Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon

On this day 40 years ago, singer Simon Le Bon was born in Bushey, England. Le Bon

rose to fame as the lead singer of Duran Duran, who had big success in the early and

mid-'80s with hits such as "The Reflex" and "Hungry Like The Wolf."

Le Bon appeared in commercials as a child, later studying drama at Birmingham

University. He was a member of a punk band called Dog Days when he was introduced

to Duran Duran by a girlfriend. Duran Duran, named after a character in the sci-fi film

"Barbarella," tapped Le Bon to become their permanent vocalist after a series of singers

had come and gone. The band also included guitarist Andy Taylor, drummer Roger

Taylor, bassist John Taylor and keyboardist Nick Rhodes.

Duran Duran's first single was 1981's "Planet Earth," which reached #12 in the U.K. The

band immediately connected with an audience by emphasizing its trendy looks and

fashion style in the burgeoning music-video scene.

Duran Duran often described their pop-funk music as the Sex Pistols meet the disco

band Chic, and this "New Romantic" genre of music was embraced by teens and

pre-teens worldwide who were growing weary of punk-heavy new wave. "Girls on Film,"

accompanied by a racy video, hit #5 in Britain, paving the way for a 118-week stay on the

U.K. albums chart by the band's eponymous debut LP (1981).

Duran Duran began a world tour, which, coupled with MTV's fast attraction to them in the

U.S., helped "Hungry Like the Wolf" climb to #3 on the American top-40 chart in 1983.

The album Rio (1983) also entered the U.S. top 10 and became a million-seller,

while the title track became another hit.

"Is There Something I Should Know" followed in the U.S. and made #4. Seven and

the Ragged Tiger (1983) was another smash and spawned three big hits, including

"New Moon on Monday" and the #1 "The Reflex." In 1984, "The Wild Boys" hit #2 and the

band took part in the all-star recording of the Band Aid single "Do They Know It's

Christmas?," which benefited African-famine relief.

A brief hiatus followed, but Duran Duran returned in mid-'85 with the U.S. #1 title-track to

the James Bond film "A View to a Kill." That year, the band also performed at Live Aid.

Duran Duran soon became involved in side projects; Le Bon, Rhodes and Roger Taylor

formed Arcadia and issued an album. In 1986, Duran Duran released Notorious,

including the hit title-cut. Two years later, they had a #4 U.S. hit with "I Don't Want Your

Love," from Big Thing.

After a number of lean years, Duran Duran released a 1993 self-titled album, which

spawned two U.S. top-10 hits, "Ordinary World" and "Come Undone." The all-covers

Thank You (1995) followed and was critically panned. Also in '95, Le Bon sang

with Luciano Pavarotti at a charity benefit in Italy.

Last year, Duran Duran released Medazzaland, which included the single

"Electric Barbarella," and headlined their own tribute show at an L.A. Tower Records.

The Duran Duran Tribute Album, featuring Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake,

came out shortly after. Le Bon's media company, Syn Studios, co-owned by composer

Nick Wood, is scheduled to provide the score for the upcoming Mario Van Peebles film

"Love Kills." Le Bon also will write a few new songs for the movie.

Other birthdays: Scott Weiland, 31.