Nigel John Taylor (born 20 June 1960) is an English musician and actor, who is best known as the bass guitarist and co-founder of the new wave band Duran Duran. Duran Duran were one of the most popular bands in the world during the 1980s due to their revolutionary music videos that played in heavy rotation in the early days of MTV. Taylor played with Duran Duran from its founding in 1978 until 1997, when he left to pursue a solo recording and film career. He recorded a dozen solo releases (albums, EPs, and video projects) through his company “Trust The Process” over the next four years, had a lead role in the movie Sugar Town, and made appearances in a half dozen other film projects. He rejoined Duran Duran for a reunion of the original five members of the group in 2001 and has remained with the group since.
Taylor was also a member of two supergroups: The Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders.
John Taylor grew up in Hollywood, a suburb of Birmingham, England. As a child he attended Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic school and the Abbey High School, in Redditch, wore glasses (due to severe myopia, over -10 dioptres), enjoyed James Bond movies and the hobby of war-gaming with hand-painted model soldiers. In his early teen years, he discovered music, choosing Roxy Music as his favourite band, and before long was collecting records and teaching himself to play piano. His first band was called Shock Treatment.
1978–1997: Duran Duran and Power Station
In 1978, Taylor and school friend Nick Rhodes formed Duran Duran with Stephen Duffy while attending the School of Foundation Studies & Experimental Workshop Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University). Soon after Taylor underwent an “ugly duckling” transformation—ditching the glasses for contact lenses, adopting the ruffles and sashes of the fashion that would become known as the New Romantic style, and learning to wear eyeliner and lipstick. He stopped using the name “Nigel”, and has been known throughout his professional career as John Taylor.
Taylor played guitar when Duran Duran was founded, but switched to bass guitar after discovering the funky rhythms of Chic, and learned to enjoy playing in the rhythm section with Duran’s newly recruited drummer Roger Taylor. He has frequently cited Chic’s Bernard Edwards and The Clash’s Paul Simonon as his strongest influences, in addition to Paul McCartney, James Jamerson, and Roxy Music players Graham Simpson and John Porter. Duran Duran released their first album in 1981, and went on to worldwide success in the early 1980s.
Duran Duran’s early music tended to prominently feature Taylor’s melodic bass lines, following the model of funk and disco songs like “Good Times”. Contrary to popular belief, Taylor does not play bass on the Band Aid charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, the bassline on that tracks was played on an OSCar synthesiser.
As Duran Duran became famous in the early 1980s, Taylor’s individual celebrity grew. His picture was a staple of teen magazines, and he won numerous popularity polls, including appearances on People Magazine’s annual list of “Sexiest People”. He lived a lavish lifestyle with homes in London and Paris, and owned several cars, which he rarely had a chance to drive, including the Bond-style Aston Martin of which he had always dreamed. He dated fashion models, such as Bond girl Janine Andrews and “Face of the ’80s” Renee Simonsen.
In 1985, after recording the chart-topping theme to the Bond movie A View to a Kill, Duran Duran split into two side projects. John Taylor and Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor joined forces with former Chic drummer Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer (singer), who earlier met at Duran Duran’s charity concert at Aston Villa football ground 1983, to form the band The Power Station. With the guidance of producer Bernard Edwards, they released one album, The Power Station, which produced the hit singles “Some Like It Hot” and the T.Rex cover song “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”.
That year, Taylor also launched his first solo effort, recording the single “I Do What I Do…” for the soundtrack to the movie 9½ Weeks. He also wrote some instrumental music for the movie’s score with collaborator Jonathan Elias.
Although Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor left the band, the three remaining Duran Duran members reformed for the 1986 Notorious album, and continued to record and tour throughout the 1990s with new guitarist Warren Cuccurullo. Taylor recorded a fair amount of unreleased solo material on the side, including several tracks used on the soundtrack of the Allison Anders movie Mi Vida Loca.
On 24 December 1991, Taylor married 19-year-old Amanda De Cadenet, who was already pregnant with his daughter Atlanta (born 31 March 1992). He moved from England to Los Angeles, California to help further his wife’s acting career, as well as to escape constant attention from the British tabloids. Taylor’s marriage declined even as Duran Duran’s star rose with the success of 1993’s Duran Duran, also known as The Wedding Album. In late 1994, Taylor sought treatment for his substance abuse, and has remained sober since. He and De Cadenet separated in May 1995.
Duran Duran’s success rapidly waned with the widely derided 1995 covers album Thank You. Following that album’s supporting tour, Duran Duran spent part of the summer of 1995 in London working on the album Medazzaland. Concurrently, Taylor devoted time to the side project Neurotic Outsiders, recording and touring with that band from the end of 1995 through the start of 1996.
1996–2001: Solo music career; 2012–present: Author
In 1996, Taylor co-founded the independent record label B5 Records in California with producer Hein Hoven. B5 Records originally recorded from Hoven’s Lake Hollywood home but eventually built a state of the art studio in Santa Monica dubbed “B5 by the Sea.” The label had a cutting-edge website created by Kapil Mathur which featured a virtual journey through the B5 studios, and which allowed visitors to “interact” with Taylor and Hoven using mobile avatars in a virtual environment.
At B5, Taylor sang and played guitar and bass on his first solo album, Feelings Are Good (And Other Lies), working with collaborator Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. The home-grown album was marketed by mail order, and sold its CDs directly via the website. The music and vocals were generally rough and raw, much more akin to grunge and punk music than to Duran Duran, while the lyrics reflected Taylor’s chaotic personal life and his ongoing divorce from De Cadenet. He participated in writing an album for the reunited Power Station in late 1996, but his personal problems forced him to withdraw from the project, which went on to record with Bernard Edwards on bass and toured with a hired bass player. Increasing creative differences within Duran Duran, his move to Los Angeles and a desire to focus on his solo work also led Taylor to reconsider his place in that band. In January 1997 he announced at a Duran Duran fan convention that he was leaving the band.
He was soon recording more of his own material on B5 Records, releasing the EP Autodidact even as Feelings Are Good was re-released on the larger Canadian label DeRock Records. B5 then issued a tribute album called Dream Home Heartaches… Remaking/Remodeling Roxy Music, featuring Roxy Music covers by Taylor and many other local Los Angeles artists. The label also produced the album Sub-Acid Sweet Songs for L.A. quartet Three Alarm Fire before Hein Hoven decided to leave the company. After that, the B5 Records company and the much-simplified website were renamed “Trust The Process”, and focused on promoting Taylor’s solo work rather than developing other acts.
During 1997 and 1998, Taylor built and toured with a band called “John Taylor Terroristen” (Gerry Laffy on guitar, Michael Railton/Tio Banks on keyboard, Larry Aberman on drums, John Amato on sax and flute) which played numerous shows in Southern California before touring the East and West Coasts of the United States. Terroristen released a live EP 5.30.98 and the accompanying video Better Off Alive through the Trust The Process website. After 9/11, Taylor said he would never use the band name “Terroristen” again.
Taylor also began making forays into acting. His long friendship with Allison Anders led to a starring role in her independent film, Sugar Town, in 1998. He also appeared in small roles in several other movies and TV programmes over the next couple of years.
In 1999, Taylor released two albums of earlier material. The first, Résumé, was made up of unreleased music that he and Jonathan Elias had worked on together during the 1985 sessions for the 9½ Weeks movie soundtrack. The second, Meltdown, was a collection of tracks Taylor had laid down in 1992, during the extensive delays in Duran Duran’s recording of The Wedding Album. Described by Taylor as “upbeat dance electronica with a hip hop influence”, some of the lyrics reveal his disaffection with the Duran Duran lifestyle; he has said he came very near to leaving the band during that time, but was held back by the sudden success of “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone” in 1993.
Later in 1999 Taylor signed a recording contract with the Japanese record label Avex Trax, and released an album labelled simply John Taylor on the cover, but listed in his official discography as The Japan Album. John Taylor Terroristen did more touring in Japan, Germany, and the United States. The Trust The Process website released an accompanying limited edition Japanese EP, followed by the “bootleg album” Live Cuts featuring unretouched recordings of Taylor’s live performances from that year.
He continued recording for Avex in 2000, and early in 2001 released Techno For Two (featuring the international hit “6,000 Miles” co-written by Matthew Hager), a decidedly non-techno album filled with very personal songs. Shortly after, as talks began for a potential Duran Duran reunion, Taylor decided to create a retrospective package called Retreat Into Art demonstrating his development over the previous five years. A limited edition of 999 signed boxes contained two CDs, a poster, postcards, and more. After the signed boxes were sold out, the two-CD set was marketed on its own.
Taylor’s final solo release, completed after the Duran Duran reunion was under way, was the collection MetaFour released in 2002. The album is divided into four thematic sections. The first contains instrumental music created for the 1992 film Mi Vida Loca. The second consists of previously unreleased live performances from various points in Taylor’s early solo career, while the third contains a handful of acoustic performances and demos. The last section is a 17-minute question and answer session Taylor took part in at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood in 1998.
In October 2012, Taylor released an autobiography called In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. In 2013, the Writers in Treatment organisation awarded Taylor with the “Experience, Strength and Hope” award for his work.
2001–present: Duran Duran reunion
In 2000, Taylor was approached at his home in Los Angeles by singer Simon Le Bon about a possible reunion with the original Duran Duran lineup, and he was enthusiastic about the idea as long as the other two Taylors (Roger and Andy, who had left the band in 1986) were willing to rejoin as well. An agreement was soon reached, and Taylor demonstrated his renewed commitment to the band by getting an enormous linked-D’s tattoo on the upper side of his right arm.
After a highly successful tour of Japan in 2003, the reunited band was signed with Epic Records, and released the album Astronaut in October 2004. They toured throughout the first half of 2005 before returning to the studio to work on their next new album. Guitarist Andy Taylor left the band again in October 2006, and recordings from this session (with the working title “Reportage”) were set aside when the band got a chance to work with famed producer Timbaland. The resulting album, “Red Carpet Massacre”, was released in November 2007. To celebrate its release the band took the unprecedented step of performing the album in its entirety for 10 special performances on Broadway in New York City, with a world tour in 2008.
In 2006, John and Nick Rhodes collaborated on the compilation album entitled “Only After Dark”.
In December 2010, the band released its 13th studio album, All You Need is Now, on its own record label, Tapemodern. Initially, an abbreviated version was offered to iTunes, but the physical album arrived in shops in March 2011.
In February 2013, he won MusicRadar’s greatest bassist poll.
Over the years, Taylor has worked on projects with several other performers. He has performed with James Angell, and played bass on the Deadsy song “She Likes Big Words”. He co-wrote and played bass on the Mindi Abair song “It Just Happens That Way”, and did backing vocals on her cover of “Save Tonight”.
He played bass on “Lose Yourself With Me” by singer Jan Linton in 2003, which also featured the guitars of one of Taylor’s teenage idols, former Be Bop Deluxe front man, Bill Nelson.
He remixed the song, “Like a Hard Rain” for Japanese artist Nanase Aikawa, and played on two songs for the Japanese band Slut Banks.
Taylor’s side project Neurotic Outsiders has re-convened for an occasional live show or two since a surprise four-show stint at the Viper Room in 1999.
Taylor made his first film appearance outside of Duran Duran as “The Hacker” (alongside then-girlfriend Virginia Hey) in the pilot episode of Timeslip, a 1985 TV programme that was not further developed. He later made a guest appearance in the 1985 Miami Vice episode titled “Whatever Works”. In the episode, he, along with Tony Thompson, Andy Taylor, and Michael Des Barres played Power Station’s 1985 hit “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”. John was the only band member who had spoken lines, introducing character Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) to new lead singer Michael Des Barres. Taylor also made cameo appearances in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher in 2000, and A Diva’s Christmas Carol in 2000 starring Vanessa Williams as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and That ’80s Show in 2002. He also appeared on BBC Two comedy panel game Never Mind the Buzzcocks as a panelist in April 2001.
In 2004, he featured on “Freak Out”, debut album entitled of the Italian rock singer Chris Catena contributing in two songs : “Desire” with Chris Catena on vocals, Stephen Ferrone on drums, Bernie Marsden on guitars, Al Kooper on keyboards and in “Gimme your love” with Chris Catena on vocals, Stevie Salas on guitars, Stephen Ferrone on drums.
In 2010, he contributed bass to the debut album by Swahili Blonde with ex-Weave! drummer Nicole Turley on the track “Tigress Ritual”.
In 2012, he provided lyrics and vocals to a song he collaborated on with trance duo Koishii & Hush entitled ‘C’est Tout Est Noir’. Taylor considers this a follow up to his single “I Do What I Do…” from the soundtrack to the movie 9½ Weeks.
The bass guitar most commonly associated with John is the Japanese Aria Pro II SB1000, which he used during the height of Duran Duran’s fame; he also promoted the instrument in a series of magazine advertisements. In the mid-1980s, John tried other basses such as Steinberger and Wal. Taylor eventually settled on Phillip Kubicki’s Factor bass with a unique drop-D latch on the head. Taylor also inherited the Music Man StingRay belonging to his idol Bernard Edwards.
As of 2007, Taylor still plays the Aria, Stingray, Factor, and a Peavey Cirrus 5 and 4 string but has also been seen playing a 1962 reissue Fender Precision Bass, a Gibson Les Paul bass, and a Warwick Thumb 5.
Noting Taylor’s loyalty to the same Peavey bass guitar onstage with Duran Duran for several years, in early 2006, Peavey Guitars asked Taylor to create a signature 4-string bass guitar. With his design partner Patty Palazzo, and designer Ted McCann, Taylor created the limited-edition “Peavey Liberator JT-84”, which featured a detachable amplifier built into a custom-built case. The amp could be expanded into an external speaker or amplifier to increase volume and flexibility. Taylor designed a six-string guitar, the “Peavey Liberator A435” (named after the main road that led from his childhood home into the city of Birmingham). Only 100 each of the numbered-and-signed basses and guitars were made available to the public, in October 2006.
From 1985 to 1989, John dated Danish model Renée Toft Simonsen, to whom he was engaged. John married Amanda De Cadenet at Chelsea Old Town Hall’s registry office on 24 December 1991, and they had one daughter, Atlanta Noo, on 31 March 1992. They officially separated in May 1995. John met his second wife, Gela Nash, co-founder of Juicy Couture, in 1996, and they married in Las Vegas on 27 March 1999. Taylor and Nash-Taylor reside primarily in Los Angeles, but spend several weeks a year at South Wraxall Manor, which they purchased in 2005. In 2012, Taylor became an American citizen, maintaining dual citizenship.
With Duran Duran
- Duran Duran (1981)
- Rio (1982)
- Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)
- “Arena (live)”* (1984)
- Notorious (1986)
- Big Thing (1988)
- Liberty (1990)
- The Wedding Album (1993)
- Thank You (1995)
- Medazzaland (1997 – 4 tracks)
- Astronaut (2004)
- Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
- All You Need Is Now (2010)
- Paper Gods (2015)
With Power Station
- The Power Station (1985)
- Living in Fear (1996; 9 tracks as co-writer)
With Neurotic Outsiders
- Neurotic Outsiders (1996)
- I Do What I Do (Theme for 9½ Weeks) (1985)
- Feelings Are Good and Other Lies (1997)
- Autodidact (EP) (1997)
- :Résumé (1999; With Jonathan Elias)
- Meltdown (1999)
- The Japan Album (1999)
- The Japan EP (2000)
- Live Cuts (2000)
- Terroristen: Live at the Roxy (2001)
- Techno for Two (2001)
- Retreat into Art (2001)
- MetaFour (2002)
- Only After Dark (2006; With Nick Rhodes)
- 1999 – Sugar Town: Clive
- 2000 – Four Dogs Playing Poker: Dick
- 2000 – The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas: Keith Richrock
- 2000 – A Diva’s Christmas Carol: Ghost of Christmas Present (VH1)
- 2001 – Strange Frequency: Jimmy Blitz (VH1)
- 2001 – Vegas, City of Dreams: Byron Lord