Duran Duran

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duran duran

Biography Up To 2005

update: 2022

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D U R A N  D U R A N

DURAN DURAN have survived drink, drugs and show-business marriages. Back on the road and in the charts after 20 years, they tell the secrets of their excess and all about those girls, girls, girls

Duran Duran, reborn for 2005, arenothing if not courageous. Intheir mid-40s an age at whichmost of us cast round for laurelson which to rest these preening 1980s pop stars are returningto the fray. On Monday 31st Jan, their new single, What Happens Tomorrow, is released. Earlier in the same month, the band played its new songs livefor the first time in London for Top Of ThePops before heading off to tour Japan andAmerica. Breathes leadsinger Simon Le Bon:

    'The crowd went bananas, they sangalong to nearly everything. They loved it.'

Few bands, of course, bestride a decadequite like Duran Duran. In the early 1980s, their eye-catching style frilly shirts, bouffant hairstyles and a love affair with blusher, plus sweeping anthems such as Rio, View To A Kill and Hungry Like The Wolf won hearts across the globe. Their debut album reached number three in the UK charts, selling 2.5 million copies, and Princess Diana declared them her favourite band. After a 15-year-split, the original line-up reformed in 2001 and returned to the charts last September withtheir single Reach Up For The Sunrise, whichwent to number five in the charts.

But, some 20 years on, is the world reallyready for the return of Duran Duran? Says Simon:

    'Itdoesn't really make any difference. Whether they are or not, here wecome. That's how we did it in the first place:we didn't think what's right for now, we didwhat we wanted to. We love music. That's theonly thing that's important to us.'

First time around, other things seemed tomatter, too. The joy of Duran Duran Simon plus Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor and John Taylor (all unrelated) wastheir love of 1980s excess. With their famously raunchy videos, their lives also seemed a hedonistic whirlwind of cars, yachts and substance abuse not forgetting girls, girls, girls.

If they were, says John, it was hardly surprising.

    'We were a bunch of 20-year-old kids, out ofsuburban Newcastle, Birmingham and northLondon. We chose to go outwith models and drive fast cars in our sparetime. What's so strange about that? If you're20 and someone writes you a cheque for 32million, do you give it to Barnardo's? Weworked bloody hard, and I don't feel we made any big mistakes.'

What about the clothes. Surely there were some slip-ups there? John concedes:

    'Don't design any of your stage clothes yourself. That's a mistake I'vemade more than once. Don't go on stageresembling a chocolate soldier.'

And theknickerbockers?

    'I've never worn a pairof those in my life,' John retorts. 'Maybe Simon did. But you have to come up with a new look constantly. You can't wear Burton suits in every video.'

Asserts Nick, the mostflamboyant of the band:

    'I think we created some pretty powerful imagery. You have toremember that there weren't anystylists then. It was just us hanging out, going shopping, getting ready and doing a photo shoot. We weren't afraid of experimenting. We represented our times pretty well it's just that they went out of style in a very public way.'

As the 1980s backlash began, Duran Duran lso fell dramatically ^Hfrom grace, symbolic of a decade most wanted to forget. They had, in any case, problems of their own. By the mid-1980s, the 'fab five' were drifting apart. Roger was the first to leave the band, in 1985, and the group fractured into two. John joined Andy in Power Station, while Simon, Roger and Nick formed Arcadia. There were other problems, too. John has spoken of an era in which 'cocaine was given to me on a plate', and by the early 1990s he was battling cocaine and alcohol addiction. He acknowledges:

    'I've had to do much more work than anyone else to escape from that. I haven't drunk for many years.'

How did he extricate himself from his addictions?

    'It's a process. Constantvigilance is one of the keys, once you recognise yourself as someone particularly susceptible.'

Roger recalls:

    'Everybody reacted differently. Myparents always brought me up to be very anti-drugs, and that protected me. I tried to keep a level head on it.'

Simon, too, knew enough to be on his guard.

    'I grew up in Pinner in Middlesex, and there were more drugs about there in the late 1970s than I ever saw in the music industry. It was speed and heroin alley. I knew about it, I'd seen it. I'm not an addictive person; I don't tend to lose control in that way. Being a singer, it's very difficult to do your job if you're doing somethingthat's going to fuck your voice up. Cocainedecays your vocal cords. Anyone who getsinto heroin either wants to have an affair withdeath or is just plain stupid. Smoking dopeturns me into a cabbage. I was well preparedby personal experience for those things.'

Gradually, Duran Duran's members neededto assert their individuality; even, perhaps, tosettle down. Andy was the first to marry, in1982. Fittingly, given Duran Duran's pen-chant for hair gel, he married the band'shairdresser, Tracey Wilson, and reassessed hispriorities:

    'You learn to say no. I've alwayslooked down at the brink and said, "I don'twant to go there". For me, what's importantare family, music, football. If someone tries to change that order, I put it back.'

He and Tracey have four children: Andrew, 20, Georgie, 17, Bethany, 13, and Isabelle, eight.

Roger, who married dancer Giovanna Cantone in 1984, has three children, James, 17, Elea, 13, and Elliot, ten. and, after a stint as a farmer, now livesin London. But itis Simon, partly for his heart-throb looks,partly for his beautiful and high-profile wife,whose marriage has long hogged the headlines. According to band legend, he firstspotted Yasmin Parvaneh in a models' catalogue, made enquiries and asked her out. Thepair married in 1985 and have been togetherever since. How have they made theirrelationship last in a business notorious forwrecking marriages? Simon responds:

    'Separation is a big pressure. It can make you grow apart, or makeyou appreciate your time together so muchmore. It's happened that way with Yasminand me. The fact that she works as wellmeans she hasn't been sitting around waitingfor me. With us, it's the real thing. It's reallove. That's the biggest thing. And we wantto make it work. You've got to compromiseand be strong. Sometimes it does hurt.Sometimes you do feel, "What am I doinghere?" That streak of individuality jumpsout, especially with two strong people. Wehave lots of fights and lots of make-ups.'

Yasmin, he says, only half joking, wouldmake a great manager for the band.

    'There'slots of bullshit in bands, and Yasmin alwaystakes my side. Sometimes I have to say, "NoYasmin, that's just how it works". She's veryassertive and driven and totally believes in us.

Simon speaks fondly of his daughters. Amber,15, Saffron, 14 and Tallulah, ten.

    'They love music Saffron is the R&B queen. Amberlikes rock, and Tallulah, she's pop.'

Does hesee himself in them?

    'I'd like to, becausethey're really great people. They're neitherstupid nor rebellious; they're assertive andsmart. I've got a lot more admiration for mychildren than I do for myself at their age.'

John also has a daughter, Atlanta, 12, fromhis marriage to Amanda de Cadenet, and isnow married to Gela Nash, co-founder offashion label Juicy Couture.

Says Nick Rhodes:

    "There's a lot of kids around now backstage, though they're more interested in who come to the shows, such as GwenStefani >and Justin Timberlake, than in us.'

Hehas a daughter, Tatjana, 18, from his marriageto American heiress Julie Anne Friedman, butis now dating actress Meredith Ostrom.

Competing with pop stars a quarter centurytheir junior, it is hard not to feel sympathy for Duran Duran: scanning the mirror for thelatest wrinkle or, heaven forbid, a bald patch.Their new record deal was accompanied bystories that, as part of it, they had to embarkon a crash diet. Isn't it tempting, I ask John,to simply act their age, scrap the diet and relaxinto their waistbands?

    'We have a responsibility to not get too out of shape, the same wayTom Cruise or Tony Blair do. We're all quite vain. It's not like we went toseed while we weren't working together. I did start using a blowdryer again after 15years. And hair dye? You've kind of got to doit. I still bleach my hair.'

The others agree.Slobbing out, notes Nick acerbically, is notpart of his vocabulary.

Still one has to ask why, afterperiodic attempts to reform inthe 1990s, these 1980s warhorses are returning to the fray.It is not, they emphasise, for themoney; after writing all theirsongs themselves, royalties keep rolling in.This, after all, is a band who, over 26 years,have achieved 70 million record sales, ninegold records, six platinum, and three multi-platinum awards. Nor is their popularity indoubt. In 2003, a series of grassroots toursreaffirmed their status as one of Britain's mostsuccessful bands. Tickets for the show at theRoxy Club on Sunset Boulevard sold out inthree minutes to Hollywood gliteratti including Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. A London gig became the fastest-selling concert of 2003, with 2,000 ticketsselling in four minutes.

Unlike other bands who fell apart amidsquabbles and acrimony, Duran Duran split on friendly terms. There are no harsh words to be taken back; reforming has been easy. Says Roger:

    'To go back to the people you spent possibly the best times of your life with, and make it work again, is special. We feel very sentimental about each other.'

Ahead of them lies the example of the Rolling Stones: still rocking in their 60s. Declares Simon:

    'I wanna have number one hits and I wanna fill stadiums. And to play great shows, because it's glorious.'

Fans from first time around are waiting with bated breath. If Duran Duran can put the clock back so, it seems, can we. And what, in truth, could be more glorious than that?

Duran Duran play Birmingham City Football Club, St Andrews Ground, on May 28, visit www.getlive.co.uk and www.gigsandtours.com. The single What Happens Tomorrow is released on Monday, 30th Jan

- Source: Daily Mail, 29th Jan 20000005


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