Home   What's On   News   Article

Duran Duran Roger Taylor's story as the band get set to headline Inverness Caledonian Stadium on Saturday and play in the city for the first time

By Margaret Chrystall

There might be lots of reasons why Duran Duran would be enjoying looking back this year – but as drummer Roger Taylor reveals, there are still too many reasons to keep looking forward.

Duran Duran, (Roger Taylor (right). Picture: John Swannell
Duran Duran, (Roger Taylor (right). Picture: John Swannell

“We played in New York the other night and I think it must have been the biggest audience we’ve played to! It was our own show.

“I just looked out and saw a sea of people and it was a huge moment after 40 years.

“Another one is playing at Hyde Park, another huge milestone. So luckily they just keep coming.

“We don’t have to say ‘That was a great moment’ – and looking back.

“We are still getting them now which is a wonderful thing – and hopefully Inverness will be one of those as well!”

Roger is famously the band member who walked away when Duran Duran were one of the biggest names in the 80s.

He jokes: “Nick Rhodes says I went out for cigarettes and didn’t come back for 15 years!

But then Roger explains: “It wasn’t meant to be a long break.

“I’d always liked coming offstage and being a normal person.

“I’ve never been the kind of person who goes to premieres or had to have my ego fed by stuff outside of playing.

“But, of course, in the early days, it got to the point that I couldn’t do that.

“I couldn’t shut my door and be normal Roger. The attention of the fans was of an intensity that you couldn’t imagine.

“My parents had people camping outside their house and I wasn’t even living there. So you can imagine how it was outside my house in London.

“I felt ‘I need a break from this’ and I’d been doing it since I was 19. I did think I hadn’t had the chance, the space or the opportunity to grow up as a normal adult.

“I didn’t know how to get on an airplane on my own. A car was sent for me, I’d be taken to the airport. I hadn’t had the chance to have a lot of ordinary experiences and thought ‘I’m going to live my life for a while’, so I moved up to the Cotswolds.

“The band carried on working without me which was the right thing to do.

“I still had the energy and the appetite for it, I just tuned out for a number of years.

“But I’ve been back for twentysomething years now. Time does fly!”

The band played the Platinum Party At The Palace, though it was hard to spot Roger in the footage of the band.

He laughed: “That is one of the problems of being a drummer.

“There was a great interview with Ringo Starr and he said ‘To be a drummer you have to be a certain type of person to accept the fact that by the time you have got down to the front of the stage for the interview, it’s over!’.

“I think you probably saw me for about a tenth of a second there!”.

Duran Duran. Picture: John Swannell
Duran Duran. Picture: John Swannell

But Duran Duran were joined by Nile Rodgers who has worked with them a lot over the years and will join them on their upcoming tour of America. Does the band maybe consider Niles a kind of touchstone for them?

“I think he is probably a lot more than that,” Roger said.

“He is a great mentor for the band.”

Roger also includes Chic’s drummer Tony Thompson in his own top three drummers.

“As a band we grew up listening to Chic records,” Roger said. “Those guys were like gods to us because they really knew how to play and they really knew how to create a groove and to write amazing records.

“So when we got to work with Nile and of course Bernard Edwards [Nile’s late great friend and Chic producer] it WAS like working with gods, it was quite intimidating actually.

“But those guys managed to bring out the best in us and we made some great records with them. And Nile has always been there and it’s great to share that with him. And we love having Chic play with us and – wow! - what a great act!”

Looking back to their Platinum Party appearance when Nile and Chic appeared with them, Roger said: “I think it was an amazing moment that they were with us.”

There was another significant encounter with the talent of Chic in Duran Duran’s career, as the band’s Bond theme tune A View To A Kill, which went to number one in America, a first at the time, enters the conversation. Does Roger remember recording it?

“I do, that was with the late great Bernard Edwards.

“We had a very small window in our schedule and we had to write and record a Bond theme in a week!

“So it was – ‘It’s A View To A Kill, here’s the title, in you get! See you on Friday and hopefully you will have written the song!’

“They brought John Barry in and with Bernard who came from a very different background and us – we didn’t read music, we played everything by ear - how that combination worked, I’m not quite sure, but somehow we came up with a good song and I think it is probably one of the most successful ones.

“It was all written and recorded very quickly and it was something we were very proud to be involved in because we grew up in Birmingham in a very drab time when a Bond film was one of our escapes.

“You could watch a Bond movie and look at that life and think ‘Maybe I could be like that one day!’ so it was a great thing for us to be involved in.”

This year the band’s famous album Rio celebrates its 40th anniversary. The band are going to be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame in America.

But they are still moving forward, their latest album Future Past, produced by Erol Alkan channels the early Duran Duran sound.

Roger says he made up his mind at 12 that he was going to be a musician – a dream his dad had had too.

Chic’s drummer Tony Thompson, as Roger mentioned, was in his own top three drummers, alongside the Stones’ late Charlie Watts and Roxy Music’s drummer Paul Thompson.

“Being self-taught, I had to listen to other musicians to give me a leap and Tony was certainly one of the people who showed me how to play and helped me evolve my style.

“I sit down today and my drumkit and I am still channeling people like Tony Thompson and Charlie Watts and Paul Thompson of Roxy Music, so they kind of live on within me.”

Roger talks about his early days when he was in a promising young band in his Birmingham home.

“I’d kind of forgotten about that until recent years, a band called the Scent Organs.

“We got great reviews, there were a couple of writers in Birmingham who liked us, we’d got into MelodyMaker young band of the year regional finals. We didn’t win, but we got there which was pretty good, but it all kind of fell apart, I don’t know why.

“Sometimes that just happens to a band.

“We were one of these bands which had lots of egos even before we had made it!

“It was only when I met the guys in Duran that I actually thought ‘These guys are really going somewhere they want to take it seriously’.”

Listening to single Laughing Boy from the band’s latest album Future Past, you can hear the signature Duran Duran sound from the early days in it, something producer Erol Alkan wanted to bring to Future Past, Roger confirms.

Originally, was it a sound that came to the young musicians quite quickly, ready because they had all paid their dues?

“I think we were, certainly by the time we got to the album Rio which has gone down in history as the point where we really found our feet and so I think we were pretty well-formed very early on. “We all had similar influences. We all grew up on Bowie, went through rock and punk together, we started hearing records coming over from New York as part of the disco scene over there. All that just came together and stuck together like glue.”

It’s quite a body of work – Future Past is the band’s 15th studio album. But perhaps it’s not so surprising from a band that prides itself on never standing still, keeping up with things like new technology, keeping ahead of the game?

“I think one of the secrets of the longevity is Duran Duran keeping in the moment,” Roger said.

“Simon has his radio station Whoosh which is all about young music. I also DJ when I’m not playing with Duran Duran somewhere. Nick does production, John does as well. So we all kind of keep our fingers in lots of different pies, so that we know what is going on out there and we are always kind of advancing technologically, so I think it is important not to rest on your laurels and not keep looking back – ‘Aren’t we great! – and that seems to have served us well, I think.”

And being in a band helps keep you humble, Roger maintains.

“I think one of the great things about being in a band rather than being a solo artist is that we never let each other’s egos run away? Everybody kind of makes fun of each other, sort of ‘Who do you think you are today?’.

“We have that kind of relationship because we have known each other since we were teenagers, more or less. We don’t always get on like a house on fire every day. But we do love each other and I do think it is going to be a lifelong relationship that we have.”

Duran Duran duranduran.com play Inverness Caledonian Stadium on Saturday with support from Jack Savoretti.

Read more

More by this author

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More