In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran
Growing up, John Taylor, the shy, only child of working-class parents from Birmingham, England, shunned the spotlight and team situations, avoiding sports and refusing to accept academic awards. But once he fell in love with making music, he found that the spotlight and teamwork were the parts of life he liked best and he set out with childhood friend Nick Bates (later Nick Rhodes) to start a band.
In his autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran, Taylor shares insider details on Duran Duran, arguably the world’s most popular band of the 1980s, including the rarely found democratic process the five founding members enjoyed, as well as insight on the songwriting and recording processes, which often took place in inspiring, exotic locales.
His honesty in describing his struggles with substance abuse adds to his credibility as a storyteller and casts a discomforting – though not unexpected – shadow on the decadence of the 80s pop scene.
With everything going for the band – platinum-selling albums, top hits, high merchandise sales, world tours – it could only be expected that eventually Duran Duran would lose their way and break up. Break up, they did, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
Through numerous side projects the members found new influences and ultimately reformed the band in 2003, though only temporarily with the five founding members, as the guitarist Andy Taylor (no relation to John) has since left. The band’s willingness to reconnect, move past personal issues and enhance their sound to fit the musical direction of the zeitgeist, which Taylor consistently references, ensured that Duran Duran are still relevant today.
The last 30 pages reflect nearly a decade, including Taylor’s second marriage to businesswoman Gela Nash, and feel rushed and unfinished, ending nearly 18 months before the book’s publication. Dedicated Duranies will be able to spot some holes in the story and will recognise Taylor’s breezy writing from his online and social media presence, but anyone with an interest in pop music will find it an enjoyable and enlightening read full of personal photographs to accompany the clever name dropping and storytelling.