In Roger Vadim’s 1967 cult sci-fi film, Barbarella, Jane Fonda’s character is sent by the U.S. president to find Doctor Durand Durand on the planet So Go in order to save planet earth.
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The maniacal Durand Durand, the mad scientist played by the late Irish actor Milo O’Shea, was the inspiration behind the name of the new wave and pop legends Duran Duran.
Duran Duran (1978 – 1980)
Already formed by 1978 with keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor, a year later drummer Roger Taylor joined, followed by guitarist Andy Taylor. The band had already formulated a sound they called their own “punk Moroder”— an homage to their hero, the electronic pioneer Giorgio Moroder — and singer Simon Le Bon was another missing piece of Duran Duran.
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“By the time [Simon] came on board, we’d already got the sound together, and that kind of set the template for how we approached songwriting,” John Taylor told American Songwriter in 2021. To this day, a majority of the band’s albums are credited as “all tracks written by Duran Duran.”
On July 16, 1980, Duran Duran played their first show together at The Rum Runner. The local nightclub in their hometown of Birmingham, England was where the band would regularly rehearse, work, perform, and later enlist venue owners, The Berrow Brothers (Paul and Michael), to become their manager.
The Rum Rummer is also where Duran Duran wrote their first song, “Sound of Thunder,” which appeared on their first album.
Lined up with Le Bon, Rhodes, and the Taylors, Duran Duran released their debut, eponymous album in 1981.
Arcadia and Power Station
Over the years, the lineup shifted with Duran Duran. In 1986, Andy and Roger Taylor left the band. Roger returned in 1994, and Andy in 2001. Andy played on the band’s 2004 album, Astronaut, before leaving again in 2006.
Andy also played with Duran bandmates John and Roger, along with singer Robert Palmer and former Chic drummer Tony Thompson, in the Power Station from 1984 through the late-1990s. Around the mid-1980s, Le Bon, Rhodes, and Roger Taylor also broke off to form their more art-rock-leaning project Arcadia.
Off their breakthrough “Girls on Film” in 1981 through “Hungry Like a Wolf” and “Rio” off their second album (Rio), Duran Duran accompanied each with eye-popping music videos, glamming and sexing up the music television (MTV) generation.
More hits followed for Duran throughout the ’80s and ’90s. The band’s 1984 No. 1, “The Reflex,” was followed by “A View to a Kill,” which was featured on the soundtrack of the 1985 James Bond film of the same name. Into the 1990s, Duran released three more albums and hits “Come Undone” and “Ordinary World.”
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‘Future Past’ and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Duran Duran released their 15th album, Future Past in 2021, featuring a number of special guests and producers, including Moroder.
In 2022, Duran Duran was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“Over 40 years I’ve been working,” said Le Bon during the band’s induction speech. “I’ve come to believe that the essence of our job is this: We get to make people feel better about themselves.”
Photo: Photo: John Swannell / High Rise PR