Book Reviews

Book Review: In The Pleasure Groove by John Taylor – Duran Duran’s Bass Player Tells Some

Before you think my review title means this is another whiny, feel bad for me, celebrity autobiography, let me clearly state this is not.  John Taylor, the bass player for Duran Duran is quite candid about himself and doesn’t appear to be asking for anyone to pity him.

Taylor grew up an only child in a working-class family in Birmingham, England.  Not one for academia, he gravitated to the music industry at a time when it was about to explode.  He’s honest about his awkwardness and lack of girlfriends when he was younger, which might surprise some who feel he gave Simon Le Bon a run for his money as the most attractive member of Duran Duran.

He wasn’t a natural musician, nor did he have a great deal of training.  It was just something he wanted to do.  With childhood friend Nick Rhodes, he formed a band.  Next on board was Roger Taylor, followed by Andy Taylor and Simon Le Bon.  John realized he wasn’t good enough for lead guitar and moved over to bass, although his talent over the years has matured.

If you read anything about the music industry in the 1980s, the main thing you’d hear about is how drugs and alcohol were all over the place.  Often listed in the line item under “catering” in the budget, record companies kept it all coming to prop up their artists and keep them functioning without any regard to whether or not it was a good thing in the long term.  Taylor, like many others, came out of the time with addiction issues that took him a long time to recognize and overcome.

In The Pleasure Groove tells his story, but it’s missing something.  If you go into this looking for dirt, while Taylor is honest about his own failings he declines to delve into the conflicts between the members of Duran Duran.  There’s not a lot of juicy gossip here.  That wasn’t what I felt was missing, though.  At times it felt like details were glossed over when he talked about various tours.  For example, he admits to sleeping with many women, but he glosses over the details of what it was like when the girls were around 24/7 and he could virtually pick from a menu of what he wanted for the night.  He talks about the tours but he doesn’t give details such as locations, other bands they worked with, or the parties; it’s just sort of all glossed over.  I didn’t get a sense of camaraderie between the members of the band from reading his story, although it seems they all have been on good terms with each other with a few squabbles through the years that were resolved. Perhaps that would have been too much exposure for the others in the band, but I would have rather heard him say that as he did at one point when discussing the reunion over just not filling in details with no explanation.

This wasn’t a particularly hard read, and for a book not ghost-written it’s actually pretty darn good.  I enjoyed reading it if only for the trip down memory lane and a glimpse into the life of someone I met a couple of times.  If you’re looking for a lot of details or juicy gossip, you’ll not find it here.  Anyone looking for a glimpse into what the wild ride of the 1980s was like for many a music artist, will find a lot of that history here.

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