Eight Best Bits of John Taylor’s Duran Duran Tell-All

From The Daily Beast:

ohn Taylor, bass guitarist and founding member of ‘80s hitmakers Duran Duran, has a new autobiography out. In the Pleasure Groove is not just a rock biography, but also a portrait of the decade that defined his band and vice-versa.

From the aesthetic foundations of the era’s key looks to its early end at the hands of Bob Geldof (in 1984), Daily Beast writer Tom Sykes, who helped John Taylor write and edit the book, picks out his eight favorite ‘80s moments from the book:

The Duran Duran Aesthetic Came From Kids’ Military Toys

“The Airfix catalogue was an astounding education, and gave my generation a great primer in industrial design, as well as developing our hand-eye skills,” Taylor writes. “Painting all those uniforms in intricate detail on three-inch figurines left its mark on my aesthetic sensibility—the epaulets, the braids, the sashes, and the boots. You can still see an Airfix influence onstage with Duran Duran today. I just can’t seem to shake it off.”

As 1979 bled into 1980, Taylor took stock of the zeitgeist

“No one who had a clue was dressing ‘punk’ anymore… The shapes right now were sharp and structured. Gary Numan got that right. The military look was back. Ground Control to Major Tom. Bowie in Berlin. 2001. Keyboards were in, guitars were out…Visage would sing “Fade to Grey.”

Fonts were modern and democratic. Kidnapper typography and ink splatters were out. Avant Garde became the font du jour and Helvetica continued its ride to the top. Girls and boys began to cross-over-dress again, as they had done during the glam-rock years.

Glamour was back. The machismo of punk disappeared overnight. Disco was winning the war on rock. Halston, Gucci, and Fiorucci made it to the Midlands.”

The Hair

“This was a fantastic moment for hair color, as the Crazy Color and Manic Panic hair-dye brands had been launched the previous year and had definitely helped us define our look. Simon was no longer a blond, he was now a brunette, which gave an opening for Nick to go all the way blond. Andy trailblazed the black-and-blond two-tone skunk look that Kajagoogoo’s Limahl would popularize, and Roger was adding blue to his black. I set up camp in the Bordeaux/Burgundy corner. I’ve always felt the best haircuts come courtesy of a devoted girlfriend, and Andy would marry Tracey eventually.”

The Girls

“Of absolute necessity for any touring musician is the itinerary. It usually comes as a gift from the tour manager on the last day of rehearsal. Depending on the length of the tour about to be undertaken, it could cover any length of time between one week and two months.

Page one lists the principals, the inner circle, and the crew who are going to get the show around the world. All the numbers to call if in trouble are listed there: the management, the agencies, the travel agents, the local promoters. Then follows a page-by-page account of the destinations: “October 3, Chicago. Band Hotel: Ambassador East. Crew Hotel: Crown Hyatt. Venue: Park West.” And so on and so on.

I had not noticed right away that in the left-hand corner of each page of the U.S. itinerary there was a number, usually 18, 21, or 20.

It was months before I was let in on the secret. The numbers referred to the legal age for sexual intercourse in that particular state.”

The End of the Eighties

After being part of the all-star cast that records “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in 1984, Taylor reflects:

“We all knew the song would go to No. 1. What we didn’t know was how profoundly that song would affect the rest of the decade.

People talk about the ‘80s as being a decadent, glamorous, fashion-conscious time, and in 1984, it certainly seemed that way. There was no reason to think the party couldn’t go on forever.

But the ‘80s is a decade of two halves. Things that you could get away with in 1984, you could not get away with 12 months later. There was about to be an immense sea change in the culture, and the shift was ++started by Bob Geldof++ [ http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/11/05/bbcs-belated-apology-for-slur-on-bob-geldofs-band-aid.html ] that cold December day… A conscience was now required of everyone in pop. It was no longer enough just to be able to write fun or romantic songs that made people want to dance or escape—you had to take a position. Pop became political. See U2.

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