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The Wild Boys: 10 Duran Duran Facts You Need To Know
Press/Jonas Åkerlund
List & Guides

The Wild Boys: 10 Duran Duran Facts You Need To Know

Think you know everything there is to know about the 80s pop titan? These Duran Duran facts may prove you wrong…

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Dubbed the “Fab Five”, Duran Duran were pop’s poster boys of the 80s, releasing a string of multi-platinum-selling albums and singles that continue to pack dancefloors to this day, including Rio, The Reflex and Planet Earth. In the 90s, there came a critical renaissance with one of the decade’s classic comebacks, Ordinary World, and its parent album, Duran Duran (aka “The Wedding Album”), and, into the 21st century, the group continue to craft critical and commercial hits while building a formidable legacy as standout live performers. Think you know all about a band whose legacy stretches back more than four decades? Here are 10 Duran Duran facts that might surprise you…

Listen to the best of Duran Duran here, and check out the Duran Duran facts you need to know, below.

1: Duran Duran released the first-ever paid-for digital single

Duran Duran have a long history of innovation – seizing the new opportunities offered by the MTV age, or fusing different musical genres to blend a sound that’s uniquely their own – and, in September 1997, they issued the world’s first-ever paid-for digital single. Electric Barbarella came out on the long-forgotten Liquid Audio format and caused controversy in the music industry. The track, issued in a unique remix for the platform, was taken from the band’s Medazzaland album, which wasn’t even issued in the UK, and the bold format move was blamed for the album’s relatively poor performance stateside, with physical-music retailers spooked by the group’s decision to embrace the internet. Electric Barbarella would later turn up on the band’s hits compilation Greatest, and Medazzaland was finally issued on CD and vinyl in the UK in 2022.

2: For two decades, they were the only James Bond theme chart champions

Paul McCartney And Wings couldn’t manage it; Carly Simon came close; and Shirley Bassey tried three times, but, across the first two decades of the James Bond film franchise, none of its themes ever made it to No.1 on the transatlantic singles charts… until Duran Duran. Recorded for the 1985 Bond film of the same name, A View To A Kill made top billing in the US and peaked at No.2 in the band’s homeland (it wouldn’t be until 2015 and Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall that the UK would crown a Bond chart-topper). One of the best James Bond theme songs of all time, A View To A Kill was the group’s 13th single and the last recording with their original line-up until their 21st-century reunion. Though one of the band’s most famous songs, it’s less known among Duran Duran facts that the track was written with legendary composer John Barry and recorded with a 60-piece orchestra.

3: Duran Duran once inspired a board game

In 1984, Duran Duran were at the peak of their pop fame. Coming off the back of the lengthy Sing Blue Silver world tour, staged in support of the Seven And The Ragged Tiger album, the group decided to issue a live album with a difference. Arena would contain ten tracks, including a new studio song with Nile Rodgers (the classic The Wild Boys), but it would also be accompanied by a long-form concert video, Arena (An Absurd Notion); the obligatory The Making Of Arena companion piece, on VHS; a book and even a board game. An anomaly among Duran Duran facts, Into The Arena was issued in 1985 by US manufacturers Milton Bradley, and it saw players trying to match cards with the band’s hit singles and videos. The item has become a prized piece of merchandise for collectors today.

4: Their influence and appeal spreads far and wide

Wider respect for Duran Duran’s creative achievements came only as the fuss about their commercial impact began to die down. But in the 80s, they were already attracting interest from artists who could see beyond the hype, acknowledging the group’s place among the best 80s musicians: Grace Jones contributed to the band’s splinter project Arcadia, alongside Sting and David Gilmour, while Nile Rodgers became, arguably, the sixth member of the band with his production work on the remix of The Reflex, the Notorious album and collaborations into the new millennium. In 1999, The Notorious B.I.G, with Puff Daddy and Lil’ Kim, issued Notorious B.I.G., using a sample of Notorious’ title track. Blur guitarist Graham Coxon and Scandinavian pop siren Lykke Li were guests on 2021’s Future Past, which has earned the band some of the greatest notices of their long career.

5: 1986 almost witnessed the end of Duran Duran

After a hiatus in 1985 that saw Duran Duran splinter into two successful musical side projects – Arcadia (led by Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor) and The Power Station (which saw John and Andy Taylor team up with Robert Palmer and Chic drummer Tony Thompson) – plans for a new group record changed dramatically when Roger Taylor quit the five-piece for a quieter life and Andy launched a solo career. The remaining trio managed to find a new groove, with the Nile Rodgers-produced Notorious restoring the band’s chart profile once more. The line-up witnessed further shifts in the years ahead: Warren Cuccurullo joined in the late 80s and left when the original five-piece reformed in 2000. Andy quit a second time, in 2006, but the band has now strengthened into a core line-up of the remaining four members.

6: John Taylor didn’t play on one of the band’s best loved tracks

Bassist John Taylor isn’t one to dwell on past choices but, when pushed, he claims to be bothered by just one decision made during the recording of 1993’s “The Wedding Album”. “Maybe I wished I’d played on Come Undone,” he told the BBC. “I’d gone back to LA. We’d put that album to bed and I said: ‘I’m not coming back for one more song.’ Maybe it would have been a different song if I’d been there, maybe it wouldn’t have been such a great song. But I’m not one for regrets.” In the years since, of course, he has played it countless times – one of the best Duran Duran songs, it’s a regular in the band’s live sets.

7: Save A Prayer’s video shoot landed Andy Taylor in hospital

A trip to Sri Lanka to create two spectacular videos arguably broke Duran Duran internationally, with Hungry Like The Wolf and Save A Prayer going into heavy rotation on MTV. Unfortunately, filming in the tropical paradise wasn’t all it seemed to be. “Don’t fall into a lagoon full of elephant’s urine and wash it all down with more booze and a bucket of chillies,” is the candid advice from former Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor. He managed to complete some live dates in Australia before being forced to fly back to the UK, where he ended up in hospital, diagnosed with a tropical virus.

8: Girls On Film was banned by the BBC and MTV

It’s no secret among Duran Duran facts that MTV and the pop-video revolution transformed the band’s fortunes in the early 80s, particularly in the US, when the then recently launched cable TV service turned to UK pop acts who had already made the medium their own for shows such as the BBC’s Top Of The Pops. Even so, in the early days of MTV, there just weren’t enough promo videos to meet the demand of its 24/7 schedule. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, former members of 10cc, a hit-making duo and increasingly the go-to directors of the day, were commissioned to create something for Girls On Film that would play in nightclubs, and the six-minute erotic interpretation of the band’s third UK single served that need perfectly. However, both the BBC and MTV decided they just couldn’t air it, despite the demand from the band’s growing following, and a new version was hastily cut. In 1984, along with Hungry Like The Wolf, Girls On Film won a Grammy for Best Music Video when it was issued as a VHS and Betamax video EP, and both clips are fondly remembered as two of the best 80s music videos.

9: Duran Duran had to pay to appear on their first national tour

In 1980, Hazel O’Connor was a big star. The soundtrack to her hit movie, Breaking Glass, had made the UK Top 5, while she was a regular on pop TV and had enjoyed a big chart smash in Eighth Day. Her tour of late 1980 would see her play 15 dates across the UK, finishing at London’s Dominion Theatre. Though it may now seem like one of the more unlikely Duran Duran facts, given their status as in-demand live performers, management for the up-and-coming group paid for the opportunity to open for O’Connor – it was a common way of new acts getting exposure back then, and, just a few weeks away from the release of their debut single, Planet Earth, it seemed a sound investment. The five-piece learned plenty about how to win over a crowd. “When we took our act out of clubland, away from the cult, we would often hit walls of resistance, indifference or even hatred,” John Taylor would recall in his 2012 autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove. It wouldn’t take long for those walls to come crumbling down.

10: There’s a “lost” Duran Duran album we’ve yet to hear

After the strong comeback of 2004’s Astronaut, featuring the original band line-up for the first time since 1985, plans inevitably focused on a follow-up. With writing and recording taking place in late 2005, Duran Duran submitted a rough cut of a new record, called Reportage, to their label, and continued to record further tracks for the project. Sessions were scheduled with producer Timbaland, and Justin Timberlake was approached to guest, but the band had hit a crossroads, with Andy Taylor deciding to step down. The Timbaland sessions became 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre, and Reportage was shelved. Nick Rhodes says about three weeks of work is required to complete the record, and it’s rumoured there are plans to release it. We live in hope!

Find out which Duran Duran track ranks among the best 80s songs.

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