michael Caine. He explains: "I love all the Bond trivia and I ended up giving him a real ear-bashing saying 'when are you going to have another decent theme tune?'. Next day, he called me up, and I met the production staff and gave them my sales pitch." The result was A View To A Kill, the video featuring Simon LeBon in a beret being blown-up on the Eiffel Tower. They also played Live Aid in the summer of '85 with a four-song set, their last live appearance with Andy and Roger, the Taylor non-twins.
- In 1986, Andy and Roger Taylor quit the group citing the pressures of fame, leaving a core of Simon, Nick and John. On the Notorious tour of 1987, fans got a first glimse of Warren Cuccurullo, a NYC-based axe-man-style guitarist who filled in for Andy. But the bubble had burst. None of the next three albums shifted too many copies and the critics' knives were out - Notorious, Big Thing (1989) and Liberty (1990) were increasing less interesting. Warren eventually joined the band full time for the Liberty album.
- Despite the relative success of single Ordinary World, Duran Duran's next album, Duran Duran - also known as The Wedding Album - bedecked as it is with the wedding photos of the band members' parents, saw a brief glimmer of hope, before the ill-advised covers album Thank You in 1994. You just don't cover Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's "White Lines" or Public Enemy's "911 Is A Joke", do you? Especially if you're Duran Duran. John Taylor left in 1997 to form his own record label, leaving the band as a three-piece.
- Solo projects from current and former members include John Taylor's Feelings Are Good And Other Lies and Audo Didact, and Warren's Thanks To Frank and Machine Language. Warren has also been working with Nick Rhodes on a four-part musical: Bored With Prozac And The Internet.
- More video scandal follwed in 1997 for the single Electric Barbarella from the album Medazzaland. The video saw the band buy a robot maid who works for them around the house, serving drinks and cleaning up - before her batteries run low and she wrecks the place. MTV pulled it, saying it was in bad taste and sexually explicit. Other critics just thought it was lame. The band edited the video, adding cursors poking fun at cyber sex sites, but nobody cared. Another greatest hits album - Greatest - was released, but everyone already had Decade (which was released in 1990), and nobody liked any of the songs released after then anyway. The end.
Pop Trash is out now.