When Duran Duran was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame last November, just reward for a 40-year-plus career of hits and flashy music videos which helped ignite the format, one essential bandmate was missing from the picture — founding guitarist Andy Taylor.
Duranies — the enduring collective noun for Duran Duran fans — had hoped for an on-stage reunion with Taylor and his former bandmates, the first in 17 years. It wasn’t to be.
As Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor (none of the Taylors are related) accepted their Rock Hall induction, a message was read out from the axeman, addressing for the first time his cancer battle.
“Four years ago, Andy was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer,” LeBon said, breaking the news, before reading a portion of a letter.
Taylor returns to his health battles for a new interview for U.K. TV, and explains how music and creativity has lifted his spirits.
The diagnosis came when Andy was 56 years old, and presented when he went jogging and felt what he describes as “arthritic sort of pain.” He began to “have these symptoms, and didn’t recognize them for what they could be.” Lumps would appear on his neck, a troubling sign that the cancer had metastasized. The biopsy results confirmed the worst, an illness he describes as “a death sentence.”
On hearing the extent of his illness, “no one can be prepared for that.”
Due to his poor health, Taylor missed the ceremony in Los Angeles, for which he’d planned to break out a new guitar.
Now that the word is out, Taylor, 61, uses his platform to tell others to get checked, and urges female fans to apply gentle pressure on the men in their lives. “Give him a nudge, go get a test,” he tells 5 News.
In a fight with cancer, time is precious. “Every minute is like an hour, every day is like a week,” he explains. “You really want to get the most out of life. And I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had so much in terms of living the dream.”
Taylor has lived the dream like few others. With a string of hits, including “Girls On Film,” “Rio,” “Hungry Like The Wolf,” “Is There Something I Should Know,” “The Reflex,” “Wild Boys,” Duran Duran was arguably the most popular band on the planet in the first half of the 1980s. All those numbers came with slick music videos which either looked like shorts from blockbuster movies, or, in the case of “Girls On Film” and “The Chauffeur,” were too risqué for mainstream TV.
With his rock ‘n’ roll attitude and playing style, Taylor was something of an outlier in the band, contributing a rawness to Duran Duran’s sound during those golden years.
Without Andy Taylor’s contribution, many fans and critics argue, Duran Duran wouldn’t be the Hall of Famers they are today.
When the group split in two in 1985, following the release of the James Bond theme “A View to A Kill,” Taylor and bassist John Taylor formed The Power Station with the late Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson, while the others created Arcadia.
Taylor contributed to sessions for the 1986 album Notorious, then went his own way with a solo career. He’d reunite with DD for 2004’s Astronaut album, and for tour dates in support.
Taylor has recorded three albums since learning of his illness, and continues to perform when possible.
Playing guitar has had an unexpected benefit. “It’s really helped me to live with the pessimism of an incurable disease,” he notes, “but the optimism of creating music.”
Watch the interview below.