Imagine joining a band at 19 because you and your mates “wanted to be pop stars.” And - boom- you quickly become not only pop stars, but undeniable super stars, adored by girls and women, if not by rock critics. Your face adorns bedrooms, buttons and T-shirts everywhere. You have, by your mid-20s, arrived.
And then you walk away.
That’s the story of Roger Taylor, drummer for New Wave pop gods Duran Duran, who took an almost 15-year break from the “A View To A Kill,” “Ordinary World” and “The Reflex” hitmakers, retreating to the country with his then-young family when it “felt like you were in the eye of the storm,” he says now.
But after about 15 years away, Taylor agreed to rejoin his old mates full-time, and the first time the original lineup - he, Simon LeBon, John Taylor, Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes- had been together since 1985. Although Andy left the band in the 2000s, the rest of the Fab Five play the opening night of SunFest on Wednesday.
While the drummer appreciated the chance to take a break, he’s learned lessons that might have helped 19-year-old Roger.
“I think I would have said ‘You should hang in there. It’s gonna pass,’” Taylor says now of the overwhelming attention and stardom that caused the admittedly shy drummer to retreat. “It’s hard to see what’s gonna change, that it’s gonna pass. I was lucky I could move away from the band and live very independently. I managed to live a normal life for a while and then I came back. It all felt very, very different. I was very lucky to be able to come back after such a long time and the band was still there.”
Although both the band and their fans, referred to as Duranies, have grown up, there’s still a lot of warmth between them. Taylor says they run into “TV producers and journalists, (people with) all these amazing jobs” who confess to having owned a Duran Duran poster or 12 in their youth.
“Jennifer Aniston was a Durannie,” he says. “She used to hang outside of hotels and wait for autographs. She told Simon that when he met her a few years ago. If I had known that I would have gone out there.”
They might not have known that a future “Friends” star was among the throngs of screaming, poster-toting girls crowded outside, but being a throng, they were pretty hard to miss. Taylor says he and the band thought it was “really cool. At the time it was a little overwhelming, but we embraced this adventure where we were gonna go around the world and play in all of these countries we had never been to. We were hemmed into the hotels, so it was kind of different that what we had imagined. It came with the territory. And the adventure seemed to appeal to a hormonal teenage female fanbase. We were just happy people came to the gigs.”
For as long as there have been cute bands who appealed to the aforementioned hormonal female fanbase, there have been music critics - mostly male - who have used that as a reason to dismiss that band’s music as disposable and unserious. Duran Duran’s response, in the 1980s, was to continue living their fabulous lives and say that “we didn’t care what the critics said and didn’t give a damn,” Taylor says.
But that wasn’t the whole truth.
“That was kind of hurtful. We didn’t admit it at the time,” he says. “We put a lot into our albums, and I don’t think we quite got the acclaim that we thought we ought to get from our records. We looked at the Beatles, and you know they went through the same thing. They had incredible albums, but they were known to some as teenage idols. It made us feel better because we figured they had kind of been through the same thing. That softened the blow a little.”
Taylor’s not wrong that songs like “Rio,” “The Reflex” and “Save A Prayer” have remained radio staples, and the new stuff’s getting as much attention as the vintage output. “Paper Gods” gave Duran Duran their first Top 10 album in 22 years, and even the critics have come along for the ride: “More than 30 years after they were first dismissed as vapid New Wave man-dolls, Duran Duran are still kicking, and sounding surprisingly vibrant,” Rolling Stone’s Jon Dolan wrote.
“Years on, people appreciate it. People really come along to hear the records and see the shows we put on,” Taylor says. “It’s really stood the test of time.
“There’s something that happens when you step on stage and hit that bass drum and get that instantaneous response, which I think I will always love. People say that people attracted to the idea of becoming performers have low self-esteem, because they need instant gratification. And there’s probably some truth in that. We all crave that, and we get that from the live audience. It’s in our blood to get out there and play.”
Courtesy Palm Beach Post