Simon Le Bon

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Simon Le Bon
Simon Le Bon.jpg
Simon Le Bon 2004
Background information
Birth name Simon John Charles Le Bon
Born (1958-10-27) 27 October 1958 (age 55)
near Bushey, Hertfordshire, England
Genres New wave, rock, synthpop, alternative rock
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica, ocarina
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts Duran Duran, Arcadia

Simon John Charles Le Bon (born 27 October 1958) is an English musician, best known as the lead singer, lyricist and musician of the band Duran Duran and its offshoot, Arcadia.

Early life[edit]

Simon John Charles Le Bon was the first-born son of John Le Bon and Ann-Marie, followed by two further sons, David and Jonathan. He is descended from exiled French Huguenot stock. His mother encouraged his artistic talent when he was six years old by entering him in a screen test for a Persil washing powder TV advert; he won and starred as the little boy with the off-white shirt, but had no spoken lines.

He was a member of the local church choir from a young age, but was also trained as an actor. Simon went to Pinner County Grammar School, the same school that Elton John attended some years earlier. He also attended Nower Hill High School, the same school his mother attended. He worked as a theatre porter at Northwick Park Hospital Accident and Casualty, and also auditioned for a punk band at Harrow College. He appeared in a few television commercials and also in several theatre productions including Tom Brown's Schooldays in the West End of London. He worked on a kibbutz – an Israeli collective community – in the Negev desert in Israel in 1978, and then returned to England to study drama at the University of Birmingham before meeting the fledgling band Duran Duran in 1980.[1]

Career[edit]

Duran Duran[edit]

Duran Duran was founded by childhood friends John Taylor and Nick Rhodes along with singer/songwriter Stephen Duffy in 1978, but Duffy left a year later, convinced they weren't going anywhere. The band went through a long succession of lineup changes after Duffy's departure, but finally settled on a guitarist and drummer. The band had a powerful pop sound flavoured with disco, funk and electronics, built on a solid rock rhythm section, and all they needed was a charismatic singer with a distinctive voice.

Le Bon's ex-girlfriend, Fiona Kemp (a barmaid at the Rum Runner nightclub where Duran Duran was rehearsing), introduced him to the band in May 1980, recommending him as a potential vocalist. As band legend has it, he turned up for the audition wearing pink leopard-print trousers, and carrying a notebook containing a large collection of poems he had written—several of which would later become tracks on the early Duran Duran albums.[2] After listening to the songs the band had already composed together, Le Bon spent some time fitting one of his poems ("Sound of Thunder") to one of the instrumentals, and found they had a good match. Le Bon agreed to "try [Duran Duran] out for the summer"; within six weeks the band was playing steadily around Birmingham, London and Nottingham, and a national tour supporting Hazel O'Connor led to a record deal with EMI Records in December.

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 the live album 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".

Following the departures of Roger Taylor and Andy Taylor, Le Bon, Rhodes and John Taylor continued on as Duran Duran, recording and releasing Notorious (1986) and Big Thing (1988). The group added guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Sterling Campbell (his only album as a member of the band) and recorded the album Liberty (1990), but the band's success had begun to wane in the late-1980s.

Duran Duran had a resurgence in popularity in 1993 with The Wedding Album, featuring the top-10 single "Ordinary World". Several months into the extensive worldwide concert tour supporting this album, Le Bon suffered a torn vocal cord, 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 favourite artists, (Jim Morrison, Lou Reed and Elvis Costello), but the album was severely panned by critics from all quarters. That year Le Bon also performed Duran Duran's 1993 hit "Ordinary World" with opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti during a "Children of Bosnia" benefit concert for War Child. Le Bon described the event to Jam! Showbiz thusly: "If you're talking about name dropping, he's one of the biggest names you could drop, Pav-The-Man."

When bassist John Taylor left the band in 1997, Le Bon and Rhodes remained as the only two members who had been with Duran Duran from the beginning. The successive two albums with Le Bon, Rhodes and Cuccurullo, Medazzaland (1997) and Pop Trash (2000) were not commercial successes.

Simon Le Bon performing in 2005

In 2001, Duran Duran's original five members reunited to record a new album, Astronaut, for Epic Records. Astronaut was released worldwide on 11 October 2004. The album was preceded by the single "(Reach Up For The) Sunrise", their first UK Top 10 single in a decade.

Arcadia[edit]

Before Duran Duran united in 1986, Le Bon formed the band Arcadia with fellow Duran Duran members Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor. The band had a UK/US top 10 hit with their first single "Election Day", and released one album, So Red The Rose in 1985.

Solo excursions[edit]

While Le Bon has been in Duran Duran for the band's entire recording 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, Le Bon contributed "Follow In My Footsteps", with The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs on background vocals. The track was released on 7" single in Italy that year.

In 1993, Le Bon produced the album Perfect Teeth for the indie rock band Unrest.

In 1998, along with friend Nick Wood and wife Yasmin, he set up SYN Entertainment (Simon Yasmin Nick) in Tokyo, Japan. Having first conceived the idea in 1988, Le Bon is currently described as SYN's "Founder and Chairman", while Wood is "Founder, President and Creative Director".

In 1999, Le Bon was reported to be involved in Napalm Death's new album, a collaboration brought about through their shared love of hometown Birmingham.

In 2000, SYN Entertainment founded SYN Records which has released a number of compilations, some of which have included contributions by Le Bon. Another solo track, "Dreamboy", was featured on the SYN-released soundtrack to the Mario Van Peebles movie Love Kills.

Also in 2000, SYN co-executive produced the Duran Duran album Pop Trash along with Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo's side-venture TV Mania.

In October 2005 Dutch trance DJ Ferry Corsten released the track "Fire", with vocals by Simon Le Bon. It was a remix of the lesser known Duran Duran single Serious, from the album Liberty. (full credits: Ferry Corsten feat. Simon Le Bon - Fire (Flashover remix), on Flashover Recordings)

In late 2006, Le Bon became a member of Shinzou Sound, and took part in the Japan-based online manga project, 'Synesthesia', by co-writing the theme song 'Nobody Knows' along with Nick Wood. Shinzou Sound is a group of creative collaborators specializing in manga, music, web design and popular culture. They joined forces with the simple concept of merging their talents in an effort to deliver the new entertainment of music and manga in an innovative way. Exclusive songs, inspired by the manga story were commissioned from international and Japanese DJs, and the story was launched in fortnightly episodes on the Net, with the individual songs available free through iTunes Japan.

In 2010, Le Bon collaborated on the song "Record Collection", the title track from Mark Ronson's third album. In the song, Le Bon is heard singing the chorus, along with Mark Ronson and hip hop artist Wiley. The song does not have a current single release date. Ronson later produced Duran Duran's 2010 album All You Need Is Now.

Personal life[edit]

In the early 1980s, Simon was engaged to his then longtime girlfriend, model-turned-actress Claire Stansfield. While still with Claire, Le Bon wooed young fashion model Yasmin Parvaneh after seeing her face in a magazine and phoning her modelling agency to track her down, even as magazines speculated on a possible wedding with Stansfield. Simon and Yasmin married on 27 December 1985. After Yasmin suffered two miscarriages, the couple had three daughters: Amber Rose Tamara Le Bon (born 25 August 1989 - a model like her mother),[3] Saffron Sahara (born 25 September 1991) and Tallulah Pine (born 10 September 1994.[citation needed] The family, including Simon's mother, Ann, their dogs, a Pug named Luigi, a Chihuahua named Tinka and a Boston Terrier named Cecil, live in Putney, South West London.

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, just off Falmouth, along the southern coast of Cornwall. Before being rescued, Le Bon and other crew members were trapped underwater, inside the hull, for forty minutes. They were all rescued by the Royal Navy, using a Search and Rescue helicopter from 771 Naval Air Squadron based near Helston. The rescue earned the Rescue Diver, POACMN L Slater, a George Medal.[4] Despite the accident, Le Bon and Drum went on to participate in the 1985-1986 Whitbread Round the World Race, coming in third overall in elapsed time. Le Bon and his partners eventually sold Drum; the events surrounding Drum and the races were chronicled in a 1989 movie entitled Drum – The Journey Of A Lifetime and the book One Watch at a Time[5] written by Drum's skipper, Skip Novak.

Twenty years after his accident, in 2005, Le Bon made public his desire to race again. During a touring hiatus in August 2005, Le Bon again raced Drum in the Fastnet race, borrowing the vessel from her current owner (the Scottish multi car garage owner Sir Arnold Clark) to participate, and raising funds for the RNLI charity. Le Bon had to leave the race unfinished, as light winds were slowing Drum (and the other competitors), and would have delayed the boat's arrival at Plymouth, interfering with Le Bon's obligation to perform in Japan.[6]

In 2009 Le Bon (who describes himself as a "concerned agnostic")[7] contributed an essay to the book The Atheist's Guide to Christmas, edited by Ariane Sherine.

Le Bon injured his vocal cords and was unable to finish his 2011 summer tour. He remarked, "I am trying to be philosophical."[8]

In a 2011 interview with New York, Le Bon stated that he currently enjoys the bands Scissor Sisters, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, and Thirty Seconds to Mars—all of which Le Bon cites as having a similar "feathers-and-mascara" image.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon prepares for 50th birthday". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  2. ^ De Graaf, Kasper (1982). Duran Duran: Their Story. Port Chester, NY, USA: Cherry Lane Books. pp. 7–8. ISBN 0-86276-171-9. 
  3. ^ Arthurs, Deborah (18 March 2009). "Amber Le Bon unveils supermodel figure in Seventies-style swimwear shoot - just like mum Yasmin used to". Daily Mail (London). 
  4. ^ "Viewing Page 3447 of Issue 50453". London-gazette.co.uk. 10 March 1986. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Novak, Skip (1988). One Watch at a Time: Around the World with Drum on the Whitbread Race. New York, NY, USA: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-02498-9. 
  6. ^ Cowes Online – Simon Le Bon retires from Rolex Fastnet Race
  7. ^ "Simon LeBon and "The Atheist's Guide to Christmas (autor: Simon Le Inspirations (♫ Simon Le Bon's Inspirations ♫))"". Blogs.myspace.com. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Duran Duran forced to call off summer tour after Simon Le Bon strains vocal chords". mirror.co.uk. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Murphy, Tim (9 January 2011). "86 Minutes With Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes - New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 

External links[edit]