The Real Reason Andy Taylor Left Duran Duran In The '80s

With more than twenty Hot 100 hits throughout their career Duran Duran is one of the most successful groups in the history of popular music (via Billboard). When any band receives the kind of adulation Duran Duran received — especially in their 1980s heyday — personal and professional pressures mount. Duran Duran faced similar tension as early as 1986. Understanding the public and private dilemma Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor endured at that time reveals the real reason he left the group in the '80s.

According to All Music, Duran Duran formed in Birmingham, England in 1978, inspired by post-punk, David Bowie, and Roxy Music. By 1984, the band's popularity exploded on the strength of hits like "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf," to name only a few. Already superstars in England, the band was also massively popular in the United States, where their unique sound and glamorous style defined the new wave generation.

To maintain this level of success, bands must tour constantly, and Taylor's group was no different. Living life on the road subjects any musician to a number of temptations, while also putting immense strain on their personal life. At this point, many groups fall apart, or early members quit. Duran Duran would not escape the crucible of their early success unchanged.

The beginning of the end

According to Pop Expresso, Duran Duran founding member Andy Taylor was born in 1961 in Newcastle, England. After a few unsuccessful attempts at a music career, Taylor auditioned for the other founding members of Duran Duran: Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, and Roger Taylor — no relation, according to Heavy. The audition worked out, and Andy was a member of the band, his style of guitar playing a crucial part of the band's early success.

Counting Princess Diana and Andy Warhol as fans, as well as millions of teenagers all over the planet, Duran Duran were selling out stadiums by 1983, according to In the 1980s. When the group entered the studio to record their third studio LP "Seven and the Ragged Tiger," Duran Duran was already feeling pressure from their record label EMI to repeat the success of early hits like "Rio." 

Many members also succumbed to substance abuse issues, as well as strain and tension in their private lives. It was at this point that life as a wildly successful and world-famous musician became too much for Andy Taylor.

The breaking point

Andy Taylor was not the first member of Duran Duran to leave the group at the pinnacle of their fame and fortune. Drummer Roger Taylor was the first to jump ship, with Andy Taylor following suit shortly after, in 1986. It makes the headlines when any founding member of a popular music group decides to call it quits, and the way that Andy Taylor decided to quit Duran Duran only added to the controversy.

According to Daily Mail, many members of Duran Duran were abusing cocaine and other substances at this point, and even though Andy Taylor was the first member of the group to get married, he succumbed to young women lavishing attention on him, gaining a reputation as a womanizer. By this time, members of Duran Duran were also living on separate continents, and interpersonal relationships within the band were strained.

Halfway through the recording of "Notorious, " which according to All Music, was the follow-up to their first live album, "Arena," Andy Taylor left the group, much to the surprise of the remaining members, according to In the 1980s.  Burned out and already exploring solo projects, Andy Taylor's sudden exit embroiled the musician and the remaining members of the band in any number of lawsuits, as well as a war of words in the press between singer Simon LeBon and Taylor.

A successful second act

The controversy surrounding Andy Taylor's departure from Duran Duran did nothing to tarnish the legacy of the group, and in fact, differences were set aside for a 2001 reunion of the original lineup, according to CNN. In the interim, Taylor had enjoyed a successful career as a producer and collaborator with artists ranging from Robert Palmer to Rod Stewart, as well as a short-lived solo project called Thunder — Taylor took up his first Duran Duran side project Power Station while he was still a member of the group, according to All Music.

Nevertheless, Taylor still struggled with substance abuse as late as 2001, according to In the 1980s. After the Duran Duran reunions met with mixed success, and following the death of his father, he decided to quit the group again in 2007. To this day, Duran Duran still continues to perform without Taylor, enjoying a great deal of success and acclaim for a group with such longevity. 

Choosing to tend to his health and personal life paid off for Taylor. Today he lives with his family in Ibiza, where he works as a producer and musician — his iconic guitar tone without a doubt an identifying characteristic of one of the most well-known and instantly recognizable pop groups ever.