Simon Le Bon: You Ask The Questions
Do you secretly miss the old eyeliner and puffy white shirts? And do you still write poetry?
Born in 1958, Simon Le Bon grew up in London, and after singing in the church choir and appearing in TV commercials, he went to drama school in Birmingham, where he joined the band Duran Duran. They shot to fame as part of the New Romantic pop movement, but burnt out after four albums in three years. They have re-formed, brought out a new album, and are embarking on a European tour. Le Bon has been married for 20 years to the model Yasmin Le Bon, and they have three daughters.
You're a keen yachtsman and your latest album is entitled Astronaut. What's the most adventurous trip you've made?
NICKY LAWRENCE, CO CLARE
Getting this band back together. There were so many potential pitfalls and nightmare scenarios, it was almost not worth doing at all. But we're a bunch of hopeless romantics so we decided to stick our necks out and take the step. To go onstage and play songs you love with mates and have a good laugh while you're doing it... that's the best adventure.
Your influence has been detected on bands such as The Bravery and The Killers. Does it frustrate you if teenagers don't realise this?
DOUG MANN, BICESTER
No, because bands such as The Killers and The Bravery and Franz Ferdinand and No Doubt do mention Duran Duran in their interviews all the time. It's not about what people think of you, anyway, it's about what you can do for people. And like it or not, Duran Duran is part of the wallpaper now, part of the fabric of people's lives. The lifeblood of the music industry!
Do you have to work out to keep looking so good? Any beauty tips?
NAOMI RICHARDS, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME
I've got some very serious beauty tips. Don't run too much. You'll fuck your knees up. I go for nice long walks now, uphill. And one of these days, I'm going to get a dog. But I've got a very physical job, and I'd hate to have to go to the gym. That would be awful.
What can we expect from your latest tour?
MARIA CLAXTON, VIA E-MAIL
Naked women, dripping with illegal drugs. That's it, that's all you can expect. Actually, no! Naked women dipped in illegal drugs! Like sex drug lollipops? Yeah! Sex drug lollies. You know what, I think we've got a song starting here: "Sex drug lolly!/ She's my new dolly!/ Used to be called Molly!/ Bet your momma's sorry!" There you go, you heard it here first.
Justin Timberlake presented you with your lifetime-achievement award at the Brits. What do you think of him?
ABBIE TAYLOR, RAINHAM
I do like Justin Timberlake. I think he's made a great record, and it's always a surprise when someone comes from a boy band and does this. And he's a good lad, you could have a decent chat and a bevvy with him.
Apart from yours, what are the best music videos of all time?
VERITY NORMAN, DALSTON
One of the best videos of all time was Britney Spears' Toxic. We love that sparkly see-through catsuit. It worried me when she snogged Madonna, though. It looked a bit fake. It screamed: we're in this for the money!
What is the secret of your long-lasting marriage?
TORI TENNANT, WATFORD
The trick is getting it right from the start. After that, everything else is easy.
Duran Duran stands out as a symbol of the Eighties. Why do you think that is?
LUCY SMITH, CAMBRIDGE
I don't. I think we're a symbol of music and fun and parties. And the weekend, driving in an open-topped sports car with music blaring and a pretty girl driving, hair blowing in the wind, and who knows what's going to happen? That's what Duran Duran means to me. But, having said that, you can't have the Eighties without Duran Duran. Musically, we were such a big part of it.
Is it true that you nearly drowned on the video set for The Wild Boys?
NIGEL SNODGRASS, DONCASTER
No, it's not. People think that because I was strapped to a windmill and my head went underwater, it was really dangerous, but it wasn't. Of course, when we get asked this question in interviews, Nick Rhodes always says: "Well, we've got the DVD now so, if you pause it, you can keep his head underwater for as long as you want." Which I think is so crass, but he thinks it's funny! He says it in almost every interview. I think repeating yourself is a sign of old age, telling the same joke again and again. Especially if they're jokes that don't make people laugh. Yeah, you've really been trying with that one, Nick, but you've gotta give it up.
How much fan mail do you get?
BLAIN CURRAN, OLDHAM
I don't. All my mail is from fishes. It's fin mail. Or sometimes it's from clowns and then it's fun mail. I do get letters from quite a few 10-year-olds saying, "My mum plays your records all the time, and I used to hate them. Now I love them and want to see you play. Will you write me an autograph please 'cos it's my birthday?" And I do.
Is it true that you turned up to the Duran Duran audition with a book of your poetry? Do you still write poetry? Any plans to publish?
OLAV HENRICSSON-BELL, VIA E-MAIL
It's not strictly true. I turned up with a book that had some poems and lyrics in it. I was wearing pink leopardskin pants, which I can't wear any more - an ex-girlfriend gave them to charity. But I do still write poetry. The last poem was a rude one. I used the line, "Her Royal Whoreness". It wasn't about fellatio though. Fellatio sounds like a character from a Shakespeare play.
I love the book reviews on your website. Might you start a Duran Duran book club?
DAVID BRABNER, DUNDEE
It gives me a chance to have a bit of a rant sometimes, which I did about The Da Vinci Code. I mean, it's tosh, isn't it? There's always this sense of potential nookie. But I like full-on sex, I do. "Robert stepped sexily from the shower. Dressed in a tight towel with a noticeable bulge by one of his knees." Well, that's kind of what it's like, isn't it? But the book club is mostly for Nick [Rhodes]. He never reads any books. He just asks me what I think of them and pretends to have read them all.
When my dad is asked which union he works for, he says 'the union of the snake'. What does this mean?
ANOUSHKA FENTON, HULL
Ha ha! Well, I can't speak for your dad, but I had read this book about kundalini yoga and tantric sex and all that stuff. And I thought it would be funny to put it in a song. So I did, before Sting came along and made it all pretentious and boring.
What inspires you to write songs, and has your inspiration changed over the years?
ANTOINE ST-PIERRE, LILLE
Yes it has, because I've lived a bit. When we started, I hadn't had many experiences, but then things happen to you, like the loss of friends, which is what made me write "Ordinary World". It seems trite to say that was my inspiration, that I needed to do that to heal myself, but you write about what is important to you.
Do you encourage your children to follow in your footsteps and go into showbusiness?
TIM WESTLAKE, EASTBOURNE
No, although my daughter, who is 10, sings like an angel, and if she decides to go into showbusiness, I will support her every step of the way. She sang at a school recital last night, and brought tears to my eyes.
How do you feel about today's fashion? Do you secretly miss the old eyeliner and puffy white shirts?
HELEN MOBBS, CARLISLE
No, because I've got some new ones! Today, everyone wants to look the same, and it goes against the whole punk ethic of expressing yourself.
With what name were you christened?
JULIA McTAVISH, EDINBURGH
Simon John Charles Le Bon. Genuinely. I'm a Huguenot.
Duran Duran play St Andrew's Stadium, Birmingham, 28 May
Courtesy The Independent UK