Groove is in the Heart

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John Taylor puts his demons to rest in his autobiography, says Jonathan Geddes

Despite the salacious title, there's a surprising heart to the autobiography of Duran Duran bassist John Taylor.

In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran delves into many subjects, but his relationship with his parents forms the backbone.

It was after his father died in 2008 that he first pondered penning a book, and his parents' impact on his life is consistent throughout the good and the bad in the memoir.

"I got sober coming up on 18 years ago, and before I bottomed out I was so unhappy," he says. "I'd thought I'd had this fantastic opportunity in my early 20s and just blown it. I resented everyone I was close to. I'd get on the phone to my parents and go out of my way to try and make them feel bad, because I wanted them to feel my pain."

Now 52, Taylor is sitting in a plush Glasgow hotel, sipping sparking water. He's a relaxed, sometimes self-deprecating speaker, and with a striking presence certainly looks good for his age.

He is also a man of contrasts. At one stage in the book he recalls how a mere wink could get any woman he wanted back to his hotel room, but there's a shyness there too. Back in the early days he and his friends played in bands as if they were "like kids pretending at playing at war". Yet there was a steely self-confidence he would always succeed.

"I was lucky that at 18 I was saying, 'I don't want to go to college, I want to be a rock star'," he says. "My parents were horrified, they were like, 'You can't even play the guitar'. And I was like, 'I can play enough'. And they said they'd give me a year.

"That was the big break, them supporting me like that – my dad had been laid off at the age of 57, thinking he had another seven or eight years of work ahead of him, so we were signing on together for a few months.

"But when you're 18 you have a lot of energy, and then you meet a guy like Nick [Rhodes] who also has a lot of energy, and it all comes together."

There are contrasts in the book as well. Taylor describes at length his battle to get sober, and speaks of the "relief" he felt when he was told he was an alcoholic, as well as the hope it might help others realise they also have a problem.

Yet there's a mischievous nature there, that looks back on the excess with a wry smile and a raised eyebrow.

"I really feel I've kept a good sense of humour about it," he says. "You have to - you can't talk about the music business with a really heavy face on it. It's not like brain surgery; it's the entertainment business.

"But then there's the psychology of what that lifestyle can lead into, especially if, like me, you didn't have an off switch. I really struggled. By the time I was 30 I was at sea in a dinghy on choppy water and it seemed like the others in the band had all found a certain degree of balance as they'd got work and home lives. I hadn't been able to do that."

He has that balance now, though, and has been happily married to Gela Nash for 13 years, following a rather more turbulent first marriage to the model Amanda De Cadenet. Such stability has helped Taylor, as well as provide him with lessons to how to make a marriage work.

"I thought with the first separation; I can blame on her, the second one will be a bit harder," he states, dryly.

"You can't have too much pride in a marriage. You've got to be prepared to lose a lot of arguments – there's a saying about whether you want to be right or happy, and sometimes you have to let stuff go."

As for the band, they plan to return to the studio in February to begin work on another album, with producer Mark Ronson back on board after helming 2011's All You Need Is Now.

Taylor believes they are now approaching the status of elder statesmen of pop quite gracefully, and despite everything he's been through he seems a man content with that in his own life, too.

"I got in an argument with Simon [Le Bon] the other day because he was adamant he wasn't middle aged," he laughs.

"Well, I am, and I feel a lot better since I acknowledged that. I felt like a really tired young man till about 40, most people have given up on that before then. But I was holding onto being young into my 40s.

"But then I thought, 'You're a really cool middle-aged guy – you look good for your age so you can get away with appreciating your garden and not having to drive so fast now.'"

In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran by John Taylor is published by Sphere.

Courtesy Herald Scotland