In 1984, a Duran Duran tour was as big as it got: like Adele backed by One Direction, with a dash of debauchery thrown in for good measure. Here, bassist John Taylor and photographer Denis O’Regan talk us through pictures from their photobook about the tour, ‘Careless Memories’, and reminisce about life on the road.
O'Regan was invited to join the tour as official photographer because Taylor loved his work for NME: “Denis was one of a handful of photographers who had their name on every picture, so he was already a bit of a legend to me the first time we met. I was a bit of a train spotter, so I was able to say things like: ‘Oh, you took that photograph of Johnny Thunders or The Rezillos’. So we clicked."
“At the risk of offending anyone, each of them are very different," says O'Regan "They’re all unique characters, with their own pros and cons from my point of view. Simon really didn’t trust me at the beginning. Simon was very wary, partly because I knew John really well by the time we went on tour, and also because Simon was already reaching the point where he was being stitched up by the press."
Taylor remembers the band taking advantage of O'Regan's presence: “Each of us would want to go solo for photos. We’d be saying: ‘Denis, I see myself at the wheel of a Ferrari.’ When you’re locked into a long tour, you’re not a human being you’re a number. When you can break away and do something independently you jump at it. Of course, pre-selfie, you’d want to take the photographer with you!”
The tour took its toll on the band, as Taylor recalls: “It was a six month tour and we were done by the time it was over. It was a rocket ride from when the first single came out in Jan '81 until this tour finished in May '84. It was the kind of tour where every week we’d get a call about expanding the tour, because we were just exploding. At some point we went past the point of appreciating it."
Duran Duran were big business in the summer of 1984. Taylor says: "When we got to the end of this tour it was a case of maximising everything. There was a merchandising explosion off the back of this tour. It was a matter of making as much out of what we had.”
O'Regan remembers Duran Duran becoming another 'British invasion': “They went to America exactly 20 years after The Beatles had done, and they each had individual characters just like The Beatles did. The American press could hang their hat on that. They were called ‘The Fab Five’ on the cover of Rolling Stone.”
"We became a supergroup," says Taylor. "We were one of those groups where everyone in the band was a star. We were judging it by how many t-shirts each of us had sold. A big day for the band was the day that our five individual t-shirts went on sale in HMV. We were all going: ‘Who’s sold the most?’ It’s pathetic, looking back on it, but at the time it seemed important.”
Taylor says Duran Duran were always battling to be taken seriously: "We then had to prove that we were the real thing. A lot of people thought Duran Duran had been put together. The picture was too perfect. They thought some Svengali had put it together. We were always fighting that. That was part of our drive, to prove that we were our own creation."
The band projected an image of luxury that MTV viewers lapped up, as O'Regan recalls: "Duran Duran were the first MTV band, really. They became huge on television, and of course these fans just went berserk."
The year after this tour, Duran Duran would go on to release the theme tune for the James Bond film 'A View To A Kill'. As Taylor remembers, this was part of a quest to keep the high going: "The following year was all one off things, like when we got the Bond song. Everything had to be number one!"
For Taylor, the 1984 tour was a dream come true: "It was a fantasy for me. I was such a fan of music, and we wanted – Nick and I particularly – that fame and that success. We got more than we bargained for, in a way."
Fortunately, O'Regan fitted straight into life on the road with the band. “Denis was a mate," says Taylor. "It wasn’t like having an outsider there. You didn’t have to be self-conscious. We were just friends hanging out.”
Coinciding with Duran Duran's new UK tour, kicking off on Friday, Denis O’Regan has partnered with Sanderson, London to launch a pop up shop stocking his new, limited-edition, Duran Duran book 'Careless Memories' – priced from £250. The shop at Sanderson is open until December 11th. For more on the book, visit: ddcarelessmemories.com
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