by The Ghost of Andy Taylor (aka The Intolerant Man)
(Since this will not be the subject of the Duran story anywhere else I felt I would document that important moment when Duran pissed off a large segment of their fan base, who gathered together in the online world and became the resistance to the nastiness that was the modern Duran album – who better to tell it than one of the bashers themselves?)
The Red Carpet Massacre Period and Beyond 2007-2010
Duran Duran fans have come and gone at various points in their career. Probably the most significant point when this happened was when Andy and Roger split and Duran Duran went through the huge changes in personnel and sound from Arcadia to Notorious. But they still didn’t lose most of their fans back then; that was more gradual. And more relevant to this piece, Duran never compromised on what they stood for and their integrity was never at stake.
Until … some time in the early 2000s, when Duran Duran began to transform from occasional and tactical sellouts into the real thing.
This article covers the changes in their music around 2006 and the fan response surrounding the departure of Andy Taylor.
After repeated dry periods in the late 80s and late 90s, Duran Duran decided to pursue chart success almost exclusively. Recognition and chart success was withheld too long after all the great songs they had written.
Some of us knew that Astronaut was a watered down effort but appreciated it for what is was, mainly since we got the reunion and the great live shows of the period. But what to do when promises of a good follow up album (during which time John Taylor reported listening to classic Black Sabbath and AcDc albums) give way to very dire and unexpected events?
Andy Taylor leaving was maybe unavoidable, but what Daemon in the Mind caused the four of them to bring on Timbaland – a hack, a senseless prick, a non-musician, an idiot and rap artist – to help in the WRITING of Duran Duran songs?
Eventually, even John “Let’s Sellout” Taylor would object to Timbaland laying down computer generated bass lines (or samples, whatever) in the ‘making’ of the Red Carpet Massacre ‘album’.
But in the immediate aftermath of the two announcements, Dec 2006 – fan disapproval was brewing. I had caught them live for the very first time in Athens, sans Andy Taylor and followed up by registering a complaint via the Lizard King forum. ‘DD Chose Timbaland Over Andy?’ was my username which I later modified to ‘The Ghost of Andy Taylor’.
On Lizard King we watched more details of the album emerge and eventually the band treated us to samples of Nite Runner. Right around this time I said it was over for this band if they chose to release this stuff. I weighed the merits of the vocals, the ‘sparse’ instrumentation, the programmed cowbell sound, the ‘lyrics’ and concluded that it was pure shit.
This was the first time on record, certainly in the Duran world, that anyone said a song with hit producer Timbaland would bomb. It was based on both intuition and some knowledge of the fan base. I assumed hip-hop was not a huge draw for Duranies and that was shown to be right. (I also assumed, wrongly, as the future showed, around the time of All You Need is Now, that Duranies had standards and would not accept music that was contrived merely for the sake of sales.)
Whatever my reasoning in saying Red Carpet Massacre would fail commercially, it became true and at this point I was the sole person to state this quite emphatically. But some other fans on LK (and across the fan base) were also discontent and a few were criticizing what they were hearing. A good part of this backlash seemed to come from the Andy Taylor section of the forum – fans who loved the rebel, the most individualistic wild man of the band. We also seemed to have quite a few things in common on a personal level and there would be a gradual exodus of the Andy fans – to other forums, and away from the core Duran world. The Lizard King forum didn’t have a large base then, however our response seemed to mirror that of Andy fans across the fan base in general – the events on the LK forum were a good enough barometer. It was in his absence that sales really plummeted – instead of Andy we got Le Freak, and it was those who felt a connection with Andy Taylor who stayed away the most.
As the arguments mounted and the Duranies had no response but emotional outbursts, I was banned. After I returned briefly to question this move and make a suggestion to some members by posting a picture of people consuming shit, (a lasting NSFW visual) I then decided that the time was ripe for a new Duran forum. Us Andy fans posted elsewhere for awhile, and I simultaneously started my own forum, this time specially dedicated to criticizing or bashing the RCM album.
The Red Carpet Massacre Bashing Forum was born. Also known as simply Speechless, this was the home of the Duran Duran Make Me Sick Symphony Orchestra or the DDMMSSO. A fancy title for those of us who appreciated the soul of what had been Duran Duran.
By this point everything that could have been said about RCM had been already. But something had happened here which persists to this day – and the bashing was part of a significant splinter in the fan base . The Andy fans and the WARREN fans haven’t really come back. Who wants to see some Bryan Adams look alike playing unoffensive versions of those songs? Warren said he arranged the Barbarella solo such that no one would be able to play it if they got someone else. Warren was a wizard who landed in their path saving their careers and musical quality, and Andy was the undisputed charismatic centre who the other members cannot compensate for.
The Speechless forum lasted from 2007-2010, long enough to bash both RCM and the then upcoming All You Need is Now. The forum itself was wacky, silly and serious in being critical about Duran Duran and other topics. Given that just about any other forum was dedicated to censoring serious criticism of Duran Duran music, for a time in 2007-8, the RCM Bashing Forum became the hideout for core A. Taylor fans and visits/guest posts from those who could not express their thoughts on the main DD forums – some voiced support for Speechless over on those forums.
Having served its purpose the forum was taken down in 2010, with little trace remaining (saved files wiped out in hard drive crashes) – there are mentions on other forums and Google. What remains as evidence of its style is this youtube compilation. And a three part video to bash All You Need Is Now (posted at the end of article).¹
The Andy and Warren fans are rarely spotted on Duran forums since there is little point – youtube nostalgia for the band’s glory days is all that is left.
Luckily enough (perhaps) Duran’s persistence and longevity are paying off and they are finally getting some of the respect they looked for, even as they produce the poorest music of their career. They might attain the status of legends even in the minds of Rolling Stone and the Hall of Fame some day but it will most likely be for the entertainment factor and ‘socially responsible’ messages of Ordinary World. Not for the best music, which is best appreciated by The Thinking Man and the Man of Feeling.