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Duran Duran: More mature, but still hungry like the wolf

January 20th, 2020

It was sibling mini-warfare fought in Dublin suburbia in the early 1980s. My sister Marina, a year and a bit my junior, loved Duran Duran while I loved The Jam. I would write Simon Le Bon is something that rhymes with banker on her singles by the Duranies. She would be just as complimentary about pimply, parka-clad Paul Weller.

All these decades later, I have developed something of an understanding of the nuances of what became Lady Diana’s and Andy Warhol’s favourite band, a post-punk New Romantic combo from Birmingham. After many ups and downs, Duran Duran are still going and it will be intriguing to see what’s left of the band – singer Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor – play St Anne’s Park in Dublin in the summer.

Although they formed in 1978, with a different lead singer every other month it seemed, the ‘classic’ Duran Duran line-up didn’t perform together until July 1980. Less than two years on from that gig, Duran Duran – having had several UK hits – were in Sri Lanka to shoot the groundbreaking videos for Hungry Like the Wolf and Save a Prayer, two massive global hits.

Nick Rhodes has certain memories of the trip. “I got off the plane dressed head-to-toe in leather. And it was so ridiculously hot and sweaty. I’m thinking, 20 minutes to the hotel, I can get changed and it’ll all be fine. We get to the car – and it’s a flat-bed truck. I said, ‘How long is the journey?’ and he said, ‘Five hours.’ Five hours! To go 60 miles. So I’m sitting there in leather and by the time we got there, I was virtually hallucinating. Then on my way up to the room I walked past an elephant. That was my introduction to Sri Lanka.”

Simon: “We were riding the elephants for the video. One of the guys who look after them brought this female elephant into the clearing. And it did a little girly trumpet, and the male elephant Roger was sitting on went charging off to climb on the female, with Roger still on it.”

Roger: “I think it was the mating season.”Still, it wasn’t long before Duran Duran went on to become one of the biggest bands in the world, with a string of other hits including The Reflex, A View to a Kill and Rio. They have sold close on 100 million records.

They were fond of excess – sex, drugs and designer clothes – but they have, possibly, matured with age, In 2015, Roger told Rolling Stone: “Everything changes. The London Paper just did a story reporting how we now drink herbal tea instead of having sex with supermodels and snorting lines of cocaine. But it was 11am in the morning!”

Simon – married to supermodel Yasmin – laughed: “Well, that wouldn’t have stopped me back then!”

Older if not wiser, Duran Duran are putting the finishing touches to a new album, their 15th, and gearing up for a big tour.

Marina will be thrilled.

Duran Duran play St Anne’s Park, June 7. Tickets €59.90 incl booking fee.

Courtesy The Independent.ie