Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor: No Relation

Andy-TaylorMy earliest memory of Duran Duran was watching the music video for The Reflex on television on a Saturday evening when I was seven. And so began my love affair with Duran Duran. My sister had a copy of their live album ‘Arena’ on vinyl, and I would spend hours looking at the album artwork, and I recall thinking that it was rather odd that three of the members of the band all had the last name Taylor, yet they were not related. Fast-forward to 2003, and I finally got to see them live in their first ever performance in New Zealand, a somewhat insulting slot as the opening act for fellow Brit Robbie Williams. This was also the tour that marked the reunion of the five original members of Duran Duran, almost twenty years after their last tour together.

Born and raised in the North East of England, Andy Taylor began playing the guitar in at the age of 11. At 19, Taylor travelled to Birmingham, where he met future fellow bandmates Nick Rhodes and John Taylor (no relation). After various vocalists and guitarists came and went, Andy Taylor and vocalist Simon Le Bon joined the band, followed by drummer Roger Taylor (again, no relation).

Duran Duran found their fame at the centre of the new romantic scene of the early 1980s, where punk and electronica genres fused, and a new dance club culture emerged, where the sound was arguably as important as the fashion. However, Duran Duran quickly distanced themselves from other New Romantic bands with Andy Taylor’s distinctive rock guitar sound. Their first single, “Planet Earth” was released in 1980, and was quickly followed by their self-titled debut album in 1981. Their second album, ‘Rio’ was released the following year. The band capitalized on their rapid ascent to fame and released three albums within three years. The band also became renowned for their energetic live shows which incorporated the latest video technologies, selling out stadiums across the US and UK.

After the release of their third full length album, ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’ the band went on hiatus. During this time Andy Taylor and John Taylor went on to form side-project The Power Station (while Le Bon and Rhodes recorded as Arcadia, subsequently releasing the superb ‘So Red The Rose’). Touted as one of the first “super groups,” The Power Station also featured the late Robert Palmer and the late Tony Thompson (of Chic fame), released their debut self-titled album in 1985. The album boasted three Top 40 singles – “Get It On (Bang a Gong),” “Some Like It Hot,” and “Communication.” Interestingly, The Power Station went on to record a second album, the little heard of ‘Living In Fear’ in 1996. However, John Taylor departed before the album was recorded to enter rehab, and his replacement, Bernard Edwards, who was also producing the album, died of pneumonia before the album was released.

Andy Taylor’s involvement in The Power Station marked the beginning of the end of his involvement with Duran Duran. He commented “I don’t think any of us could have known at the time that this little venture would lead to the breakup of Duran Duran, but it did or at least it exposed the cracks in the pavement.” At the time the members of Duran Duran were barely speaking to each other, and were scattered around the globe. The band did not reform until 1986; this was the dawn of Duran Duran v2.0, as both Andy and Roger Taylor departed the band, leaving Le Bon, Rhodes and John Taylor as the only original members to contribute to Duran Duran’s fourth studio album ‘Notorious’ in 1986.

AndyTaylorThunderAfter his departure, Taylor began working on solo material, contributing tracks to film and television series, including the second season of “Miami Vice.” Taylor’s debut album ‘Thunder’ was released in 1987. Despite achieving some commercial success in the US, the album failed to make waves in Taylor’s native Britain. Taylor released a second solo album, ‘Dangerous’ in 1990, which was comprised entirely of cover versions. Tracks included “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Lola,” “Feel Like Making Love,” and “Mustang Sally.” The album was met with mediocre reviews, and was not available in the US until it was released on iTunes in 2010.

The original line-up of Duran Duran reformed in 2001, the first time they had played together since 1985. A new album ‘Astronaut’ was released in 2004, and saw the band return to their “classic” sound, with Taylor’s guitar solos returning to the fore. However, the “happy” reunion proved to be relatively short-lived. 2006 marked the second (and final) departure of Taylor from Duran Duran, with the band stating on their website that an “unworkable gulf” had formed between Taylor and the other members of the band. He was subsequently replaced by guitarist Dom Brown, who continues to record and tour with Duran Duran today.

Taylor penned a tell-all autobiography “Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran” in 2008, which chronicled his early years, rise to fame, and the tumultuous relationships within the band.

It is interesting to note that Duran Duran have been around since 1978; Andy Taylor was only a member of the band for approximately 11 of these years. Yet Taylor’s influence and contribution to the development of the band’s sound was essential. In retrospect my interest in the band’s new material post-Andy Taylor has continued to wane with each album. Duran Duran are due to release a new album in 2015. Rumor has it that the notorious Lindsay Lohan and her sister Ali have contributed vocals to one of the tracks. I can’t help but wonder what Andy Taylor would make of that.

12 comments

  1. Diana da Cruz

    Hi Bridget.

    Andy Taylor deserves all our respect because he made part of Duran Duran history by means of his distinctive rock guitar sound as you mentioned on lines above.

  2. Rio

    Absolutely awesome read until the end. You mentioned the least interesting “possible” guest on the upcoming album and not, say, John Frusciante, the former guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think Andy would’ve liked this collabortation, along with Nile Rodgers again.

    I understand this is an opinion piece of writing, and Andy Taylor is your favorite member of Duran. But now you aren’t even giving the group the benefit of the doubt. I liked Andy as well for his part in forming the Duran Duran sound and he will always hold a special place in my heart because of that. But Duran Duran was 5 members, and it was all of them that created this ground-breaking group…not just Andy.

  3. ElleGee

    I have to agree with Rio. You’re biased, as Andy is your favorite. Fair enough. But the fact remains that Andy left Duran Duran. Not once, but twice. What I’d like to know is why he even came back for the reunion tour. Maybe he needed the money. At any rate, yes, Andy will always hold a place in my heart when I remember him as an original member of Duran Duran. But I think most of his time with the band he was dead weight, always wanting to take on a rockier edge, when he knew his band mates didn’t agree. The other members, John, in particular, reached out to Andy and not vice versa. That’s very telling. I wonder if he truly ever wanted to come back. But… his loss. Duran Duran, while not wildly popular anymore, are at least still a household name. The only time I ever hear about Andy is when I stumble across obscure articles like this one.

    • Melanie Brady

      Then why did you even bother to reply or read the article then?! I doubt you could do a better job!!

      • ElleGee

        Because I could, because I wanted to, and yes. I probably could, in fact. At least I would choose a relevant topic. And I could ask you the same thing; why reply to me at all?

        Take It Easy.

    • Claudia

      ElleGee,
      I disagree with you stating that Andy was dead weight to Duran Duran!!! Every single one of the guys gave the band their own unique style with their instruments, making Duran Duran what it became! Yes, things happen and relationships change but each one of the original members are all important and will always be a part of Duran Duran.

  4. Adam Paynter

    Indeed. Andy was far from dead weight. He was part of the reincorporation, of rock guitar, into pop music. His trying to move D2 into rocker territory, was a part of the classic Dursn Duran sound.

  5. Mark William Winchester Sr.

    Andy proved in PowerStation he could rock as good as pretty much any hard rock guitarist…better than most even.

    • Adam Paynter

      Very true. Let us not forget some of the guitar hero shoes Andy has filled throughout the years. Two albums and tours with Rod Stewart, featuring AT in Jeff Beck’s slot. Work with Paul Rogers, setting Andy up there with the likes of Jimmy Page, Mick Ralph’s, and Brian May.

      Those are some serious rock-god shoes Andy has worn.

  6. Leonardo

    Well I’ve read the article and it seems iffy to me. I think of Andy as well as an important member of Duran Duran like any other original former icons of the band. No doubt. I’ve read the Wild Boy book recently. And I could say I had the privilege to get to a M&G some weeks ago in their latest tour and say hello to the Duran Duran members in person, and also have a picture with them. And it felts a big space missing: Andy Taylor.

  7. Roger Taylor's white socks

    But what is he up to nowadays? He seems to have fallen off the planet…Just wondering if he’s still in the music field, does he *want* to be incognito? Did he become “a farmer” like Roger? lol

  8. Bridget Herlihy

    There doesn’t appear to be any trace of Andy on the interweb; one can only assume that he is enjoying the quiet life.

    Contrary to (apparently) popular belief, Andy is not, nor was he ever, my “favourite” member of Duran Duran. I also wrote this piece several years ago, and in hindsight perhaps the inclusion of the term ‘waned’ was incorrect.

    I have purchased and listened to each of DD’s album’s since Astronaut, and while each has some standout tracks, they don’t grab my aural attention as much as their earlier albums did. Dom Brown does a formidable job on guitar, and the band, along with producer Mark Ronson, have delivered a couple of very polished albums over the last several years. But for me personally, I prefer their earlier material. Could it be that I’m on a nostalgia kick? It is highly likely. But ultimately, an opinion piece or review is just that: an opinion. You don’t have to agree with what I say or write, nor is it my intention to try to win the reader over. I am simply giving an opinion. Having said that, it is really nice to see that Duran Duran fans are still as passionate about the band on the eve of their 40th anniversary in 2018.

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