Nick Rhodes (born Nicholas James Bates; 8 June 1962) is an English musician, best known as the founding member and keyboardist of the new wave band Duran Duran.
He has also released albums with Arcadia in 1985 (a Duran Duran side-project), as well as The Devils in 2002 with Stephen Duffy the original lead singer of Duran Duran. In March 2013, he released the long-awaited TV Mania side project with ex-Duran Duran guitarist Warren Cuccurullo.
Bates was the only child of well-off parents, the owners of a Birmingham toyshop. Bates attended Woodrush High School in Hollywood, Birmingham. At school, he and classmate John Taylor formed a band called 'RAF'. Bates left school in 1978 at the age of sixteen, and founded Duran Duran with schoolfriends Stephen Duffy (vocals), John Taylor (who then played lead guitar), and Simon Colley (bass). At about the same time as the name Duran Duran was chosen for the band, Bates decided to change his name, which was given to him by John Taylor before the first interview they had together for their band. He cited a dislike for being called Master Bates and chose the name "Rhodes" after the brand of electronic keyboard.
As the band coalesced into its final lineup in 1979-80, Duran Duran started playing at a local Birmingham club called "The Rum Runner". The club owners became the band's managers, and Rhodes began working at the club as a disc jockey.
Contributions to Duran Duran:
The band achieved rapid success, and Rhodes was a driving force throughout. An unschooled musician, he experimented with the sounds his analogue synthesisers were capable of, but shied away from the "novelty" sounds of some other early synth bands. The distinctive warble of "Save A Prayer", the keyboard stabs of "A View to a Kill", and the string sounds of "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World" are some of his most recognisable creations, as well as the futuristic oscillating synth that characterised Duran Duran's self-titled first album. He also popularised the Crumar Performer on the early records.
Rhodes was also quick to recognise the potential of the music video, and pushed the band to put more effort into their early videos than seemed warranted at the time (before the advent of MTV). Barely twenty when the band hit major stardom, he cultivated an androgynous and sometimes flamboyant image, wore heavy makeup, and changed his hair colour at whim.
By the late 1990s, Rhodes had begun writing lyrics for Duran Duran, as well as music. His digitally altered voice is heard on the title track to the 1997 album Medazzaland.
In 2001, the original five members of Duran Duran reunited to record new music; see Duran Duran for details.
Rhodes studied production techniques while in the studio with Duran Duran, eventually helping to mix several tracks on the Rio album, and was a co-producer on many of the band's later albums.
In early 1983, he discovered the band Kajagoogoo and co-produced their debut single Too Shy which became a UK no.1 (prior to any of Duran's singles reaching no.1).
Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo wrote and produced three tracks for the Blondie reunion album in 1996; the tracks were not used, but one song called "Pop Trash Movie" was later recorded by Duran Duran for the 2000 album Pop Trash.
In 2002, Rhodes co-produced and played additional synthesizers in nine tracks of the album Welcome to the Monkey House by The Dandy Warhols. In 2004 he produced British-based pop group Riviera F for their debut EP International Lover, published on Pop Cult/Tape Modern (Rhodes & Stephen Duffy's label).
With his bandmates Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor, Rhodes formed the side project Arcadia while Duran Duran was on hiatus in 1985. The band had a moody, keyboard-heavy sound, far more atmospheric than Duran Duran (or the hard rock of the other Duran splinter group of 1985, Power Station). The band scored a major hit with "Election Day" and the band's only album, So Red the Rose, went platinum in the US but was less successful in their native UK. The band never toured and was dissolved when Duran Duran regrouped in 1986.
In 1999, Rhodes reunited with Duran Duran's original vocalist, Stephen Duffy, to create new music based on some of the earliest Duran music the two had written together. The result was the album Dark Circles, released under the name The Devils.
Also in 1999, Rhodes had a small guest appearance (in voice only) as a Canadian bomber pilot in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
In 2006 Rhodes and John Taylor collaborated on the compilation album Only After Dark.
In 2011 Rhodes along with Andrew Wyatt and Mark Ronson remixed Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus for the British electronic band's remix compilation Remixes 2: 81-11.
Also in 2011, Rhodes wrote the afterword to the award-winning '80s 7-inch vinyl cover art book Put the Needle on the Record.
In March 2013, TV Mania made up of Nick Rhodes and ex-Duran Duran guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, released Bored with Prozac and the Internet?. Throughout the 1990s, Rhodes worked on this side project with Cuccurullo. To support the launch of the project, Rhodes had an Exhibition of his photography, BEI INCUBI (Beautiful Nightmares), at The Vinyl Factory in Chelsea, London on 7 March.
Rhodes met Julie Anne Friedman (heiress to the Iowa, USA Younkers Department Store fortune) at a yacht party while on an American tour in 1982, and married her on 18 August 1984. They have one daughter together, Tatjana Lee Orchid (born 23 August 1986). After a brief separation and an attempt to reconcile, they filed for divorce in 1992. Their legal dispute resulted in important precedent regarding international custody issues, followed widely in the courts of the U.S. and other countries, sometimes referred to as the "settled purpose" doctrine: In Re Bates, No. CA 122-89, High Court of Justice, Family Div'l Ct. Royal Courts of Justice, United Kingdom (1989).
Rhodes became enamoured of the art world early in his career, making friends with Andy Warhol and The Factory crowd, and attending exhibitions worldwide. At the end of 1984, he released his own book of abstract art photographs called Interference. Many of the photos were displayed at an exhibition at the Hamilton Gallery in London.
In November 2011, Rhodes received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts degree from the University of Bedfordshire, for his services to the music industry.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license