In the Pleasure Groove: Irish Times Review

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In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran By John Taylor, Sphere, £18.99

February 1978: Nigel Taylor, who is 17, and his best friend, Nick Bates, who is 15, are in Barbarella’s nightclub in Birmingham to see Blondie. Taylor, an only child, has been dreaming of rock stardom ever since he and Bates bonded over Bowie, Mick Ronson and Roxy Music. He’d already been in a couple of local bands, but the band he would form with Bates would be different from the “three-chord angry noise” that prevailed at the time. “We aspired to something else, something fresh. Multimedia, fashion, dance, art. We wanted it all in the mix.”

They named their new band Duran Duran after Milo O’Shea’s character in Barbarella, and changed their own names to John Taylor and Nick Rhodes. Roger Taylor came on board on drums, followed by Andy Taylor on guitar. With the arrival of Simon Le Bon, their posh London singer, everything came together like a well-cut designer outfit.

With their hits Planet Earth and Girls on Film, Duran Duran created the perfect pop cocktail for the times, and were quick to attract the nascent MTV generation, who were also aspiring to something fresh.

Duran were the antithesis of the leftie rock bands of the time, shamelessly celebrating a platinum-card lifestyle. Hits such as Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf epitomised the new “loadsamoney” attitude, and Taylor – a bass-playing pop star at 21 – eagerly bought into it.

He hung out with film stars, pop legends and British royalty, made exotic videos for MTV in Sri Lanka and Antigua, was greeted by screaming fans around the world, and had his pick of catwalk models and his choice of designer drugs. He dated the rock chick Bebe Buell (mother of Liv Tyler, the actor), and was married to the wild child Amanda de Cadenet. Champagne, cocaine and amphetamines were on tap; rehab was on the cards.

By the time the band played Live Aid in 1985, however, the wheels were starting to come off the Duran wagon, and the world was already moving on. Although it had all come so easily for them in their early career, Duran had to work hard over the next 25 years to stay in the game. Their doggedness has paid off: in recent years the band have enjoyed a creative and commercial resurgence, and Taylor has found stability in his personal life. And whatever you think about their music, one thing is apparent from reading this book: it sure sounded like lots of fun being in Duran Duran.

Kevin Courtney
Courtesy Irish Times