Duran Duran is back

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Deseret Morning News

Duran Duran is back

The original lineup from the '80s new-wave band hits S.L. Saturday

By Scott Iwasaki
Deseret Morning News

Duran Duran's original members didn't need to get back together — at least not for the money.

"We were doing fine," guitarist Andy Taylor said by phone from New York City. "It wasn't about the dollar signs. We all have personal lives that are going well, and we were really comfortable with how our lives were going."

So why the reunion? "Back in 2000 the BBC aired a Duran Duran documentary called 'Wild Boys: The Story of Duran Duran,' " said Taylor. "It kind of pulled our history together in something like 50 minutes. I mean, I looked at it and went, 'Wow! We did all that?'"

One thing the documentary showed was that Duran Duran — which took its name from a villain in the 1968 Jane Fonda fantasy film "Barbarella" — stood apart from a lot of the 1980s new-wave bands. And this was purposeful by Taylor and the rest of the band, which includes vocalist Simon LeBon, bassist John Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor. (As most fans know, none of the Taylors are related.)

"We had a huge following that crossed over styles," said Taylor, who named Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton as his main idols. "We had a lot of success. Our tours were amazing, and our album sales were incredible. And our fans were global. There really was no explanation of why everyone liked us as much as they did. And that's something you just never forget about."

While LeBon and Rhodes had continued the band in various incarnations since the 1990s, there was always some line of communication between the original members. "When the documentary ran, it seemed like a good time to do something," said Taylor. "And we were all in the right frame of mind and on the same page."

The climate in the music business had been leaning toward a more retro-pop sound, thanks to such '80s-influenced bands as the Sister Scissors, Franz Ferdinand, the Killers and the Thrills. "It was all about timing," said Taylor, "and the fact that all of us were available for this sort of thing."

A BBC documentary in 2000 helped motivate Duran Duran to reunite.

The one thing the band wanted was a new album to promote, said Taylor. "We didn't want to do a reunion and not have anything to show for it. So we wrote and recorded 'Astronaut.' "

"Astronaut" is the first album with the original line-up since 1983's "Seven and the Ragged Tiger." "Recording the album was a new experience for us," said Taylor. "But it came naturally for us. When we were first making records, the technology was very different for its time. There were new recording technologies coming out during the early 1980s, and we learned how to record our records as we went along.

"Making 'Astronaut' was like the same thing. There were new ways to record the album, and we learned how to make the record as we went along. There was a lot of experimenting, and it reminded us of how naive we were back in the early days."

The early days were great for Duran Duran after forming in Birmingham, England, in 1980. By 1982, a year after releasing its self-titled debut, the group released its double-platinum-selling album "Rio." The album yielded the singles "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Save a Prayer" and the title track.

With more exposure, thanks to a little fledgling cable channel called MTV, the band shot to superstardom with videos of "Girls on Film," and later, "Wild Boys."

In 1983 Duran Duran had become a bona fide arena band with "Seven and the Ragged Tiger." The No. 1 hit "The Reflex" and the Top 10 hits "Union of the Snake" and "New Moon on Monday" kept the fans happy. However, in 1984, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor left the band. And two years later Duran Duran was a trio composed of LeBon, Rhodes and John Taylor. During the interim, the obligatory live album "Arena" was released to mixed reviews.

Andy Taylor and John Taylor formed Power Station in 1985 (with Robert Palmer and Chic's Tony Thompson). Power Station emerged with a remake of T-Rex's "(Bang a Gong) Get It On" and two other Top 40 hits, "Some Like It Hot" and "Communication."

LeBon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor recorded an album as the band Arcadia that same year. That album, "So Red the Rose," which featured guest appearances by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and jazz artist Herbie Hancock, produced the singles "Election Day" and "Goodbye Is Forever."

Subsequent Duran Duran albums "Notorious" (1986), "Big Thing" (1988), a greatest-hits package "Decade" (1989) and "Liberty" (1990) (with LeBon, Rhodes and John Taylor) charted in the Top 100 of Billboard's Top 200 album charts.

In 1993 the band released what is known as the "Wedding Album" (because of the album's art of a bride). The next year "Thank You" made its bow (an album of covers, which included the Doors' "Crystal Ship," Led Zeppelin's "Thank You," Sly & the Family Stone's "I Wanna Take You Higher" and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay").

The same Duran Duran trio also recorded "Medazzaland" (1997), the remix album "Strange Behavior" (1999) and "Pop Trash" (2000), with anthologies and greatest-hits releases in between — all of which kept the band around, albeit under the radar.

With the band's original-lineup reunion and last year's release of "Astronaut," Duran Duran has gained new fans. "It's quite nice to see families at the concerts," said Andy Taylor, who just turned 44. "Our original fans are bringing their children to the shows. I never thought I'd see that."

Taylor said with a laugh that there are so many songs from the Duran Duran catalog that the group won't be performing any Arcadia or Power Station songs on this tour. "We do start with a short list of songs we have to play. And then we work with others. The list will change throughout the tour.

"We're just happy to be here. It's what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning."

Courtesy Deseret News