Duran Duran ready to rock Caesars Windsor
Duran Duran performs like it was '80s again
By Ted Shaw, The Windsor Star October 20, 2011 7:34 AM
Duran Duran, in the words of founding member John Taylor, stared into the abyss this past summer.
Lead singer Simon Le Bon lost his voice in May and the band had to cancel three months of concerts in Europe.
"We were genuinely concerned we might not be able to come back from that," said Taylor, 51, the group's bassist.
"We were looking into the abyss of What if ? What if Simon didn't come back?"
Le Bon, who is known as Charlie within the band, apparently strained his vocal chords during a show in Cannes, France, in May. It wasn't the first time it had happened, either - the band was put on hold for seven months in 1993 for the same reason.
The timing couldn't have been worse, said Taylor, The group he'd helped form in 1978, left in 1997 to pursue solo work, then rejoined in 2001 was enjoying a renaissance and had released a 13th studio album, All You Need Is Now, the previous fall.
"We don't take our career for granted, especially after that," he said from a stop on the current North American tour.
Taylor can trace a mostly unbroken line from the formation of Duran Duran in Birmingham, U.K., in the 1970s up to the current album, which three decades later sounds a lot like the first three albums - the self-titled debut Duran Duran (1981), Rio (1982), and Seven and The Ragged Tiger (1983).
"People talk about us reuniting, but we never actually ceased to be," said Taylor. "I left the band for a few years and there was a period where Charlie (Le Bon) and Nick (Rhodes) were the only two remaining original band members."
But Duran Duran, and particularly Le Bon, never stopped writing songs or touring.
"And even though I wasn't in the group, I didn't have my seat up, so to speak. That's not the kind of person I am. It was never a case for me of coming out of retirement. I was just doing other things."
He produced several solo albums and videos, and appeared in the independent film, Sugar Town, in 1999 playing, of course, an aging rock musician who forms a supergroup. The film also featured fellow musicians Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet and Michael Des Barres of Power Station, the band Taylor helped form with Robert Palmer in 1985 as a side-project away from Duran Duran.
When Taylor rejoined Duran Duran in 2001, it was the first time all five founding members had performed together in five years. The other members include drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor (who has since left the group).
For good or bad, it was like he'd never left. "We have our thing and we kind of stick to it," said Taylor.
When the time came to make a new record, the band hired young American producer Mark Ronson.
"He grew up in the 1980s adoring the band," Taylor said. "He was like 10 when he got his first Duran Duran haircut."
One of the things Ronson stressed was maintaining the group's pop idol image. The lyrics of a new Le Bon song, originally titled Pale Blue Planet, were altered and the title changed to Girl Panic!
It's comical when you consider the members of Duran Duran are in their late 40s, early 50s and they all have families.
"We do a lot of things that are age inappropriate," said Taylor. "Whenever Duran Duran tries to grow up, we are told the fans don't want us to grow up. It's all about girls and boys."
Duran Duran plays Caesars Windsor's Colosseum this Saturday at 9 p.m.
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