Christine's take on what was cool in the 80s.

Simon Le Bon

Simon John Charles Le Bon was born 27 October 1958, near Bushey, Herfforshire, England, and is the first born son of John and Ann-Marie Le Bon. His brothers are David, whom I’ve never seen, and Jonathan, who from memory, is hot. (Jonathan sailed with Simon on his now infamous yacht, Drum, back in the day and there were a couple of photos with him and Simon in Smash Hits, a British teen mag that, along with No.1, were like bibles to my brother and I. So yeah, just saying, Jonathan was a hottie). Anyway, back to Simon, he is descended from exiled French Huguenots. (A 16th Century group of French protestants).

Simon’s 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 speaking lines. He appeared in a few more TV commercials and also in several theatre productions including Tom Brown’s Schooldays in London’s West End. He worked on a kibbutz in the Negev desert in Israel in 1978 (where he wrote a lot of poetry) and then returned to England to study drama at the University of Birmingham before meeting the fledgling band Duran Duran.

Baby Simon

As Simon tells it, he was in a band at University and, while performing, they were booed off stage (I think they were called Dog Days or Dog Star or something like that). Anyway, not to be deterred, Simon went about looking for another band to be part of and his girlfriend at the time – who was working and the now famed Rum Runner – told him a band that played and rehearsed there were looking for a lead singer. At that point, Simon was looking for something to do during summer and he enjoyed singing and being in bands. He wasn’t really looking for anything permanent. [NB: I'm diverting a touch into D2 history but bear with me, it goes back to Si soon].

Feeling confident after a party, Simon called and arranged an audition with the owners of Rum Runner. He turned up in pink leopard print trousers, 60′s suede jacket and sunglasses – a look that impressed the guys. Roger says they knew instantly that ‘he was the one’. Simon had brought along his book of poetry and lyrics that included Night Boat and The Chauffeur and the guys were suitably impressed and just prayed he could actually sing. The boys played one of their previously written songs for Simon, who liked it. Within half an hour that song became Sound Of Thunder (Duran Duran). Everybody was mutually impressed with each other – Simon knew that Nick, John, Andy and Roger were serious about being a real band and Simon abruptly changed his mind about being in a band for summer. He wanted to be in a band for real and with Duran being so serious and talented, he hitched his star to them – thus – Duran Duran as we know them, was born.

Simon, Andy, Nick, Roger & John

After doing the infamous Edinburgh festival, Duran landed a gig in London’s famed Marquee club. It was a success and Duran then toured with Hazel O’Connor as her opening act. It was a great experience and Nick has said it’s where they group really learned how to play live to large audiences. Not only that, reps from several record labels had seen them play were so impressed offered them deals. Duran went with EMI, as that was the label the Beatles (*eyeroll*) had been signed to. In December of 1980, Duran recorded their debut album in AIR studios in London with famed producer Colin Thurston (Bowie, Human League etc). They also recorded videos for Planet Earth, Careless Memories and Girls on Film. (Duran have always regarded videos as an artform btw – which is a large reason why their videos stood out so much from everyone else).

The videos, of course, reached mass audiences and while I was slithering out of my seat to John, other girls were doing the same for Simon. Now, to be brutally honest, I never quite saw what others saw in Simon; he seemed quite plain to me, looks-wise. (I began to see his appeal around 1983, however). Nevertheless, Simon and his headbands were making girls swoon and he was on his way to being a genuine heartthrob.

In Australia, with the waning of Adam and The Ants, Duran Duran became enormous quite quickly and it seemed Simon had the biggest following for sure. All my friends were crazy about him. Upon asking why, the main answer was: “Because he’s hot, duh.” “That’s fine,” I’d say. “All the more John for me”. ^.^


Simon had put blonde streaks in his hair by the filming of Girls On Film

Duran toured relentlessly in 1981, going to the U.S. (and befriending Andy Warhol),  Europe, England and Scotland. Teen magazines began putting them on covers – a bittersweet thing for the band as yes, it increased their popularity but just made critics stick their noses in the air and declare them disposable pop. In fact, Duran Duran’s music was fantastic. Being post punk they were actually more a rock group who utilized a synthesizer perfectly due to Nick Rhodes insane talent. As for Simon’s lyrics, they were cryptic and interesting. I can honestly say I absolutely loved Simon’s lyrics and I believe he has a great gift for them.

I must have been in the military in a previous life as I loved this look

Touring


1982 of course saw the famed videos for Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Lonely In Your Nightmare, Save A Prayer and others. Simon’s popularity went insane at that point. I remember the girls swooning just because he picked up a little boy in Save A Prayer. Yes, it was very cute but perhaps Si’s fans saw a deeper meaning it. ie: wouldn’t he make a great dad?

1982 photoshoot

I remember girls wondering about Simon’s necklace. When they finally found out  what it was; it was pretty underwhelming and obvious. “It’s a tiger baby,” he replied to a girl on a call in show in the U.S. “I just like it ’cause it’s odd.”  Ok  :/

1983

I remember when this photoshoot in particular started filtering through the teen mags. The gasping never stopped! The Simon fans saw flesh and pecs! The intrigue about what happened to his leg never stopped, either and I never did find out.

This is from the Seven shoot. I wish someone had asked him about his ring. Frankly, that intrigued me more than the tiger baby!

Ah, the days when smoking was still cool and not frowned upon. Also, Simon gets more highlights. Yay! BTW, Duran were given Antony Price suits and really liked them. John especially, being a huge Roxy Music fan, thought the suits went well with his band thus Duran started dressing more stylishly.

1984 was a huge year for Simon and the rest of the boys. Thanks to MTV’s heavy rotation of their videos – Hungry Like The Wolf especially – they finally cracked the United States and went nova, despite already being huge in the UK, Australia, Europe and Japan. They embarked on a massive tour, which was documented by not only Russell Mulchay but also a stills photographer so when they released the video, Sing Blue Silver, there was also an accompanying book, which is beautiful.

I admit, I found Simon hot in ’84/’85 as well.

Simon doing his thing.

I’m not usually one to hate groups or movies star’s girlfriends. I’m of the firm belief that if the person I love loves the girl they’re seen with then yay! and good luck to them. However, for some reason Simon’s girlfriend Claire Stansfield left me cold. I absolutely did not like her and neither did anyone else. But, what could you do? Also – it wasn’t really anyone’s business but Simon’s.Boo. Hiss.

Post tour, Duran hit the studios to record a single to promote their live album. I can’t even remember if there was an actual reason for this or it resulted from just mixing ‘Arena’. Nevertheless, Simon sang his heart out for The Wild Boys. I actually remember the above photo in Smash Hits and being really excited. I don’t think we knew what the song was; just that Duran were recording again which was always exciting!

Again I admit, Simon’s incredibly hot. Especially on the right.

I always thought Simon’s hair was just a little too long above. The longer hair suited Nick and John but Simon – not so much [imho].

The hair was lopped off (yay!) for 1985′s A View To A Kill. Little did we know it’d be black by the end of the year, either.

(so hot *drool*)

1985/6 would be big years for Simon. He scored a hit with the Bond theme; sailed around the world and nearly died on his yacht, Drum & yet managed to come 3rd despite it; make an utterly brilliant album with Nick and Roger (So Red The Rose) and, of course, marry his new girlfriend who you simply couldn’t help but love. Yasmin Parvenah. On a personal hotness level, Simon seemed to be at his best with the short black hair for me. Oh, and of course, once again there was much swooning by his fans with that shirtless pic on the left. ^.^

Even though I was still a teen, I felt very protective of Yasmin. It was probably London’s infamous tabloid press that fostered my utter loathing of journalists. While Simon was away on Drum there was constant ‘reports’ of him cheating on her. Now I know Simon’s a pop star but it simply never rang true to me that he’d do anything like that and indeed, Simon and Yasmin’s marriage is strong and happy to this day. Anyway, due to stress Yasmin miscarried and flew to New Zealand to be with Simon on his stop over there. The couple were married on December 27th, 1985 and if memory recalls, it was a very low key and simple affair at the registry office in Oxford (Yasmin’s hometown). Additionally, Simon’s fans seemed pretty happy – which when you think about it is amazing. You’d think they’d be throwing themselves off roofs or something but no – they seemed happy enough.

Honestly? I couldn’t get enough of hot black haired Simes. <3

With the yacht racing over and Arcadia now Duran Duran again, Simon’s hair went back to blonde. It remained short though and he looked really good for Notorious and it’s tour. Sadly, however, it seemed many Duran fans either got sick of waiting for a new D2 album and diverted to other bands; didn’t like the funk or they’d simply outgrown them but there seemed to be few of us left. At least that was the impression you got from the teen magazines who’d started focusing more heavily on other groups. Amazingly, Notorious was called a ‘comeback’ in some quarters which was ridiculous as really, Duran had never been away!

Still hot, non?

I thought Simon still looked great during the Notorious days but in the eyes of everyone but Duran fans, he was no longer a heartthrob per se. Other guys from dumb assembly bands had taken over thanks to the teen mags that once trumpeted Duran Duran for sales. It was sad but it happens all the time now. It’s always about the new hot guys and girls.

1988 didn’t help Simon’s case. God only knows what Duran Duran were thinking but apparently playing house/dance kinda stuff to stay mainstream was a questionable move and I just don’t understand why the band had to look like crap. Did they actually think making themselves unpretty made them more serious or…just what? I can safely say, despite genuinely wanting the guys to do well most of us were  :O at their appearance. What an awful way to end the decade!

Honestly, after the gorgeousisity of the Notorious era…to this…was a shock. I’m not saying he’s fug…but…is that a perm?

I’ll end on a high. I’ve actually met the guys and Simon couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. (This was during a promo of Liberty). Anyway, I think he’s a brilliant lyricist and was easily and without a shadow of a doubt was one of THE hottest guys of the 80′s.