THE MAN who co-founded one of the most successful bands in British music history returned to his former school in Redditch this week to open a new music suite.
John Taylor, bass player in Duran Duran, unveiled a plaque on Tuesday (September 18) to officially open the £200,000 suite at Trinity High School, which he attended in the 1970s when it was known as the Abbey High School.
The suite includes a bank of the latest Apple iMac computers, practice rooms and its own recording studio.
"This is a very exciting moment for Redditch, this school and for me," he said.
"My journey started as a dream here. Being here gave me confidence - something along the lines of why not me? Instead of why me?"
As part of the celebrations the 52-year-old, who grew up in Hollywood near Wythall, listened to a performance of Coldplay's hit Fix You by the school's choir and also spent some time in the studio with one of Redditch's many aspiring young bands Stereojets, which list Duran Duran as one of their influences.
The group's vocalist and rhythm guitarist Joe Prescott said: "Performing for him was nervous and exciting at the same time and an experience we'll all remember."
Lead guitarist David Peace added: "Especially for someone from Redditch as it shows it's possible to do it."
Speaking to the Standard Mr Taylor said it was while at high school he discovered his passion for music but his dreams of being a pop star did not start well as he was thrown out of his first music class for singing out of tune and his careers officer was dismissive of his ambition to be a pop star.
"When I was here it was all about the orchestra. I remember asking if I could get guitar lessons and was told 'We don't teach guitar' so I said how about saxophone 'We don't do saxophone either'. There was a great pride in the orchestra and it was all about building up to the Christmas concert at St Stephen's but now it is much more contemporary and efforts to engage the kids in contemporary instruments and music," he said.
"The first time I ever played in front of anyone was the sixth form dance so it was just right at the end of my school experience I started to play music but I had to find my way to it. Parents today seem more encouraging of their kids doing music, but my parents were not hip to that I had to really want it, it was never really put on me."
He added he hoped the new music suite would 'give birth to some fantastic music and ideas'.
"There's something really fantastic about being able to record and hear your own voice. So much music today is self-engineered and self-produced so you are getting kids off to a start in engineering, sound recording and sound manipulation, so it's a great way to improve when you start hearing yourself back. If we'd had that it would have been an entirely different way of learning."
Staff and students were also eager to get the '80s pop star to sign copies of his new autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran, which delves into all aspects of his life including his battle with drug addiction.
"I had to go into the dark side - I did not do a lot of self censorship I just went with it," he said.
"It seems to be fairly well balanced. What's amazing is we sold some serial rights and the Mirror just took the most sensational sentences - of which there aren't a lot, it's really not a nasty book it's not a kiss and tell but it's real - and they strung it all together and made it sound like the worst, most nastiest thing, but whatever, I want people to read it."
The revamp of the music room was inspired by head of music Clare Lyons, who after being appointed last year gave up her own time to paint it, which prompted headteacher Marian Barton to act, using money from the school's conversion to academy status and help from governors.
As a result the number of students applying to do music at A-Level has tripled and is growing at GCSE level as well.
"I already knew the music room wasn't fit for purpose, students had nowhere to practise, there was no proper equipment and when Clare came in she was so enthusiastic we found the funds to do it," Mrs Barton said.
"I'm hoping to improve GCSE music and A level results. It's not just about Maths and English, we've improved those, but we want to make sure every subject is improved right across the board."
Read more & see photos: Duran Duran star goes back to school | Redditch Standard