Simon LeBon on Family, Music, and The BRITs

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SIMON LE BON ON FAMILY, MUSIC AND THE BRITS Feb 17 2004

By Julia Kuttner

AS frontman of the 80s' biggest pop band, Simon Le Bon is used to adulation.

But tonight he gets the all-important recognition from the British music industry when Duran Duran are awarded the coveted Outstanding Contribution Award at the Brits.

And no one will be applauding louder than Yasmin, his wife of 19 years.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Mirror, Simon insists their marriage is as strong as ever - and rubbishes rumours it is on the rocks.

"We're still very much in love. We have a fantastic strong relationship and a lovely family life," he says.

Simon, 45, fell for the stunning supermodel, now 39, in 1985 when he saw her picture and "pursued her like a wolf".

"Once I got her to go out with me I wasn't going to lose her, and we've managed to stick together - although I don't think I've always been totally easy to live with," he says.

"When I'm at home I really enjoy spending time as a family, but I miss Yazzie and the girls when I'm out with the band. When I'm home I try to make it seem like we're still dating.

"There have been stories linking me to other people, but Yasmin and I laugh them off. There was once a picture of Emma Bunton giving me a kiss. It was absurd. We were in a huge crowd of people at the Q awards and they were all cut out of the picture. It was quite funny."

There were also claims Simon cheated on Yasmin with a girl in a low-cut top at a wedding. "We'd been to one wedding in the last 10 years and the only one with a low-cut dress was the bride," he laughs.

"I'm still married to Yasmin because we have something I've never found with anyone else. We're strong enough to take these stories. But when you have a nine-year-old child come home in tears because she thinks her parents are splitting up, it is very, very, distressing."

THE Brit award crowns an amazing few months for the Brummie band, who in the 80s sold 60million records with hits like Save a Prayer, Girls on Film and Hungry Like a Wolf.

For Le Bon and band members Nick Rhodes and Roger, Andy and John Taylor, it is "better than a lifetime achievement award". Simon says: "That means we're past it. This means we've got something to offer.

"If I get half the chance I'll be doing videos with glamorous women on Caribbean yachts again. Would 50 Cent do it? You bet he would."

However, the 80s excesses - the girls, cars and drugs - are long gone for the band. Simon is now more likely to be seen running round Richmond Park with his kids than hanging around Bond Street praying to be snapped.

Until last year they had not performed together since Live Aid in 1985. Simon says the time apart has made them stronger.

He says: "I've never stopped feeling married to them. Even when we were still apart I felt married to them. It's very exciting to be back together. Every show seems to get better."

Last year they played sell-out shows in America and Japan and picked up a lifetime achievement award at the MTV Music Video Awards and the Q Awards.

A gig in London in December sold out in three minutes. Tickets went for £2,000 outside.

"There were fans I recognised from the 80s," says Simon. "There was one I saw who was a huge fan of Roger's. Nice girl, but verging on the obsessive."

The band are working on a new album. The first single, Sunrise, is on the soundtrack of US hit series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. "It's all about the music," says Simon. "Awards are flattering, but playing to people, writing songs and recording is the most important thing. We love and feed off that."

As the band's principal lyricist, Simon hopes to continue to write classic pop songs like Rio and Ordinary World.

HE'S also got himself back in trim by dumping greasy food and giving up smoking.

"If you want to sit comfortably in a magazine alongside people like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, you've got to look reasonably good.

"Yasmin and I exercise together. Occasionally we get a bit of help, but the whole personal trainer thing is a bit too Hollywood for me. Fresh air and running after the children is what I'd prefer to do. I've also had a few sessions with a voice coach, and I've increased my range. But stopping smoking has made the biggest difference."

He adds: "My priorities are very simple nowadays - the family first, then the band. And the band are taking this very seriously."

Duran Duran start a 14-date tour in April. This time Simon insists the only girls backstage will be daughters Amber, 14, Saffron, 12, and nine-year-old Tallulah.

"They think I'm great," laughs Simon. "Yasmin brought them along to the London gig and it was the first time they got what it was all about. They were excited and running up and down backstage at The Forum.

"Of course, I'll have a geisha girl in my dressing-room ... but just to make and pour the ginger tea!"

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