When someone asks how I got interested in the music business, I usually tell them that when I first saw the Duran Duran "Rio" video on MTV, I asked my mom how much she think it cost to make. Thus began a lifelong quest to balance art and commerce. Though this story is more anecdotal than factual, there is no doubt I noticed the difference between a Duran Duran video shot with 35 millimeter film in some exotic location and the typical cheap looking "band performs in front of a tinfoil covered backdrop as a unicorn runs by in the background and/or a vase with a single rose falls to the floor and smashes apart in slow motion" video fare of the day.
The music was also good. Early Duran Duran was a mixture of Chic or Sly and the Family Stone and the Sex Pistols. "Duran Duran", "Rio" and "Seven And The Ragged Tiger" are brilliant albums. Even when I got into punk rock and was thus compelled to pare down my "commercial rock" record collection, Duran Duran stayed, along with AC/DC, Aerosmith and the Who. But just to set the record straight, I NEVER dressed like a New Romantic.
The band made a few crappy albums in the late '80's, but the 1993 "Wedding Album" was great. Since then, their recorded output has been only so-so, but I always check it out. They've earned that status with me.
In 1994 or so, a friend of mine (also a Duran Duran fan) and I got our first America Online accounts. One day we had the fantastic idea to create fake user names and pretend we where members of Duran Duran. He was NRhodesDD and I was SLebon26. We would spend hours sitting a chat room we called DuranLink in an attempt to try and convince anyone who dropped in that we where really Nick and Simon. We would claim that though we would much prefer to be sitting in a private jet on the way to Belize with 10 cases of Perrier-Jouet and a kilo of blow, our record label was forcing us to use AOL to connect with our fans. In those days, you could get away with almost anything online, and I'm pretty sure we had a lot of people fooled. Creepy? Yes. Ahead of it's time in terms of a marketing medium (despite the fact it was a total sham)? Also yes.
I had a run in with greatness once, in 2006. I was browsing the best sellers table at a bookstore in London Heathrow and picked up a copy of the Kite Runner. The guy next to me also picked up a copy. Being that one of those awkward "oh we're both going to read the same book" moments just happened, I glanced to my left to get a better look at my opposite in the awkwardness. It was Simon Lebon. We chatted for a minute, no doubt making small talk about grabbing the same book. I for sure didn't bring up AOL. But like that he was gone and in line at the cash register.
I've only seen Duran Duran once. It was the original line-up reunion tour from a couple years ago and MAGIC, a big trade show that takes place in Las Vegas, paid them huge bucks to play the opening party. So it was an hour of all hits. I must admit, they where awesome. I may have even danced.
Oh, and if you spent the '80's under a rock or where not born yet, you may not know who Patrick Nagel is. But I'm sure you've seen his work...