Duran Duran

Biography

Members: Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Roger Taylor

Active: 1978-present

HISTORY

Duran Duran are a British New Wave band notable for a long series of catchy, synthesizer-driven hit singles and vivid music videos. They were the most commercially successful of the New Romantic bands, and a leading band in the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the United States. They are still often identified as an "Eighties band" despite continuous recording and chart success over their twenty-eight year history.

The band has sold well over 70 million records worldwide, and has had eighteen singles in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and thirty in the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart, including "Rio", "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Is There Something I Should Know?", "The Reflex" and the James Bond theme "A View to a Kill" in the 1980s, "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone" in the early-1990s, and "Sunrise" and "What Happens Tomorrow" in the 2000s.

Duran Duran was created by Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and John Taylor (bass), with the later addition of Roger Taylor (drums), Andy Taylor (guitar), and Simon Le Bon (lead vocals); none of the Taylors are related. Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was also a member of the band from 1989 to 2001, and drummer Sterling Campbell was a member from 1989 to 1991.

Although the group never disbanded, it went through several line-up changes over the years. The reunion of the original five members in the early 2000s created a stir among music media and the band's fans. Duran Duran released the first album from the reunited line-up, Astronaut, in 2004, and the next new album is expected to be released in early 2007.

1978-1980

John Taylor and Nick Rhodes formed the band in Birmingham, England in 1978, envisioning a group with the raw do-it-yourself energy of the Sex Pistols, the dance grooves of CHIC, and the elegant style of David Bowie and Roxy Music. Other influences the band have mentioned include Mick Ronson, The Clash, Kraftwerk, Japan, New York Dolls, Velvet Underground, Blondie and Visage. The band took their name from the evil character "Dr. Durand Durand", played by Milo O'Shea in Roger Vadim's sexy science-fiction cult film Barbarella. Their first singer was Stephen Duffy, who went on to lead Tin Tin, The Lilac Time and more recently has been co-authoring songs with Robbie Williams. The original bassist was Simon Colley. Several drummers and guitarists were subsequently tried, as well as a handful of vocalists after Duffy left Duran Duran early in 1979.

Finally, drummer Roger Taylor fell in with them at a party (after which John Taylor, originally on lead guitar, switched to bass). Guitarist Andy Taylor came south from Newcastle to audition after responding to a magazine advertisement, and vocalist Simon Le Bon was recommended to the band by ex-girlfriend Fiona Kemp who worked at the Rum Runner nightclub, where the band rehearsed. The owners of the club, brothers Paul and Michael Berrow, became the band's management, and paid them to work as doormen, disc jockeys and glass collectors when they weren't rehearsing.

The up-and-coming group were considered part of the New Romantic scene, along with other style-and-dance bands like Spandau Ballet and ABC. Over the course of 1980, they recorded two demo tapes and performed tirelessly in clubs around Birmingham and London. Touring in late 1980 with Hazel O'Connor, the band attracted critical attention that escalated into a bidding war between EMI and Polygram. "A certain patriotism" toward the label of The Beatles led them to sign with EMI in December. Nick Rhodes has since said, in a 1998 interview with Deluxe magazine, that the band was "appallingly ripped off".

Like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran were among the earliest bands to work on their own remixes. Before the days of digital synthesizers and easy audio sampling, they created complex, multilayered arrangements of their singles, sometimes recording entirely different extended performances of the songs in studio. These "night versions" were generally available only on vinyl, as b-sides to 45 rpm singles or on 12-inch club singles, until the release of the Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran compilation in 1998.

From the very beginning, the band had a keen sense of style, and worked with stylist Perry Haines and fashion designers such as Kahn & Bell and Antony Price to build a sharp and elegant image, soon growing beyond the ruffles and sashes of the pirate-flavoured New Romantic look. They may have suffered from the typical hair spray and mullet excesses of the 1980s, but have maintained a focus on presenting fashion as part of the package throughout their career. In the 1990s, they worked with Vivienne Westwood, and in the 2000s with Giorgio Armani. (One of the band's advertising taglines adopts the phrase "Styles change, style doesn't.") In addition they retained creative control of the band's visual presentation, and worked closely with graphic designer Malcolm Garrett and many others over the years to create album covers, tour programmes, and other materials.

The band was relatively unusual in that all five members were pin-up pretty. Teen and music magazines in the UK latched onto their good looks quickly, and the U.S. soon followed. It was a rare month in the early eighties when there was not at least one picture of the band members in teen magazines such as Smash Hits or Tiger Beat, even if the sugary coverage was at odds with the band's titillating videos and sometimes dark lyrics. It helped that each member had a distinctive look and personality. John Taylor once remarked that the band was "like a box of Quality Street [chocolates]; everyone is somebody's favourite" ? an effect that is now strategically planned in more recent boy bands. Duran Duran would later come to regret this early pin-up exposure, but at the time it helped gain them the national attention they sought.

1981-1982 A BAND IS LAUNCHED

The band's first album, Duran Duran, was released in 1981. The first single, "Planet Earth", reached the United Kingdom's Top 20 at Number 12. A follow-up, "Careless Memories," stalled at Number 37. However, it was their third single, "Girls On Film", that garnered them the most attention. The song went to Number 5 in the UK, before the notorious video was even filmed. That video (featuring topless women mud wrestling and other not-very-stylised depictions of sexual fetishes) was made with directing duo Godley & Creme, and was filmed in August just two weeks after MTV was launched in the United States, before anyone knew what an impact the music channel would have on the industry. The band expected the "Girls On Film" video to be played in the newer nightclubs that had video screens, or on pay-TV channels like the Playboy Channel. The raunchy video created an uproar, and it was consequently banned by the BBC and heavily edited for MTV. The band unabashedly enjoyed and capitalised on the controversy, and the album peaked in the UK Top Twenty at Number 3. Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet were key rival artists at this time, often jockeying for position versus Duran Duran on the UK charts.

Thanks to the videos, the band also became a major success in Australia without doing any touring or promotion there ? the "Planet Earth" single went to Number 1 on the Australian charts, and the album performed respectably as well.

Later in 1981, the band went on their first U.S. club tour, followed by more dates in Germany and the UK. This second tour of Britain coincided with a wave of riots sparked by unemployment and racial tension, including those of Moss Side and Toxteth; they played an eerily quiet Birmingham the day after the Handsworth riots.

Duran Duran began to achieve recognition beyond their home country in 1982. In May, they released their second album, Rio, which scored four UK Top Twenty singles with "My Own Way", "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Save A Prayer", and the title song "Rio". A headlining tour of Australia, Japan, and the U.S. was followed by a stint supporting Blondie during that band's final American tour. Diana, Princess of Wales declared Duran Duran her favourite band, and the band was dubbed "The Fab Five" by the British press.

However, the Rio album did not do well in the United States at first. EMI in England had promoted Duran Duran as a New Romantic band, but that genre was barely known in the U.S., and Capitol Records (EMI's American branch) was at a loss about how to sell them. After Carnival (an EP of Rio's dance remixes) became popular with DJs in the fall, Capitol arranged to have most of the album remixed by David Kershenbaum. Only after it was re-released in the U.S. in November, with heavy promotion as a dance album, did Rio begin to climb the American charts, six months after its European success. MTV placed "Hungry Like the Wolf" and then several other Duran Duran videos into heavy rotation, pushing that song and "Rio" into the top twenty on the U.S. charts in early 1983. The seduction ballad "Save A Prayer" also did well. In the end the album peaked at number 6 in U.S., and remained on the charts there for 129 weeks ? almost two and a half years. In 2003, Rio was listed at number 65 in the NME 100 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

1983-1984 ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Duran Duran began 1983 by playing the MTV New Year's Eve Rock'n'Roll Ball, with "Hungry Like The Wolf" still climbing the charts in the U.S., and the American reissue of the "Rio" single to follow in March. To satisfy America's newly awakened thirst for all things Duran, the band decided to re-release their self-titled first album in the U.S. in the middle of the year, with the addition of "Is There Something I Should Know?", a new single recorded for the release. This song went straight in at Number 1 in the UK (a rarity then, and their first chart topper in their home country), and reached Number 4 on the American charts. During the promotion of this album, Rhodes and Le Bon served as MTV guest VJs for a show, during which artist and admirer Andy Warhol dropped by to greet them. An autograph-signing session in Times Square got so far out of control that mounted police had to be called in to control the mob. The hysteria of their teenage fans accompanied them everywhere they went, drawing frequent comparisons to Beatlemania.

Also in 1983, keyboardist Nick Rhodes produced the UK Number 1 and US Number 5 hit "Too Shy" for the English band Kajagoogoo, and Andy Taylor became the first member of Duran Duran to get married. The band's main rivals were now Culture Club and Wham!.

Duran Duran spent the next year as tax exiles, returning to songwriting at a chateau in France in May 1983 before flying to Montserrat and then Sydney to record and mix their third album. The band was under enormous pressure to follow up the success of Rio, and the recording process took over six months as different band members went through bouts of perfectionism and insecurity. A newly decadent lifestyle and substance abuse issues added complications as well. In the documentary film Extraordinary World, filmed a decade later, Rhodes described the effect on their sound as "barely controlled hysteria, scratching beneath the surface".

Finally, at the end of 1983 the band released Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Many critics noted that the band was trying to break new territory. Also, creative differences were becoming evident on the new record. Some songs, such "Of Crime And Passion" had a much harder sound than their earlier work, while others, such as "Tiger Tiger" explored more atmospheric territory.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger included the late 1983 hit "Union of the Snake"; Duran Duran thus had Top Twenty hits off of three albums in a single year. They made music headlines by deciding to release the "Union of the Snake" video to MTV a full week before the single was released to radio, at a time when the industry feared video really might kill the radio star. They followed up with "New Moon on Monday", and then with "The Reflex", which became their first number one hit in the United States, where it remained for 5 weeks.

The band then embarked on a massive global tour that continued throughout the first four months of 1984, including their first major stadium dates in America. The band was followed closely by a film crew led by director Russell Mulcahy. The resulting documentary film Sing Blue Silver (accompanied by concert film Arena) shows both the live music and the hard work of putting on a show, together with a variety of behind-the-scenes and "off-duty" moments with the band ? including travel difficulties, practical jokes, sightseeing, and bassist John Taylor declaring, at a meeting with executives from their top tour sponsors Coca Cola, that he much preferred Pepsi!

The live album Arena was also recorded during the tour, and was released with the new studio single "The Wild Boys", which went to Number 2 on both sides of the Atlantic. In February 1984, they appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and won two Grammy awards in the brand-new Long Form and Short Form music video categories. After the tour concluded, Roger Taylor was married in Naples, Italy, and Nick Rhodes celebrated his marriage in London, famously wearing a pink velvet tuxedo and top hat.

Halfway through the year, Duran Duran began a long break; however, as most of them remained in London and were active in celebrity circles, the band was never far from the tabloids or the public eye.

At the end of the year, the group was featured on the Band Aid benefit single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" along with other music celebrities like George Michael, Boy George, Bono, Paul Weller, Paul Young and Sting.

1985: THE BAND FALLS A PART

Duran Duran's hiatus, originally intended as a long break from the hectic Duran Duran lifestyle, continued through 1985. However, band members were soon anxious to record new music, leading to a supposedly temporary split into two side projects.

John and Andy Taylor wanted to break away from the synth-rock of Duran Duran and further pursue the harder-rocking, Led Zeppelin-style material. As a result they joined forces with the frontman Robert Palmer and CHIC drummer Tony Thompson to form the supergroup known as Power Station. Their album Power Station peaked at Number 6 on the U.S. Charts and generated two Top 10 singles: "Some Like It Hot", and the T. Rex cover "Bang a Gong (Get It On)".

Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, on the other hand, wanted to further explore the atmospheric part of the Duran Duran sound. The two formed Arcadia, an experimental New Wave band which sounded completely opposite of the straight-rock sound of Power Station. Roger Taylor was primarily the drummer for Arcadia, but contributed some percussion to the Power Station album as well. Arcadia's So Red The Rose peaked at Number 23 on the charts, featuring the Top 10 single "Election Day".

Duran Duran was never the same after the hiatus was over. According to Rhodes , the two side projects "were commercial suicide... But we?ve always been good at that." They created very different styles of music, which drastically changed the image of the band members. Andy and John Taylor had grown out their hair in the fashion of other American hard rock bands, while Le Bon, Rhodes, and Roger Taylor developed a more artsy proto-goth style, wearing dyed black hair and heavy make-up. Roger Taylor remarked that, "It wasn't a good atmosphere at all. We had split into the Power Station and Arcadia, and egos were rampant."

As a result, the band's image as a whole was off-balance when they regrouped to contribute "A View to a Kill", for the 1985 James Bond movie of the same name. This single remains the only Bond theme to go to Number 1 on the U.S. charts, and it also remains the highest-placed Bond theme on the UK chart, reaching Number 2. The song was accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek "spy" video that had the band scampering all over the Eiffel Tower and it also included scenes from the movie. The lead singer ended the video by smarmily introducing himself as "Bon. Simon Le Bon."

As a follow-up to the Christmas 1984 Band Aid single, Duran Duran performed in front of 90,000 people (and an estimated 1.5 billion TV viewers) at the Live Aid charity concert held at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 13, 1985. It was not intended to be a farewell performance ? the band planned only to take a break after four years of non-stop touring and public appearances ? but the original five did not play live together again until July of 2003. With the Bond song holding at Number 1, and the band arguably suffering from overexposure, their Live Aid set became infamous for Le Bon inadvertently hitting a falsetto note in the chorus of "A View To A Kill" ? an error gleefully noted in the press as "The Bum Note Heard 'Round The World", and which the singer himself would later describe as the most humiliating of his career. Power Station also performed at Live Aid, with Michael Des Barres replacing their vocalist Robert Palmer.

During the previous year, Le Bon had taken up the hobby of yachting. He again drew media attention when his maxi-yacht Drum capsized during the August 1985 Fastnet race, trapping him under the hull for an hour. He went on to participate in the 1986 Whitbread Round the World Race as well. At the end of 1985, he married model Yasmin Parvaneh.

1986-1991 WANING SUCCESS

Duran Duran's members had released five albums in five years, with each album release accompanied by heavy media promotion and lengthy concert tours. Suffering from fatigue and tensions among bandmates, the band lost two of its core members in 1986.

After Live Aid and Arcadia, the ever-shy drummer Roger Taylor, exhausted by Duran Duran's hectic lifestyle, retired to the English countryside. His retirement was originally announced as a one year sabbatical, but it soon became clear that he would not be returning to the band.

Guitarist Andy Taylor, on the other hand, led the remaining members to believe he would return to work on a new Duran Duran album even as he was signing a solo recording contract in Los Angeles. The band finally resorted to legal measures to get him into the studio, but after numerous delays, they let him go at last. He played on only a few tracks on the next album while the disagreements were being settled.

Without a guitarist or a drummer, the three remaining members, Le Bon, Rhodes, and John Taylor had producer (and former CHIC guitarist) Nile Rodgers play a few tracks on guitar, and hired studio musicians to play drums while they searched for new members. Finally in September 1986, Warren Cuccurullo (formerly of Missing Persons and Frank Zappa's touring band) was hired as a replacement sessions guitarist. With Le Bon, Rhodes, and Taylor, he recorded the rest of their next album, titled Notorious, released in October, 1986. A black and white documentary film titled Three To Get Ready chronicled the recording of the album and the preparations for the tour.

Although the title track went to number two in the U.S., the band found that they had lost much of the momentum and hysteria they had left behind in 1985. In the three years between the release of Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Notorious, many of their teenage fans had grown up, and the music was funkier, more mature, and less "pop", given the added experience garnered from their work with Arcadia and Power Station and the many gifted musicians they had encountered.

Subsequently, Duran Duran's fame began to wane as they struggled to escape the teen idol image and gain critical success with more complex (and less confident) music. Another factor was the band's dismissal of early managers the Berrow brothers. There was no public reason given, but disagreements over money, and their involvement in Le Bon's yachting adventures (they were co-owners of Drum) were suspected to play a part. Whatever the reason, Duran Duran did not have consistent management through the latter part of their career, switching managers frequently and going through periods of self-management. In addition, EMI (which fired its president and went through a major corporate restructuring that summer) seemed to have lost interest in promoting the band. Many casual fans never heard that the band had released anything after Notorious, and assumed that the band had broken up.

The next album Big Thing (1988) yielded the singles "I Don't Want Your Love", "Do You Believe In Shame?" and "All She Wants Is" (the last a top ten hit in the UK). The record was very experimental, taking inspirations from house music and rave music and mixing it with Duran's atmospheric synth pop and more mature lyrics (the juvenile title track notwithstanding). The album strongly featuring Cuccurullo's creative guitar work. By the next year, after touring for the album finished, Duran Duran would regain a five-man membership as Cuccurullo and tour drummer Sterling Campbell were made full-time members of Duran Duran.

Duran Duran would later allow the single "Do You Believe In Shame?" to be included on the soundtrack for Tequila Sunrise. Ironically, former guitarist Andy Taylor, still trying his hand at a solo career, contributed his own song, "Dead on the Money" for the soundtrack; it was the last time Taylor would appear on the same record with his former bandmates, until the release of Astronaut in 2004.

A greatest hits album titled Decade: Greatest Hits was released late in 1989, along with the megamix single "Burning The Ground" which consisted of woven snippets of the band's hits from the previous ten years. The single came and went with little fanfare, but the album became another major seller for the band.

However, the tepid 1990 release Liberty (a retreat from the experimentation of Big Thing) failed to capitalize on any regained momentum ? a pattern the band repeated regularly in their later years. The album entered the UK album chart in the top ten, but faded away quickly. The singles "Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" and "Serious" were only mildly successful, and the album's low-key, R&B-flavoured soft rock did not fare well against contemporaries like Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction, when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the grunge revolution were just around the corner. For the first time, Duran Duran did not tour in support of an album, performing only a handful of club dates and on several TV talk and variety shows.

Sterling Campbell left the band early in 1991, going on to work with Soul Asylum and David Bowie, leaving the band as a quartet. The line-up of Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, and Cucurullo would remain intact for six more years.

At the end of 1991, John Taylor (then 31) married nineteen-year-old model/actress Amanda De Cadenet, already pregnant with his daughter at the time.

1992-1996 A SECOND CLIMB, ANOTHER FALL

In the early 1990s, the rise of the Internet fueled a resurgence in Duran Duran's popularity. Many of the older fans rediscovered the band through Usenet and a growing number of Duran Duran mailing lists and websites, and began "catching up" on the albums they had missed.

In 1993, the band released a second self-titled album ? this Duran Duran album is known as The Wedding Album (for Nick Egan's cover art featuring the wedding photos of the bands' parents) to distinguish it from the 1981 release. The swift commercial and critical success of this album (#4 in the UK, #7 in the U.S.) came as a surprise to many who considered Duran Duran to be a purely "Eighties" phenomenon which had already faded to oblivion. It hinged on two Adult Contemporary singles. The first, "Ordinary World", was forced onto radio playlists months earlier than planned by listener demand for the leaked single, and won a prestigious Ivor Novello Award award for songwriting. It reached Number 3 on the U.S. chart, and Number 6 in the UK. "Come Undone" was a slinky number primarily written by Cuccurullo, with a memorable "underwater" video, which scored Number 7 in the U.S. and Number 13 on the UK chart. Both the band and the record label seemed to be caught by surprise, and bassist John Taylor, who had been considering leaving the band, agreed to stay (he does not play bass on "Come Undone"). The band's largest tour ever, which included stops in the Middle East, the recently de-embargoed South Africa, and South America, was halted after seven months when Le Bon suffered from strained vocal cords. After six weeks recuperation, the tour continued intermittently for another five months, including appearances in Israel, Thailand, and Indonesia.

However, the band's upswing in momentum was once again swiftly curbed, this time by the poorly received covers album Thank You. The album was reportedly begun as a lighthearted tribute to the band's influences, in the vein of Bowie's Pin Ups ? some of the tracks were recorded in borrowed studios (including Prince's Paisley Park) and make shift studios in hotel rooms (with the aid of programmer Mark Tinley) while the band was on tour, with the intent to have an album ready to release soon after the tour was finished, with another studio album to follow quickly afterwards. Original drummer Roger Taylor even returned from retirement to contribute to a few songs. However, conflicts within the band and between the band and Capitol/EMI created delay after delay; mix after mix was ordered and rejected, and by the time it finally came out in 1995, the band was not enthusiastic about supporting the album.

Singles from Thank You included covers of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "White Lines" (which included backing vocals from the original artists). In a video interview included in the album's electronic press kit, Reed said that he considered Duran Duran's effort the best cover ever done of one of his songs.

The title track was also included on the 1995 Led Zeppelin tribute album Encomium. Still, the critics lambasted the band's attempts at "911 is a Joke", "Lay Lady Lay", "Ball of Confusion" and "Crystal Ship", and the band only completed a 1995 summer tour of radio station festivals under duress.

After that tour's completion, John Taylor co-founded the B5 Records label and recorded a solo album, as well as founding and touring with the supergroup Neurotic Outsiders along with Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum (formerly of Guns N' Roses} and ex-Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. He also initiated a reunion of the Power Station, but the project went on without him when he had to withdraw to deal with his divorce from De Cadenet and rehabilitation for substance abuse. Finally, after struggling for months to record the next album Medazzaland, in January of 1997 Taylor announced at a Duran Duran fan convention that he was leaving the band "for good". His departure reduced the band to two original members (Le Bon and Rhodes) and Cuccurullo. The trio decided to stay the course and keep recording under the name Duran Duran.

1997-2000 SOLDIERING ON

Freed from some internal writing conflicts, the band returned to the studio with programmer Mark Tinley to rewrite and re-record many of the songs on Medazzaland. (Taylor's work remains on only four tracks.) This album was a return to the layered experimentation of Big Thing, with intricate guitar textures and processed vocals. The track "Out of My Mind" was used as the theme song for the movie The Saint, but the only true single to be released in the United States was the quirky "Electric Barbarella". It was the first single ever to be sold online, as a 99-cent Internet download. The video for this single, featuring a sexy robot purchased and played with by band members, had to be censored before airing on MTV, but there was little of the controversy that had surrounded "Girls On Film". "Barbarella" peaked at #52 in the U.S. in October of 1997.

Although Medazzaland was released in the U.S. in October 1997, the album was never released in the UK. This was due in part to lagging UK interest in the band, but also in part to record label politics, some of which involved Duran Duran's determination to make "Electric Barbarella" available as an Internet download before releasing the single through normal channels ? another attempt to stay out in front of changing technologies. "Barbarella" was later released in the UK as a single from the 1998 Greatest compilation album, and it peaked at #23 on the UK chart in January of 1999. The title track is the only song featuring Nick Rhodes' voice in Duran Duran's history. One standout track from Medazzaland, the haunting "Michael (You've Got A Lot To Answer For)," was originally written by Le Bon for his friend Michael Hutchence, lead singer of INXS, who was suffering through major turmoil in his private life at the time. The emotive vocal (which was recorded in one take) ends with the line "I know that you're going to call...if you need me." Hutchence apparently never made that call, and was found dead of an apparent (and possibly accidental) suicide less than a month after the album was released.

The group played a set at The Princess Diana Tribute Concert on June 27, 1998 by special request of her family.

Duran Duran parted ways with Capitol/EMI in 1999, and the label has since used Duran's back catalogue to release their own compilations of remixes and rare vinyl-only b-sides.


Duran Duran (Warren, Nick, and Simon) on the Rosie O' Donnell show in 1997.The band then signed a short-lived deal with Disney's Hollywood Records ? it was to be a three-album contract, but lasted only through the poorly received 2000 album Pop Trash. The album itself was considered by some to be a strange one in the band's catalogue, slow-paced and heavy-sounding. It took its title from the track "Pop Trash Movie", which was originally written by Rhodes and Cuccurullo for a Blondie reunion album. Though the album included the standout cuts "Playing with Uranium" and "Last Day on Earth," Rhodes' intricate production and Cuccurullo's songwriting and experimentation with guitar sounds and time signatures were not enough to hook the public, and the album did not do well on the charts. The dreamy single "Someone Else, Not Me" lasted barely two weeks on the radio. This single was noted for having the first video produced entirely with Macromedia Flash animation.

While supporting Medazzaland and Pop Trash, Duran Duran toured with late bassist Wes Wehmiller, who died of thyroid cancer in 2004, and drummer Joe Travers. These last Cuccurullo-era albums have a notably darker tone than the rest of the Duran Duran catalogue.

2001-2005 A HIGHLY ANTICIPATED REUNION

In 2000, John Taylor approached Le Bon and Rhodes with the notion of reforming the classic line-up. They agreed, and after completing the Pop Trash tour informed Cuccurullo by letter that he was fired. In May 2001, Cuccurullo announced on his website that he was leaving Duran Duran to work again with his 1980s band Missing Persons. This announcement was confirmed the next day by the Duran Duran's website, followed a day later by the news that John, Roger, and Andy Taylor had rejoined. To fulfill obligations, Cuccurullo played three Duran Duran concerts in Japan in August 2001, ending his tenure in the band.

Throughout 2001, 2002 and 2003, the band worked on writing new material. They initially rented a house in St. Tropez where sound engineer Mark Tinley built a recording studio for them to work on their first serious writing session. They then returned to London to do some self-financed work with various producers (including old friend Nile Rodgers), while searching for a new record deal. A record label willing to gamble on the band's comeback originally proved difficult to find, so Duran Duran took to the road to prove the drawing power of the reunited band. The response of the fans and the media was more than anyone expected.

The band played a handful of 25th-anniversary dates in July 2003. Tickets sold out for each show within minutes, and celebrities turned out en masse for reunion shows at small venues the band had played on their first trip to America ? The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles and The Ritz (now Webster Hall) in New York City. Then in August, the band were billed to appear as presenters at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, but were instead surprised with a Lifetime Achievement Award. They were also given a Lifetime Achievement award by Q Magazine in October, and the equivalent Outstanding Contribution award at the Brit Awards in February 2004.

The pace picked up as a sold-out 25-city American tour was followed by several stadium dates in Australia and New Zealand with Robbie Williams. The band also played a full concert at a private Tailgate Party at Super Bowl XXXVIII; their performance of "The Wild Boys" was broadcast to millions during the pregame show. A remix of the new track "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" was released on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy TV show soundtrack in February, while the Queer Eye guys (the modern "Fab Five") hailed Duran Duran as "the first metrosexuals".

Duran Duran then celebrated their homecoming to the UK with fourteen stadium dates in April 2004, including five sold-out nights at Wembley Arena. The British press, traditionally hostile to the band, gave the shows some very warm reviews. Duran Duran brought along up and coming acts like Scissor Sisters and Goldfrapp as opening acts for this tour. The last two shows were filmed, and the DVD Duran Duran: Live From London was released in November; it was the first real concert film for the band (Arena was more of a concept video and As The Lights Go Down was a promo video only).

Finally, with more than thirty-five songs completed, the band signed a four-album contract with Epic Records in June, and completed the new album, now entitled Astronaut, with producer Don Gilmore, recorded at Sphere Studios in London. The album was released in October 2004 and entered the UK charts at Number 3 and the U.S. charts at Number 17; the first single was "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise". In November, "Sunrise" reached Number 1 on the Billboard U.S Dance Chart, and also peaked at number 5 on the UK singles chart; it was Duran Duran's highest charting UK single since "A View To a Kill" was released in 1985. A second single, "What Happens Tomorrow", debuted at #11 in February.

After a world tour covering the beginning of the year, on 2 July 2005, Duran Duran headlined the massive Live 8 concert, Rome, in the Circus Maximus. They were one of the bands at Live 8 who had also played at Bob Geldof's Live Aid concert twenty years before.

2006-AND BEYOND: NEW ALBUM

In early 2006, Duran Duran covered John Lennon's song "Instant Karma" for the Make Some Noise campaign sponsored by Amnesty International to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Lennon's death. The band played the song live on a few tour dates. Their version featured a heavier rhythm section than Lennon's version, especially the bass. Early 2006 saw the band performing at two high profile events - the Nobel Prize Awards and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. They also appeared at the Sporting Summer Festival in Monte Carlo.

The band has been working on their next album, as yet untitled, with producer Michael Patterson in London. Roger Taylor said the new record will be a homage to the band's roots ? more direct and returning to their "new wave" origins. The new album and its first single are tentatively expected to be released early in 2007.

In Spring of 2006, John Taylor and Nick Rhodes released a compilation album titled Only After Dark, which featured their favourite tracks among those that they listened to and played as deejays at the Rum Runner in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In August of 2006, the band announced that it would be making virtual appearances and performing a virtual concert within the multi-player shared world Second Life.

In September, the band began meeting in New York City with Justin Timberlake and producer Timbaland on a potential collaboration. Despite reports on Yahoo that they had already recorded together, the band's official website says "This association is still in the early stages and nothing is finished yet. The band are hoping to schedule more time together with both Justin and Timbaland over the coming weeks, between the dates they are doing in Eastern Europe and the US."

The band's spokesperson announced that Andy Taylor is ill with a virus, and will not be appearing at the band's September show in Warsaw, Poland; guitarist Dom Brown will perform in his stead.

ALBUMS

1981 - Duran Duran
1982 - Rio
1983 - Seven and the Ragged Tiger
1986 - Notorious
1988 - Big Thing
1990 - Liberty
1993 - Duran Duran
1995 - Thank You
1997 - Medazzaland
2000 - Pop Trash
2004 - Astronaut

LIVE AND COMPILATIONS

1984 - Arena
1989 - Decade - Greatest Hits
1998 - Greatest
1998 - Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran
1999 - Strange Behaviour
2003 - Singles Box Set 1981-1985
2004 - Singles Box Set 1986-1995

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OptimusPrime

Submitted by OptimusPrime at Mon 25 Sep, 2006 5:33 am

OptimusPrime

Last updated by OptimusPrime at Mon 25 Sep, 2006 5:33 am

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