1978 in Birmingham, England
In the midst of the punk revolution and the cheekiness of disco, came Duran Duran. The band melded the two styles into one, creating a poppy sound that was danceable, and the music contained enough hooks to create a few major radio hits throughout the early 80’s. The band formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, just in time to brush up their chops before MTV would thrust them into the international spotlight. Of course, the band relied upon their good looks and movie-like videos to relay their music, but once the teens of the 80’s caught on (especially the girls), Duran Duran became a superband. By 1984, the guys in the band had reached the status of teen idols. Not surprisingly, however, was their fall from fame. As quick as they had shot up, they came down. The group has managed to stay in tact (minus a few original members), and they still tour arenas in America, as well as all over the world.
Keyboardist Nick Rhodes and guitarist John Taylor were schoolmates who dreamed of forming a band. They had originally formed the band as a 4-piece with a couple of other schoolmates, and the band they called “Duran Duran” (a name quipped from Jane Fonda’s sci-fi movie Barberella) began gigging around Birmingham. Lineup changes afflicted the band from the beginning, however, and Rhodes and Taylor found drummer Roger Taylor to replace the drum machine they had been using. John Taylor, who had been playing guitar, switched to bass, and Andy Taylor came in and took over in guitar. They were still minus a vocalist, and they went through a few singers before they found Simon Le Bon. He was a good-looking drama student from Birmingham, and he had been singing with the punk outfit Dog Days. Le Bon would complete the popular lineup of Duran Duran, and the band would start a new movement of svelte pop rock that would make up a large part of new wave. In 1981, they released "Planet Earth," which would become the band’s first popular single. The band made progressive videos that drew controversy and interest from England and eventually America. “Girls On Film” was banned by the BBC because of its’ risqué scene with almost-nude girls wrestling in a whipped-cream-like substance. In 1982, the band released Rio, which would push them over the top, with top ten hits like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and the hauntingly beautiful “Save a Prayer.”
After this album, American teens went into their manic phase. Teen girls that called themselves Duranies followed the band members around like cult objects. This phenomenon helped coin the term “2nd British Invasion,” with the help from other bands like Spandau Ballet and ABC. In 1983, Seven and the Ragged Tiger was released, spinning hits like “Union of the Snake” and “The Reflex.” By the mid-80’s, however, Duran Duran was slowing down, and the fever that had inflicted teens just a couple of years before was dying out as more metal-oriented bands like Poison, Ratt, and the Scorpions were gaining popularity in America. Andy and John Taylor formed a side-group called the Power Station, with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson. The lingering members of Duran Duran formed Arcadia, and released So Red the Rose. Roger Taylor ended up leaving the group for good, and he would never return. The band released Notorious in 1986, which produced a hit with the title track. The 1988 follow-up, Big Thing, introduced the band’s last top ten hit for half a decade, “I Don’t Want Your Love.” In 1989, Duran Duran released Decade, which is a compilation of their earlier hits. Liberty, which was released a few months later, failed to produce any hits, and was the first album put out by Duran Duran that didn’t go gold. In 1993, with the help of Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, Duran Duran put out Duran Duran, which produced US top ten hits “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone.” The album achieved top ten status as well, and went platinum, re-establishing Duran Duran as a commercially viable pop force. 1995’s Thank You went gold also, but failed to produce any hits. Thank You was John Taylor’s final album with Duran Duran, and the only original members left in the band were Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, with Cuccurullo on guitar. The late 90’s brought Medazzaland, which featured the song “Electric Barbarella,”, and the 2000 release of Pop Trash..