For almost 30 years, Duran Duran has been captivating audiences, starting with a string of hit singles and albums that defined pop music in the ‘80s. But which of the three Taylors in the band rarely (if ever) graced the popular guitar magazines with his amazing talent? That would be guitarist, singer, and songwriter Andy Taylor.
It was in a Birmingham club called the Rumrunner, owned by Duran Duran’s future managers Paul and Michael Berrow, that they were able to experiment with different sounds, trying to combine the harder sound of rock with the catchy beat of disco. Seven months later, in December of 1980, the band produced its debut single, “Planet Earth,” and in June 1981 they followed up the single with the self-titled, debut album, Duran Duran.
A string of hits followed, including “Is There Something I Should Know,” and the band’s sophomore release, Rio, catapulted them to major international stardom. There isn’t a guitar player in a working ‘80s tribute band who doesn’t know the iconic riff to “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and other huge hits like “Rio” which helped to define Andy’s style, one that combined modern and classic rock sounds with pop and funk rhythm work. To date, Duran Duran has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Their influence on pop music is undeniable and unavoidable.
During a late ‘80s hiatus with the band, Taylor and bassist John Taylor (no relation) joined session drummer Tony Thompson along with singer/songwriter Robert Palmer to create a new band, Power Station. Their two hits, “Some Like It Hot” and a cover of the T. Rex song, “Get it On (Bang a Gong)” featured Andy’s guitar playing a bit more front-and-center, whereas keyboards had played a dominant role in much of Duran Duran’s music.
Over the years, Taylor switched between three primary guitars: a Fender Telecaster, a Gibson Les Paul, and a Gibson 335. Out of the three, his preferred choice would be the Gibson 335 because of the hollow body, light wood, and tone: “It is the best choice when it comes to working with funky stuff,” Taylor once said in an interview with Gibson.
For acoustic work, Andy plays a Gibson J-160 acoustic (John Lennon model), and when he needs instant variety, he can be found playing a Line 6 Variax.
On Duran Duran, Rio, and The Power Station, as well as some of his solo work, Taylor relied primarily on the Marshall JCM 800. He used a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier on Astronaut and Reportage. For Seven & the Ragged Tiger, as well as some of his more recent work, he also played a VOX AC 30. Additional work included use of a Marshall Blues Breaker combo.
Where Is He Now?
Andy briefly re-joined Duran Duran in the early 2000s (the previous decade featured guitar playing by former Frank Zappa/Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo) for a reunion album, Astronaut, but left the band again in 2006 due to some differences of opinion with band management.
They had been in the process of making a follow-up album to Astronaut, and after Taylor’s departure, the band scrapped the album completely and went in a dance-pop direction that featured much less guitar work. We didn’t purchase the subsequent Red Carpet Massacre, and based on its poor sales figures, neither did you.
Taylor also penned a tell-all autobiography in 2008 called “Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran,” which detailed his early years as an artist, rise to fame, and relationships with his band members.
In 2012 Andy released a solo album to fans, in bits, via the Internet.