Guest review: John Taylor's 'In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran'
As much of a Duran Duran fan as I am, I could never claim to have read John Taylor's new autobiography -- In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran -- in just two sittings. But that's exactly what Orlando-based Stuck in the '80s correspondent "Lisa Barefoot" did, so I turned over the reviewing duties to the book to her. Meanwhile, I promise the finish the book myself, even if it takes -- gasp -- a third sitting. Here's Lisa's review.
In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran is the much promoted autobiography by Duran Duran co-founder and bass player, John Taylor. As a Duran Duran and John fan since 1981, I was at Barnes & Noble on release day to claim my copy.
The pre-release press coverage focused on what most would expect – the late nights, endless parties and abundant drugs during the whirlwind world tour in 1984. This type of coverage led a lot of people to think this would be John’s story of "Look how famous and great we were!"
However, there is much more to this story than just Duran Duran during the pandemonium of the early 1980s.
In The Pleasure Groove is more a story of John’s personal journey through the band’s meteoric rise to fame, his subsequent addiction and ultimate recovery. It’s written with amazing honesty laced with the wit that John has developed through years of interviews and performing.
From growing up in Birmingham during the 1970s, the creation of Duran Duran, and the ups and downs of the band’s 30 year history, John is blunt in describing the troubles he had dealing with an awkward youth, life on the road, and being thrust into the spotlight as one of the biggest personalities of the 80s. (Did you know he wore glasses until the band's breakthrough tunes? The book is worth the price just for all the photos of him during the pre-Duran Duran years.)
He describes his reaction to one of the first times the fans singled him out with “We want John! We want John!” chants.
"I wanted to crawl into a hole. I still didn’t like the attention that came with coming first. I would much rather they had stuck to chanting, ‘We want Duran Duran!’” he writes.
Describing the creation of the album Rio, John echoes the thoughts of many Duranies: “The writing on the Rio album is fantastic, all out. Duran Duran in extremis."
The band's massive rush of fame, leading to their goal of playing Madison Square Garden, also proves to be a prominent source of his thoughts.
"This was the tour we had been dreaming of back at the Rum Runner office, back when we were telling those record label reps, ‘We want to play Madison Square Garden by 1984.’ And we did. But it had grown way, way beyond our control. Be careful what you pray for."
Along with all the expected lessons-learned stories, John spins some tales that will have all Duranies laughing. My favorite was his profanity-laced, first encounter with Sting -- then fronting The Police -- at the Rum Runner nightclub in Birmingham before either was famous. Then there were stories that made me cry, such as dealing with the passing of his mother and father. I was so drawn in by the book that I finished it in two sittings. So whether a fan of Duran Duran or not, I would easily recommend reading In The Pleasure Groove for a nice trip down memory lane and a great story of beating addiction and coming out better on the other side.