Mark Ronson gets all new romantic with Duran Duran
Producer who worked with Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse links up with 80s heroes Nick Rhodes and Boy George
To his admirers Mark Ronson is the producer with the golden Rolodex, thought of as the mentor who shaped the sound of multi-platinum selling artists like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, and who is now going back to his childhood to work with 1980s superstars Duran Duran.
His new album, Record Collection, released under the name Mark Ronson & The Business Intl, will feature Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes and a track with Boy George, as well as hip-hop star Wiley.
However, despite his pedigree and success with two of the UK's biggest female stars, Ronson has confessed that he did not always wear the trousers in the relationships with Allen and Winehouse.
Ronson met Allen when he was at a low ebb, questioning whether he was ever going to be a commercial success. "I know Lily is quite proud, and rightly so, she is very talented. There is no one behind Lily Allen, it's all her," Ronson said.
An angry Allen would phone him up, demanding an explanation for stories describing Ronson as "the man behind" her music. "She would just get mad, and I would say 'well I didn't write that.' She'd be like 'fuck you' and hang up the phone."
Amy Winehouse also didn't pull her punches when it came to telling Ronson what she thought of his work. "Amy would just go 'Nah, I don't like it'," he said.
When Ronson offered to rework the song in question, she would save him the effort. "She'd say 'Nah, don't bother, it's shit'. That's really helpful because you can waste time taking an idea that you didn't like in the first place and making it vaguely better."
Speaking at a conference on dance music, Ronson talked candidly about being dropped by his record label after his first album, Here Comes the Fuzz. "[The album] came and went a bit and I just saw these other guys rocket past me. I was at 32, or 30, and I thought 'Maybe I'm just not that good'."
Still, Ronson had influential admirers even in the early days of his career. The rapper Sean "P Diddy" Combs went to see Ronson DJ, and was impressed enough to offer him a $100 note. Ronson tried, and failed, to refuse the money. "He said 'take the fucking money' and scrumpled it up and threw it at me. So whatever, I took the money."
Ronson framed the bill, with Combs's number, at his house in New York.
"I kept it for about a year and then one day I was scrounging for quarters to go and get a slice of pizza from Bleaker Street and I was like oh, man, and walked into Joe's pizza with a $100 bill in my hand," he said.
Having later told Combs the story, the rapper gave Ronson another $100 bill. "I was like, wow, if I had a heroin problem this would be a great scam," he said.
The second one didn't last long either – after forgetting his wallet, Ronson used it to pay a cab the very next day.
The producer has recently been in the studio for six months with 1980s mega stars Duran Duran, his childhood heroes. "Duran Duran were my first musical obsession," he said.
"There was a dude that cut the hair of all the kids at school, and I actually went with a picture of John Taylor in all his coiffed glory and had the nerve to ask for it like that. I love that band."
On working with Wiley and Boy George, he said: "I didn't have any idea what I was going to do, I just knew it wasn't going to be covers and it was time to maybe switch up the sound a bit."
Courtesy of The Guardian