In the Pleasure Groove – Love, Death and Duran Duran (2012) by Nigel John Taylor (written with Tom Sykes)
An Audio Book Review
Listen to an excerpt here
“This was a fantastic moment for hair color, as the Crazy Color and Manic Panic hair-dye brands had been launched the previous year and had definitely helped us define our look. Simon was no longer a blond, he was now a brunette, which gave an opening for Nick to go all the way blond. Andy trail blazed the black-and-blond two-tone skunk look that Kajagoogoo’s Limahl would popularize, and Roger was adding blue to his black. I set up camp in the Bordeaux/Burgundy corner. I’ve always felt the best haircuts come courtesy of a devoted girlfriend, and Andy would marry Tracey eventually.”
Most people who know me, and nearly everyone who has been in my life since I was an adolescent, knows of my love for Duran Duran. They were not just my teenage dream, first fandom, crush-worthy fascination, their music helped shape my own art, their musical influences helped to widen my own music taste and collection, and in many ways they helped save a shy and lonely girl’s life who was struggling with making sense of her sexuality and sense of self as she tried to survive an abusive upbringing. They were my constant and my aspirations, and in many ways, my hope. And, well, yes, they were hot as hell, but they were also damn good musicians, songwriters, artists and poets.
Since hearing about this book being published I have been curious to read it. I will admit that John was never my favorite (I was a Nick girl) and the two times I actually met him he had not left a positive impression on me. I also was quite certain that all my years of being a fan had left me with all the knowledge and history of the band, and I did wonder what more was left to learn. I still was interested though, and I am glad I persisted and got my hands (and ears) on the audio version – the book not only reawakened my love for the band, but made me realize how very little I actually did know about their history, and also, that my opinions about John Taylor, and what I had perceived about him, were premature and, in many ways, incorrect.
Three things stood out the most to me as I made my through the autobiography. The first thing is that the music that inspired Duran Duran throughout their career makes up many of my favorite singers, bands and sounds, and that when I listen, truly listen, I can hear where one lead to another, from one song to the the one inspired, and how that sound evolved.
Secondly, the work it takes to be clean and sober is staggering to me, and inspiring in itself. Listening to John, himself, recount his history with addiction, and the discipline and constant attention it takes to remain a non-active user, made me also realize that I should probably go back into therapy myself, not due to addiction, but due to so much of my life being so close to addiction. It is not just addicts that need the help recovering.
Lastly, I found myself with a new sense of appreciation for the band from a different point of view. I hear different things in the music now, hear each instrument stand out on its own, and I digest the lyrics with a new insight, too. I find myself listening as if it were the first time, and I am loving the experience of it.
I have not read many biographies, though this has me itching to find another good one to dive into. I enjoyed the personal look into a musician’s life, from childhood through adolescence and into the growing up in the midst of sudden fame. The stories of John’s parents were especially moving, and the last chapter about his father actually had me in tears.
It was a bonus that the Audio Book is voiced by John. It felt indulgent and at times alluring to listen to his voice telling his story. He possesses disarming blend of honest reflection, warmth, humility and self-deprecating humor. Some of the honesty I am certain is part and parcel to the rehabilitated life, nonetheless it was refreshing, and very humanizing; at times it felt as if I was listening to recalled stories from some of my own friends.
Oh, there was a fourth thing I nearly forgot, I may have developed a bit of a teenage dream crush on the adult John Taylor (sorry, Nick, you were still my first). Hey, you are never too old for teenage dream crushes!