Back in 1980, guitarist Andy Taylor (born Feb. 16, 1961) was a would-be guitar hero itching for the big time in his native Newcastle, England, when he answered an ad in England’s Melody Maker for a "live-wire guitarist.” One trip to Birmingham later, and he was the new guitar player in a little band called Duran Duran, a mere two years away from international stardom.
The thing was, as funky and arch and snazzy as Duran Duran’s video-friendly new wave sound was, their guitar player harbored a largely tamped-down desire to rock. Hard. When Taylor got the chance to indulge that desire (in concert, or when Duran Duran went on hiatus in the middle of the decade), he went for it, full bore, resulting in a small but mighty corpus of tuneage that bears some revisiting from time to time. Here are some examples of Taylor’s six-string stylings at their finest:
Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”: Taylor contributes the Almighty Riff to this, the song that introduced a U.S. audience to the Fab Five, beginning a decades-long love affair with the group that lasts to this very day.
The Power Station, “Get It On (Bang a Gong)”: In 1985, Taylor and Duran Duran bassist John Taylor (no relation, but you already knew that) joined forces with Palmer and Chic drummer Tony Thompson to create a supergroup with great taste in covers – in this case, a T. Rex track that they amp up for the ‘80s. Taylor’s guitar solo on this one is noisy and fast, not to mention irresistible.
Robert Palmer, “Addicted to Love”: It’s a monster of a pop song, but Palmer plays it cool throughout (because he’s Robert Palmer). There’s no holding back the unfettered guitar solo, though – Taylor is given the go-ahead to wail for a couple bars, and he does, coming on like a buzzsaw before offering some pinched harmonics and bent notes as he yields back to Palmer. It’s all super-loud and super-distorted, and it’s just what the song needs.
Andy Taylor, “Take It Easy”: The gymnastics film American Anthem needed...well, an anthem, so Taylor gave them one, taking the rhythm guitar part from “Get It On,” adding a great chorus and voila – a top-down, four-on-the-floor rock track the kids could shake themselves to all summer long in 1986. The movie didn’t do much, but the soundtrack was solid, with “Take It Easy” and two other Taylor tracks joining shoulda-been hits by INXS, Stevie Nicks, Mr. Mister and others.
“When the Rain Comes Down”: From his debut solo LP Thunder (1987) came this single, which showed Taylor to be as adept at Bon Jovi-ish arena-rock goodness as he was playing art rock in arenas with Duran Duran.