Posts tagged “london

In The Pleasure Groove

Posted on October 18, 2012

itpg Nigel John Taylor grew up as a shy only child in working class Birmingham, England. It was the 1960s. His father harbored deep, dark secrets from World War II and poured his heart into working on his car. His mother, who couldn’t drive at all, walked her bespectacled lad to church five days a week. That self-same lad was not a jock, not cool and not sure about what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Then the seventies came. When Nigel saw British pop band Roxy Music on television, it was his moon landing. By the end of that decade, he had a best friend named Nick Bates (later Nick Rhodes) who shared his love of music and dream of starting a band. Together they would form Duran Duran, a pop-funk-new wave quintet named after the villain in the futuristic 1968 film “Barbarella.” The band — consisting of keyboardist Rhodes, frontman Simon Le Bon, drummer Roger Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist Nigel (who was going by the more rock-n-roll “John” by then) — became the biggest band of the 1980s. Their music was catchy, their videos were decadent, their looks were pin-up boy fabulous.

They made a lot of teenaged girls scream.

I was one of those girls.

Taylor’s much-anticipated memoir In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran came out this Tuesday and I finished it in less than a day. The story, co-written with freelance writer Tom Sykes, is an engaging look at Taylor’s extraordinarily blessed life, which was rooted in the Catholic Church, then the pop music and new wave fashion of the 1970s before rock-n-roll superstardom took him on a wild ride around the globe. In some respects, the story is a conventional “nothing could have prepared me for this” tale, one full of screaming teens rifling through his trash, lines of coke snorted through rolled-up $100 bills, more apartments than he could afford and eventual disillusionment with the business aspects of the band that made him a such a fixture on MTV in the early 1980s. But in other respects, it’s a wonderful look at Taylor’s life, the musical and fashion influences that shaped Duran Duran, the creative opportunities that unfolded because of Duran’s success (i.e. the Bond theme “A View To A Kill,” side projects such as Arcadia and Power Station and involvement in Bob Geldof’s Live Aid), and Taylor’s rocky journey away from addiction. His is a redemptive story, which ends with a stronger and better Duran Duran and a healthier, more grounded Taylor who is able to balance the demands of fame and family life.

“The music never sounded better,” he writes.

And Taylor’s book couldn’t have been a better read.

To close, here’s Duran Duran’s Hyde Park performance from the London Olympics. What better way to show off J.T.’s bass magic than “Rio”:

God Save The Queen

Posted on June 3, 2012

STF/AFP/Getty Images

STF/AFP/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II marked her sixtieth year on the British throne this weekend. In honor of her Diamond Jubilee, here are some articles and other pop cultural tidbits about her, the celebrations and the royal family in general.

1. Daily Beast editor Tina Brown shared with NPR this week her must-reads about the Queen. Included are a Newsweek article by the historian Simon Schama and a biography by Robert Lacey.

2. I’m partial to the Oscar award-winning film “The King’s Speech,” which stars my imaginary husband Colin Firth as King George VI of England. George VI had a stuttering problem, but with the help of the eccentric speech therapist Lionel Logue, the king was able to overcome it and deliver a wartime speech that united his nation when it was on the brink of war. His daughter, Elizabeth, was proclaimed queen in 1952.

3. Director Stephen Frears cast the inimitable Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in his 2006 movie “The Queen.” The movie looks at how the British royals dealt with Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and new prime minister Tony Blair’s pledge to modernize the country. Mirren won a best actress Oscar for her portrayal of the aging monarch.

4. The Christian Science Monitor describes the Jubilee celebrations along the Thames River in London, from the thousand-ship flotilla and the hundreds of thousands of people who braved the rain to watch it from the river banks. The Telegraph meanwhile writes that the Queen was voted “the favourite monarch of all time.”

5. The Queen loves corgis and the BBC notes that the breed has become more popular during her Diamond Jubilee year.

6. The punk band the Sex Pistols bashed the monarch in their rollicking 1977 song “God Save the Queen,” which came out during Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee that year. The lyrics likened her to a “fascist regime” and as a result the BBC refused to play the song. The song reached number two on the U.K. Singles Chart anyway. Here are the Sex Pistols in action:

7. A year ago Kate Middleton donned an Alexander McQueen gown to marry Prince William. Their pairing was said to reinvigorate the British monarchy in a way that William’s Duran Duran-loving mother Princess Diana did in the 1980s. It also drew more attention to what fashions the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate’s title) was wearing in public. What Kate Wore chronicles Middleton’s fashion choices, while this site is the official web page of the young couple.

Did you read anything about the Jubilee that you liked or found interesting? If so, what was it? Please share in comments.