Why is everyone being so classy? Of all the music memoirs that have come down the publishing pipe lately, none have come close to offering the debaucherous thrills of such sleazeball classics as Slash's simply-named Slash or Marilyn Manson's The Long Hard Road Out of Hell. John Taylor's new In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran tries to rectify that egregious imbalance. Here are some of the most scandalous tidbits:
Hungry Like the Wolf
Early on in the band's rise, Taylor, to his later detriment, finds that things are more fun with a little chemical assistance. "I was developing the habit of mixing my drinks," he recalls, "and discovering the even higher octane thrills that came from mixing my drinks with drugs." But more than that, illegal pick-me-ups seem to be part of the business. "In music...cocaine use was as normal as drinking a pint of bitter was in the pubs of Birmingham. Everybody was doing it and no one felt bad about it. The business took account of the hours that wold be lost due to hangovers and scrambled thoughts. Hundreds of grams were being charged to record company accounts across [London] every week."
All She Wants Is
Duran Duran quickly became a favorite with teenage girls, some of whom would go to peculiarly unhygienic lengths to connect with their idols. "I had a cold and was sniffling into a series of tissues, absentmindedly throwing them into a wastepaper bin under the table," writes Taylor about an Atlanta press conference. "Next time into the city, the girl called out to me at another public appearance, "I was the girl who got your cold." Taylor has no idea what she's talking about. The girl says: "After you left the press conference last year I stole your used tissues. I wanted to get your cold."
At the height of the early '80s fame, Taylor and his bandmates find themselves with a plethora of sexual options available at every tour stop. But the band's legally-abiding road crew makes certain that same rules are left unbroken. "I had not noticed right away," remembers Taylor, "that in the left-hand corner of each page of the U.S. itinerary there was a number, usually 18, 21, or 20. It was months before I was let in on the secret. The numbers referred to the legal age for sexual intercourse in that particular state."
Is There Something I Should Know?
Taylor shares a particularly intimate father-son moment when he returns to his hometown of Birmingham, England, after a long tour. He writes: "Dad was good about handling my first exposure to a sexually transmitted disease. I contracted crabs in the United States and thought I had gotten rid of it. But in the shower at Mom and Dad's I scratched away at some scabby thing on my chest and the little fucker went scuttling down my leg...I knew this one was not for Mom...Dad rose to occasion admirably. There was no judgment, simply, 'You better not let your mother know about this.'" The elder Taylor then "took off all my bedsheets and secretly put them into the washing machine, practically boiling them down to paper, then got me the necessary meds from the local pharmacy."
This last excerpt opens the curtain on a pop idol in slightly more whimsical way. Taylor remembers the first time he meets with future Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon: "I can't forget what he was wearing...skintight leopard-print ski pants with loops under the boots. Undoubtedly a dubious look, but, you know, he was studying Shakespeare."