Sitting at an airport bar in Kansas City, MO, I hear the faint sounds of a Duran Duran song come on the radio. It happens to be from the one Duran album that bassist John Taylor was not involved in, Pop Trash. And, coincidentally, I had just reached that chapter in his book, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran, where he recalls the need to try and lead a normal life – focusing on family, and staying in one place for a while – leaving the machine – leaving the band. The separation was temporary, but at the time the future was unknown. It is a refreshing chapter for the reader, feeling as if you too need a break from the chaotic ride. After nearly 20 years in the same band at that point, it’s not difficult to understand how the band was his life. It’s not difficult to understand the amazing sense of accomplishment. And it’s not difficult to feel the simultaneous and overwhelming sense of hopelessness that he had many times.
I was fortunate to speak with John Taylor in November, 2014, during an interview that we will publish in parts over the next several months. We talked about the past and some amazing bass work he has done, and then about the future as Duran Duran embarks on the recording of a new album – 36 years after they formed. During the conversation Taylor was thankful for the career that he has. And in his own words from his book he is now “present” – able to enjoy the band, enjoy his family, enjoy life – all thanks to being sober for over twenty years. As we continued to talk he spoke of the “uncharted territory”, being in a band for almost four decades. There is no instruction manual for this kind of survival, and there are few one can look to for advice.
As I write I am 30,000 feet above the United States, likely flying over a venue that Duran has played on more than one occasion. Reading through the book it seems that they have played almost every venue on earth. It is fascinating to read about the world travel and the rock & roll adventure, well documented in this book. This band is significant. They have sold somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million albums to date. And this band is made up of survivors, having seen the barrier at the end of the road many times, smashing through it again and again.
This book is hard to put down, with a lifetime history from John Taylor’s birth to present day. Along the way Taylor recalls his family experience, musical beginnings, meeting the band members, the scene in Birmingham, the thrills, the breaks, the drive, the women, the alcohol, the drugs, and most importantly, the music itself. It includes the highs and the lows, relationships – some strong and lasting, some volatile and shattered, the achievements, the struggle with self and worth, the successes and failures, and the addiction of fame. Whether you are a fan of Duran Duran or not, this is a worthwhile read, with a perspective, insight and honesty that chronicles a significant part of music history. This book takes the reader through nearly four decades of Duran Duran the band, but fortunately for Duran fans the story does not end there. As the band targets the spring of 2015 to release a new album, we can look forward to the next chapter in this story.