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Duran Duran - The story behind the song Hold Back the Rain

Updated on February 20, 2009
Duran Duran around 1981.
Duran Duran around 1981.

In the early 1980s, the pop group Duran Duran was up and coming in the music world. A very young band - it had only been formed three years before, by school chums Nick Rhodes and John Taylor - it was getting a lot of attention thanks to its catchy music and the glamorous good looks of its five members.

The music scene of the 1980s was very different than it is today. These days the perils of drug addiction are well known, and every move a celebrity makes is closely monitored. A drunken binge is up on YouTube in moments; get caught with cocaine in your pocket Friday night and not only will you be in rehab by Monday, every blog and newspaper in the country will know the entire story by Saturday morning.

This was not the case in the swinging, hedonistic days of the Glam era. The glittering world of dance halls and nightclubs were just coming off the heady days of Disco and the 1970s; the perils of AIDS and knowledge about the evils of cocaine and heroin addiction were years away. Drug use was winked at and tolerated as part of any rock group's repetoire, as common and unavoidable as long weeks of touring and exhausting press gigs.

So it was no wonder when, as Duran Duran's star began to rise after the release of its first album in 1981, that the intoxicating siren song of easy drugs was soon to follow. Lured by the exotic promise that doing drugs made you part of the same club as other legends like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the members of Duran Duran indulged.

For some the experiment was brief and then over with. Roger Taylor, the band's drummer, never took much of an interest at all. Simon Le Bon, the lead singer, dabbled but preferred liquor because he didn't like the way drugs interfered with his voice. Nick Rhodes, now the band's keyboardist, experimented but shrugged the drugs off, claiming later that he did not like the out-of-control feeling.

For two members of Duran Duran, however, drugs in general and cocaine in particular proved too tempting to decline. Guitarist Andy Taylor became a full-blown cocaine addict rather quickly, and would battle the demons of drug addiction for many years before wresting himself free of its grip.

John Taylor, around 1984.
John Taylor, around 1984.

Then there was John Taylor.

Tall, unbelievably handsome, and intense beyond his years, John found a welcome release in cocaine's exciting ride and in the early days of Duran Duran's success began an affair with that drug that would last for fourteen years and very nearly kill him. Photographs taken of the bass player during the early 1990s show a skeletal, ghostly pale figure with lifeless eyes and limp hair; John would confess later that he had no memories of making Duran Duran's 1990 album 'Liberty' beyond not eating at all and smoking hash oil. Eventually he would realize that he had to leave the group and get sober, and in 1995 John did just that, starting on a road to abstinence that he remains on to this day.

But in 1982, all of that was in the future. At that time Duran Duran was all about booze, drugs, beautiful women, and riding the high tide of their phenomenal success with songs such as "Girls on Film" and "Planet Earth." The parties were loud and went on all night, and it was during that time that Simon became concerned with John's behavior.

According to a VH1 interview he gave years later (see below), Simon became worried that John was "staying out too late, taking too many drugs, drinking too much, and going home with the wrong kinds of people". As any good songsmith does, Simon took his emotions and put pen to paper, writing a song in March of 1982 that would become recorded as "Hold Back the Rain".

Hold Back the Rain

Yes we're miles away from nowhere and the wind doesn't have a name
So call it what you want to call it still blows down the lane
People tell me I haven't changed at all but I don't feel the same
And I've bet you've had that feeling too you can't laugh all the time

And if the fires burn out there's only fire to blame (hold back the rain)
No time for worry cause we're on the roam again (hold back the rain)
The clouds all scatter and we ride the outside lane (hold back the rain)
Not on your own so help me please hold back the rain

So what if the words ain't rhyming did you thing that it's just a game
I probably didn't even say that right and I really don't give a damn
Okay go off and wander I'm guilty just the same
Sometimes you're needed badly so please come back again
And if the fires burn out there's only fire to blame (hold back the rain)
No time for worry cause we're on the roam again (hold back the rain)
The clouds all scatter and we ride the outside lane (hold back the rain)
Not on your own so help me please hold back the rain

And if the stars burn out there's only fire to blame (hold back the rain)
No time for worry cause we're on the roam again (hold back the rain)
The clouds all scatter and we ride the outside lane (hold back the rain)
Not on your own so help me please hold back the rain
Hold back the rain, hold back the rain. hold back the rain
Hold back the rain (hold back the rain), hold back the rain
(Hold back the rain), hold back the rain (hold back the rain)
Hold back the rain (hold back the rain), hold back the rain

A fan-made video for "Hold Back the Rain"

After writing the song, Simon slipped the song under John's door, and claimed that as late as 1993 John had never mentioned the incident to him, or that he knew Simon wrote the song about him. The song did appear on the band's second album, Rio, however, and included as a B side to the single for "Save a Prayer."

Sadly, it would take many years before John would hear the plea in that song and get help for the drug problems that dogged him, but now he is clean, happy, and rockin' on.

Fans will also be happy to hear that he did finally acknowledge this token of Simon's friendship, as evidenced by a Q&A sent to the band's representative, Katy Krassner, in 2006.

Q: Hold back the Rain is about John/s drug abuse, bad company etc. as Simon mentioned in an interview at the end of the nineties. After Simon had written the lyrics, he slipped at note under John hotel door. But John had never spoken about this later. Have he mentioned it now, as you are reunited?? Thanks John!

A: “I thought all of his songs were about me.. JT”

Simon and John tell the story behind the song

A recent interview with the band about the early years

Comments

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    • profile image

      beliza 

      3 years ago

      Love that song! Thanks for sharing this.

    • profile image

      Patrick 

      5 years ago

      John is a legend, and that can't change..he's the reason i pick up the bass and all his bass lines are amazing...(my fav:Union of the snake..). And except of being a very very good bassist and songwriter, all his image, his look is perect, cause he was always pretty and handsome, girls went crazy about him, and even now at the age of 53 i think,he seems a lot younger and very handsome. Ok, what he did? he was taking coke and other drugs, WTF, he managed to control himself, and in the end, the more Rock-pop stars do coke, maybe it's a way to go through the pressure, but yeah, there are some "good" kids, and i don't say it ironic, like Roger Taylor, low profile and i think that they are the strongest characters..But anyway, John is a legend,Simon too, all the Durans gives my generation (i'm fuckin 38) a lot of good times, pleasure and fine memories...cause Duran Duran are the Beatles of the 80's, no doubt...

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 

      7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I do admire Duran Duran. They may have been wild back in the day, but now they have matured, and they are doing quite well with their careers. They even are savvy at using social networking to promote their work, which not all bands are too savvy about. Some feel they are above using social media, and in the age of the computer I think they might be losing potential new fans.

    • profile image

      Junie-Marie 

      7 years ago

      I knew around 1989-1990 John didn't look good. He was too thin. When I look at him now I just say thank God he is alive. John & Simon really do love each other like more than brothers. During the song "what happens tomorrow"(which sounds like it could be about John)on tape I saw, John licked Simons lips & kissed him on the lips in friendship of bond between then. You could see & feel the real love & bond . Also in "all she wants is"1989, John also reached out to Simon & hugged him like he really needed him & put his lips to his, I think he was reaching out to him.Even John said once on TV that if they go too long without seeing each other they become bitchy!Anyone watching them as much as I do can see the love between them.Remember John has no siblings. Junie-Marie

    • profile image

      gina 

      8 years ago

      I would love to see the original video, damn copyrights

    • lou16 profile image

      lou16 

      8 years ago

      I must admit I loved both Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, but I never knew the backstory of this song - thanks for sharing it.

      Can I add Through the Barricades :D

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      LOL

      Okay, then I can add more Spandau faves - Round and Round and of course Gold, and True, and... :D

    • Sarah Lynn 1863 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Lynn 1863 

      9 years ago

      No blasphemy here! I like Spandau Ballet too!!

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Of course I know this song, i was the biggest Duranie in the day - at least i think so! It was either Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet. But I believe that Duran2x had more balls and better songs. But Spandau had a couple - I dig their Only When You Leave. I'm sorry if i just blasphemed on this hub! The Reflex and A View to A Kill top my list! Thanks for sharing! :D

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