JBR listener and Duran Duran fan Marc Hernadez has written an interesting blog for us about the title song to Roger Moore’s swansong – a few careless memories from the summer of ’85, and the song’s legacy…
1. Prior to recording the title track to Roger Moore’s last film as 007 Duran Duran were already fans of the James Bond series especially the groups bass player John Taylor. He famously approached Cubby Broccoli at a party in London and said to him words to the effect of “When are you going to get someone decent to record a Bond theme again’. Interestingly he’d been introduced to Cubby at the party by Taylor’s then girlfriend, Janine Andrews who’d starred in the previous Bond film ‘Octopussy’ as one of the circus girls. (I also have a feeling she’s the model in the Octopussy title sequence wearing the steel bikini holding her hair up (…perhaps after Tom and Chris have finished googling photos of Alison Doody and her daughter they can look up Janine and compare photos of her from the 80s to see if they match the model in the steel bikini?)
But all joking aside, if you take a listen to Duran Duran’s live verion of ‘The Chauffeur’ from the 1984 ‘Arena’ live album you’ll hear keyboardist Nick Rhodes start the song with a familiar set of notes that are recognisable from a scene in Moonraker!
Now, that might just be a coincidence as it did originate from another film, but in interviews to promote the song both John Taylor and singer Simon Le Bon talked about seeing Bond at the cinema during the Sean Connery years.
2. Their Bond song was written and recorded in the spring of 1985 in collaboration with John Barry when the band were at the height of their popularity. They were without a doubt one of the worlds most popular groups at the time, being one of the few British acts since The Beatles to ‘break America’ which earnt them the nickname ‘The Fab Five’ by the British press. The song that emerged combined the groups contemporary sound with John Barry’s trademark musical motifs. The lyrics contained suspense and intrigue, clandestine meetings at nightfall, a fatal kiss,
talk of the whole earth opening wide and a mystery ‘gaping your side’ ( at least if you believed the lyrics printed in Smash Hits magazine). The only pre-Internet way to decipher hard to hear chart hits.
During 1985, the band had been on a hiatus after a gruelling recording and touring schedule from 1982-1984. The five band members were involved in two side projects. Arcadia – an art-house pop group ( Le Bon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor) who recorded an album in Paris and ‘The Power Station’ a hard pop-rock-funk supergroup (formed by John and Andy Taylor in New York) with Robert Palmer on vocals and Chic drummer Tony Thompson). Their debut single ‘Some like it hot’ from their self-titled album had a music video featuring transgender model Caroline ‘Tula’ Cossey who’d appeared as an extra in ‘For Your Eyes Only’ during the pool scene at the villa of Cuban hitman Hector Gonzales. (The song would also feature in another big film of 1985 starring Chevy Chase – ‘National Lampoon’s European Vacation’ during a dream sequence set in a nightclub.)
3. A View To A Kill was released on 6 May 1985 as a 7″ single. In a glorious piece of graphic design it had the familiar ‘Double D’ Duran Duran logo modified on the sleeve to include a 007 inspired gun barrel. The song became a massive global hit, a number one in 7 countries and a top ten hit in every country it was released in with the exception of France (number 11) and New Zealand (number 13). Most importantly it became the first ever theme song from a Bond film to top the charts in the USA when it spent two weeks at number 1 of the Billboard Hot 100 in July. (In the UK it had peaked at No. 2, criminally kept off the top spot by Sister Sledge’s ‘Frankie’.) In the MTV video age Duran Duran had become renowned for their ground breaking music videos. These accompanied a succession of hits that catapulted the group to international stardom across the globe. Shot on 35mm film and often in far flung exotic locations they almost became mini-movies in their own right. The one that they made to promote ‘A View To A Kill’ being no exception. Filmed on location in Paris at the Eiffel Tower the 4 minute promo is a spy style escapade with the band revelling in their respective roles and intercut with scenes from the Bond film.
Drummer Roger Taylor sits in a surveillance van controlling a ‘flying’ video camera, Simon Le Bon in a French beret and Walter Gotell like raincoat has a personal stereo that houses a detonator. John Taylor acts as tourist before activating a machine gun on the coin operated Eiffel Tower binoculars, Nick Rhodes plays a fashion photographer snapping a girl on film, and most intriguing guitarist Andy Taylor channels his inner Mr Magoo to become a blind accordion player.
4. On 22 May at the films world premiere in San Francisco the band arrived to be greeted by hordes of screaming teenage fans (something not seen at a James Bond premiere since the heyday of the Sean Connery films of the 60s). In London at the Royal premiere on 14 June the band met Prince Charles and one of their most famous fans, Princess Diana. The bands reputation as her favourite pop group in the eighties led to the NME music magazine half-jokingly refer to the group as ‘Diana Diana’.
5. In the early hours of 14 July 1995 Duran Duran played at the Philadelphia leg of Live Aid – The benefit music concert for Ethiopian famine relief that became one of the defining events of the 1980’s. They were introduced to the stage by Chevy Chase wearing what looked like a pair of John McEnroe’s white tennis shorts (possibly the ones he refused to wear at Wimbledon the previous summer in favour of a blue pair that breached the clubs all-white sports wear policy). Infront of 90,000 people in the stadium and over a billion watching around the world Duran Duran began their 4 song set with what else but ‘A View To A Kill’. Earlier that week it had reached No 1 in the US charts. (Their 2nd no 1 in the states). Their performance that night is mainly remembered for one specific moment …Simon Le Bon’s voice cracking on the final ‘that fatal kiss is all we need’ towards the end of the song. Le Bon later said it was the worst moment of his career but if look beyond it (the main differences to the studio version are John Taylor’s bass is a lot more prominent in the live mix and Andy Taylor’s guitar parts which replace a lot of the studio based snyth chords and he incorporates his guitar tremolo arm at various stages. (After the fatal sound of Le Bon’s bum note, Taylor leans his hand on the tremolo as if to try and deflect your hears from what’s just happened!)
6. In August 1985 ‘Now that’s what I call music 5’ a compilation of recent chart hits was released in the UK with Duran Duran’s ‘A View To A Kill’ as the opening track. The Power Stations ‘Get it on (bang a gong), a dirty great wailing, gnashing and crashing cover of the TRex classic could be found on side 2 and I remember playing the double-cassette to death over and over, rewinding it to the point where the tape eventually warped and unspooled.
7. A few months after their Live Aid performance, in October Arcadia released ‘Election Day’ their first single which came complete with a spoken word avant-garde interlude by guest vocalist Grace Jones who sounds like she’s talking in esperanto.
The subsequent album ‘So Red the Rose’ spawned another single ‘The Flame’ which could have quite easily worked as the b-side to ‘A View to a Kill’.
8. The following year (1986) Duran Duran regrouped as a trio. (Simon Le Bon, John Taylor and Nick Rhodes) continuing to release albums and tour with various musicians joining and leaving the line-ups until the original five members that had last performed together at the Live Aid concert reformed to record and tour in 2004.
Their live performance at Live Aid has only retrospectively been remembered for Simon Le Bon’s voice breaking on the final verse of A View To A Kill but at the time it wasn’t widely reported. It was only the 20th anniversary release of the Live Aid concert on DVD and fans uploading old VHS footage to youtube that made it readily known, but a cracking live version of the song performed by the reformed line up without Le Bon’s voice cracking can be found on
The ‘Live from London ‘ DVD released in 2005 from their ‘Astronaut’ tour.
9. But perhaps the best live version of the song is the one they played at the 2011 Coachella Festival in California. Walking back on stage for a two song encore and backed by an orchestra they dedicated ‘A View to a Kill’ to John Barry who’d passed away earlier in the year. An orchaestra perform a brief medley of some of Barry’s bond back catalogue and
Simon Le Bon wore a white tuxedo and begins the song with a slow downed opening verse that mirrors Barry’s beautiful arrangement of ‘Wine with Stacey’ from the album soundtrack.
10. Over 30 years later after it’s release and the song is still very much a part of the bands set-list. It’s featured regularly on their latest 2016 tour in support of their new album ‘Paper Gods’. This year the song has been pre-fixed with the James Bond theme and the A View to a Kill gun-barrell sequence projected on a large screen behind the band as Roger Moore towers over them.
There are any number of fan-shot clips on youtube from the last 6 months that prove that the song to Roger’s swansong as 007 is still thrilling audiences.
Despite the recent Oscar winning success of Adele and Sam Smith, A View to a Kill is still the only Bond song to top the charts in America. Earlier this year at the Eden project Duran Duran played a live set for ‘BBC Music Day’ (that included AVTAK in the set) there was a definite nod to their AVTAK music video when Simon introduced members of band during their last song of the night ‘Girls on Film’. He ended the intros with ‘and my name’s Bon…Simon Le Bon’.
For any JBR fans out there in Cancun, Mexico the band play the penultimate date of their tour there on 29 Dec and then the last night in the USA at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland on New Years Eve 31 Dec. I can think of worse ways to see in the New Year.