#11: Save A Prayer by Duran Duran
City: Calgary, Alberta
Radio Station: CFCN
Peak Month: March 1985
Peak Position in Calgary ~ #2
Peak position in Vancouver ~ #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #16
YouTube: “Save A Prayer”
Lyrics: “Save A Prayer”
Duran Duran is a band from Birmingham, England, which formed in 1978. Stephen Duffy was born in Birmingham in 1960. In 1978 he was attending the School of Foundation Studies & Experimental Workshop at Birmingham Polytechnic. It was there he met John Taylor and his friend Nick Rhodes. Nigel John Taylor was born in 1960 in the West Midland city of Solihull. As a child, Taylor attended Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic school and the Abbey High School, in Redditch. He wore glasses due to severe myopia, and enjoyed James Bond movies. Taylor was interested in the hobby of wargaming with hand-painted model soldiers. In his early teen years, he discovered music, choosing Roxy Music as his favourite band, and before long was collecting records and teaching himself to play the piano. His first band was called Shock Treatment.
Nicholas James Bates was born in Birmingham in 1962. His parents were owners of a toy store in Birmingham. He learned to play the keyboards growing up. At the age of sixteen he quit school to join Duran Duran. Stephen Duffy was the lead vocalist, bass guitar player and guitar player. John Taylor played lead guitar. The band’s name had been culled from the following possibilities: RAF’, ‘Arabia’, ‘Industry’ and ‘Arcadia.’ But they named their band after “Dr. Durand Durand”, Milo O’Shea’s character from the sci-fi film Barbarella, the day after the movie had been broadcast by BBC 1 on October 20, 1978.
The three of them made their first recordings on a cassette tape recorder above Bates’ parents’ toy shop and played their first gig on 5 April 1979 at Birmingham Polytechnic, and were joined by Simon Colley, on clarinet and bass, soon after.
In June 1979 Duran Duran opened for the band Fashion at Barbarella’s, a club in Birmingham. But soon after, both Duffy and Colley left the band, and were replaced with vocalist Andy Wickett and drummer Roger Taylor. At this point Nick Bates’ stage name was Dior Bates. After several personnel changes Duran Duran finally settled on the line-up including guitarist Andy Taylor, and lead singer Simon Le Bon in May 1980 and were eventually signed to EMI. In 1981, Nick Bates decided to change his name for aesthetic reasons which occurred during a first interview with the press for Duran Duran. The classic Duran Duran lineup was set: Simon Le Bon on lead vocals, Nick Rhodes on keyboards, synthesizers, vocal effects, backing vocals, John Taylor on bass guitar and backing vocals, Roger taylor on drums and percussion, and Andy Taylor on backing vocals and guitar.
Roger Taylor was born in Birmingham in 1960. He began playing drums from the age of twelve. Prior to Duran Duran, Roger Taylor was in a punk band named Scent Organs. He also was a member of Cult Figures. Andy Taylor was born in 1961 in Tynemouth, Northumberland. He began playing guitar at the age of eleven and was soon playing with local bands, even producing one at the age of 16. He received guitar tuition from Dave Black, a member of the short-lived, post-David Bowie version of Bowie’s sometime backing band the Spiders From Mars. Andy Taylor dropped out of school early to tour England and Europe with several different bands, playing working men’s clubs and air force bases.
Simon Le Bon was born in 1958 near the town of Bushey in Hertfordshire, England. His mother encouraged his artistic talent when he was six years old by entering him in a screen test for a Persil washing powder TV advertisement, which proved successful. He was a member of the local church choir from a young age, and was trained as an actor. In 1978, he completed an art foundation course at Harrow School of Art, before studying drama at the University of Birmingham.
In February 1981, Duran Duran released their first single titled “Planet Earth”. It climbed to #8 in Australia and #12 in the UK. A second single in April was less successful. But in June 1981, the band released Duran Duran, and in July the single from the album “Girls On Film”. It topped the pop charts in Portugal, peaked at #4 in New Zealand and #5 in the UK, and made the Top 20 in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.
In November 1981, the band released “My Own Way”, which was a Top Ten hit in Australia, and made the Top 20 in Finland, New Zealand and the UK. The single later appeared as a track on Rio. In May 1982, Duran Duran released their second album, Rio, and the single “Hungry Like The Wolf”. It topped the RPM Canadian Singles chart, and landed in the Top Ten in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the Billboard Hot 100. It was ranked as the #17 single of the year for 1982 by Billboard. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, Duran Duran won the Best Music Video – Short Form for “Girls On Film”/”Hungry Like The Wolf”. They won a second Grammy Award for the album Duran Duran in the Best Music Video – Long Form category.
In August 1982, the band released another track from Rio titled “Save A Prayer”. It climbed to #2 in Ireland and the UK. It got minor attention in a few other nations. A third track from the album was the title song, “Rio”, which made the Top Ten in Canada, Ireland and the UK in 1982-83. In March 1983, a U.S. version of the Duran Duran album contained a track titled “Is There Something I Should Know?”. It topped the pop chart in the UK, and peaked in the Top Ten in Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the USA.
Later in 1983, Duran Duran released Seven and the Ragged Tiger. The debut single was “Union Of The Snake”. In 1983-84 it was a Top Ten hit in Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the UK and the USA. Duran Duran’s tenth single, “New Moon On Monday”, charted into the Top Ten in Ireland, the UK and the USA in 1984. This was followed by the third single from Seven and the Ragged Tiger, “The Reflex”. This was the first single by the band to top the Billboard Hot 100. It also peaked at #1 in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the UK, #3 in Canada, #4 in Australia, #6 in New Zealand, #8 in West Germany, #10 in Switzerland, and #11 in Austria.
In the fall of 1984, Duran Duran released, Arena, a live album. From Arena came “The Wild Boys”. It topped the pop charts in South Africa, West Germany, and the Cashbox Singles chart for two weeks in December 1984 the USA. In many countries, “The Wild Boys” was variously kept out of the number-one position by international hits that included “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!, “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid, “Sea Of Love” by the Honeydrippers, or “Like A Virgin” by Madonna. “The Wild Boys” peaked at #2 in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the Billboard Hot 100. The single also climbed to #3 in Australia and Spain, #4 in Finland, #5 in New Zealand, #6 in Norway, and #13 in France.
The next release by the band was in 1985, with the live version of “Save A Prayer” from Arena.
“Save A Prayer” was written by Duran Duran. Simon Le Bon wrote the lyrics to the song while the band was on tour. The lyrics are about a chance meeting between two people that turns into a one-night-stand. Le Bon has described the lyrics as “realistic, and not romantic”. According to Le Bon, the chorus of the song was based on Gordon Lightfoot‘s folk song “If You Could Read My Mind”. In the lyrics, Le Bon writes, “Some people call it a one-night stand. But we can call it paradise.”
“Save A Prayer” peaked at #1 in Dallas, and Yellowknife (NWT), #2 in Calgary, #3 in New Haven (CT), #4 in Miami, Toronto, Boston, Milwaukee (WI), and Kansas City (MO), #5 in Seattle, #6 in Leavenworth (KS), Orlando, and Buffalo, #7 in Washington D.C., Montreal, Sacramento (CA), and Minneapolis/St. Paul, #8 in Providence (RI), and Regina (SK), #9 in Vancouver (BC), Moose Jaw (SK), and Arlington (VA), #10 in Hamilton (ON), and Lethbridge (AB), and #11 in Sherbrooke (PQ). The live version of “Save A Prayer” made the Top 20 in 1985 in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1985 the 14th James Bond film, A View To A Kill, featured the theme song recorded by Duran Duran. The song was written by John Taylor and was recorded in London with a 60-piece orchestra. It was nominated Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards. “A View To A Kill” topped the pop charts in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, and the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s third number-one hit on a national pop chart in the USA. “A View To A Kill” also charted into the Top Ten in Australia, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and West Germany. In France the single stalled at #11 and at #13 in New Zealand.
In 1986, Duran Duran released Notorious. From the album came three singles. The first, “Notorious”, was a Top Ten hit in Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single from Notorious, “Skin Trade”, was a Top Ten hit in Belgium. “Meet El Presidente” was the band’s 16th single release, and saw its best chart performance in Italy where it climbed to #10.
In 1988, Duran Duran’s Big Thing album had a debut single titled “I Don’t Want Your Love”. It topped the pop chart in Italy, #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #8 on the RPM Canadian Singles chart. A second single, “All She Wants Is” peaked at #2 in Italy, and #9 in the UK. It was the twelfth and final Top Ten hit in the 1980s for Duran Duran on the UK Singles pop chart. At the end of the 1980s, Duran Duran released Decade, and the track “Burning The Ground” climbed to #7 in Italy.
In 1990, the band released Liberty. From the album, both singles “Violence Of Summer” and “Serious”, peaked in the Top Ten in Italy. In 1993 The Wedding Album featured “Ordinary World”. The single topped the pop charts in Canada and Italy, peaked at #2 in Iceland and Sweden, #3 in Ireland, New Zealand and the Billboard Hot 100, and #5 in Norway. “Ordinary World” also cracked the Top Ten in Denmark, France and the UK. A second single, “Come Undone” topped the pop chart in Israel. It charted into the Top Ten in Canada, Ireland, Italy, and the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1995 they released Thank You, mostly an album of covers, including a Top 20 hit in Italy with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay”. A 1997 album release of Medazzaland, featured a Top Ten hit they charted in Israel titled “Out Of My Mind”. The release of Pop Trash in 2000 was underwhelming. But in 2004 the album Astronaut featured an international hit with “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise”. It topped the pop chart in Hungary, and the US Dance Club chart. It also cracked the Top Ten charts in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, and the UK. In 2005, a second single from Astronaut, “”What Happens Tomorrow”, made the Top Ten in both Belgium and Italy. In 2007, the album Red Carpet Massacre included the Top Ten Czech Republic and Italian pop chart hit “Falling Down”. It was the bands’ 26th and last Top Ten hit in any national radio market between 1981 and 2007.
Over the decades, Duran Duran has charted 16 singles into the Top Ten in Italy, 13 singles in the UK, 11 singles in the USA, 8 singles in Finland and New Zealand, and 7 singles in Australia. They have released 15 studio albums and four live albums. Their sixteenth studio album, Danse Macabre, is set to be released on October 27, 2023.
Over the years, Duran Duran appeared in Calgary in concert in 1982, 1984, 2005, and 2016. Duran Duran performed in concert in Vancouver in 1982, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1993, 2005, 2008, and 2016.
September 27, 2023
Stephen Davis, Please Tell Me Now: The Duran Duran Story, Hachette Books, 2021.
Steve Malins, Wild Boys: The Unauthorized Biography, André Deutsch, 2013.
Susan Carpenter, “Fans Are Still Hungry For Duran Duran,” Baltimore Sun, April 7, 2005.
Parker Puterbaugh, “Anglomania: The Second British Invasion,” Rolling Stone, November 10, 1983.
“Album Review – Duran Duran – Arena,” -Brutally Honest Rock Album Reviews, March 2, 2021.
“Duran Duran – Concert dates – Canada,” setlist.fm.
CFCN 1060 AM, Calgary, Alberta, March 16, 1985