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Duran Duran

Through the (video) ages, fashionably

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At the end of the 70s, New Wave went from referencing a style of French film to describing a new, punk-inspired pop sound. But just what the hell did it mean? According to legend, Sire Records owner Seymour Stein began using the term to separate his loud-fast punk bands like the Ramones from the evolving dance- and synthesizer-generated music of such groups on his roster as Blondie.

Enter Duran Duran. Love 'em or hate 'em, these British pretty boys became the frontrunners of the New Wave, not to mention the burgeoning music-video phenomenon. Duran Duran was a boy-band teen sensation long before the New Kids or Backstreet Boys, but the music of Simon LeBon and company also was spun at hipster dance clubs. The group's mix of Roxy Music debonair with stylish videos and catchy songs catapulted Duran Duran to superstardom and contributed to the success of a new network called MTV.

It's no secret that Duran Duran's image-driven music built the band's reputation and following. In fact, had it not been for the advent of music videos, Duran Duran's popularity would likely have been much smaller.

Believe it or not, in its 27 years, Duran Duran never broke up and has continued to tour and release records, albeit in several incarnations. So, soccer mom, stop fumbling through your purse. It's likely your son borrowed your mauve lipstick for the show. You'll just have to share when Duran Duran hits the stage this week at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

1980

The most famous line-up gels when singer Simon Le Bon, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist Andy Taylor join founding members Nick Rhodes (keyboards) and John Taylor (bass).

1981

Duran Duran releases the ground-breaking "Girls on Film" video, which is met with much controversy over its then-frank sexual imagery. The band goes on to release numerous stylish music videos over the next few years including "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf." It is the dawning of the Age of the Video.

1984

George Orwell's prophetic year of doom belongs to Duran Duran as Rolling Stone magazine hails the band as "The Fab Five" in a cover story. The group wins two Grammys for its videos and embarks on its first major arena tour of the US.

1985

John and Andy Taylor form popular supergroup the Power Station with singer Robert Palmer and ex-Chic member Tony Thompson. LeBon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor draw a line in the sand by forming their own side project, the forgotten Arcadia.

1995

In a desperate attempt at a comeback in the alt-rock 90s, Duran Duran performs the Grandmaster Flash rap classic "White Lines" on the Late Show with David Letterman, accompanied by MC Melle Mel and DJ Flash himself.

The band also releases a thoroughly embarrassing tribute disc, Thank You, that includes covers of classic trax by Lou Reed, Zeppelin, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Dylan and even (believe it or not) Public Enemy. (Curiously, nothing by Roxy Music, the band to which Duran Duran owes its biggest debt.)

1996

Founding member John Taylor leaves to pursue a solo career, but you don't remember it because this was the year Radiohead and Beck were making the big video headlines.

2000

Puff Daddy samples Duran Duran's "Notorious" for a Notorious B.I.G. song.

2004

The original quintet reunites for the album Astronaut and sets off on a world tour, cashing in on the nostalgia tip.

2005

Duran Duran lands in Charlotte with New Wave wannabes Stimulator in tow. (There are currently more than 50,000 web pages dedicated to Duran Duran on the worldwide web.)

Duran Duran performs tonight, July 20, at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Tickets are $23.50-$53. The show starts at 7:30pm. For more details call 704-522-6500 or visit cellardoor.com.

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