Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a music video by Duran Duran performing "Come Undone," from the album Duran Duran, on YouTube.

Previous to the 1980s, Music Television (MTV) and music videos were not necessarily common household terms. Once the video music industry took hold of the world in the early 1980s, it was definitely in a band's best interest to take advantage of that media. The British post-punk, New Wave band, Duran Duran did just that and it helped immensely on their rise to stardom. In addition, they are credited with bringing New Wave to the masses.

Coming from Birmingham, England in 1978, Duran Duran was the product of a conversation between John Taylor (1960) and Nick Rhodes (1962) over a couple of drinks at the Hole in the Wall Pub (now known as Saramoons). The two had been tossing around ideas for a band name when they were dually inspired by the sci-fi flick, Barbarella (1968), and from this chose Duran Duran.

The original group consisted of four members, though the arrangement would change several times over the years. The first four were Nick Rhodes on Wasp synthesizer and rhythm unit, John Taylor on lead guitar, Simon Colley on clarinet and bass and Stephen Duffy as vocalist and bass guitarist.

Duran Duran's first gigs were played at a trendy nightclub in Birmingham appropriately titled Barbarella. In the early days, the band had some advertising help from one of its members, John Taylor, who was an art student and used his school's facilities to create posters for the band.

The first member change came not long after forming when Colley and Duffy left the group to pursue more traditional rock and roll music. Duran Duran was left without a very key element to a band: a vocalist. In search of one, they managed to acquire a drummer, Roger Taylor (1960), but they had to go through a few more singers before they finally found Simon Le Bon (1958). Le Bon was a drama student at Birmingham University when he was drafted by Duran Duran in 1980. The boys had also obtained a new guitar player Andy Taylor (1961) and that resulted in John Taylor switching to bass.

While they had recorded their first demo during the shuffling of group members, they were finally able to release their first single in 1981, "Planet Earth", under EMI Records. Britain loved Duran Duran and the band instantly found themselves at the forefront of the New Romantic Movement, bringing with them a number of unusual and creative performing accessories. Among these specialties was the use of recorded sound from television, slide projectors and recordings of conversations.

Music videos came next making their popularity in England skyrocket. A very early video was the accompaniment to Girls on Film that was filled with provocative imagery and sexual innuendoes. And of course, while we now see the video as a landmark piece in the video era, someone had to ban it.

This time, that someone was the BBC, but the song became Duran Duran's first top ten hit, regardless. Their success in the video world was also partially due to their good looks, which made them a popular subject for posters consumed enthusiastically by teenage girls.

With the latter success, the group released their first album, Duran Duran, also in 1981, and it held the number three spot for 118 weeks. Sparked into a frenzy of creativity, the band released Rio in 1982 that contained the hits "Hungry Like a Wolf" and "Save A Prayer."

Surprisingly, while Duran Duran were superstars in Great Britain, they had yet to make an impact in the U.S. Without MTV they may never have reached star status in the States, but luckily MTV was available and the song and video of "Hungry Like a Wolf" launched their American careers by 1983 giving Rio a sales of over two million copies. Their videos not only capitalized on their pretty boy looks and glam image; each video was elaborate and distinctive, often done with big budgets.

By the holiday season of 1983, they had put out Seven and the Ragged Tiger with the singles "The Reflex" and "Union of the Snake." With these chart-topping works, the next logical solution for Duran Duran was to do an international tour in 1983 and 1984. Needing a break from the pressures of fame, they took some time off after returning from the tour.

By late 1984, the group had released the single "Wild Boys" that was later included on the live album, Arena. On the video circuit, the band had been producing several notable videos that often unmistakably reminisced popular motion pictures of the time. One can find similarities between the video for "Hungry Like a Wolf", which displayed an adventurous flair, and the Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In 1985, Duran Duran produced the title track for A View to a Kill, a James Bond movie before taking a break and working on some solo projects. Andy Taylor and John Taylor formed the group Power Station with Robert Palmer and drummer Tony Thompson formerly of Chic. They released a self-titled album that was really quite successful producing hit singles like "Get It On (Bang a Gong) and "Some Like it Hot." The rest of the band, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor and Simon Le Bon formed the group Arcadia. They released the album, So Red the Rose with the hit, "Election Day."

But in 1986, Roger Taylor took a so-called "temporary sabbatical" and never returned. Following in his footsteps, Andy Taylor also left. Fragmented, Duran Duran continued, with its Taylor trio reduced to a solo with the remaining John, and released one more album, Notorious. Although Notorious went platinum in the U.S., it did not achieve the success of the earlier albums. After that album, the records produced seemed to elicit a steady decline in popularity. 1988's I Don't Want Your Love from Big Thing was Duran Duran's last top ten single for five years. While they released a few other items in the meantime, it was not until 1993 that they once again jumped up in the charts. The single, "Ordinary World" from a second self titled record got into the top ten in the U.K. and the U.S.

Duran Duran marked the 1980s with their use of creative imagery in their music videos as well as their keen business sense. Not only did they manage to capitalize on the video music industry, but they also pulled off clever business tactics such as releasing Seven and the Ragged Tiger just as the holiday shopping season was beginning in 1983. Unfortunately, like a lot of teen idols, by the late 1980s Duran Duran became the butt of many jokes (what the Bee Gees were to the 1970s, Duran Duran was to the 1980s).

Currently, Duran Duran is still in existence and has been releasing a steady stream of albums over the recent years. Only two of the original members remain, however, Le Bon and Rhodes. A third member joined the group, Warren Cuccurullo, formerly of Missing Person, who played with the group until 2001. The original five members reunited in the early 2000s, but Andy Taylor soon left the group in 2006, and guitarist Dom Brown has been a touring member since then.

Page author: N.G