~Love, Death and Duran Duran~
It needed a fan girl book to get me back into my reading groove this year. Last year was my worst for reading since I got back into the habit in 2008. The book-a-week rule has all but gone out the window but I’m determined for its return in 2013. It’s amazing how I’m still managing to get everything done despite taking an hour or two out of my day for reading. But, as I say, it helps to have a book like this that is guaranteed to keep my attention, if it’s well written. This one is, I guess with help from Tom Sykes.
Broken into three parts, the first is about growing up, the early bands and of course meeting Nick Rhodes (formerly Nick Bates) and forming the first incarnations of Duran Duran.
An only child, JT (formally Nigel John Taylor) had a close-knit family and recalls with fondness how much his parents supported him and gave him room to develop to ultimately become an uber-successful musician. He talks of all his bands before Duran and the DD incarnations before the final fab five (as coined by America) were unleashed on us.
As a fully paid up Duranie I thought I knew everything there was to know but there are a few #HowDidINotKNnowThis (HDINKT) moments.
#HDINKT Firstly, his dad, Jack was in the army and a POW captured by the Germans for the last three years of war. Somehow – having a young family at home probably helped – he managed to survive despite seeing so many friends and colleagues drop to their death around him.
#HDINKT We all know JT went to a catholic school but only his Mum was Catholic and that’s why in his early years, he went to church most days. His Dad wasn’t bothered.
It’s always interesting to hear of someone’s formative years to see what made them who they are. But the truly interesting bits start when JT gets into music and describes his excitement at seeing first Mick Ronson on a solo tour but then most importantly Roxy Music at the Birmingham Odeon. This changed everything. For me too. This changed his musical taste from fairly progressive rock in the early 1970s to the glamorous end of music including disco. He describes how he learnt about sound checks and Roxy Music at the Birmingham Odeon is the first time he tried to get close to his musical heroes as they did theirs.
On that note, it’s so delightful reading about places in Birmingham – where I live right now!
‘Halston, Gucci and Fiorucci all made it to the Midlands’
(A little nod to Sister Sledge on page 95)
JT talks about how hearing the Sex Pistols for the first changed everything just like hearing Duran Duran for the first time changed everything for me. Then hearing Chic for the first time turned his life around again. And in turn, DD introduced to Chic me having a monumental affect to this day.
Like many of us, he talks of the joys of being in Birmingham, how happening it was and how he’d spend his days listening to or buying music, looking at or buying clothes and once he’d ticked those of the to-do list, his mind would turn to food.
This reminds me very much of my own growing up, albeit in a town, where the same three things fascinated me. I would spend at least one lunch hour a week in the record store, both when at school and after I had started working.
It’s heart-warming to hear of an artist (or anyone) talking about loving their home city like JT does. Yes he moved to London eventually, although still went home to Hollywood, Birmingham after each tour even after the fan hysteria started, and now lives mostly in the sunnier LA but you clearly can’t take Birmingham out of the boy.
DD got their break from being the house band at the Rum Runner and then famously were managed by the club’s owners. I wonder if bands can do this now, build a following by having a residency? Especially as earnings are now primarily through playing live rather than selling music.
Notably, DD have always been equal partners with song-writing credits spilt five ways. Simon le Bon writing the lyrics and everyone coming up with ideas which seems to have worked for thirty odd years, although I believe they collaborate even more equally now. This seems a perfect way to work to me as it encourages everyone to contribute, even if ordinarily they wouldn’t consider themselves song writers. I picked up many tips of how a band should work but one of the aspects of DD that I’ve long admired is their sense of ambition. There ambition directly influenced my ambition and I grew up striving. I’m still the same too.
I’ve oft said that I wouldn’t swap my life with anyone in the world but if I had to, it would be a member of Duran Duran.
JT decides not to go into huge detail about they split with the Berrow brothers management team that had so much faith in them, even before they had their final line up. He does go into fair detail about the sex, drugs & rock n roll lifestyle that he succumbed to for many years, he says out of loneliness of life on the road. Maybe I ignored and chose not to remember but I don’t recall this being in the papers at the time. I thought this would become annoying as it’s peppered throughout the middle and by far largest section but no. It’s such a large part of his life and important to know what lead to his time in rehab and then meeting the wife and family he now dotes on.
He initially moved to LA with Mrs Taylor v.1 and needing to be there to make it work with his young wife and child was the reason for him leaving DD. His LA years have had some positive effects such as being in bands with members of Sex Pistols, Billy Idol’s band and Guns and Roses (#HDINKT) as well as producing some solo material. And of course the aforementioned present Mrs T and his new family.
There isn’t much of his present life covered but he does go over the re-union and subsequent band change again after Andy Taylor leaves for the second time.
But the final #HDINKT has to go to this. The photo shoot for their Planet Earth release was in Milton Keynes. 20 minutes from where I grew up in Bedford. I really ought to have known that.
Inspiration factor 10/10