Andy Taylor | Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran

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book_wild-boy.jpgThe day Duran Duran signed their record deal was the day John Lennon was shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Grand Central Publishing, 314 pgs.)

Some things I learned from Wild Boy, guitarist Andy Taylor's memoir about his days in the British pop sensation:

  • Andy quit school to pursue music.
  • John Taylor's real first name is Nigel. (John is his middle name.)
  • Nick Rhodes' real last name is Bates.
  • When Duran Duran formed, Nick didn't have a mastery of his instrument; he began by playing only the black keys.
  • The last member to join was Simon Le Bon. He was seen as Elvis-like because of his chubby cheeks.
  • The band signed with EMI just six months after they formed. (!)
  • The day Duran Duran signed their record deal was the day John Lennon was shot.
  • Initially, the label decided to push John's good looks over Simon's helmsmanship, a move which quite displeased the singer.
  • At age 20, Andy met his wife at the Rum Runner, the breeding ground for Duran Duran; they got married soon after, in the midst of the band's U.S. tour for their debut album.

I could continue with this list but I'd probably lose you before the end of this review. So let me say this: Those of us who grew up in the '80s—those who worshipped Duran Duran, knew all the words to all their songs and watched the videos constantly—we are the audience for this book, and we will enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at one of Britain's most successful pop groups.

Andy details his early years before diving into the band, the real reason we're all here. He tells of venturing north on the train to his first audition, of his instant kinship with the other members (a short-lived kinship, we soon learn), of the band's practice space, the aforementioned Rum Runner (really, they hadn't even played very many shows when they got signed, absolutely unheard of in today's industry climate), of their signing and touring and overwhelming—and soon debilitating—fame.

As Taylor relates tale after tale in the band's history, we as readers begin to lose a bit of respect for our former idols. John Taylor and drug- and booze-filled womanizer? Simon a self-centered frontman disillusioned by a management arrangement gone south? Nick, a spoiled brat and disagreeable chap who becomes the first to break the no-girlfriends-on-tour rule?

Oh sure, Andy Taylor has his share of problems, too much alcohol and cocaine among them. And, as you might expect, he comes out shining next to his bandmates; the effects of his own drug use are, it seems, minimized. He also appears to be the most level and centered within the band.

This tilting, while expected, does cast a niggle of doubt over the revelations; surely Taylor, too, was a part of the problems? As tensions developed and ultimately overcame the group—Duran Duran's performance at 1986's Live Aid being the proverbial nail in the coffin—Taylor rises above it, the voice of reason in an otherwise hazy reality.

Even the band's recent reformation is covered, as is Taylor's ultimate reason for leaving the band a second time. It all stems back to a United States visa the band's manager failed to acquire. Once he realized he would be unable to join the band in the U.S., Taylor experienced another revelation: It wasn't fun anymore. He was done.

These days, Taylor's got a studio in his Ibiza home. He and his wife, Tracy, have just celebrated their 25th anniversary; he is the father of four children. He is at peace with himself, with past musical pursuits and present. And he's written it all down here for you to read. | Laura Hamlett

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