Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Simon Le Bon
Le Bon was a member of the local church choir from a young age, but was also trained as an actor. He appeared in a few television commercials and also in several theatre productions. He worked on a kibbutz --a farm-- in the Negev desert in Israel in 1978, and then returned to England to attend drama school at the University of Birmingham before meeting the fledgling band Duran Duran.
Duran Duran had been founded with singer/songwriter Stephen Duffy in 1978, but Duffy left a year later, convinced they weren't going anywhere. The band had been through a long succession of lineup changes since, but had recently settled on a guitarist and drummer and built a powerful pop sound flavored with disco, funk and electronics but built on a solid rock rhythm section. All they needed was a charismatic singer with a distinctive voice.
Le Bon's ex-girlfriend Fiona Kemp (a barmaid at the Rum Runner club where Duran Duran was rehearsing) introduced him to the band in May of 1980, recommending him as a potential vocalist. As band legend has it, he turned up for the audition wearing pink leopard-print trousers, carrying a book of poetry he had written. He tried out some of the songs the band had already composed together, then spent some time fitting one of his poems ("Sound of Thunder") to one of the band's instrumentals, and found they had a good match. Simon agreed to "try them out for the summer"; within six weeks the band was playing steadily around Birmingham and London, and a national tour supporting Hazel O'Connor led to a record deal with EMI Records in December. Le Bon never returned to his acting career.
The band's first album, Duran Duran, was released in 1981, and they quickly shot to fame as part of the New Romantic movement. Three more albums followed in quick succession: Rio (1982), Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) and Arena (1984). Each album release was accompanied by heavy media promotion and a lengthy concert tour. By mid-1984, the band was ready for a break. Duran Duran's only other work that year was an appearance on the 1984 Band Aid charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas".
That year Le Bon also wooed the young fashion model Yasmin Parvaneh, after seeing her face in a magazine and calling the modelling agency until he tracked her down. They married on December 27, 1985 and Yasmin Le Bon has gone on to a supermodel career of unusual longevity, spanning twenty years despite the births of their three daughters: Amber (born 1989), Saffron (1991) and Tallulah (1994).
While Duran Duran was on hiatus in 1985, Le Bon drew media attention when his maxi-yacht Drum lost its keel and capsized during the Fastnet race, trapping him and other crew members inside the hull for forty minutes. He went on to participate in the Whitbread Round the World Race, coming in third overall.
Before Duran Duran reunited, Le Bon formed the band Arcadia with fellow Duran Duran members Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor. Arcadia released only one album, the multi-platinum So Red the Rose (1986), and the band never toured.
Duran Duran again
Duran Duran had a resurgence in popularity in 1993 with The Wedding Album. Several months into the intensive concert tour supporting this album, Le Bon suffered from strained vocal cords, and the tour was postponed for six weeks while he recovered.
In 1995, Duran Duran released the covers album Thank You, and Le Bon had the chance to cover some of his favorite artists (Jim Morrison, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello). That year Le Bon also performed the band's 1993 hit "Ordinary World" with opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti during a "Children of Bosnia" benefit concert for War Child. He described the event to Jam! Showbiz thus: "If you're talking about name dropping, he's one of the biggest names you could drop, Pav-The-Man."
After bassist John Taylor left in 1997, Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes were left as the only two members who had been with the band throughout its career. The two albums without any Taylors, Medazzaland (1997) and Pop Trash (2000) were not commercial successes.
In 2001, the original five members reunited to begin working on new material, and have performed around the world. The new album Astronaut, out on Epic Records, was released worldwide on 11 October, 2004. The album was preceded by the single "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise".
While Le Bon has been in Duran Duran for the band's entire history, he has also dabbled in solo outings. In 1985, for the Whitbread Round the World Race, he contributed a song entitled "Grey Lady Of The Sea" and narrated a video of that year's race called Drum (1987). Grey Lady Of The Sea was released as a single in Japan in 1988.
In 1989, for Jonathan Elias' Requiem For The Americas project, he contributed "Follow In My Footsteps", with Bangle Susanna Hoffs on background vocals. The track was released on 7" single in Italy that year.
In 1998, along with friend Nick Wood and wife Yasmin, he set up SYN Entertainment in Tokyo, Japan. First conceiving the idea in 1988, Le Bon is currently described as SYN's "Founder and Chairman", while Wood is "Founder, President and Creative Director".
In 2000, SYN Entertainment founded SYN Records which has released a number of compilations, some of which have included Le Bon contributions. Another solo track, "Dreamboy", was featured on the SYN-released soundtrack to the Mario Van Peebles movie Love Kills.
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