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Duran Duran live at the ACC, Toronto, in 2005. Left to right: John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Simon Le Bon, and Nick Rhodes
|Origin||Birmingham, England, United Kingdom|
|Genres||New Wave, pop rock, synthpop|
|Labels||Capitol, EMI, Parlophone, Virgin, Epic, Hollywood, Tapemodern, Allido|
|Associated acts||Arcadia, Power Station, TV Mania, Neurotic Outsiders, The Devils, Robert Palmer, Mark Ronson|
|Members|| Nick Rhodes
Simon Le Bon
|Past members|| Andy Taylor
Duran Duran are an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1978. They were one of the most successful bands of the 1980s and a leading band in the MTV-driven " Second British Invasion" of the United States. Since the 1980s, they have placed 14 singles in the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart and 21 in the Billboard Hot 100 and have, according to the Sunday Mercury, sold more than 100 million records.
While they were generally considered part of the New Romantic scene along with bands such as Spandau Ballet when they first emerged, they later shed this image. The band worked with fashion designers to build a sharp and elegant image that earned them the nickname "the prettiest boys in rock." The band has won a number of awards throughout their career, including two Grammy Awards, two Brit Awards—receiving the award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, an MTV Video Music Award—the Lifetime Achievement Award, and were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The band's controversial videos, which included partial nudity and suggestions of sexuality, became popular in the early 1980s on the then-new music video channel MTV. Duran Duran were among the first bands to have their videos shot by professional directors with 35 mm film movie cameras, which gave their videos a much more polished look. In 1984, the band were early innovators with video technology in their live stadium shows.
The group was formed by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, with the later addition of Roger Taylor and, after numerous personnel changes, Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon.
The group has never disbanded, but the line-up has changed to include guitarist Warren Cuccurullo from 1986 to 2001 and drummer Sterling Campbell from 1987 to 1991. The reunion of the original five members in the early 2000s created a stir among the band's fans and music media. Andy Taylor left the band once again in mid-2006, and London guitarist Dom Brown has since been working with the band as a session player and touring member.
1978–1980: Formation and early years
John Taylor and Nick Rhodes formed Duran Duran in Birmingham in 1978, where they would become the resident band at the city's Rum Runner nightclub. At the club they were doing jobs such as John working the door and with Nick deejaying for £10 a night. They began rehearsing and regularly playing at the venue. There were many nearby nightclubs, and the one "significant" one, where bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash played gigs, was called Barbarella's. They would go on to name the band after the villain from Barbarella, Roger Vadim's French science-fiction film. The villain, played by Milo O'Shea, is named "Dr. Durand Durand".
The band's first singer was Stephen Duffy. Simon Colley soon joined Taylor, Rhodes and Duffy. Colley was the band's original bass player, as John Taylor was the guitarist at this point. This was the first complete line-up of the band that played live shows. For drums and percussion, an electronic drum machine belonging to Rhodes was used. Colley left the band prior to the addition of Andy Taylor. A few guitarists were subsequently auditioned (for the most part, unsuccessfully) as well as handful of vocalists after Duffy left Duran Duran early in 1979. Among the handful of vocalists they had prior to Simon Le Bon was Andy Wickett, who had a major part in the writing of " Girls on Film" during his tenure with the band, according to Andy Taylor's autobiography. (Wickett is also featured on some of the demos that were presented to EMI.) According to both Wickett's and John Taylor's websites, Wickett co-wrote an early version of the song that came to be known as " Rio". Upon Colley and Wickett's departures, the band enlisted singer Jeff Thomas and guitarist Alan Curtis, each for only a relatively brief period, before finally settling on Andy Taylor for lead guitar and Le Bon for vocals in 1980.
The meeting of drummer Roger Taylor in 1979 with John Taylor, Rhodes and Wickett at a party, as well as the departure of Colley, led John Taylor to switch to bass. Roger Taylor then became their original (human) drummer. It was this line-up (John Taylor on bass and guitar along with Rhodes, Wickett and Roger Taylor) that made the first-ever Duran Duran studio demo tapes. In April 1980, guitarist Andy Taylor came from Newcastle to audition after responding to an advertisement in Melody Maker. In May 1980, London vocalist Simon Le Bon was recommended to the band by an ex-girlfriend who worked at the Rum Runner. The owners of the club, brothers Paul and Michael Berrow, became the band's management, paying them to work as doormen, disc jockeys and busboys when they were not rehearsing.
The group were generally considered part of the New Romantic scene, with other style-and-dance bands such as Spandau Ballet, Japan and ABC. In 1980, they recorded two demo tapes and performed in clubs around Birmingham and London. In late 1980, when touring as an opening act for Hazel O'Connor, the band attracted critical attention, resulting in a bidding war between the record companies EMI and Phonogram Records. "A certain patriotism" toward the label of The Beatles led them to sign with EMI in December;
Duran Duran were amongst the earliest bands to work on their own remixes. Before the days of digital synthesisers and easy audio sampling, they created multi-layered arrangements of their singles, sometimes recording entirely different extended performances of the songs in the studio. These "night versions" were generally available only on vinyl as b-sides to 45-rpm singles or on 12-inch club singles until the release of the compilation Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran in 1999.
From the very beginning of their career together, all the band members had a keen sense of visual style. They worked with stylist Perry Haines and fashion designers such as Kahn & Bell and Antony Price to build a sharp and elegant image, soon outgrowing the ruffles and sashes of the pirate-flavoured early New Romantic look that had been popularised by Adam and the Ants during 1980–81. They have continued to present fashion as part of their package throughout their career. In the 1990s they worked with Vivienne Westwood, and in the 2000s with Giorgio Armani. The band retained creative control of their visual presentation and worked closely with graphic designer Malcolm Garrett and many others over the years to create album covers, tour programs and other materials.
All five members of the band were photogenic and were labelled "the prettiest boys in rock" by People magazine. Teen and music magazines in the UK latched onto their good looks quickly, and the US soon followed. It was a rare month in the early 1980s when there was not at least one picture of the band members in teen magazines such as Smash Hits or Tiger Beat. John Taylor once remarked that the band was "like a box of Quality Street [chocolates]; everyone is someone's favourite" Duran Duran later came to regret this early pin-up exposure, but at the time it helped attract national attention. In an interview with Rock Fever Superstars Magazine in early 1988, John Taylor stated:
We used to be a very chi-chi name to drop in '79, but then the Fab Five hype started and something went wrong. Something went really wrong. That wasn't what I wanted. [...] Not that I didn't like being screamed at. At one point I really did."
The band's first album, Duran Duran was released on the EMI label in 1981. The first single, " Planet Earth", reached the United Kingdom's Top 20 at Number 12. A follow-up, " Careless Memories", stalled at Number 37. However, it was their third single, "Girls On Film", that attracted the most attention. The song went to Number 5 in the UK. The video, featuring topless women mud wrestling, pillow fighting and stylised depictions of other sexual fetishes, was made with directing duo Godley & Creme in August. The video was filmed just two weeks after MTV was launched in the United States. The band expected the " Girls On Film" video to be played in the newer nightclubs that had video screens or on pay TV channels like the Playboy Channel. Kevin Godley explained the thinking behind it:
We were very explicitly told by Duran Duran's management to make a very sensational and erotic piece that would be for clubs, where it would get shown uncensored just to make people take notice and talk about it.
The video was heavily edited for MTV. The album peaked in the UK Top Twenty at Number 3. Later in 1981 the band embarked on their first United States club tour followed by more dates in Germany and the UK. This second tour of Britain coincided with a wave of riots sparked by unemployment and racial tension, including those of Moss Side and Toxteth. The band played an eerily quiet Birmingham the day after the Handsworth riots. Duran Duran began to achieve worldwide recognition in 1982. In May they released their second album, Rio, which scored four UK Top Twenty singles with " My Own Way", " Hungry Like The Wolf", " Save A Prayer", and the title song " Rio". A headlining tour of Australia, Japan, and the US was followed by a stint supporting Blondie during that band's final American tour. Diana, Princess of Wales declared Duran Duran her favourite band, and the band were dubbed "The Fab Five" by the British press, comparing them to the Beatles whose nickname was The Fab Four.
At first, the Rio album did not do well in the United States. EMI in the UK had promoted Duran Duran as a New Romantic band but that genre was barely known in the US, and EMI's American subsidiary Capitol Records was at a loss about how to sell them. After Carnival, an EP of Rio's dance remixes became popular with DJs in the fall, the band arranged to have most of the album remixed by David Kershenbaum. In June 1982, Duran Duran appeared for the first time on American television. They energetically performed "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Rio" on Dancin' On Air, the forerunner to the national hit show Dance Party USA. Michael Nise, executive producer of both shows, recalls how shy the "boys" were and how they kidded each other about how bad they looked on TV.
Only after it was re-released in the US in November, with heavy promotion as a dance album, did Rio begin to climb the American charts six months after its European success. MTV placed "Hungry Like The Wolf" and several other Duran Duran videos into heavy rotation, pushing it, and "Rio," into the top twenty on the US charts in early 1983. The seduction ballad "Save A Prayer" also did well. "The band was a natural for music television," noted Rolling Stone magazine. "They may be the first rock group to ride in on a video wave." In the end, the album peaked at number 6 in the US and remained on the charts there for 129 weeks — almost two and a half years. In 2003 Rio was listed at number 65 in the NME 100 Greatest Albums of All Time.
1983–1985: The "Fab Five"
The band began 1983 by playing the MTV New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball with "Hungry Like The Wolf" still climbing the charts in the US, and the American reissue of the "Rio" single to follow in March. To satisfy America's appetite for their music, the band re-released their eponymous first album in the US in the middle of the year with the addition of the new single " Is There Something I Should Know?". Upon its release, this song entered the chart at Number 1 in the UK (a rarity then and their first chart-topper in their home country) and reached Number 4 on the American charts. During the promotion of this album, Rhodes and Le Bon were MTV guest VJs for a show, during which artist and admirer Andy Warhol dropped by to greet them. "Our first gigs in the United States were crazy and culty,” Rhodes said later, “But when we came back after 'Hungry' was a hit, it was mayhem. It was Beatlemania. We were doing a signing of the 'Girls on Film' video at a store in Times Square. We couldn’t get out of the store. The cops sealed off the streets." Also in 1983, keyboardist Nick Rhodes produced the UK number 1 and US number 5 hit "Too Shy" for the English band Kajagoogoo and Andy Taylor became the first member of Duran Duran to get married. The band's main pop rivals were now Culture Club and Wham!. But Duran Duran's explosive popularity easily surpassed these competing bands globally.
The band spent the next year as tax exiles, writing songs at a chateau in France where The Tube with Jools Holland filmed a documentary with the band in May 1983 before they flew to Montserrat and then Sydney to record and mix their third album. During the summer, they returned to the UK to perform two concerts, the first on 20 July in front of the Prince and Princess of Wales at the Dominion Theatre, and the second, a charity concert at Aston Villa's home ground. The band were under pressure to follow up the success of Rio, and the recording process took over six months as different band members went through bouts of perfectionism and insecurity. A newly decadent lifestyle and substance abuse issues for some members added complications. In the documentary film Extraordinary World, filmed a decade later, Rhodes described the effect on their sound as "barely controlled hysteria, scratching beneath the surface".
The new album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, included the late 1983 hit " Union of the Snake" (with the soprano sax solo by Andy Hamilton). With "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Rio", "Save A Prayer" and "Is There Something I Should Know", Duran Duran now had five US Top Twenty hits from three different albums in a single year. The band made music headlines by deciding to release the "Union of the Snake" video to MTV a full week before the single was released to radio at a time when the industry feared video really might kill the radio star. They followed up with " New Moon on Monday", which reached Number 9 in the UK. Their next single " The Reflex", taken from Seven and the Ragged Tiger and given a significant remix overhaul by Nile Rodgers of Chic fame, became their first number one hit in the United States. "The Reflex" was also their second and final UK number one and was successful in numerous other countries around the world.
The band embarked on a global tour that continued throughout the first four months of 1984 including their first major stadium dates in America. A film crew led by director Russell Mulcahy followed the band closely, leading to the documentary film Sing Blue Silver and the accompanying concert film Arena. The live album Arena was also recorded during the tour and was released with the new studio single " The Wild Boys", which went to Number 2 on both sides of the Atlantic. In February 1984, the band appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and won two Grammy awards in the brand-new Long Form and Short Form music video categories. The Live version of " Save A Prayer" gained momentum in North America, and the song became a single for the second time in January 1985 reaching No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 16 March 1985. A live version of the video was used, taken from the concert video footage for Arena / As The Lights Go Down.
During this period, all of the band members became heartthrobs for many of their young teenage fans. After the tour, Roger Taylor was married in Naples, Italy, and Nick Rhodes wed in London, wearing a pink velvet tuxedo and top hat. At the end of 1984, the group were featured on the Band Aid benefit single " Do They Know It's Christmas?" along with other popular British musical acts. Simon Le Bon sang between contributions from George Michael and Sting.
1985: Side Projects
Even with Duran Duran on hold, band members were soon anxious to record new music, leading to a supposedly temporary split into two side projects. John and Andy Taylor wanted to break away from the Duran Duran sound and pursue hard rock material; they collaborated with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form the rock/funk supergroup Power Station, which released two Top 10 singles. Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, on the other hand, wanted to further explore Duran Duran's atmospheric aspect and formed Arcadia, who released one LP from which the single "Election Day" was released. Roger Taylor was primarily the drummer for Arcadia, but also contributed percussion to the Power Station album. Duran Duran were never the same after this break. According to Rhodes, the two side projects "were commercial suicide... But we’ve always been good at that." The band were still off balance when they regrouped to contribute A View to a Kill to the 1985 James Bond movie of the same name. This single remains the only Bond theme to go to Number 1 on the US charts, and the joint highest-placed Bond theme on the UK chart where it reached Number 2. It was the last single the band recorded as the original five-piece close to twenty years.
As a follow-up to the Christmas 1984 Band Aid single, Duran Duran performed in front of 90,000 people (and an estimated 1.5 billion TV viewers) at the Live Aid charity concert at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 13 July 1985 while their Bond song held the top spot on the American charts. It was not intended to be a farewell performance—the band planned only to take a break after four years of non-stop touring and public appearances—but the original five did not play live together again until July 2003. Their Live Aid set became infamous for Le Bon inadvertently hitting a falsetto note in the chorus of A View to a Kill, which he later described as the most humiliating moment of his career.
1986–1989: Departures of Andy and Roger Taylor; Le Bon, Rhodes and John Taylor trio
After releasing three studio albums and one live album in five years, each accompanied by heavy media promotion and lengthy concert tours, the band lost two of its core members to fatigue and tension in 1986. After Live Aid and Arcadia, drummer Roger Taylor retired to the English countryside, suffering from exhaustion. This was originally announced as a one year sabbatical, but it soon became clear that he would not be returning to the band. An official press release was issued in April 1986 confirming his departure. In a 2004 interview with Live Daily, Roger confirmed his reasons for leaving: "I was burned out. I think I was just exhausted. It was a very intense five years. We didn't stop. It was constant touring, constant writing, recording. We broke internationally, as well—instantly, pretty well. It's a nonstop schedule, really. I had lost myself somewhere".
Guitarist Andy Taylor, on the other hand, led the remaining members to believe he would return to work on a new Duran Duran album even as he was signing a solo recording contract in Los Angeles (he eventually released a solo album in 1986, Thunder). The band resorted to legal measures to get him into the studio, but after numerous delays, they let him go at last. He played on only a few songs on the next album while the disagreements were being settled.
Without a guitarist or a drummer, the three remaining members, Le Bon, Rhodes, and John Taylor had producer (and former Chic guitarist) Nile Rodgers play a few tracks on guitar, and hired Steve Ferrone to play drums while they searched for replacements. Finally in September 1986, Warren Cuccurullo (formerly of Missing Persons and Frank Zappa's touring band) was hired as a session guitarist. With Le Bon, Rhodes, and Taylor, he recorded the rest of the Notorious album, which was released in October 1986. The black-and-white documentary film Three To Get Ready chronicled the recording of the album, legal tensions, and preparations for the tour.
Although the song " Notorious" went to Number 2 in the US, Number 7 in the UK, and album sales were strong, the band found they had lost much of the momentum and hysteria they had left behind in 1985. In the three years between the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious, many of their teenage fans had grown up, and the music was funkier, more mature, and less "pop", given the added experience of their work on Arcadia and Power Station and with other musicians. " Skin Trade" and " Meet El Presidente", the two subsequent singles, made the charts but fared poorly compared to the band's earlier successes. Finally in late 1987, Sterling Campbell was hired as a session drummer.
Subsequently, Duran Duran struggled to escape the teen idol image and gain respect among critics with more complex music. The new serious image was not accepted at first and their popularity began to wane. Rolling Stone said, "In their search for musical maturity, the surviving Durans have lost a good deal of their identity." Another factor was the band's dismissal of early managers the Berrow brothers. There was no announcement of the reasons for the decision, but disagreements over money, and the brothers’ involvement in Le Bon's yachting adventures (they were co-owners of Drum) were thought to have played a part. Whatever the reason, Duran Duran switched managers frequently and undertook periods of self-management in the later stages of their career. In addition, EMI (which fired its president and went through a major corporate restructuring that summer) seemed to have lost interest in promoting the band.
The next album Big Thing (1988) yielded the singles " I Don't Want Your Love" (Number 4 in the US), " Do You Believe in Shame?" and " All She Wants Is" (the last top ten hit in the UK until 1993). The record was experimental, mixing influences from house music and rave music with Duran's atmospheric synthpop and the creative guitar work of Cuccurullo (now a full band member), as well as more mature lyrics.
1989–1991: Five again, Decade and Liberty
By the end of 1989 and at the start of the 1990s, the popularity of synthpop was fading a bit and losing fans to other momentum-gaining music genres at the time, such as hip hop, techno and alternative rock. After touring for the album finished, the band regained a five-man membership as guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and tour drummer Sterling Campbell were made full members of Duran Duran.
The compilation album Decade: Greatest Hits was released late in 1989, along with the megamix single " Burning The Ground", which consisted of woven snippets of the band's hits from the previous ten years. The single came and went with little fanfare, but the album became another major seller for the band. However, the tepid 1990 release Liberty (a retreat from the experimentation of Big Thing) failed to capitalise on any regained momentum. The album entered the UK album chart in the top ten, but faded away quickly. The singles " Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" and " Serious" were only mildly successful, and the album's soft rock did not fare well against contemporaries like Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction, while Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the grunge revolution were just around the corner. For the first time, Duran Duran did not tour in support of an album, performing on only a handful of club dates and TV shows. Sterling Campbell left the band early in 1991, going on to work with Soul Asylum and David Bowie. The quartet of Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, and Cuccurullo would remain intact for six more years. In December 1991, John Taylor (then 31) married 19-year-old model/actress Amanda De Cadenet, and she gave birth to his daughter in March 1992.
1992–1996: Departure of Sterling Campbell, Quartet line-up and a brief comeback
In 1993, the band released a second self-titled album: this Duran Duran album is known as The Wedding Album (for Nick Egan's cover art featuring the wedding photos of the band members' parents) to distinguish it from the 1981 release. The release of this first "comeback" album was delayed, with then manager at Left Bank, Tommy Manzi, later telling HitQuarters that this was due to industry resistance to the revival of the band, whom he said would rather focus on "the next hip band". Listener demand for leaked single " Ordinary World" forced it onto radio playlists months earlier than planned; it reached Number 3 on the US chart and Number 6 in the UK and won a prestigious Ivor Novello Award award for song writing. " Come Undone", a slinky number primarily written by Cuccurullo, with lyrics by Le Bon, made Number 7 in the US and Number 13 in the UK. Both the band and the record label seemed to be caught by surprise by the album's critical and commercial success (No. 4 in the UK, No. 7 in the U.S.). Bassist John Taylor had been considering leaving the band but changed his mind. The band's largest tour ever, which included stops in the Middle East, the then recently de-embargoed South Africa, and South America, was halted after seven months when Le Bon suffered from strained vocal cords. After six weeks' recuperation, the band performed intermittently for another five months, including appearances in Israel, Thailand, and Indonesia.
In 1995, the band released the cover album Thank You. Songs from Thank You included covers of Lou Reed's " Perfect Day" and Melle Mel's " White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)" (with backing vocals from the original artists). The album also marked the temporary return of former drummer Roger Taylor, who joined the band in studio to play drums on "Watching The Detectives" and "Perfect Day" (as well as a cover of "Jeepster" by T. Rex that did not appear on the album). In a video interview provided with the album's electronic press kit, Reed said he considered Duran Duran's version the best cover ever done of one of his songs, and they received praise from Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for their cover of Led Zeppelin's " Thank You."
After the promo tour for Thank You was completed, John Taylor co-founded the B5 Records label and recorded a solo album, founded and toured with the supergroup Neurotic Outsiders, and reunited the Power Station, though the project proceeded without him when he had to withdraw to deal with his divorce from De Cadenet. Finally, after struggling for months to record the next album, Medazzaland, in January 1997, Taylor announced at the DuranCon fan convention that he was leaving the band "for good". His departure reduced the band to two original members (Le Bon and Rhodes) and Cuccurullo, who decided to continue recording under the name Duran Duran.
1997–2000: John Taylor departs, results in second trio
Freed from some internal writing conflicts, the band returned to the studio to rewrite and re-record many of the songs on Medazzaland. (Taylor's work remains on only four tracks.) This album marked a return to the layered experimentation of Big Thing, with intricate guitar textures and processed vocals. The track " Out of My Mind" was used as the theme song for the movie The Saint, but the only true single to be released in the United States was the quirky " Electric Barbarella", which was the first single ever to be sold on-line. The video for this single, featuring a sexy robot purchased and played with by band members, had to be censored before airing on MTV, but there was little of the controversy that had surrounded "Girls On Film". "Barbarella" peaked at No. 52 in the US in October 1997. Although Medazzaland was released in the US in October 1997, the album was never released in the UK. "Barbarella" was later released in the UK as a single from the 1998 Greatest compilation album and peaked at No. 23 on the UK chart in January 1999. The group played a set at The Princess Diana Tribute Concert on 27 June 1998 by special request of her family.
Duran Duran parted ways with Capitol/EMI in 1999, although the label has since used Duran Duran's back catalogue to release several compilations of remixes and rare vinyl-only b-sides. The band then signed what was intended to be a three-album contract with Disney's Hollywood Records, but it lasted only through the poorly received 2000 album Pop Trash. This slow-paced and heavy album seemed out-of-keeping with earlier band material. Rhodes' intricate production and Cuccurullo's songwriting and experimentation with guitar sounds and time signatures were not enough to hook the public, and the album did not perform well. The dreamy single " Someone Else Not Me" lasted barely two weeks on the radio, although its video was noted as the first to be produced entirely with Flash animation. While supporting Medazzaland and Pop Trash, Duran Duran toured with bassist Wes Wehmiller and drummer Joe Travers.
2001–2006: Reunion of original line-up
In 2000, Le Bon approached John Taylor with a proposal to reform Duran Duran's classic line-up. They agreed, and after completing the Pop Trash tour fired Cuccurullo by letter. Cuccurullo then announced on his website that he was leaving Duran Duran to resume work with his 1980s band Missing Persons. This announcement was confirmed the next day by Duran Duran's website, followed a day later by the news that John, Roger, and Andy Taylor had rejoined. To fulfill contractual obligations, Cuccurullo played three Duran Duran concerts in Japan in June 2001, ending his tenure in the band.
Throughout 2001, 2002 and 2003, the band worked on writing new material, initially renting a house in St. Tropez where sound engineer Mark Tinley built a recording studio for their first serious writing session. They then returned to London to do some self-financed work with various producers (including old friend Nile Rodgers) and search for a new record deal. It proved difficult to find a record label willing to gamble on the band's comeback, so Duran Duran went on tour to prove the drawing power of the reunited band. The response of the fans and the media exceeded expectations. The band played a handful of 25th-anniversary dates in July 2003. Tickets sold out for each show within minutes, and celebrities turned out en masse for reunion shows booked at small venues the band had played on their first trip to America in 1981. In August, the band were booked as presenters at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, only to be surprised with a Lifetime Achievement Award. They also received a Lifetime Achievement award from Q Magazine in October, and the equivalent Outstanding Contribution award at the BRIT Awards in February 2004.
The pace picked up with a sold-out tour of America, Australia and New Zealand. The band played a full concert at a private tailgate party at Super Bowl XXXVIII, their performance of "The Wild Boys" broadcast to millions during the pre-game show. A remix of the new track " (Reach Up for the) Sunrise" was released on many TV shows in February while magazines hailed (the modern "Fab Five") Duran Duran as one of the greatest bands of all time. Duran Duran then celebrated their homecoming to the UK with fourteen stadium dates in April 2004, including five sold-out nights at Wembley Arena. The British press, traditionally hostile to the band, accorded the shows some very warm reviews. Duran Duran brought along band Goldfrapp, as opening acts for this tour. The last two shows were filmed, resulting in the concert DVD Duran Duran: Live From London which was released in November.
Finally, with more than thirty-five songs completed, the band signed a four-album contract with Epic Records in June, and completed the new album, now entitled Astronaut. The album was released in October 2004 and entered the UK charts at Number 3 and the US charts at Number 17. The first single was " (Reach Up for the) Sunrise", which reached Number 1 on the Billboard US. Dance Chart in November and peaked at number 5 on the UK singles chart, Duran Duran's highest chart position since "A View To a Kill" in 1985. A second single, " What Happens Tomorrow", debuted at No. 11 on the UK charts in February. A 5.1 mix of Astronaut was created by Jeremy Wheatley for the dual-disc release of Astronaut. The CD side contains the album as-is and the DVD side contains the 5.1 mix of the album in DVD Audio format along with some DVD footage and videos.
After a world tour in early 2005, Duran Duran headlined the massive Live 8 concert, Rome on 2 July 2005 in the Circus Maximus.
2006–2008: Red Carpet Massacre; second departure of Andy Taylor results in second quartet
In early 2006, Duran Duran covered John Lennon's song " Instant Karma!" for the Make Some Noise campaign sponsored by Amnesty International. Their version later appeared on Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur as an iTunes exclusive bonus track. They also performed at two high profile events — the Nobel Prize Awards and the 2006 Winter Olympics. After a couple of weeks of songwriting in Northern California, the band began working with producer Michael Patterson in London, and continued intermittently for the next several months. At one point, they reported having fifteen tracks nearly complete for an album tentatively titled Reportage, but no further news emerged from the band for months afterward. The lost album supposedly had an edge, and wasn't released due to legal problems with the again departed Andy Taylor. In September, the band held meetings in New York City with Justin Timberlake and producer Timbaland with an eye to a potential collaboration and were soon reported to have completed three songs with the producer, including a duet with Justin Timberlake.
On 25 October 2006, Duran Duran parted company with Andy Taylor for the second time. In an official announcement on their website A Message To Our Fans, Duran Duran stated that an "unworkable gulf" had developed between them and Taylor and that "we can no longer effectively function together". It was noted by Andy Taylor in his book "Wild Boy" that tensions had arisen between the group's management and himself, and he was also diagnosed with clinical depression connected with the death of his father. Dom Brown, who had previously toured with the band, took over guitar duties and has been performing with them since. After Taylor's departure, the band scrapped the Reportage album and wrote and recorded a new album which included the Timbaland tracks. Dom Brown is the featured guitarist.
In July 2007, the band performed twice at Wembley Stadium, at the Concert for Diana and at Live Earth concert, London. On 25 September, the Timberlake collaboration " Falling Down" was released as a download single on iTunes, and the band announced that they would play nine shows at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway to launch the album Red Carpet Massacre. The album launch was later extended to incorporate a show in London on 3 December 2007 and one in Dublin on 5 December 2007.
In May 2008, they toured the US leg of their 2008 world tour and were supported by fellow British quintet Your Vegas. In June 2008, they played the Louvre in Paris in a fundraising effort that contributed to the restoration of a magnificent Louis XV drawing room. Guests dined, privately viewed some of the museum’s artworks, then attended a performance by the band in the I.M. Pei-designed Pyramid du Louvre. The group’s performance marked a first for both the band members and the 18th century museum (which had never before allowed a rock concert to occur anywhere within the grounds or buildings).
On 2 July in Paris, Mark Ronson performed a unique live set with Duran Duran for an exclusive, invitation-only performance. Together, they showcased specially re-worked versions of some of Duran Duran's classic hits re-created by Ronson, along with tracks from the band's new album, Red Carpet Massacre. Simon Le Bon also performed songs from Ronson's latest album, Version, as one of Ronson's featured guest vocalists. Unlike the band's previous album Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre sold poorly and received mixed responses from the music press. In 2008, Rio was included in the Classic Albums series.
2009–present: All You Need is Now
The band split from Epic Records in 2009, after releasing just 2 albums. In early 2010, it was revealed that the band would be contributing a cover of "Boys Keep Swinging" to a tribute/charity record for David Bowie called We Were So Turned On from which all profits go to War Child with Carla Bruni, Devendra Banhart, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Warpaint and several others also contributing. The album was released on 14 September 2010 on Manimal Vinyl Records. A limited edition split 7" single with Duran Duran and Carla Bruni was also released on Manimal Vinyl in December 2010.
In November 2010, Duran Duran announced the worldwide release of their 13th studio album, entitled All You Need Is Now on indie label S-Curve Records. The album was produced by the Grammy Award-winning Mark Ronson and mixed by Spike Stent, and was released exclusively on iTunes on 21 December 2010 and hit the No. 1 spot on download charts in 15 countries (including the UK). The first single from the record, title track “All You Need Is Now”, was free to download worldwide on 8 December 2010 exclusively in iTunes. Guitarist and songwriter Dom Brown has co-written all but 2 songs on the "All You Need Is Now" album. In March 2011 the band embarked on a concert tour in support of the album – called All You Need Is Now Tour. After a warm-up show in London, the tour officially began 16 March 2011 in Austin, Texas.
The expanded physical album and various format special packages was released in March 2011, the 30th anniversary of the band's first release "Planet Earth". The CD features 14 tracks – or 5 additional tracks: "Mediterranea," "Other People's Lives," "Too Bad You're So Beautiful," "Diamond In The Mind," and "Return To Now." In a video posted 14 Feb 2011, on the band's website, Rhodes mentioned the mixing of another 4 tracks: "Too Close To the Sun," "Early Summer Nerves," "This Lost Weekend," and "Networker Nation." The album entered the UK chart at No. 11 and the Billboard chart at No. 29.
On 25 February 2011, while in Milan, Duran Duran Received Style Award. Letizia Moratti, the city’s mayor, presented the Band with a key to the city, honoured to be presented with an award recognising them as Style Icons of the 20th century.
On 23 March 2011, the band performed live at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles as the kickoff to the second season of “Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express." The concert was live-streamed on YouTube and directed by David Lynch. The band was joined onstage by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Beth Ditto of Gossip, and Kelis.
In May 2011, Le Bon contracted laryngitis leading to either cancellation or rescheduling of most of the European dates for the 'All You Need Is Now' World Tour.
On 1 May 2012, it was announced that Duran Duran would be headlining the London Summer Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony celebration in Hyde Park, which took place on 27 July. They represented England, along with Snow Patrol for Northern Ireland, Stereophonics for Wales, and Paolo Nutini for Scotland.
At the end of August 2012, with one week left of their 2-year world tour, the band were forced to cancel the rest of the North American leg of the tour. Nick Rhodes had become ill with a viral infection, and at the request of the doctors was told to rest.
The band is due to go back to the studio in February 2013 to start work on their 14th studio album, and again will work with Mark Ronson.
Although they began their career as "a group of art school, experimental, post punk rockers," the band's quick rise to stardom, polished good looks, and embrace of the teen press, almost guaranteed disfavour from music critics. During the 1980s, Duran Duran were considered the quintessential manufactured, throw-away pop group. However, according to the Sunday Herald, "To describe them, as some have, as the first boy band, misrepresents their appeal. Their weapons were never just their looks, but self-penned songs." As Moby said of the band in his website diary in 2003: "... they were cursed by what we can call the ' Bee Gees' curse, which is: 'write amazing songs, sell tons of records, and consequently incur the wrath or disinterest of the rock obsessed critical establishment.'" Some of the influences on Duran Duran included contemporary synthpop bands such as Japan and Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Several of the band's contemporaries including The Bangles, Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Paul Young and even The Monkees, have named themselves fans of the band's stylish, uplifting pop. Le Bon described the group as "the band to dance to when the bomb drops". Successors like Barenaked Ladies, Beck, Jonathan Davis of Korn, The Bravery, Gwen Stefani and Pink have all cited Duran Duran as a key band in their formative years. Singer Justin Timberlake has openly admitted to being one of their biggest fans. The newest crop of performers to name Duran Duran as influences include Dido, Franz Ferdinand, Panic! at the Disco, Lostprophets (who took their name from the title of a Duran Duran bootleg tape), Goldfrapp and Brandon Flowers of The Killers, who said, "Nick Rhodes is an absolute hero of mine — their records still sound fresh, which is no mean feat as far as synths are concerned".
Nick Rhodes has directly lent his production techniques to Kajagoogoo album White Feathers and its Number One single " Too Shy", and to The Dandy Warhols album Welcome to the Monkey House. The band's music has been used by several hip hop artists, most notably Notorious B.I.G., who sampled Duran Duran's 1986 single "Notorious". Numerous bands have covered their music on record and in concert.
Hideki Kamiya, director of the hit video game, Devil May Cry in 2005 revealed that he chose John Taylor as the model for the game's main character, Dante. Hideki carefully chose a rock star prototype possessing sex appeal, style and charisma to provide the necessary impetus into building this mighty character. Elements of power and mystery would balance out this character. During the interview, Hideki Kamiya commented that one of his teen band idols growing up was the famous 80s English band, Duran Duran. One of its members, bassist John Taylor, fit the bill as the model for Dante. Dante's character also mirrored John Taylor’s looks with his long, rocker hairstyle and mannerisms. The design of Dante’s face was inspired by John Taylor’s. And one can see that the faces are essentially the same. Interestingly, John Taylor’s rocker fashion sense contributed to Dante’s signature long length, blood-red coat flanked by dark undertones and dark accessories.
The MTV cable channel and the band were launched at about the same time, and each had a hand in propelling the other to greater heights. MTV needed showcase videos with charismatic performers. Les Garland, senior executive vice president at MTV, said "I remember our director of talent and artist relations came running in and said, “You have got to see this video that’s come in.” Duran Duran were getting zero radio airplay at the time, and MTV wanted to try to break new music. “Hungry Like the Wolf” was the greatest video I’d ever seen". The band's video work was influential in several ways. First, Duran Duran filmed in exotic locales like Sri Lanka and Antigua, creating memorable images that were radically different from the then-common low budget "band-playing-on-a-stage" videos. Second, rather than simply playing their instruments, the band participated in mini-storylines (often taking inspiration from contemporary movies: "Hungry Like The Wolf" riffs on Raiders of the Lost Ark, "The Wild Boys" on The Road Warrior, etc.). Videos were obviously headed in this direction already, but Duran Duran led the trend with a style, featuring quick editing, arresting graphic design, and surreal-to-nonsensical image inserts, that drew attention from commentators and spawned a wealth of imitators.
Duran Duran were among the first bands to have their videos shot with a professional movie camera on 35 mm film, rather than on videotape with cheaper video cameras, making them look superior to many of the quickly and inexpensively shot videos which had been MTV staples until then. MTV provided Duran Duran with access to American radio markets that were unfriendly to British music, New Wave music, or "anything with synthesisers". Because MTV was not available everywhere in the United States at first, it was easy to see a pattern: where MTV went, listener demand for Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Def Leppard and other European bands with interesting videos went through the roof.
The band's sun-drenched videos for "Rio", "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "Save A Prayer", and the surreal "Is There Something I Should Know?" were filmed by future movie director Russell Mulcahy, who made eleven videos for the band. Duran Duran have always sought out innovative directors and techniques, even in their later years when MTV gave them little airplay. In addition to Mulcahy, they have had videos filmed by influential photographers Dean Chamberlain and Ellen von Unwerth, Chinese director Chen Kaige, documentary filmmaker Julien Temple, and the Polish Brothers, among others. According to Nick Rhodes, "Video is to us like stereo was to Pink Floyd".
In 1984, the band introduced video technology into their live stadium shows by being among the first acts to provide video screens above the stage. They have recorded concerts using IMAX and 360 degree panoramic "immersive video" cameras, with 10.2 channel audio. In 2000, they experimented with augmented reality technology, which allowed three-dimensional computer-generated images to appear on stage with the band. They appeared on several century-end video countdowns: The MTV "100 Greatest Videos Ever Made" featured "Hungry Like The Wolf" at No. 11 and "Girls On Film" at No. 68, and the "VH1: 100 Greatest Videos" listed "Hungry" at No. 31 and "Rio" at No. 60. MTV named "Hungry" the fifteenth of their most-played videos of all time.
The band has released several video compilations, starting with the self-titled "video album" Duran Duran, for which they won a Grammy award, up to the 2004 two-disc DVD release Greatest, which included alternative versions of several popular videos as Easter eggs. In addition to Greatest, the documentary Sing Blue Silver, and the concert film Arena (both from 1984) were released on DVD in 2004. Live From London, a concert video from one of their sold-out 2004 reunion shows at Wembley Arena, was released in the fall of 2005.
Other video collections, concert films, and documentaries remain available only on videotape, and Duran Duran have not yet released a collection which includes all their videos. The band has said that a huge amount of unreleased concert and documentary footage has been filmed over the years, which they hope can be edited and released in some form in the near future. The video for "Falling Down" was released in October 2007. The Nick Egan directed video for the lead single and title track from 'All You Need Is Now' was premiered via Yahoo Music on 20 December 2010. The second video from All You Need Is Now, "Girl Panic", was released on 8 November 2011. It features the world's biggest supermodels, like Yasmin Le Bon, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova and Helena Christensen playing the band. The video was directed by Jonas Akerlund, and during the filming, an editorial was made for Harper's Bazaar magazine.
Record label timeline
1980–1999: EMI Capitol/Parlophone
1998–2001: Hollywood Records
2004–2009: Epic Records
2009: Sony BMG ( Red Carpet Massacre)
2010–present: Tapemodern/Allido/ S-Curve Records
- Duran Duran (1981)
- Rio (1982)
- Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)
- Notorious (1986)
- Big Thing (1988)
- Liberty (1990)
- Duran Duran (A.K.A. "The Wedding Album") (1993)
- Thank You (1995)
- Medazzaland (1997)
- Pop Trash (2000)
- Astronaut (2004)
- Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
- All You Need Is Now (2010) (digital download)/(2011) (physical)