Tag Archives: Birmingham

➤ Le Bon takes wing during Duran’s return to Brighton

❚ EXTRAORDINARY! IS IT POSSIBLE THAT Simon Le Bon’s voice sounds better than ever??? Even on an amateur concert video (above, posted at YouTube by Soralella71)) there was plenty of power and range to the tenor voice soaring over The Brighton Centre last night when Duran Duran opened with Before The Rain — all the more impressive since it was injuring his vocal chords that halted the AYNIN world tour in its tracks last May. There are 11 more gigs to play on this UK and Ireland leg of the tour, so fingers crossed.

➢ “Fizzing with the insouciant pop-funk of their most famous Eighties material” — today’s review at The Arts Desk


❏ Corinna Scammell: Thankyou for Brighton — totally bloody marvellous and you did Secret Oktober!
❏ Lindsay Franklin: Bloody Brilliant Show last might in Brighton boys — it’s been too long! Last time I saw you was in the 80s. Even better now. Outstanding.
❏ Dan Thekebabman Burgess: Really enjoyed the show last night guys. Great job, simply amazing!
❏ Julie Stalford: Last night in Brighton was a fantastic night guys, thankyou so much, what a great great live band. Loved it.

Duran Duran, UK tour, Brighton Centre, John Taylor,video

John Taylor at Duran’s finale in Brighton last night: “That was definitely worth the wait. Thank you!” (Video grab from Soralella71 at YouTube)

A sentimental postcard from
John in Birmingham

➢ Dec 3: John Taylor on a DD family outing You can’t blame the Brum crowd for their sense of ownership of songs like Planet Earth and Rio, they were written in their back-yard. We have lived in a lot of cities over the years and there have been a lot of places I have called home for a time, but you know, there’s really only one, and that’s the city of Birmingham. It beget us and it made us. Thanks to it for a great night. / Read more online

➢ Ten killer DD vids to say welcome back to the UK


2011 ➤ Duran’s round-the-world adventure reaches the UK

SXSW, interview, John Norris, Duran Duran

Duran interviewed at SXSW in March: Simon Le Bon checks a runaway thought before the audience jumps to the wrong conclusion (SXSW video grab)

❚ UPDATE, JULY 1: Following the postponement of Duran Duran’s European arena tour owing to singer Simon Le Bon’s vocal problems, consult the band’s website for news… DD have rescheduled all eleven UK concerts to run from Nov 30 Brighton to Dec 17 Newcastle.

❚ UPDATE, MAY 29: Duran Duran now offer a fulsome apology for having to cancel their current UK tour dates — not, as sceptics suspected, because of unsold tickets but because of singer Simon Le Bon’s continuing “laryngeal problems”. Their website today reports: “Following a consultation with both a vocal coach and his team of ENT specialists today, Simon Le Bon has been advised that he needs to continue to rest his voice… Devastated by the news that they will not be able to resume the tour as planned on Tuesday, Simon said ‘We’ve been postponing shows with very little notice, in the hope each day that the improvement would have been significant enough for me to sing again without risking any long-term damage’.”

View John and Nick’s special video apology at YouTube . . . Today too, Roger Taylor blogs on the DD website on the horrible irony of Woody Allen’s famous quotation “If you want make God laugh, tell him about your plans” and he makes the promise: “I know that all the shows are very close to being re-scheduled later in the year.” . . . Read Simon Le Bon’s blog at DD’s website on June 1: “I reckon I got 6 semi-tones wiped off the top of my range and … it’s very difficult not to worry about it.”

❏ Here’s a sparky interview with the band just released by the SXSW festival, recorded in March. With former MTV reporter John Norris in the chair, Nick Rhodes says he still sees Duran as an art-school band and John Taylor reflects on the golden era of MTV. Stills from this interview have been posted at Flickr

Duran Duran, L'Uomo Vogue,Pierpaolo Ferrari
❏ This stylish tuxedoed shot by Pierpaolo Ferrari comes from the current “Long Live the 80s” issue of L’Uomo Vogue, with a feature on DD by former Wag club host Chris Sullivan, translated for the Italian edition.


❏ It was 30 years in March since the 80s supergroup’s debut single Planet Earth peaked at No 12 in the UK chart… This year their 14-track CD of AYNIN spent five weeks on the UK album chart.

❏ View highlights from Duran Duran’s Unstaged online concert March 23 at the Mayan theatre, Los Angeles, in 1080p HD at the band’s Vevo channel on YouTube /DuranDuranVEVO. Click here to find which global regions are licensed to view highlights at YouTube. The four DD Unstaged concert tracks most viewed via Vevo in the first three weeks after the live webcast drew more than 1.5m views — these are All You Need is Now with 700,930 views, then Notorious 298,505, Planet Earth 290,477, and Friends of Mine 274,935 way out ahead of all other tracks, most of which pulled only four-figure audiences.

John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Duran, Facebook Live, interview, thequietus, SXSW❏ Rhodes and Taylor give a 30-minute video interview on Billboard.com including live Q&A (right) on March 30, 2011.

❏ Rhodes and Le Bon give a seven-minute video history of DD for ABC News, Jan 2011 — “Rio was the album that made us the biggest band in the world. It made us big in America”

❏ Duran have been blessed by an interview at Quietus, its holiness the online magazine whose touchstone is “reverence” and claims “we’re not afraid of surprising our readers”. Writer Simon Price delivers two surprises. Plus this list of post-80s albums the band think most deserve to be listened to: The Wedding Album (1993) … Pop Trash (2000) … Medazzaland (1997) … Astronaut (2004).

❏ On the current AYNIN tour Duran Duran played North America and Mexico March 16–April 27, just before their 11-date UK tour from Newcastle to Sheffield May 18–June 4. They take in Berlin on May 26 and continue across Europe, Paris to Bergen June 10–Aug 28. [Update — These were the original plans, which were substantially cancelled in May and June.] In between they return to the UK for the V Festival on both Aug 20 and 21.

Duran Duran, All You Need Is Now, video, Nick Egan
♫ View Nick Egan’s Bacofoil video for All You Need Is Now, DD’s comeback single at Yahoo Music — available worldwide on iTunes. A 14-track CD package of the same name was released in March for most of Europe, Australia, Far East and North America with South America following in April.

♫ Listen to two new Duran tracks premiered on NYC’s East Village Radio.

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s — 1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham


1981 ➤ The day Duran’s fortunes really took flight

❚ HAPPY 30th ANNIVERSARY to Planet Earth. On March 5, 1981, Duran Duran made their first appearance on the nationwide TV show Top of the Pops, a vital consequence of their debut single hitting the UK Top 40. Along with Spandau Ballet and Visage, Duran were the third British band to confirm the gathering force of the New Romantic movement, and TV’s pop flagship was to showcase a rush of new bands as springtime blossomed. Duran’s strongly contemporary electronic style is attributed to producer Colin Thurston, who had co-engineered David Bowie’s “Heroes”, and on his death in 2007 John Taylor paid tribute to Thurston as “a major catalyst for the 80s sound” which he was to reinforce on the band’s first album. “Without Colin’s depth of vision, we would never have become the band we became.”

Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon, Rum Runner, 1980, New Romantics,Planet Earth, video

Simon Le Bon: live on video at the Rum Runner in 1980

In the Planet Earth video mix above we see original footage of DD performing in 1980 at the Rum Runner, home of Birmingham’s then underground New Romantic scene.

The futuristic and stylish official video, shot later in a studio by director Russell Mulcahy, has been spliced in, all overdubbed with the audio track recorded at EMI’s Manchester Square studio with lyrics refreshed opportunistically to include the line Like some New Romantic looking for the TV sound (available as the Manchester Square Demo on the debut Duran Duran album remastered in 2010). One of Duran’s earliest songs, Late Bar, completed the B-side of the single released on Feb 2, 1981. An alternative arrangement of Planet Earth was also released on a 12-inch extended remix as what DD called a “night version” for the dancefloor. The single spent 14 weeks in the chart, peaking at No 12 in late March.

Among comments at YouTube, Jeremy Thirlby, musician and school friend of Nick Rhodes, points out that the dancers we see during the filming at the club were “drafted in actors” because for some reason “most regulars were excluded”! Unknown to everyone at Birmingham’s Rum Runner the very week when Duran were being filmed in July 1980, London’s ITV station was to air its 20th Century Box documentary about the Blitz club house band, Spandau Ballet. Bang! This was the starting gun that signalled the record-industry race to sign up the first of the New Romantic bands.

New Romantics, Duran Duran, Rum Runner, video, 1980, Planet Earth

New Romantics in full fig at the Rum Runner in July 1980: note the tell-tale moves in the Planet Earth video, such as the Ballet sway at 1:20, crucial handpasses at 2:18 and Pierrot’s wonky head at 3:06


1981 ➤ Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth — when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Duran Duran, New Romantics

Duran Duran in 1980: Birmingham’s fluffiest New Romantics

Planet Earth, Night Version, Duran Duran◼ 30 YEARS AGO TODAY the Birmingham club-band Duran Duran released their debut single Planet Earth, less than two months after signing to EMI. It charted in mid-March, peaked at No 12, and bagged the band a spot on Top of the Pops, Britain’s premier music TV show. They were the first New Romantic band from outside London to make good, and this week the writer Steve Jansen claims that “inside of three short years, Duran were officially the biggest band on the planet”. He celebrates Duran’s birthpangs with a freshly researched three-day survey of their origins titled Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran, online at gimmeawristband.com. Jansen talks to all the main players involved during the run-up to the band’s chart debut — here are a few tasters from his epic story, published with permission…

Extracts from Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran:

❏ Bass player John Taylor recalls himself and Nick Rhodes, both Birmingham-born, founding Duran Duran as “young punks; we just wanted to get involved. To us, music was like a commodity. It was this word-of-mouth thing that brought you together with people; it made you your friends — and some of your enemies. It was the mixer.”

❏ Jeremy Thirlby, who was childhood friends with Rhodes, remembers: “None of us — John, Nick or me was gay — but that whole Kahn & Bell scene [around their fashion boutique] was very appealing to people like Nick because there was something going on; plus he’d always been into the slightly more surreal end of Bowie… Nick had always been single-minded, so it didn’t turn his head. He wanted to get somewhere else, and at the time Kahn & Bell was it.”

Michael Berrow, Paul Berrow, Duran Duran

The management, 1980: Michael and Paul Berrow. Photographed © by Paul Edmond

❏ Duran’s co-manager Paul Berrow: “That unique relationship between [Duran’s] rehearsal room upstairs and the club — which was pumping six, seven nights a week down below — John and Roger, all they had to do if they were running out of inspiration was walk down one flight of stairs and they’d find themselves in a club with four or five-hundred people, with a very loud sound system.”

❏ EMI’s A&R man Dave Ambrose travelled to Birmingham to catch Duran in October 1980. Could he honestly have seen so much in Duran so early? “Honestly. Yes. I swear. This was going to be a very, very important band; I could see them being the next Queen. Simon was like this Elvis figure. Andy was a great craftsman, a really solid musician. There was John, this cool bass player. Roger, a still under-rated drummer. And then there’s Nick, like this Andy Warhol figure; and I thought, what an incredible combination.”

❏ In 1980 Beverley Glick was aka Betty Page at the now-defunct UK music paper Sounds. Paul Berrow invited her to Birmingham to meet his unknown band. Page had doubts: “I thought, do I really want to go all the way up to Birmingham to do this? [Berrow] didn’t even offer me a tape.” Upon arrival, Page was forced to reassess: “I’d never met a bunch of people who were so confident and focused, who knew exactly where they wanted to go; even more so than Spandau Ballet [London’s rival New Romantic band]. It was a kind of youthful arrogance that was quite appealing at the time. I don’t think they ever thought coming from Birmingham was going to stop them — in fact, I think they used it to their advantage really.”

Rod Stewart, Da Ya Think I’m Sexy

Inspiration for Planet Earth: Rod Stewart’s UK number one and US number one single Da Ya Think I’m Sexy was released in December 1978. Most of the music was written by drummer Carmine Appice, and its disco-like arrangement was seen by fans as a betrayal of Stewart’s rock roots at a time when he gyrated onstage wearing tight spandex. The song has a further history. Its refrain was similar to the melody in the 1972 instrumental, Taj Mahal, by Brazil’s popular singer-songwriter Jorge Ben Jor. In an ensuing lawsuit, Rod agreed to donate the profits from his song to UNICEF

❏ Andy Taylor, Duran guitarist: “The essence of Planet Earth came from Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? [from December 1978] which Rod Stewart reckons was brilliant. The synth-guitar hook line that kicks off the tune is played on the same scale and key; the first two chords Dm7 & F are the same, so the melody/ counter melody lines are interchangeable.”

❏ Michael Berrow remembers Bob Lamb who produced Duran’s demos back in 1980: “Bob did a great job on Planet Earth. Bob’s arrangement is pretty well what made the final recording.” When EMI came into the frame, however, Lamb was laid off in favour of Colin Thurston. Lamb said later: “Colin was more fashionable than me at the time. I bumped into him at a studio in London and Colin said to me – and I quote – ‘I owe you a house’ (laughs) — which I’m still waiting for!”

❏ Graphic designer Malcolm Garrett reveals why the 12-inch sleeve of Planet Earth (the Night Version) looks different from the regular 7-inch version: “Economics. I don’t think they had much money, and they didn’t expect it to sell. Hence, they only gave me two colours to print with.”

➢ Read Steve Jansen’s full text of Switch It On!
— Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran

Duran Duran, video, Planet Earth

The New Romantic Jive: Rum Runner regulars Gay John and Lavinya (aka Patrick Black), dressed to the hilt and dancing in Russell Mulcahy’s official 1981 video for Planet Earth


1980 ➤ One week in the private worlds of the new young

Evening Standard, Oct 16, 1980

First published in the Evening Standard, 16 October 1980

THE CYNICS may have written off London as dead in 1980 but somewhere under the skin a dozen small worlds are struggling to prove our swinging capital is not yet finished. Each private world has its own star system and its own code of conduct. Some steer a scenic route through the maze of being young, broke and having energy to spare

Judi Frankland in one of the clerical cassocks from her degree show summer of 1980, pictured by Derek Ridgers. Style commentator Perry Haines, by Simon Brown

◼ LAST THURSDAY was as typical as any. At about the time 5,000 fans from Disco World were leaving The Crusaders concert at the Royal Albert Hall, 1980’s new London underground was coming to life. On the door of a Covent Garden club called Hell, Chris Sullivan, in monocle and Basque beret, and Judi Frankland, in the home-made clerical cassock that she’d worn in Bowie’s video for his chart topping Ashes to Ashes, were posing for an Italian magazine photographer. Inside, playing box-office and wearing his own modish Stephen Jones hat and all too visible makeup, sat the ubiquitous Steve Strange, 21, Hell being the twice-weekly off-shoot of his much reported Tuesdays at the nearby Blitz club. For him, he said, dressing up is a way of life. “I don’t do it to get attention.” . . . / Continued on our inside page

➢ Read on inside Shapers of the 80s:
A rich slice of London life in 1980 – one week, a dozen prodigies setting the town ablaze, none of them over 22