95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2012
I don't feel compelled to write reviews very often. But I do tonight. Just turned my tablet off, having finished my kindle version of this book, got out of bed, it's close to midnight, but yes. That's how nice it was to read this book. OK, so you might say it's commercial. You might say he is just trying to milk the golden calf just a little longer. It might be true. Or not. I like to think not. I can hear a most authentic voice coming out of these pages - of a young man's rise to stardom and him getting totally lost. Oh so lost. The lovely part is this - there IS someone watching over us from above or perhaps it was Mom Jean's prayers that finally came through and helped him pull out of it all. This is a fantastic story how a lost soul finds peace. Despite of stardom. For those of us who has "followed" JT for many years, since he was plastered on our walls and up until now when we all have grey hairs and a few more wrinkles - well, it's been a blast to hear his voice coming through and getting to know him a little better in these pages. Well done John - that was a very good read.
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2012
John was on my bedroomwalls in the eighties. I always favoured him. Waiting for this book to come out it I read Andy's first (assuming it was going to be bad) and of course once I read Johns book there was going to be a comparison. Loved the story but once the story got to the important personal bits it felt as though there was emotion, detail and personality missing, like he did not want to write it. In Andy's book this was much more present. Do not get me wrong it is an entertaining read and when you read both books it gives you are more complete picture but you do finish the book somewhat unfulfilled, needing more info and depth!
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2012
Wow! So much I didn't know about JT! As a teenage fan in the 80's, all I knew was the poster boy clean cut image that the music magazines put out. All the while he was struggling with demons and awful lifestyle choices.
I loved reading this book, although I feel some details were carefully written to perhaps protect some reputations.
Insight into the musical process of Duran Duran was also really interesting.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
I'd mentioned in my review about Duff McKagan's auto-biography, It's So Easy, that there are some bios and auto-bios that make me like the subject more and some that have made me like the subject less than when I'd started reading. Before I tell you which slot JT's auto-bio falls under, lemme explain a few things...
Duran Duran was my favorite band throughout most of my teen years. I'm talking pictures all over my walls, in my school books, official fan club membership, collecting their records and videos, etc. I'd even began playing the bass because of John. He and Nick were my fave members...at least until Nick got married, then John held the title all by his lonesome. Later on, in my early 20s, my fanaticism with JT as well as the band as a whole had tapered off, but I still liked their music. The Astronaut album put them right back at the top of my list. The reuniting of the fab five...priceless! So, let's fast forward to my finding out about JT's auto-bio. My first thought was, "if there's a book signing, I'M GOING!" He came to NY and I met my bass god, got my autograph n' all that good stuff. Couldn't wait to start reading the book!
I felt like I was reading Cliff's Notes. Topics were mentioned with little or no detail provided. I'd also come away from this book feeling as though he'd taken the band's success for granted. To achieve the level of success that Duran had achieved in the 80s is extremely rare for any performer(s) and a hell of a blessing! Maybe it came too quickly for him *shrug* I'd read Andy's (Taylor) book a few months prior to John's, I couldn't help but compare the two books. Andy's won (and he'd always been my least fave member, but personality's everything and Andy has it in spades!! I love that kid now, lol!) Anywho, as I was reading In The Pleasure Groove, I felt my admiration for John diminish. A lot. At one point...okay, a couple of points, I just wanted to ditch the book and just move on to something else, but I decided to finish it since I'd purchased it 2ce (once for the Kindle version (convenience), and the hardcopy for the autograph). Maybe my expectations were too high. All that glitters... :-/
I still love his bass playing though! That'll never fade.
On the bright side, there are a crap load of great photos. It's also wonderful that he's no longer partaking in illegal substances. I wish him the best.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
At 40 yrs. old I am still a huge fan of 80's hair bands and their music, including Duran Duran. In fact, I just saw them in concert twice over the last year during their most recent tour and their performance was awesome! They're still on top of their game! Anyway, aside from their music, I really didn't know anything else about the band, so I was thrilled to hear that John had released a memoir.
Unfortunately, I was completely disappointed. I found the book to be very boring and quite bland, and not because John didn't "throw anyone under the bus" or invade peoples' privacy, but because he presented himself as completely flat and one-dimensional...never once throughout the entire book did he exude any passion, depth of character, emotion, etc. about himself, his life, or the influential people who helped shape his existance. I mean, how does one describe his rise to stardom, his mind-blowing rock-star career, his closest confidants, his bandmates, his daughter, his wife, his parents, etc., completely devoid of emotion and without any in-depth explanation??? Literally the reader doesn't know what any of this is like for John, only just that it existed in a chronological fashion.
Sadly, the book is completely unengaging and doesn't read like a memoir at all, but more like a dry, factual, unbiased non-fiction book that one would use for a research project. In my opinion, the most interesting parts were the ones that talked about his (as well as Duran Duran's) musical inspirations and how they personally collaborated with many of them.
Furthermore, I was actually kind of appalled at the way he ended the book, paying tribute to all of the other members in the band, except for Andy. This sounds silly, but reading that line felt like a sucker-punch...especially when throughout the book, John continuously mentioned how everyone in the band always considered themselves as equal partners (even splitting income 5 ways), since it was the combined efforts of ALL of them that contributed to the band's incredible success. He also doesn't mention why Andy decided to leave the band in the mid-2000's, simply that he did. Unless this man has done something absolutely unforgivable to John and/or his loved ones, I thought the lack of acknowledgment was a pretty class-less move. After all, John and the band most likely wouldn't be where they are today, if it wasn't for the combined talents of each and every one of them.
I have since moved on to Andy's book to see if I can satisfy my curiosity there...
However, I will continue to enjoy Duran Duran's music everytime they tour ;o) !
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Got the book on release day and finished it that night. It was definately well written enough to hold my interest and I did enjoy much of the story. I am torn between what is obviously a first hand account of my "glory days" as kid coming of age in the 80's with my favorite band and the glossing over of certain aspects of the bands history that I consider to be of the utmost importance. Not complaining for complainings sake, but here are a few of my concerns.
1. The 1984 tour was just glossed over (for the most part). Lots of interesting things happened on that tour of which I would have loved to have had John's insight. I do understand that drugs tend to fog memories, but that tour was a huge deal. Caught the 2/14/84 show and it still stands as one of my favorite concerts of all time.
2. I would have liked to read more about John's relationship with Andy during his time in the band, as well as after he left. This also goes for the reunion era. Andy's book did a little better with this subject. A whole lot better than one sentence about the reunion split. Just wanted John's perspective. ****Disclaimer: Big Andy fan here!
3. A little more depth about his relationships, personally, with the other band members during their "big" years. Simon and, especially Nick, are strong personalities. Would have been interesting to get some insight on how they really interacted during the craziness.
I don't want to come across as totally hating the book, because nothing could be further from the truth. I thought John came across as honest and humble, and I do understand the politics of friendship and not wanting to step on their toes. The insight would have been extremely interesting to say the least.
Glad I read this book. I really am. But who can be 100% satisfied all the time? Surely not me. For what it's worth.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2012
Like many other reviewers, I was a diehard fan for years. I discovered them in 1982 when I was 11 years old. JT and D2 filled my ears, my walls, my locker. To say I was obsessed would be an understatement. John Taylor was IT!!!
I just found out about this book and bought it for my Kindle immediately. As a long time fan, I was disappointed. The first section of the book gave me hope, but shortly into the second part, I realized it was going downhill fast. I appreciate his intent, wanting to shield his bandmates, ex-girlfriends/wife, etc. from harsh scrutiny. But you can still tell a good story without divulging every private moment. Maybe writing this book was part of his 9th Step work so he felt the need to protect these people, by doing no more damage. But I walked away from this book wondering exactly what the point of it was, other than a mild attempt at exercising some of his demons.
Another reviewer said it felt like a Cliff's Notes version of his life. I agree completely. The second and third sections of the book feel like an afterthought, or like his deadline was up and he had to write fast. There are so many things left out, unsaid or glossed over. Some of which has been talked about in past interviews or articles, so why not touch upon them? Expand upon those stories that are already out there to give the reader a clearer picture. I wish the last two thirds of the book were as detailed as the first part. It almost felt like he checked out and a ghost writer took over.
I wanted to hear more about his relationships within the band. He's been photographed with Simon's family for years. I would assume they are close, but he doesn't elaborate. And Nick, his oldest friend, what about him? This was the biggest flaw of the book, left me going WTH! Do you even know these guys???
Also, to exclude Andy from his list of acknowledgements felt very passive-aggressive. Maybe he can bring that up in therapy LOL! But seriously, while we'll never know the details behind the end of that relationship (because JT chose to keep that another secret), they were bandmates and friends during the height of their creativity and fame. Andy was never my favorite, but there would be no D2 without him. His sound helped make that band what it was. It really felt like a slap in the face to not thank him. And that's really my last impression of this book which is ironic. With all of JT's good intentions to not write a gossipy tell all, it felt mean spirited in the end.
Can I recommend this book? Only if you go in with no expectations (yes I've acquired a new resentment) or know very little about JT or the band. It's a quick, easy read for a flight or lounging poolside. He name drops a bit, you get a few fun stories about Sting and Andy Warhol. But I cannot recommend this for Duranies. It will leave you with a million unanswered questions, wondering what happened to the rest of the book.
One last complaint. The pictures throughout the book have no description attached. Not sure if this is just on the Kindle, maybe the hardcover is different. I really wanted to know who some of those people were. I'm hoping this was an oversight and gets corrected.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2012
This is a very good book. I am also reviewing the Audible edition read by JT himself. In 1983 - 1985, I was synonymous with Duran Duran to anyone who saw me, but I wasn't a heartsick teeny bopper girl. I was a guy and a straight one at that. This book takes me back to places in my mind I haven't touched in 27 years. It takes me to places I've never imagined and wouldn't have known about as a California kid. It takes us to the early beginnings of the wave scene in the late 1970s in England. He expresses his self doubt and his early friendship with a kid named Nick Bates. They sound like a couple o' English lads experimenting and hoping for a real longshot of a dream. Except this dream comes true.
By the mid 1980s (85-87), many bands filled the minds of alternative/waver kids like me - bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode; but for me and a few of my close friends, only DD struck a certain chord. It's the end of summer and a girl I absolutely dig calls me out of no where to be her date to a party - that's Duran Duran. A note left in a locker by a 'secret admirer' that promises she'll introduce herself at a beach gathering on Friday if I come - Ray-Ban sunglasses and the smell of Coppertone suntan oil while lying on Zuma Beach - that's 'Rio'.
Cemeteries and girls with black eyeliner coupled with weird, complicated feelings. That's different. That's The Cure. You don't mix these.
Their music is androgynous, hypnotic and danceable. Teens snapped it up instantly. Teens are by nature, androgynous, particularly waver boys. There's a transition - a softness and desire for love rather than sex - a poetic longing for a girl. It only exists in its purest form for a few years as boys become men. It's hard to exactly explain what it is, but don't worry about it. You'll find it in Duran Duran.
JT felt this too. Here he is this tall model of a man with a gorgeous face in the biggest band on the planet, and he 'falls in love' with a girl he met at a hotel. Not just one but many of them.
John knows Duran Duran was special; how could anyone deny it given their popularity. Well, popularity isn't everything. They were special beyond that, and I think he understands that too. It's clear from his words that he was as surprised and thrilled by the ride as we fans were by their appearance and music. JT imparts the story of a band of musicians and a talented lyricist in Simon who were as spellbound by their ride as we were in watching them perform their fantastic songs. Is it really as awesome as we imagine it would be? A resouding 'Yes' at first. But with all things, nothing can stay that way for long. Life is more complicated than that, and a good English boy can get quickly caught up in the shadier parts.
Part of what made them special was also the band themselves - their looks - their fashion - their makeup. Their newness. The newness of everything they did. As JT rightly notes, it was everything that made them so spectacular. There are a few bands (less famous) on the same level at the same time - bands that impart a depth of feeling and beauty that rivals DD - such as the Psychedelic Furs - but not many. The Furs struck a different chord anyway - a darker one.
The Smiths came later and created their own scene. They were post-wave. Maybe they were the first post-wave band. Following The Smiths was Suede in 1993. I think that's the succession. I'm sure a bunch of English purists will barf at that, but from the West Coast of the US, this is how I see it- and neither the Smiths nor Suede were able to smash the charts like Duran. Duran is near the top of in a very deep field of English wave, and they got there very early on. There was nothing as hookish and synthy - and certainly as good looking - as Duran Duran back in 1982-1983-1984-1985, and JT, it turns out, is as decent a Catholic raised boy as you might imagine. Girls at the beach with androgynous boys - dancing - talking - falling in love. That's DD. It's 'Rio.'
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
It was great information on the band and a fun read but I thought that more detail could have been put into the work itself - it felt glossed over and a little hurried. I would have liked more books (and gladly paid for them) and more information about each part / section touched on. If you are a fan, you will enjoy the material. I am so proud of John on how he had moved on with his life and sobriety ~
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2013
What the business world can learn from Duran Duran
A few months ago, while waiting for my daughter at her skating lesson, I was reading the new autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran, by John Taylor, the bass player and cofounder of the band. A colleague was sitting on the bleachers waiting for his daughter too, also with a book in hand. He pointed to my book and asked me what I was reading. I held up the book, smiled and said, "The bass player from Duran Duran's autobiography." He laughed and held up his book. The title had something to do with business in it. "Your book sounds way better," he said.
Having finished the book a few weeks ago, I was thinking about that moment - Two fathers trying to read a few pages in their books while waiting for their daughters. At first glance, it would appear that one is a slacker, spending precious free time reading about the hyperactive wild-ride of big 80s music icons, while the other is enriching his business skills. But there's more than meets the eye here. I'm thinking John Taylor's book might be suitable reading for anybody in business today, especially those in brick and mortar companies that worry about all the shiny-new hi-tech start-ups that want to change the world and eat their lunch.
At first glance, it might seem like 304 pages of sex, drugs, rock and roll, and hairspray. It definitely is all that, and then some, for sure; however, there are business lessons lurking in the penumbras of AquaNet-soaked passages.
Here are just a few:
1. Do the thing you know you need to do, and don't worry about naysayers. When John Taylor and his star-hungry friends realized that they were built to bend the rules of fashion and music, they put every ounce of energy into the enterprise and never looked back. Against all contemporary wisdom and criticism from their elders, they played their guts out until they found their voice and, in only a few years, became one of the most iconic bands of the late twentieth century, if not ever. Just like Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, never walked away from his dream when he was desperately trying to find support and money for his game-changing ideas about coffee, all awesome products and services were once considered crazy, too expensive, unachievable, whatever.
2. Ronald Reagan's mantra was to surround yourself by the best people. Duran Duran started getting noticed while playing in a local Birmingham venue that also served as their "business" headquarters for all things Duran Duran. It wasn't enough that the young band had gobs of raw talent and passion. They also networked and surrounded themselves with people who believed in them and what they could achieve. As Steve Jobs could never have reinvented the world without all of the brilliant people around him, very few success stories star only one person, regardless of how much talent and vision they might have.
3. Mick Jagger once pronounced that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Once the band got their legs and started infiltrating the airwaves of the planet, they didn't stop to smell the roses. They rode the wave for all it was worth, playing their hearts out in a bazillion venues, producing more and more hits, and never letting their global audience get bored or distracted by their competition. While there were many, many other bands and singers in the 80s that were competing for the same audience (and money), only a few transcended one-hit-wonder stardom and experienced the chart-topping success that John and his band mates achieved.
Apple and Google might not be where they are today if Microsoft retained its innovative and creative edge through the 90s and 2000s, instead of becoming synonymous with bloated software, bugs, and uninspired products. They lost their way, their mojo, and the competition passed them by.
4. Treat your customers (fans) right. Between taking the time to personally answer fan mail, building up one of the biggest fan clubs of the time, and taking every opportunity to connect with their fickle teenage fans, Duran Duran never took their fans for granted. Leon Leonwood Bean, the founder of LL Bean, believed in delivering amazing customer service and that principle has held true for over a century, putting the company consistently at the top of customer satisfaction charts. When was the last time you had an amazing experience when buying a product or service from a company?
5. Keep the future in mind. Think Nirvana. As the 80s came to a screeching close and the British new wave invasion continued its assault on our television screens and radios, there was something new and interesting emerging in Seattle. Kurt Cobain and his angst ridden friends were about to abruptly alter the 80s feel-good music and cultural landscape. By 1991, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and many other flannel addicted bands suddenly made groups like Duran Duran seem very junior highish and ready for the MTV archives. Taylor describes this tumultuous time in his book, and although the band was paying attention to what was happening around them, they had a difficult time keeping up with the changing times and tastes of a hyperactive audience.
Is John Taylor's book must-read material for business majors and executives? Maybe not. But it does remind us about the extraordinary effort that it takes to build, develop and maintain an enterprise that people want to spend their hard earned money on. It also reminds us that there is unbelievable power when you combine vision, talent, diversity and good old fashioned persistence in making extraordinary things happen - all the things that every business aspires to have.
John and the Wild Boys continue to make new music and, although they don't fill up as many football stadiums as they used to, they are doing what they love and still make people smile, which is the stuff that matters most and can't be measured in any sophisticated business formula. We should all be so lucky.