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Rhodes: ‘For me, London will always be Planet Earth’

September 8th, 2012

Here, Duran Duran keyboard player Nick Rhodes discusses the vibrancy of the Eighties, close encounters with false teeth and why he doesn’t wear shiny suits around London. By Nick Rhodes 7:42PM BST 08 Sep 2012

Nick Rhodes continues the In the Know series in which stars reveal their favourite London locations.

I’ve lived in London for more than 30 years. Before moving down from Moseley in Birmingham, my perception of the city was as somewhere both enormous and hugely exciting.

Turns out, I was pretty much right – and I still feel the same way now. I like to walk everywhere I possibly can and, from where I live in Chelsea, can be in Kensington and the West End in no time. I suppose I’m part of that south-west London versus north London contingent. But, as much as I love the area in which I live, I’m very fond of Islington’s antiques shops, as well as small galleries such as the Whitechapel in east London.

Although my favourite of all – perhaps my favourite place in the capital – is the Riflemaker in Soho. It has lots of work by up-and-coming artists and its exhibitions are wonderful. Riflemaker has strong ties to the old Indica Gallery, where Yoko Ono first met John Lennon. In 2006, the gallery transformed its space into a replica of Indica and Yoko gave a Bagism performance – incredible.

The Tate Modern is a masterpiece in its own right and the greatest cultural addition to London in the past 20 years. When it opened I wondered what it would offer – what with Tate Britain being so fantastic – but every time I visit something wows me. We’re lucky to have so many world-class art galleries. The Hayward Gallery on the Southbank is another I enjoy.

When it comes to shopping, books are my weakness. My favourite bookshop is Claire de Rouen on Charing Cross Road. Claire sadly passed away earlier this year, but her shop goes from strength to strength. It’s especially good for photography books – I would urge anyone walking nearby to drop in. The Serpentine Gallery bookshop is a jewel in the heart of Hyde Park.

I like wandering around town; I’m rarely recognised. Although, it’s not as if I draw attention to myself by wearing my pink satin suits – they’re strictly for when I’m on stage. No one bats an eyelid. Londoners are so cool you can just go about your business unbothered. I formed Duran Duran when I was 16 and moved to London two years later, in 1980. The commute back to Birmingham, after gigs and meetings in the capital, was getting a bit much.

I didn’t know London at all. So I moved near Manchester Square, where our record label was based. Being so close meant I could hound them every day. I lived above a dentist who would leave sets of false teeth lying around in the hallway – they were waiting for me when I came back at night.

London during the Eighties was terrific and wild – exactly as I’d imagined it. That said, it’s still spectacular now – and in many ways even better. The one thing that has changed beyond recognition is the food. There were very few great places to eat back then, but now London is the restaurant capital of Europe. There are more Michelin stars here than in any other city, meaning we’ve finally overtaken Paris.

With so many restaurants on my doorstep I eat out a lot. Being primarily vegetarian – I only started eating fish recently – I enjoy a lot of Italian, Lebanese and Indian food. Locanda Locatelli near Marble Arch is faultless and I love Scott’s in Mayfair, Launceston Place in Kensington and The Delaunay in Aldwych. And let’s not forget The Wolseley in Piccadilly.

These places look good, too. Just as the McNally brothers revolutionised the food scene in New York during the Eighties, London’s burgeoning gastronomy is the hard work of a few people. Take the group behind Soho House, another place I enjoy going. They’ve worked hard to create stylish hideouts – and their new place in Mayfair, Little House, is a wonderful addition.

New York is the only other city I spend any amount of time in. But while it’s exciting, it builds to a point of exhaustion – meaning I come back to London for a break. Unlike a lot of artists, Duran Duran have stayed here whatever weather or tax regime the capital has thrown at us. We’re a quintessentially British band and I think if you move too far from your roots you lose something essential.

I love my life in London and won’t ever leave.

*Duran Duran’s live DVD A Diamond in The Mind is out now.

Courtesy The Telegraph UK