Chapter 4 : Preparing to Conquer the World
The band was already busy finding a singer before Andy joined; they talked about
installing Elayne Griffiths, but soon realised that this won't work. The vocal job
was offered then to Gordon Sharp from The Freeze, who had come down from
Edinburgh and briefly stayed in Birmingham. But Sharp decided that Duran
Duran's ambitions did not sit well with his own direction. Next recruited was Oliver
Guy Watts, he lasted a few days.
Finally Fiona Kemp, a waitress at the Rum Runner, suggested her ex-boyfriend to
come down and meet the band. The ex-boyfriend was no other than Simon Le
The poetry arrived; Simon Le Bon showed up on May 11th and completed what
became known as the classic line-up:
John Taylor - bass
Nick Rhodes - synthesizer
Roger Taylor - drums
Andy Taylor - lead guitarist
Simon Le Bon - lead voice
Previously already being in bands (Dog Days and Rov Ostrov), Simon, who comes
from Pinner, was currently a first-year drama student at Birmingham University.
He turned up for the audition wearing pink leopard-skin-print trousers, a suede
jacket, sunglasses and pointy boots.
The other members of the band played him an
instrumental backing track they had been
working on, Simon listened to it and within the
audition the song Sound Of Thunder was
completed. Simon had a blue book, which was
filled with lyrics and ideas for songs. The four
members of Duran Duran were impressed. That
book contained the lyrics for many of Duran's
future compositions, but also for songs that have
never been recorded, such as On A Dead Child,
Underneath The Clocktower and Beverly Hills.
The following day, Simon took a taxi to Moseley with John Taylor after rehearsing
at The Rum Runner. They were still getting to know each other, and Simon asked
John what his ambition was. Simon was wondering how the band would gain
street credibility. "Street credibility?", John replied, "Duran Duran has got about as
much street credibility as Chanel N°19! We are in it for the big time, we are going
to the top". Simon then first realised the band was a serious endeavour and they
might actually succeed.
Within a few weeks, the band had put a set together, and played their first gig on
July 16th at the Rum Runner. They went on stage to Tomorrow Belongs To Me
from Cabaret, which launched into a cover version of Donna Summer's I Feel
Love. Also, never recorded songs like Secret Success and Amy a Go Go have been
on the setlist.
The Berrow brothers invested heavily in Duran Duran and formed the Tritec Music
company, named after the triangular-themed bar inside the club, while the band
played steadily around Birmingham:
July 19th - Cedar Ballroom, Birmingham
July 22nd - Holy City Zoo, Birmingham
Aug. 6th - Rum Runner, Birmingham
Sept. 16th - Hostaria One, Birmingham
Oct. 3rd - Aston University, Birmingham
Together with the band Bodysnatchers.
Oct. 4th - Cedar Ballroom, Birmingham
Together with the band Classix Nouveaux.
Oct. 9th - Lyceum Auditorium, London
Opening for Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls plus John Cooper Clarke.
Oct. 22nd - Holy City Zoo, Birmingham
Dave Ambrose from EMI travelled to Birmingham to catch Duran at the Holy City Zoo on
this date. He was convinced that this band were going to be massive.
Oct. 24th - Cedar Ballroom, Birmingham
The Berrows and the band then printed 5,000 labels with a new Duran Duran logo,
designed by John Warwicker, and planned to independently release the previously
recorded Planet Earth and Is There Anyone Out There? on the Tritec Music label.
This intention was finally scrapped when the band was signed several weeks later
by a major label.
Nov. 9th - Marquee Club, London
Rob Hallett, a young agent from London, was impressed by the show Duran did at the Lyceum
Auditorium, and offered the band this cancellation gig, standing in for The Associates.
Michael Berrow then mortgaged his house, raising the cash for a support slot on
tour with Hazel O'Conner. Up to this point, Duran Duran played a number of club
gigs, but now they stepped up to auditorium size venues with the support for the
Hazel O'Conner and Megahype tour.
While touring with Hazel O'Connor, the band attracted more labels to sign them,
resulting in a bidding war between EMI and Phonogram. And although Phonogram
made the better offer, Duran Duran wanted to go with EMI. The band inked their
record deal on December 5th in London.
Dec. 8th, the band went to EMI's Manchester Square studios in London and
demoed 4 tracks (Anyone Out There, Planet Earth, Friends Of Mine and Late Bar).
Later that night, they played the Marquee Club in London.
Dec. 11th - The Venue, London
Dec. 13th, Sounds, a big music paper at the time, has the first National article
about Duran Duran in their issue from December 13th. It was the New Romantic
Movement; Beverley Glick (aka Betty Page) wrote about Spandau Ballet, a band
from London, who was part of that movement. Duran read the article (issued
September 13th in Sounds), haven't heard of that movement at that point, but
suggested that it would fit perfectly to what they were doing. Even Simon then
adopted the term into the lyrics for Planet Earth: "Like some new romantic looking
for the TV sound". The guys invited Betty Page to meet them at the Rum Runner.
She initially had doubts to go all the way up to Birmingham, but upon meeting the
band, she was forced to reassess, and wrote an amazing first article about them:
By the end of 1980, everything was prepared for Duran Duran to finally get out
there and to grab the world's attention! And that's what they did ...
About This Document
This document refers to the years
of formation (1978 until 1980)
It was compiled and
in dedication to
the 40th anniversary
of Duran Duran's birth
July 29th, the Berrow brothers sent
the boys to AIR studios in London,
their first venture into a 24-track
studio, where they recorded early
versions of Girls On Film and Tel
Aviv. Unlike the instrumental version
on the album, Tel Aviv was
completely different, as was Girls On
Andy, Roger, Nick and
(maybe) John, in the back on the telephone,
in ca. August/September at the
Sept. 17th, the band recorded more
demos. In fact, Planet Earth and Is
There Anyone Out There? have been
recorded on this date at Bob Lamb's
studio, followed by demos of Night
Boat, Sound Of Thunder and Faster
Nov. 18th - Cardiff Top Rank
Nov. 19th - Manchester Apollo
Nov. 21st - Sheffield Polytechnic
Nov. 22nd - Lancaster University
Nov. 23rd - Bristol Colston Hall
Nov. 26th - Brighton Top Rank
Nov. 27th - Birmingham Odeon
Nov. 28th - Liverpool University
Nov. 29th - Edinburgh Odeon
Dec. 1st - Newcastle City Hall
Dec. 2nd - Leicester de Montfort Hall
Dec. 3rd - Leeds University
Dec. 4th - Norwich U.E.A.
Dec. 6th - London Dominion
Theatre; on this last Hazel O'Connor support-date, both Simon and Andy joined Hazel on stage for a performance of Suffragette City.