Q+A Simon Le Bon
As he gears up to headline the Altitude Festival in Klosters, we talk to Duran Duran's frontman, Simon Le Bon, about hedonism, longevity and his "crazy" wifeFeatured January 12 Words by Laura Martin
Although best remembered for their 80s pop-tunes hit list, including the classics "Rio", "Girls on Film" and "Hungry Like The Wolf", Simon Le Bon and his band, Duran Duran, are still going strong. With bandmates Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor and John Taylor, he's headlining arenas from Buenos Aires to Belfast and currently on album number 13, All You Need Is Now. But he almost wasn't so lucky. Tragedy struck in May, when he suffered a haemorrhage on his vocal chords. Eight months later, and on the road again, the 53-year-old tells us why he'll never hang up his party shoes…
Tell us what happened with your throat.
"I was on stage in Cannes. I went for the high note in a verse and it just wasn't there. It was, like, almost a whole octave was wiped off - I have a three-octave range - and it stayed like that for three months. I went to see so many doctors, it was ridiculous. What healed me was time and a very good vocal therapist."
Did you think your touring days were over?
"It did cross my mind that this could be the end of my singing career, absolutely. It was very frightening."
You're known as one of the most rock 'n' roll performers in the business. Has that changed now you've been at it for 30 years?
"I'd say my hedonistic lifestyle has got worse as time's gone on, definitely. But then I married an absolutely crazy woman, Yasmin Le Bon."
I can't believe she out-parties you...
"It's true! She's more rock 'n' roll than Keith Richards, Keith Moon and all the other Keiths put together. She's amazing, a total party girl."
You've been touring since 1980, so you must have seen some incredible parties. What's the most legendary one you can remember?
"We were on tour in America in about 1989 and met this guy. He told us his name was Mohammed Al Fayed and that he owned Harrods. He said, 'I'm mad about Duran Duran,' and started throwing these parties for us. We must have had 10 amazing parties with him. The guy put on everything: incredible food, a gypsy band... At one, there were 14 belly dancers doing all kinds of stuff . Then he disappeared and Interpol wanted to talk to us. Apparently, he'd been going round, saying he was Mohammed Al Fayed, running up bills and not paying them."
So he wasn't actually Mohammed Al Fayed?
"No, he was a complete and utter fraud!"
Other 80s bands have done revival tours and retired again, but Duran Duran keeps going. What the secret of your success?
"Well, we enjoy what we do, we're friends, we love music and we're quite good at writing it as well - I think those are the prerequisites for hanging around this business for a long time. We're a party band - we're designed to give people a good time. We've still got the passion and we really enjoy ourselves on stage."
You're performing at the Altitude Festival in Klosters. Are you a skier?
"I'm quite good at going down very fast, either on my feet or my bottom. I love the whole ski scene. I haven't been to Klosters before, but I'm excited about going there, as it's where the Royal family hang out. Hopefully, I'll bump into them - figuratively, not literally - on the slopes."
Will you be enjoying a hot toddy post-piste?
"I love the après ski scene and I'll be up for a wintery tipple after the Altitude show, but it won't be eggnog!"
What about warm holidays?
"I like the Turks and Caicos for a bit of sun, and I fly easyJet every year to Ibiza for the summer. The Ibiza flight is very entertaining, especially the one at 9am, when people have been partying all night. It's not human beings on that flight - it's more like alien beings."
Duran Duran will be playing at the Altitude Festival on 21 January. For details, see altitudeklosters.com