D is for Duran Duran
A-Z Challenge fatigue shouldn't be setting in by "D" but there you go. In last year's challenge I pointed out that there are a lot of doom laden words beginning with D - doom, for instance. Or disaster, dire and depression. So perhaps "D" is officially the hump letter of the A-Z challenge.
The best artist beginning with "D" must surely be Bob Dylan. But I don't have time to do him justice; the most intriguing band is surely the Doors. I have never heard anything from Dying Fetus and I really have no inclination to.
Duran Duran may not have the depth but they are hard to resist because they had the glitz. Perhaps it was the element of escapism that drew me to Duran in my teens. Cities were going up in smoke, acne was making inroads by the day and Duran were hanging out on yachts and making glamorous videos, while singing about girls called Rio.
The other curious thing about Duran is the fact they came from Birmingham, the city I was born in. This was remarkable because I don't believe anything glamorous has ever come out of Birmingham before or since, although it's home to a great chocolate factory. If you ever encounter anyone from Birmingham you have to remember to be patient. People from Birmingham have a genetic defect which means it takes longer for messages to travel from their brain to their mouth than other people. It doesn't mean they're not as bright.
Apparently the band would play at a venue called Barbarella's in Birmingham in the early days. They would later name the band after the villain from Barbarella, Roger Vadim's French science-fiction film. The villain, played by Milo O'Shea, is named "Dr. Durand Durand".
Duran at the height of their fame in the early 1980s comprised lead singer Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor. None of the Taylors were related and half of the teenage boys in Britain wanted to be John Taylor.
Duran worked very carefully on their image with the likes of Vivian Westwood and Giorgio Armani. Their early video for Girls on Film was infamous for its topless mud wrestling women. It did the band no harm.
The band became so big they gained a "fab five" image that aped The Beatles. Princess Diana was a big fan. Later they came to regret the heartthrob image and spent a long time trying to distance themselves from it.
"We used to be a very chi-chi name to drop in '79, but then the Fab Five hype started and something went wrong. Something went really wrong. That wasn't what I wanted. [...] Not that I didn't like being screamed at. At one point I really did," commented John Taylor.
And a View to a Kill is certainly one of the best Bond themes around.
Duran also had a surprising renaissance in the 1990s at a time when most of the frilly shirted New Romantic bands of the 1980s were as dead as Monty's parrot. Ordinary World and Come Undone remain two of their best songs. They even gained a presence in the United States.
Given the fact these guys had the world at their feet, it's amazing how much time they seem to have spent being disgruntled or squabbling with various Taylors in a perpetual state of departure.
Curious fact about Duran Duran: Simon Le Bon inadvertently hit a falsetto note singing A View to a Kill during Live Aid which he later described as the most humiliating moment of his career. It's uncertain how he continued to live from this moment on.