This is a first for me! I am actually writing this year’s birthday post for our favorite bass player, John Taylor! Of course, as Rhonda mentioned last week, we switched days in order for her to write Dom’s birthday post and for me to write John’s. Frankly, I suspect that this blog will not live up to the high standards that John’s birthday post should meet. I will do my best, though. As I begin this post, I think about all that John is and has been. It is clear that he is much more than a bass player. He is more than a founding member of our favorite band. Obviously, his musical talents have expanded far beyond Duran Duran as he has been involved in side projects (Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders) as well as his own solo work. He has also been involved with other musical projects as a guest like his vocal performance on Koishii and Hush’s C’est Tout Est Noir. John isn’t all music, either. He has been an actor and, this past year, we saw him become a best-selling author as well. In fact, it is truly difficult to hit on all aspects of John Taylor’s successful career. I will attempt to the best I can here, though, because he deserves the effort! Besides, his fans deserve to celebrate everything he has given us, too!
Obviously, most of us became fans of John Taylor through Duran Duran. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m thankful on pretty much a daily basis that John discovered music as a kid and had the desire to form a band. Then, of course, he had determination and ambition to do what he needed to do in order to be a success. These qualities can be seen from the very earliest days of Duran to Duran today. To me, these qualities along with his absolutely outstanding bass playing make him such an important piece to the Duran enterprise. Yes, I’m sure that there are people out there reading this who want to remind me and others that John left the band and the band continued. While that’s true, it is clear that the band would not have survived much longer with that line-up. Simon, in particular, was open about how much he missed John. For John fans like myself, it was really hard to get excited about anything Duran without him there. All of this said, this blog post is about celebrating John and what he brought and brings to Duran Duran and their fans.
Clip of John discussing playing Planet Earth from the early 1980s-
An acoustic performance of All You Need Is Now from 2011-
Of course, for many of us, when we think about what John does best, we often think about live performances. As a kid, I will never forget seeing the live video of The Reflex. There was just something about him that caught my attention. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure those flattering camera angles didn’t hurt. Nonetheless, as an adult, I have learned that he truly does a tremendous job during their live performances. Of course, one thing that I truly love about John live is that he is always interacting with either Simon or Dom. I am a big fan of both the JoSi and the DoJo–honestly, partly, because it seems to me that they sincerely love performing together!
Careless Memories from A Diamond in the Mind:
Now, of course, John hasn’t just performed with Duran Duran. He has been involved with two side projects. The first one, Power Station, is probably one that most Duranies are familiar with. Yet, I would also recommend Neurotic Outsiders. I suspect that this project did John a lot of good.
Power Station’s Some Like It Hot-
Jerk by Neurotic Outsiders (live)-
I happen to think that John’s most important musical work outside of Duran Duran is his solo work. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it. John’s solo catalog reveals so much about his musical open-mindedness, skills and passion. Perhaps, just as, or more, importantly, his solo work is so personal. I often say that the majority of Simon’s lyrics are either pure poetry or a story about someone else. The exact opposite is true of John’s. Most of his songs are intensely personal. It shows a lot about what kind of person he is to share so much of himself with the world. Of course, his autobiography did that as well. Someday, I’ll do a blog of must hear John songs. In my personal opinion, all serious John fans should familiarize themselves with his solo stuff.
John’s song Fields of Eden-
Beyond music, John has been been both an actor and an author. How many people out there can claim all of this (musician, actor and author)?! His acting appearances were always entertaining to me from when he played an English rockstar in Sugartown (that sounds familiar…) to a badass rock star who enjoys trashing his hotel rooms in Strange Frequency to a hitman in Four Dogs Playing Poker.
John in Strange Frequency-
Of course, last year, we all had the pleasure of reading John’s autobiography. I have read it multiple times and continue to be impressed by his writing skills as well as his ability to be so open. If you haven’t read it, you totally should. It provides such insight into John but also into Duran Duran, the Birmingham scene, fame and more.
John reading the chapter on Coachella from his book-
I adore this final chapter of the book. Why? It feels to me that John really gets it. He understands his role–to make music, to connect with us when they are on stage and we are in the audience. Clearly, he understood the importance of connecting, including the band to us but also fans connecting to other fans. In the end, that is what it is all about—making connections, long lasting, lifelong connections. Thus, on this day, we celebrate John’s birthday but we also celebrate all that he has given us–his music, his voice, his talent, his words, his creativity, his soul and, through all of that, each other. Truly, June 20th is one date to celebrate.
Happy Birthday John!!