John Taylor’s body double
I spent Saturday in the company of Duran Duran. Had you told me, back in the 1980s, that I’d do that, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, in recent years, I’ve had nights out with a fair few of the popstars I grew up listening to or watching on Top of the Pops. There’ve been the likes of Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet, Leee John of Imagination (we danced together to “Just an Illusion” at the rap party of Reborn in the USA) or even the lovely Tereza Bazar from Dollar (who could forget that dress for Hand Held in Black and White?).
Even so, Duran Duran are special and I’ll certainly treasure my crew pass. They were always a cut above the others. While not necessarily regarded as such in their home country, they were the biggest British band in the US since the Beatles. Never overtly cool, they had a superb brand of brilliantly crafted pop that I’ve always loved. In fact, over their thirty year career in music, I’ve enjoyed every Duran single, perhaps with special pleasure reserved for the brilliant “Ordinary World” that led to a revival at a time when it appeared they would fade away, when their music has always deserved to be heard.
It’s thirty years since debut singe “Planet Earth”, a song the band sometimes mix with the underrated “All She Wants Is” in their live shows. There’s an element of sadness that, after all this time, the band are still worth writing about. I once scripted a TV show called Sing it Back with Paul Gambaccini, the walking encyclopedia of music who stated earlier this year that the era of rock ’n roll is over. It seems horribly true. It’s not just that I went to the opera a few weeks ago, and surprised myself by rather enjoying Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. It’s that there’s very little interest or enthusiasm from the young generation in forming bands and actually crafting songs.
On Saturday, Duran played three of their new songs, all of which were impressive, especially “Leave a Light On” which I presume is a single to come soon. The band were recording Duran Duran: One Night Only at ITV’s London Studios, hosted by Christine Bleakley. Very professional, they were working pretty much all afternoon on sound checks and setup, but at times even this band with great stamina (as you’ll know if you’ve seen them live) need a break. At one point I was asked to take to the stage and mime a little bass playing, giving John Taylor a well-deserved rest. I’ve done some strange jobs over the course of my lifetime, but I never expected to become the body double for one of the world’s great heartthrobs.
The Independent on Sunday music journalist Simon Price, perhaps the man with the most distinctive haircut in music since Phil Oakey, also came to the filming. I always see him at gigs and wish now I’d asked him who he feels the next decent band to break might be. There’s lots of hype around Slough’s Brother or Chapel Club from my own East End, but I’m not convinced they have The X-Factor (another ITV show which is, without doubt, brilliant television, but has probably played its part in undermining real music). But this was a night to look back, not forward, and enjoy a great musical legacy, and share a beer in the very crowded green room afterwards – even Frank Lampard popped in after the show to join up with Bleakley.
The show transmits on Sunday 20th March and will be well worth watching for any Duranies still going strong (I’m sure there are lots). Once it’s been seen, I might add a few of my own pictures from the day to spice up this entry, but I’d hate to annoy either the band or the good people of ITV by slipping them out into the ether before the show is aired.