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Rio de Janeiro - When the news broke last week that Duran Duran had been chosen to headline an Olympics concert in Hyde Park, the reaction was quick and brutal, with Twitter instantly abuzz with criticism of such a supposedly dated choice.
But keyboard player Nick Rhodes - the one with the floppy Warhol hair, Tippex-white complexion and panda-like eye make-up - remained blissfully unaware of the storm. For one thing, he’s in South America, Rio to be exact (where else?). But he is not the sort of man who is fazed by the constant nag of new media.
“I don’t do Twitter or Facebook or anything like that, so I haven’t read anything,” he says, sounding as aloof, camp and studiedly mid-Atlantic as ever. “I like to think my attention span is far too long for that kind of thing.”
I explain to Rhodes something of the “Twitterstorm” that broke as soon as the line-up for the BT London Live concert on July 27 was released.
Comedian Al Murray tweeted: “Duran Duran to headline 2012 Olympics gig? Far more worrying than rooftop missiles”. And newspaper columnist Tony Parsons, the ex-husband of writer Julie Burchill, pitched in with: “Duran Duran to headline Olympic gig? Who is running the 1500 metres - Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett?”
My sharing that comment prompts a brief pause in our conversation. I decide to help him out by identifying Parsons: “You know ... the top writer?” “Oh that Tony Parsons,” says Rhodes, archly. “Didn’t he used to be married to a top writer?” It’s a typical Nick Rhodes quip - spiky, arid, off-the-cuff and skilfully deflecting.
“Really, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about, isn’t there and that’s not being talked about,” he adds, echoing Oscar Wilde.
“The fact that after more than three decades in this business we can still whip up a bit of controversy gives me enormous pleasure. I can’t think of anything worse than being average, or not provoking a polarised, opinionated response from people. That would be so boring, wouldn’t it?”
In Britain, Duran Duran have long been under-appreciated. But in the rest of the world they still have kudos - as popular now as in the Eighties when they were flag-bearers of the “Second British Invasion” of America. They led a charge of bands whose glamorous image, cutting edge music and extravagant videos made them darlings of the new MTV channel. - Daily Mail