“We were perfect,” Duran Duran’s John Taylor told me in 2013, “and very few bands come out of the bag perfectly formed. A lot of other bands — and I hesitate to say U2, Radiohead — it took them three albums to find their thing.”
Taylor wasn’t bragging. Okay, he probably was. However, then the quintet from Birmingham, England, arrived in the U.S. in February 1984 — on the anniversary of the Beatles’ first arrival at JFK, natch! — Duran swanned in like they owned the place. Armed with hit songs like “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “Rio” and “Is There Something I Should Know,” not to mention their cinematic music videos, sex appeal, swagger, and vaulting ambition, the group was also buoyed by an already-sold-out arena tour. Locked and loaded, Duran Duran were ready to take their place as the Rolling Stones of the eighties.
This was by design. In the late ’70s, co-founders Taylor (bassist) and Nick Rhodes (keyboards) came up with the sonic blueprint and career check list even before recruiting members Roger Taylor (drums), Andy Taylor (guitar) and Simon Le Bon (singer). Inspired by the DIY ethic of the Sex Pistols, Duran would leave the punk legends’ filth and fury but take the raw power of Steve Jones’ incendiary guitar. To that they’d add a funky rhythm section like Chic’s, the glamour of Roxy Music, and a quest for world domination a la their biggest hero, David Bowie.
When I first found Duran Duran (or more like, they found me) I was 11 years old and listening to Air Supply and the “Grease” soundtrack. But soon I morphed into a new-wave Carrie Ann, the little girl in “Poltergeist,” spending hours staring at MTV waiting for Duran’s exotic, escapist videos.
Up until that point, I’d shared my musical taste with my parents, but this was all mine. I’d found a new religion. From then on, everything I thought and felt was in the name of John, Nick, Simon, Roger and Andy. I traveled to their concerts and waited outside their hotels and recording studios. I ran an international Duran fanzine before pursuing a career in entertainment journalism so I could be paid to be near them. I married a Brit named Simon, only to divorce him for a hotter man named John. In fact, this week, my husband and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary of meeting at a Duran Duran concert… by going to a Duran Duran concert!
It’s still hard to grasp that three days later I’ll be watching my favorite band (winners of this year’s Fan Vote) be inducted into the Rock Hall — and on their first nomination. Over the years, I’ve attended countless induction ceremonies as a crashing fan, as a top magazine editor, as a SiriusXM on-air host, all the time wondering if — and when — their day would come.
Now that it’s here, it’s the exclamation point at the 40-year-mark of a career that finds the last 12 months to be one of their most eventful yet. Following the 2021 release of their acclaimed 15th studio album, “Future Past,” 2022 brought a new part-documentary, part-performance film, “A Hollywood High”; a sold-out tour that included Madison Square Garden and a trio of shows at the Hollywood Bowl; and being among an elite lineup of artists to perform at Party at the Palace, for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee.
Over the years, “we have come to accept a lot of things,” Le Bon told me a few years back: “One of them is, we accept who we are. And I think other people accept who Duran Duran are as well. Our positive attitude and our joy in our creativity have outlasted the haters.”
Now one of the few challenges that remains is to outlast the Rolling Stones.
This essay is part of a series — in partnership with the on-air talent of SiriusXM — to pay tribute to the performers being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Nov. 5 in Los Angeles. Catch the complete Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2022 Induction Ceremony on HBO on November 19, at 8 p.m. ET, along with a simulcast on SiriusXM’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio (ch. 310) and on Volume on the SXM App. SiriusXM listeners can also catch live, backstage coverage and commentary from the ceremony on Volume on the SXM App, along with recaps on “Feedback” on Faction Talk (ch. 103) beginning Monday, Nov. 7.
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