Duran Duran (named after a character in Roger Vadim's sci-fi classic, Barbarella) is an electronic pop rock band that was part of the New Wave movement of the 80s and 90s. Created by Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and John Taylor (bass) in Birmingham, England in 1978, it later add took in Roger Taylor (drums), Andy Taylor (guitar), and Simon Le Bon (lead vocals). The band has sold more than 70 million records over their more than 35 years of existence, making them one of the best-selling groups in history.
Their songs are often vivid, hook-laden pieces dance pop that have fared well on the radio, but what many remember best about Duran Duran is their iconic music videos. Though many of the videos were tongue-in-cheek, the band has never quite escaped the glamorous and decadent 'jet set' image that their early videos projected. Their flashy outfits and strident, art rock influenced music showed an immense debt to 70s English glam artists such as David Bowie and Roxy Music, yet the band grasped a sense of their own identity and became one of the keystones of the new romantic movement.
Their first singer and one of their original founding members was Stephen Duffy, and their original bassist was Simon Colley. Several drummers and guitarists were subsequently tried, as well as a handful of vocalists, after Duffy left Duran Duran early in 1979. The band felt that they had something special with vocalist Simon Le Bon, and the group smashed into the pop scene shortly afterwards when "Planet Earth", their debut single, was released on 2 February 1981.
"Planet Earth" became an immediate hit in the band's native U.K., reaching #12 on the U.K. Singles Chart on 21 February, and it did even better in Australia, hitting #8 there. Being Duran Duran's first Top 10 hit anywhere in the world, the song showed the group's interest in international stardom. The band's eponymous debut album came out promptly afterwards in June 1981. 'Duran Duran' hit #3 on the album charts and remained in the U.K. Top 100 for 117 weeks, achieving platinum status by December 1982. The initial United States release failed to generate much interest at first, but the group was a British sensation due to their strident mix of pop rock and electronic music.
Music videos for hit singles "Planet Earth" and "Careless Memories" were filmed in December 1980. As they also experienced considerable success with "Girls on Film", which hit #5 on the UK Singles Chart and #11 on the Australian Singles Chart, the group firmly grasped the opportunity to make a name for themselves in musical television. As their fame grew, some fans worried that Duran Duran could have peaked too early. They headed into AIR Studios in London in early 1982 anxious to somehow top themselves.
Band member John Taylor came up with the new album's title, 'Rio', as a product of his fascination with the flaunting sexuality and diverse atmosphere of Brazil. He later said, "Rio, to me, was shorthand for the truly foreign, the exotic, a cornucopia of earthly delights, a party that would never stop." The band had their own plans and ambitions for promotion and reunited with director Russell Mulcahy (who was behind the video for "Planet Earth") to plan out the release of a full length 'video album'— eleven videos in total. Totally dedicated to on-site filming, guitarist Andy Taylor even contracted a tropical virus and ended up hospitalized, thankfully getting better relatively quickly.
'Rio' was, simply, a commercial juggernaut. The band's second studio album, originally released worldwide on 10 May 1982, reached #2 in the UK and #1 in Australia. Massively popular in the U.S., it earned a gold disc on 1 March 1983 and went platinum on 26 April 1983, eventually reaching double-platinum status. As songs such as "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Rio" received considerable airplay, critical acclaim also grew for the release. With MTV heavily playing the band's music videos, the album is still held as one of the best new wave albums ever. In April 2013, 'Rio' was even voted #3 in BBC Radio 2's 'Top 100 Favourite Albums of all time' list.
In 1985, Duran Duran performed "A View To A Kill" for the the James Bond film of the same name. The song appeared in the movie's title sequence and was also a best-selling single in its own right. In 1987, "Out Of My Mind" was featured at the end credits of the drama film 'The Saint' as well.
Like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran was among the earliest bands to work on their own remixes. From the very beginning, the band had a keen sense of style, and worked with stylist Perry Haines and fashion designers such as Kahn & Bell and Antony Price to build a sharp and elegant image, soon growing beyond the ruffles and sashes of the pirate-flavoured New Romantic look.
Although the group never disbanded, it went through several line-up changes over the years - American guitarist Warren Cuccurullo (formerly of Missing Persons) was also a member of the band from 1989 to 2001, and drummer Sterling Campbell was a member from 1989 to 1991. John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor all returned in 2001 and created a stir among music media and the band's fans. Duran Duran released the first album from the reunited line-up, Astronaut, in 2004, which was in turn followed up by many sold out shows in England, most notably Wembley Arena, where a live DVD of the tour was filmed in 2004/2005.
In October of 2006, it was announced on Duran Duran's website that Andy Taylor had left the band. The band's latest album, 'Red Carpet Massacre' was released in November 2007. They performed the album live in New York City on Broadway at the Barrymore Theater, for what was originally scheduled as an unprecedented 10-night run. A stage hand union strike shortened the run by a few nights, but Duran Duran were able to re-schedule the shows elsewhere. They went on to tour the world, ending their successful run in December of 2008.
2008 also saw the release of a new DVD that documents the making of their now-classic "Rio" album (called "Classic Albums: Rio (Collector's Edition)"), and a book called "Would Someone Please Explain?"- a compilation of questions from the "Ask Katy" area of their popular website.
Duran Duran returned at the end of 2010 with their 13th album, the digital and self-released album All You Need Is Now which debuted at number one on the iTunes charts in many countries (including the USA). The physical version of the album will be released with bonus tracks in February 2011. The album was produced by Mark Ronson.
2015 saw the band return with the album Paper Gods, which was led by the single "Pressure Off" featuring Janelle Monae and Nile Rodgers. The album was the band's first top 10 chart success in the U.S. in over 20 years, and also reached number 5 in the U.K.