As the new James Bond film Skyfall rolls into theaters on Friday, it’s a good time to recall the story behind the making of the only James Bond theme ever to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” in 1985, from the movie of the same name.
As Duran Duran’s John Taylor recounts in his new memoir, In the Pleasure Groove, he ran into James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli at a party and asked him when he was going to get someone “decent” to record a Bond theme. That led to Broccoli asking Duran Duran to do the honors and hooking the band up with legendary Bond composer John Barry, who wasn’t thrilled with the idea of working with the pop superstars.
“It was a difficult song,” John tells ABC News Radio. “I mean, designing a song for a Bond theme is a very, very particular [task]. It took a lot of doing. And all the time we were doing it, we were under siege at the studio because it was really at the peak of Duran mania. So every time you came or left the studio you were going through a mob scene [of screaming fans].” But all the work paid off when the song topped the charts.
“That was a very satisfying experience, seeing the titles roll in that film,” remembers John. “Even though it’s not my favorite of the Bond films. But is there anybody who doesn’t love James Bond? So to be a part of it was very significant.”
So, what does John think of Adele’s new theme for Skyfall? Is it one of the better Bond themes?
“I like it. I think they got it right. I think it ticks all the boxes,” John says approvingly. “I think the sound — she sounds like Shirley Bassey…she’s got that drama, that old-school drama, and I think they got the sound of the track just right. I thought, ‘Ooh, I’d like to hear more songs like this on the radio,’ actually. Maybe it’ll influence more contemporary music.”
As for John’s book, In the Pleasure Groove hit the top ten on the New York Times Hardcover Non-Fiction best seller list. Unlike some rock memoirs, John says he didn’t use the book to air any dirty laundry between himself and the other Duran Duran members, because they all actually get along just fine.
“It’s not a ‘poor me’ memoir,” Taylor tells ABC News Radio. “I was happy to write it when the feeling in the band is a really positive one. And we’ve had a couple of great years. So there’s a lot of love in there for my band mates. There’s no bitterness.” Of course, there are the requisite tales of rock ‘n roll debauchery, but John says he put that in as what he calls “the candy,” so people would read the book and get his real message.
“I wanted to talk about my parents, my dad’s experience in the second World War,” he explains. “I wanted to talk about sobriety. Those were like the messages of the book, and I feel in a way I had to use the band, the first few years of the band…I had to tell some of that story to get people to the book.”
As for how the rest of Duran Duran feels about In the Pleasure Groove, John doesn’t know, because only drummer Roger Taylor has read it. In fact, John says keyboard player Nick Rhodes specifically told him he wasn’t going to read it, in case he wanted to write his own book one day. John says he doesn’t mind.
“We were all there,” he says good-naturedly. “It’s not necessary. I don’t need them to read it. They don’t need to read it and I don’t need for them to read it.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio