Earlier this week, nominees for 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction were announced and wow… impressive group! DEVO, Beck, Rage Against the Machine, Eminem, Judas Priest, New York Dolls, and the beloved Dolly Parton are on the ballot.
Who am I forgetting? Oh yea, just the band that I have adored for decades now, Duran Duran!
I’ll never forget when an eighth grader told me – a puny sixth grader – about Duran Duran. Not only did it open a new genre of music that remains my favorite, but it gave me my initiation into the world of “teen heartthrob” magazines: Teen Beat, Bop, and Tiger Beat. My room had a new décor style and it involved A LOT of Duran Duran with an emphasis on John Taylor. (Thankfully my BFF liked Roger, so there were no conflicts of crushes).
A somewhat guarded secret among their friends is the band has a very good sense of humor!
“I’m not a snob. Ask anybody. Well, anybody who matters.”
― Simon Le Bon
Of course, we all grow up and replace our crushes with real life, but I am thankful Duran Duran stuck around for the ride. They have continued to release incredible music, including their 15th studio album last year, “Future Past.” The latest album includes collaborations with Tove Lo, CHAI, Ivorian Doll, and Mike Garson showing they remain relevant; they’ve been at it for 40 years and show no signs of stopping soon.
The multi-platinum selling British gents are a four-piece now with original members Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, the previously mentioned favorite John Taylor, and Roger Taylor. After the HOF nomination, Le Bon said, “Just to make it onto the nominations list is an honor that I never expected to experience.” He continued, “But for sure, this distinction is due in large part to the fact that we have an army of fans around the world who have unwaveringly supported us for the past four decades. We are extremely grateful to all of you for making this happen.”
Roger Taylor added, “A big thank you to not only the Rock Hall for making us part of the ballot, but also to all our fans who have made so much noise over the years. The 12-year-old drummer in me just screamed very, very loudly!”
Who could have predicted the insanity they would create when they released their self-titled album in 1981? Duran Duran, with former member Andy Taylor included, timed it just right and became “The Fab Five.” The new romantic era was ramping up in the US, helped by the launch of music videos.
Not to minimize their musical talent, but when people got a look at Duran, well, “Video Killed the Radio Star” really became the right song gave birth to MTV. Their sense of fashion and movie star faces were only enhanced by videos that were cinematically beautiful… and had a bit of controversy as well. I remember begging my parents to rent the VHS tape of Duran videos so I could see the uncensored versions of “Girls on Film” and “My Chauffer.” So tame compared to today’s offerings!
“Duran Duran” did well with “Girls on Film,” “Planet Earth,” and “Careless Memories,” but they really exploded with the follow up, “Rio.” They upped their video style even more with “Rio,” “Save a Prayer,” and “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and what followed was absolute insanity.
Duran Duran was THE band, adored by millions of screaming girls; even Princess Diana was a fan. Their remixes and B-sides (such as “Is There Something I Should Know?”) were sought after, and “most requested” radio programs being full of DD songs (and the DJ at Los Angeles station KIQQ telling me in frustration, “Yes… I have that request already!”).
While it seemed their popularity could not be topped, Duran did with the release of “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” Despite the stress and pressure (and newfound fame benefits), the lads struck gold again with “Union of the Snake,” “The Reflex,” “New Moon on Monday.” Keep in mind, “Duran Duran” was released in 1981 and this third album came out in 1983. That’s a lot of success in a short time, to put it mildly.
Global tours of stadiums and arenas followed, along with multiple chart successes and Grammy wins, and their participation in the Live Aid epic, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The members did feel the pains of the success and there were breaks and side projects, including Power Station and Arcadia. While all may not have been well at the time, the band as a whole did top charts again with their James Bond track, “A View to a Kill” and then “The Wild Boys” single.
Le Bon, Rhodes and John Taylor regrouped as Duran to release 1986’s “Notorious” and got attention with the title track and “Skin Trade.” The band did struggle to rectify fans that had “grown up,” along with their own desire to explore musical styles and shed their teen idol image.
Their next releases did have songs that showed maturity, but the reaction was not as insane as the early years – which is a good thing in some ways, no?
Synth pop had declined in popularity and alternative and grunge rock were now in charge. Duran did blow up again – in a good way – thanks to their 1993 album, “Duran Duran” also known as “The Wedding Album.” “Come Undone” and “Ordinary World” brought Duran Duran back into our musical sphere and ushered in a new era of their sound.
They released “Thank You” in 1995 and it took off, courtesy of their next big hit. This time around it was a cover of Melle Mel’s and Grand Master Flash’s “White Lines.” The song gained great traction especially in clubs.
The song was introduced to the masses as a result of rotation addition on Los Angeles-based radio juggernaut The World Famous KROQ. That cover brought Duran Duran back to the forefront of the music world.
A few member changes – coming and going – started the path of their next albums. Highlights included their single “Electric Barberella” being credited as the first song to be sold online (and of course a saucy video to get them into trouble like in the early days), multiple awards and honors, sold out stadium shows, and high-profile appearances.
In 2019, Rhodes made an announcement about a new album that had a “dance” element and would likely be released in early 2020 (just in time for the band’s 40th anniversary!). Of course that pandemic showed up and delayed the release, but we finally got our hands on new Duran music with the single “Invisible.”
“Future Past” was released in October of 2021 and Duran had another charted album in the library, giving them a top five album in the UK for all five decades they have existed. Slightly impressive, and perhaps worthy of being named into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…?!
The guys will be on the road a bit this summer playing big festivals and shows in Europe. In May, we will get the official word on the inductions. To be nominated, artists must have released an album or single 25+ years ago and more than 1,000 music people will vote on which artists secure their induction. Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorites. (*nudge nudge*)
Thank you for the decades of amazing music and memories, Duran Duran! The Durannies and I look forward to seeing you on the Hall of Fame induction stage in the fall!