A sun-washed, breezy afternoon on the Eiffel Tower, and Duran Duran’s 15th video is aborning–this one, a romp keyed to the theme music for the Bond thriller, A View to a Kill, a song that will hit No. 1 by midsummer. Playing undercover agents armed with an arsenal of Bond-style weapons, rock’s most fabulous faces will give chase as a black-robed Grace Jones (an assassin) tries to take a flying leap from the tower. Keyboardist Nick Rhodes, 23–slight, pale, with arresting green eyes and perfect, pouty lips–leans on a rail on a second-tier catwalk, sucking on the forefinger that was burned when a prop malfunctioned. Ignoring the heights, Simon Le Bon, 26, the group’s strapping lead singer, swings on the iron struts as if he were a kindergartner on a jungle gym. Simon has a speaking part in this opus, and he repeats his line mock dramatically, as the 007 of rock. “Bon.” Pause. “Simon Le Bon.”
While their work may look like play, videos are a serious business for Duran Duran: A less photogenic quintet might not have made it solely on the strength of revved up Muzak like Rio. With the help of expensively produced clips set in Sri Lanka and Sydney and Antigua, Simon, Nick, John and confreres Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor (none of the Taylors is related) have become millionaires with a string of commercial–if not critical–triumphs: four best-selling albums, hit singles, like last winter’s The Wild Boys, and two world tours that had their multitudinous groupies fainting in the aisles from Europe to Japan. At last weekend’s high-profile Live Aid concert (a sprawling benefit whose proceeds will be used to combat hunger in famine-stricken Africa), the prettiest boys in rock were allotted a respectable chunk of stage time–as Duran Duran, and also as Power Station, an independent project of Andy’s and John’s that teams them with vocalist Michael DesBarres and Chic drummer Tony Thompson.
When John Taylor, 11, met 10-year-old Nick (then Nicholas Bates), it was at a swap meet where kids in their Birmingham suburb were trading pictures of rock stars. Even then their tastes were remarkably similar. Both were devotees of glam rockers like T. Rex and Gary Glitter (“We wouldn’t buy records by ugly groups,” says John), and they often bought the same clothes even when they shopped alone. Another thing they shared was a complete lack of interest in making music. When Nick left school at 16 and the two decided to start a band, “we had vivid ideas of what we wanted to look and sound like,” Rhodes says, “but we looked at the instruments and said, ‘Do we have to learn to play these things?'”
At first glance Le Bon is an unlikely pop idol. The black brogans and white socks that he favors give him a farmboy mien, and his short blond hair accentuates the pudginess of his cheeks. (He was once known to the band as “Lardo.”) Lying on his belly in the grassy park beneath the Eiffel Tower, he seems unaffected–more the straighforward craftsman than the guarded artiste. But there is an unexpected courtliness about him. Simon is the Duran who doles out hugs and opens doors for females of all ages.
They will go their separate ways tomorrow. But for now the five are together on the steps of a walkway bordering the Seine, posing for a group shot with the Eiffel Tower at their backs. A jostling horde of photographers is huddled at their feet, and it takes on more than three minutes for a crowd of fans to materialize. The girls hang back, shyly watching every move; while Nick arranges his lips into the proper wry pout, Andy sticks out his chin, John offers a pinup-perfect smile, Roger stares down the cameras, and Simon manages to flirt with every female within shouting range. “It’s a rotten job,” John says later, “but we figure somebody got to do it.”
COPYRIGHT 1985 Time, Inc.
via Temple of Saint Nick.