Tragic Details About Duran Duran

When a band's fans become known by a pithy nickname, that's a good sign the band has reached the big time. Since 1978, the new wave group Duran Duran has entertained its legions of Duranies and other devotees of pop rock. Starting small in Birmingham, England, they came to prominence alongside MTV, according to All Music, and the two benefitted one another. Duran Duran's music videos were groundbreaking efforts in the form, and MTV's incessant airing of them helped boost the group's popularity.

Duran Duran reached the top of the British and American charts throughout the 1980s with songs like "The Wild Boys," "Union of the Snake," and the James Bond title theme "A View to a Kill." In the decades since, they've collaborated with contemporary artists like Justin Timberlake, featured in a documentary about themselves (per their official website), and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as of November 2022.

Of course, any band in the public eye for 44 years will see its ups and downs. Duran Duran has gone on several hiatuses over the years, and many of its members have come, gone, and rejoined. Only Nick Rhodes and Simon Le Bon have put in uninterrupted stints with the group. The first burst of fame the band experienced tapered off during the '80s, with subsequent years marked by valleys and modest peaks in attention. And the members of Duran Duran, together and as individuals, have faced their share of hardship.

Duran Duran's tour manager died in a car crash

The members of a band the public knows are the singers and musicians. But the rock stars are dependent on managers working behind the scenes to make recording sessions and live tours run smoothly. Duran Duran was just one of the acts that depended on tour manager Craig Duffy, who also provided services for Radiohead, U2, Franz Ferdinand, and Lily Allen, among others (per Devon Live).

According to NME, Duffy was a father to two children and was undergoing treatment for throat cancer in 2021. He was driving with his partner, former hospital worker and mother of two Sue Partimer, when they were involved in a collision on May 21 of that year near Tivington, on the border of Devon and Somerset. Duffy and Partimer died in the crash, while a third person suffered critical injuries.

Duffy's death was confirmed to Devon Live by Duran Duran's former publicist, Gerard Franklin, who paid tribute to Duffy's reputation as a well-liked and respected support to the many famous acts that depended on him. Duran Duran bassist John Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes wrote their own tributes on the band's website. Rhodes remembered their nickname for Duffy as "tour manager of the year" after he won such an accolade at an industry event, while Taylor reminisced about hunting for records with the tour manager. Other memories and honors poured over social media from the performers who had known and worked with Duffy.

Simon Le Bon nearly died at sea

Lead singer and lyricist of Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon, has been a sailor since he was young (per CNN). The music video for the song "Rio" was shot on board a ship in the Caribbean. In 1985, when the band's fame was at its zenith and the telecast of the Live Aid concert brought them to over a billion viewers worldwide, Le Bon turned his attention to his hobby. He planned to participate in the Fastnet yacht race, held between the Isle of Wight and Plymouth.

As Le Bon himself recalled for the BBC years later, the Fastnet was meant to be a stepping stone on the way to a trip around the world by sail. But while his ship Drum idled off the Cornish coast with Le Bon and his crew aboard, the keel broke off the hull. The ship capsized, trapping its passengers inside as fumes from the damaged vessel leaked out. The only light came from sunlight filtered through the ocean water.

Le Bon said the accident was the most harrowing of his life. He and his crew were trapped in the yacht for 40 minutes. Fortunately, a rescue helicopter from the 771 Royal Naval Air Squadron managed to save everyone. Le Bon was able to recognize himself in footage of the rescue by his bare legs; in escaping the ship, his pants snagged on something and had to be left behind.

A music video nearly killed Simon Le Bon

Duran Duran benefited enormously from coming into prominence alongside MTV. Rolling Stone noted in 1983 how the network popularized some of the band's songs before they made a splash on radio. Besides winning near-constant airtime, the quality and visual range of Duran Duran's videos helped them stand out from the pack.

Among the more notable videos the band produced in the 1980s was for their hit song "The Wild Boys." The elaborate shoot, done at a cost of £650,000 at England's famed Pinewood Studios, featured choreography by noted dancer and choreographer Arlene Phillips. And Phillips told the Birmingham Mail that "The Wild Boys" nearly cost Simon Le Bon his life. The video featured a large windmill, and Le Bon was strapped to one of its sails as it rotated, the ends of the sails dipping into a pool of water.

By Phillips' memory, the windmill became stuck while Le Bon's head was under the water. Strapped in as he was, he had no way to get free and breathe, and divers had to go into the pool to rescue him. Phillips found it a horrible sight, one that lingered on in her memory. It is worth mentioning that Le Bon himself insists that he wasn't in any danger during filming and that reports of his near-death during "The Wild Boys" shoot amount to an urban legend.

Andy Taylor's wife suffered from postnatal psychosis

During its many years, Duran Duran has had three members with the surname Taylor, sometimes all at once, though none of the Taylors are related (per the band's official website). Roger Taylor was the original drummer for the group, Andy Taylor was a guitarist, and John Taylor was the bassist. All three were part of the band during their heyday in the 1980s, but Roger and Andy both left in the middle of the decade, according to the Washington Times (via Duran Duran's website).

Andy became the first member of Duran Duran to turn author over his experiences with fame and fortune as a music sensation. After briefly reuniting with the band in the 2000s (per The Los Angeles Times), Andy penned "Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran." The book tracked the group's rise to fame, their quarrels with one another (particularly Andy's clashes with Nick Rhodes), and various struggles with substance abuse.

Andy says in "Wild Boy" that his own drug use and crazy antics were tempered by his side projects and later solo career, and by his marriage in 1982 to Tracey Wilson, still his wife to this day. But he and Wilson suffered a personal crisis after the birth of their son when, per "Wild Boy," Wilson developed postnatal psychosis. At one point, Andy feared Wilson would jump out a window with their child. She spent six days in a medically-induced coma and several months in at-home care before recovering.

Cocaine destabilized the band

Duran Duran was not sold to the public as wild rock n' rollers. Their image, as guitarist Andy Taylor recalled for the Evening Standard, was of clean-living pop stars. That image was shattered in 1984 when the British tabloids published an exposé on the prodigious use of cocaine by various members. A former doorman to the Rum Runner club where Duran Duran first came together betrayed their confidence and wrote an eyewitness account of the band's wild, drug-fueled behavior at a Christmas party. The only member not castigated was Roger Taylor, who didn't partake.

While the story broke in a tawdry and backstabbing way, Duran Duran's struggles with drugs were real. Andy wrote that he and John Taylor were the biggest users of the group. The hectic work schedule demanded by the band's record company was rough on them, and cocaine initially helped fuel them through the workload. John was probably under the influence when he established contact with Cubby Broccoli, producer of the James Bond series, leading to Duran Duran performing the title song for "A View to a Kill."

But by the mid-1980s, cocaine began fraying Andy's nerves and affecting his temper with fans and bandmates. Coinciding with a split within Duran Duran over rival side projects, the escalating drug use only worsened the divide. A cascade of embarrassing incidents made Andy question his lifestyle, and he left Duran Duran after filming the music video for the Bond song.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

John Taylor nearly lost his foot thanks to drug use

Excessive drug use made Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor disillusioned with the music star life, and he left the band in the mid-1980s (per the Evening Standard). For bassist John Taylor, the road out of drug addiction would be longer and more violent. Andy wrote that John's cocaine habit led him to make brash remarks to film producers, and to fall to pieces after making a spectacle of himself in front of the Rolling Stones. But a more serious incident, recalled by Andy in his memoir "Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran," occurred when John, drunk on vodka and probably high on cocaine, nearly lost his foot after dancing on a broken bottle.

Slicing his foot open wasn't a wake-up call for John. He had his own chance to recount his drug experiences with his own memoir in 2012, though he told the Hollywood Reporter that he hadn't looked to Andy for a guide on how to discuss their mutual bad habits. John said that recalling his addictions was the most difficult part of writing the book and that it wasn't a tell-all. But "In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran" does touch on John's journey to recovery and his struggles to maintain it. Duran Duran's reuniting in the early 2000s posed a particular challenge as old tensions revived, but as of 2012, John was 18 years sober.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The band was attacked in Munich

Not all the attention received by pop and rock stars is positive. There are entitled, obsessive, or otherwise badly-behaved fans, hangers-on and hucksters, tabloid press looking for salacious gossip, and pushers and enablers of bad habits. But Duran Duran had the unique experience of facing assailants in the 1980s.

While in Munich on tour in 1982, according to Andy Taylor in "Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran," John and Roger Taylor met up with English singer Bryan Ferry at a club. What was a pleasant evening took a dark turn when a group of men with baseball bats rushed the musicians. Roger and a security guard were severely injured by the attack. John said in his own memoir "In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran" that he was so high on drugs that he can't remember much of that night, but does remember seeing Roger covered in blood after a trip to the hospital. In a fit of jealous rage, John punched his right hand through a light fixture.

Andy told The Scotsman years later that Duran Duran was so unnerved by the attack that they left Germany the day after. With their drummer and bassist too badly injured to play, they needed to cancel the remaining dates of their tour until replacements could be arranged. "We managed to play down the scale of [the injuries] in the media," Andy said. "Today, it would have been a huge international incident."

Andy Taylor's mother abandoned the family

For Andy Taylor, some tragedies and unhappy times predated the experience of Duran Duran. Childhood was when he discovered music; his earliest memory, he told The Scotsman, is of finding his father Ronnie's guitar in the wardrobe. He passed pleasant days learning the instrument from a neighbor while growing up with his mother and father. But this idyllic childhood was thrown a curveball in 1972.

In his memoir "Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran," Andy says that he can't remember the last words his mother spoke to him or any sign that something was amiss. All he remembers is coming home from a good day at school to find that his mother was gone. His father had no idea where she was when young Andy called to ask. Later, they discovered that all her possessions, and the family suitcases, were gone too. She'd packed up and left without a word.

Ronnie Taylor was hard hit by his wife's abandonment. He turned to his mother to help raise the children, and Andy became close to them both. He cited the grief at his father's death from cancer as a factor in leaving Duran Duran a second time in the early 2000s. As for his mother, Andy wouldn't hear from her for four years. They briefly met when Duran Duran performed for a 1983 charity concert, but they don't maintain contact.

John Taylor's marriage got lost in his drug use

As Duran Duran's popularity soared and John Taylor's drug use increased, he also found romance. Per his memoir "In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran," he met Amanda de Cadenet after ten years with the band. He'd just endured a fake paternity claim when de Cadenet came into his life. She had a reputation for wild, rock-star-style behavior, and Taylor liked her way of thinking and navigating the media. Within months, the couple was expecting a child, and they married in 1991.

Taylor described marriage and fatherhood as stabilizing forces in his life. But there was a ten-year age gap between Taylor and de Cadenet, who enjoyed going out from their Los Angeles home and networking when Taylor, exhausted from touring, wanted to stay in. As the couple drifted apart, they tried therapy, but the gulf was too great.

It didn't help that marriage wasn't enough to pull Taylor out of his addictions. The therapy sessions were productive enough that Taylor arranged to see another therapist while working in London, who told him sobriety was necessary for any productive work in counseling. After initial resistance and another wild ride of boozing, Taylor agreed. De Cadenet helped see him into a treatment center in Tucson. But it was too late for their marriage; the couple separated in 1995.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Nick Rhodes' marriage fell apart

According to John Taylor's "In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran," the band's founder and keyboardist, Nick Rhodes, met Julie Anne Friedman on a boat trip around Santa Monica. They became inseparable after that encounter, and they married in 1984. John described their wedding, held at the Savoy Hotel in London, as a pop culture sensation, and it was eagerly devoured by the press.

Friedman's presence in Rhodes' life – or, rather, her presence among Duran Duran – didn't sit well with everyone. In his memoir "Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran," Andy Taylor notes that he and Rhodes regularly clashed and that Friedman also didn't get on well with him. But Rhodes and Friedman increasingly didn't get on with one another. In an excerpt published in the Evening Standard, Andy recalled an incident at the Plaza Athenee when Friedman locked Rhodes out of their room and began screaming on the balcony, to the point people worried she might fall. The fire brigade was called to talk her down.

The couple divorced in 1992. The Daily Mail claimed that it was a contentious split, with fights over the custody of their daughter Tatjana and their art collection. Rhodes received custody of Tajana and most of the pieces. But Friedman kept a painting by Andy Warhol, given to the couple on their wedding day. She later sold it to fund her chef's career, telling the Mail that Rhodes was aware of the sale.

Duran Duran don't control some of their biggest hits

The members of Duran Duran were all young and unknown when they signed a contract with music publisher Gloucester Place in the 1980s (per the Financial Times). Under the agreement, they produced their first three albums and the James Bond title song, "A View to a Kill," with Gloucester retaining the copyright. Decades later, Gloucester was a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Sony/ATV, and under American copyright law, artists can reclaim control of their work after 35 years. Duran Duran moved to do just that in 2016.

In a U.K. court, Gloucester argued that in doing so, the band was in breach of contract (per The Guardian) and that the terms of their agreement with Gloucester clearly allowed the company to retain copyright. U.S. law did not apply, they said. The judge assigned to the case, while conceding that it was a difficult case with fair arguments on both sides, ultimately agreed with Gloucester.

Nick Rhodes said in reaction to the ruling that it set a terrible precedent for other recording artists of Duran Duran's generation, while Simon Le Bon questioned why anyone would want to work with Sony/ATV given the way they treated talent. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Artists weighed in, hoping that Duran Duran would appeal the decision.

Andy Taylor has stage four cancer

Duran Duran's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should have been an unmarred honor for the group. John Taylor, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor all gathered at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the ceremony (per CNN). Not present was the band's sometime bassist Andy Taylor. He participated by sending along a letter for his bandmates to read, avowing that there was no bad blood between him and his former bandmates and that he was delighted by the induction. Besides celebrating Duran Duran's achievements, however, the letter included some tragic news from Andy's personal life.

Via Duran Duran's official website, Andy confirmed in his letter that he has stage four prostate cancer and has had the diagnosis for four years. He has resolved himself to the fact that his condition is incurable and said that the treatments his doctors have offered have allowed him to carry on traveling and performing. A setback just before the induction ceremony left Andy feeling unfit to participate in either mind or body.

Le Bon said it was a devastating piece of news to learn that Andy had cancer and was likely not long for this Earth. "We love Andy dearly," he said for the band at the ceremony. "I'm not going to stand here and cry. I don't think that would be very appropriate but that's what I feel like."