I am old enough to remember when MTV used to play music videos — all day long. I loved MTV. I learned about a ton of bands I didn’t know much about before — The Jam, The Cure, The Clash, and especially, Duran Duran. Rio is the only album that I’ve purchased on LP, cassette, CD, and digitally. I’ve seen Duran Duran in concert about a bazillion times, and after over 30 years of playing music, I think they are as good now as they ever were. (Seriously, their most recent album is really good. Mark Ronson produced it.**)
So, really, I couldn’t help myself when I saw John Taylor’s face staring out at me on the new release section of the library yesterday. I had to read this book.
John tells his entire life story, starting with his childhood and his Catholic upbringing in working-class Birmingham. And then, one day, he hears Roxy Music, and his life is changed forever. John and his friends (at this point, John still goes by Nigel, his given name), including young Nick Rhodes, start up a series of terrible bands. He drops out of school, buys records and clothes, experiments with make up and hair, and starts to make a name for himself as a local musician.
And then, somehow, he and Nick find themselves in a band called Duran Duran. John spends pages and pages describing how the band came to be, what they sounded like, and what their influences were. Girls loved them and they quickly shot to the top of the charts.
He describes their ascent to fame, and how it changed their lives so suddenly. And then John describes the drugs and the women.
So many drugs. So many women (or girls, I guess I should say). So much cocaine.
More interesting to me than the fame of Duran Duran was their failure and then their rebirth in the 90s. The band broke up, other groups were created and disbanded, but they always found their way back to each other, and kept making music together.
John finds sobriety after the birth of his daughter (with ex-wife, socialite extraordinaire, Amanda De Cadenet) and before the death of his parents. And now he plays music sober for the first time, but finds that the music is all that he needs.
I’m still a fan of Duran Duran, but not so much of this book. The writing was repetitive and weak (so weak, that I’m assuming he actually wrote this book on his own). And he doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of himself. He comes off as smug and snobbish. But at least Simon Le Bon comes off well. I’ve always been a Simon girl.
**Attached below is a video from their recent cd. Not bad for a bunch of old guys.