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Duran Duran

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BIO - Duran Duran

Duran Duran will most likely go down in musical history as the first MTV superstars. A perfect example of the right band at the right time, the Birmingham, England quintet wisely took full advantage of the video medium and the advent of MTV with exotic clips that exploited their pretty-boy looks and with-it fashion sense. As an unfortunate result, their hairstyles, mascara and leather trousers received more attention than did their music, and they were maliciously reviled by critics. But that was typical of the video age; Duran Duran were a video group first (the only Grammy they have ever won was for Best Long-Form Video) and a musical group second. Still, for better or worse, they helped cement the star-making power of MTV, and their influence on the style of music video is undeniable. Duran Duran is a pop music group. They were part of the New Wave music explosion in the early 1980s, as well as a leading band in the Second British Invasion. They are still often identified as an Eighties band despite continuous recording and evolution over the past twenty-five years. The band was formed in Birmingham, England by Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and John Taylor (bass guitar), with the later addition of Roger Taylor (drums), Andy Taylor (guitar), and Simon Le Bon (lead vocals); it is worth noting that none of the Taylors are related. (Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo was also a member of the band from 1989 to 2001, and drummer Sterling Campbell was a member from 1989 to 1991.) Inspired by one of their favorite Birmingham clubs, Barbarella's, the band took their name from the evil character Dr. Durand-Durand, played by Milo O'Shea in Roger Vadim's sexy science-fiction cult film Barbarella. John Taylor and Nick Rhodes created the band in 1978, envisioning a group with the raw do-it-yourself energy of the Sex Pistols, the dance grooves of Chic, and the elegant style of David Bowie and Roxy Music. They experimented with several different lineups; their original singer was Stephen Duffy, (who went on to lead TinTin and The Lilac Time). Duffy left Duran Duran early in 1979, shortly before the other two Taylors and Le Bon fell into place, finalizing the lineup. Artist Biography - Duran Duran Duran Duran recorded two demo tapes and performed tirelessly in clubs around Birmingham and London, especially at the Rum Runner nightclub owned by their managers, brothers Paul and Michael Berrow. They were considered part of the New Romantic scene, along with other style-and-dance bands like Spandau Ballet. Touring in 1980 with Hazel O'Connor, the band attracted critical attention that escalated into a bidding war between the major record labels. "A certain patriotism" toward the label of the Beatles led them to sign with EMI. (Nick Rhodes has since said, in a 1998 interview with Deluxe magazine, that the band was "appallingly ripped off".) The band's first album, Duran Duran, was released in 1981. The first single, "Planet Earth", reached the United Kingdom's Top 20 at number 3. The second, "Careless Memories", made the chart but faded away quickly; it was the third single, "Girls On Film", that garnered them the most attention. The song went to #5 in the UK in July, before the notorious video was even filmed. That video (featuring topless women mud wrestling and other not-very-stylized depictions of sexual fetishes), was made with directors Kevin Godley and Lol Creme (formerly of the band 10cc), and was filmed in August just two weeks after MTV was launched in the United States, before anyone knew what an impact the music channel would have on the industry. The band expected the "Girls On Film" video to be played in the newer nightclubs that had video screens, or on pay-TV channels like the Playboy Channel. Needless to say, the raunchy video created an uproar (it was consequently banned by the BBC and a heavily edited "day version" was aired on MTV), and needless to say, the band enjoyed and capitalized on that uproar. Later in 1981, the band went on their first United States tour, where they performed in venues such as The Roxy Theatre nightclub in Los Angeles, The Ritz Hotel, and The Peppermint Lounge in New York, followed by more dates in Germany and the UK. Thanks to the videos, the band also became a major success in Australia without doing any touring or promotion there -- the "Planet Earth" single went to #1 on the Australian charts, and the album performed respectably as well. Like Depeche Mode, Duran Duran were among the earliest bands to work on their own remixes. Before the days of digital synthesizers and audio sampling, they created complex, multilayered arrangements of their singles, often recording entirely different extended performances of the songs in studio. (These "night versions" were generally available only on vinyl, as b-sides to 45 rpm singles or on 12-inch club singles, until the release of the Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran compilation in 1998.) From the very beginning, the band had a keen sense of style, and worked with stylist Perry Haines and fashion designers like Kahn & Bell and Antony Price to build a hip, cutting-edge image, soon growing beyond the ruffles and sashes of the pirate-flavored New Romantic look. In addition, they retained creative control of the band's visual presentation, and worked closely with graphic designers like Malcolm Garrett to create album covers and tour programs. Teen magazines and music magazines in the UK latched onto their good looks quickly, and the US soon followed; it was a rare month in the early eighties when there was not at least one picture of the band members in teen magazines like Smash Hits or Tiger Beat, even if the sugary coverage was at odds with the band's titillating videos and sometimes dark lyrics. It helped that each member had a distinctive look and personality. John Taylor once remarked that the band was "like a box of Quality Street [chocolates]; everyone is somebody's favorite," -- an effect that is now strategically planned in more recent boy bands. Duran Duran would later come to regret this early pin-up exposure, but at the time it helped gain them the national attention they sought. Duran Duran began to achieve worldwide recognition in 1982. In May, they released their second album, Rio, which scored three UK top twenties with "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Save A Prayer", and the title song. A headlining tour of Australia, Japan, and the US was followed by a stint supporting Blondie during that band's final American tour.

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