This Week In The 80’s: The Death of Simon Le Bon Was Greatly Exaggerated. Or Was It?
It’s the end of January, 1985. Second semester of my freshman year of high school. Madonna is spending her sixth and final week in the #1 spot with “Like A Virgin”. Soap opera star Jack Wagner (Frisco from General Hospital) is making his way back down the charts this week after peaking at #2 last week with “All I Need”. Overall the chart is chock full of recognizable 80’s songs. At this point in my life, my musical tastes are in flux. In junior high, I was a huge fan of radio pop but had started to lean heavily towards hard rock and heavy metal. When I hit high school, I met some guys that were into punk music big time. They introduced me to Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and others. I liked the chaos of punk but I really wasn’t disaffected enough for it at that point. This was also the year that I started playing guitar and punk didn’t have as much to offer me, guitar-wise, as heavy metal. I was also still in love with pop music. I had the radio on in my room all the time. I loved listening to the Top 40 countdown with Casey Kasem every week and one of my favorite pop bands was Duran Duran. One song that is making it’s way back down the charts this week in January of 1985 is “The Wild Boys” by the aforementioned Duran squared. It’s the band’s final single with their original line up and probably my second favorite Duran song and video. It peaked at #2 at the first of the year, kept out of the top stop by Madonna.
The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy and, at the time, was the most expensive video over made. Mulcahy’s work with Duran Duran included videos for “Rio,” “Hungry Like The Wolf” and “Is There Something I Should Know?” He also directed the first video to air on MTV, “Video Killed The Radio Star”.
Lead singer Simon Le Bon has always protested that reports of his near-death were greatly exaggerated saying it’s an ‘urban myth’ that he nearly drowned while making the video and that he was never in danger. But eye witnesses tell a different story. It happened when the pop star was strapped to the sail of a windmill during the shoot. The windmill stopped while the singer was partially underwater and he couldn’t breathe. Divers had to be sent in to rescue him.
This Week In The 80’s is a weekly look at the Top 40 charts with Eric Vardeman. His Twitter handle is @ericvardeman.