Andrew Taylor was born and raised in the town of Cullercoats, Northumberland, in northeast England, and attended Marden High School. He began playing guitar at the age of eleven, and was soon playing with local bands, even producing one at the age of sixteen. He received guitar tuition from Dave Black, a member of David Bowie's backing band the Spiders from Mars. He dropped out of school early to tour England and Europe with several different bands, playing working men's clubs and air force bases. Then in April 1980, as Taylor puts it, "I made that fateful train journey down to Birmingham".
Duran Duran began their rise to fame at a Birmingham club named the "Rum Runner". The club was owned by their managers and mentors, brothers Paul & Michael Berrow. It was centred on the music and ostentatious fashion of the era, particularly dance & disco music, which had fused with punk and electronic to create the sound and look adopted by various "New Romantic" acts of the time. The band was heavily influenced by the 12 inch cuts of the day. Taylor says... "Anybody who is familiar with early DD (Duran Duran) will be aware of the Night Versions concept… the underlying influence of the 12" mix – Edwards & Rodgers – Giorgio Moroder … It was all part of the matrix – we tested our first hits on the dance-floor before going anywhere near the radio – it was the way you defined your style and who you were, through the club you were associated with – where you hung-out … I'm a rock fan, but the girls hung-out at the disco – I recommend a large portion of both."
The band signed to EMI Records in December 1980 only seven months after completing the line-up. Their debut single "Planet Earth" was released shortly after that, with their self-titled debut album, Duran Duran, released in June 1981. By 1983, the band was a global success story.
While Duran Duran were on hiatus in 1985, Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor joined renowned session drummer and former Chic member Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer to form the band Power Station. Their eponymous album, recorded mostly at the New York studio for which the band was named, reached the Top 20 in the UK and the Top 10 in the US, and spawned two hit singles with "Some Like It Hot" (UK No. 14, US#6) and a cover of the T. Rex song "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" (UK No. 22, US#9). Palmer performed live with the band only once that year, on Saturday Night Live. The band toured, and even played Live Aid with singer Michael Des Barres after Palmer bowed out at the last moment to go back into the studio to further his newly revitalized solo career. Taylor also performed with Duran Duran at the Live Aid event.
Palmer recorded the album Riptide in 1985, recruiting Thompson and Andy Taylor to play on some tracks and Power Station producer Bernard Edwards, who worked with Thompson in the group Chic, to helm the production. Robert recruited Wally Badarou, another Compass Point Star who had laid synthesizer tracks on The Power Station album, plus his long-term drummer, Dony Wynn, for this production as well.
Taylor said... "I don't think any of us could have known at the time that this little venture would lead to the breakup of DD [v1.0] But it did or at least it exposed the cracks in the pavement. I think we were all surprised at the amount of success the project achieved, particularly Robert, whose career was reignited in the USA. It was an extraordinary time, everything we were associated with just flew off the shelves. As well as being the opportunity to express a major musical statement, I guess it was also as much of a statement against the label demands."
After six years of being a member of Duran Duran, Taylor had realised both he and the band were in free fall. He and the other bandmembers rarely spoke to one another and the band were now living in three different continents. Taylor himself was now based in Los Angeles where he met with ex-Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and they began collaborating for Taylor's forthcoming solo album.
In the meantime, he recorded the hit single "Take It Easy" (US No. 24), which was recorded as the theme song to the movie American Anthem. Ex-Missing Persons members Terry Bozzio and Patrick O'Hearn performed drums and bass, respectively, on the song and video. Two other songs by Taylor/Jones also appeared on the album: "Wings of Love" and the instrumental "Angel Eyes". Taylor also contributed to the Miami Vice II soundtrack with the song "When The Rain Comes Down" (US No. 43). This was followed by his first solo album, Thunder (1987). O'Hearn again played bass for him on the album and during the following tour. Also on the Thunder world tour were guitarist Paul Hanson (guitarist) and drummer John Valen. Hanson, Valen & O'Hearn also appeared with Taylor in the music video for the second single from the Thunder album, "Don't Let Me Die Young." Despite moderate success in the US, Taylor's solo material failed to catch on in his native UK.
Throughout 1987 and 1988, Taylor co-wrote and co-produced Rod Stewart's multi-Platinum album Out of Order along with Chic members Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson (the latter of whom had also performed with him in Power Station), spawning the Billboard hits, "Lost in You," "Forever Young," and "My Heart Can't Tell You No."
Taylor also contributed a cover of "Dead on the Money" to the Tequila Sunrise soundtrack in 1988 (Taylor's former band Duran Duran would also allow one of their own songs, "Do You Believe in Shame?", to be included on the album). A second solo album, this one consisting of entirely cover versions, entitled Dangerous, was released in 1990. In 1991, he worked with Genesis keyboard player Tony Banks, singing lead on two songs of his third solo album 'Still'.
Taylor then moved on to producing full-time, working with several successful UK bands throughout the 1990s. He produced the debut album Back Street Symphony by London rockers Thunder and their follow up Laughing on Judgement Day. This was followed by The Almighty album Soul Destruction, and then Mark Shaw's album Almost. Taylor based himself in his now refurbished Trident Studios in London with then manager and partner Rob Hallett, until 1994 when he returned to Los Angeles in order to write and produce tracks for a second Power Station album and the 1995 Rod Stewart album A Spanner in the Works.
Taylor participated in the 1994 reunion of Power Station. They recorded a second album "Living in Fear" for EMI; this time without John Taylor, who had just left Duran Duran himself and gone into rehab. During the course of this album, Bernard Edwards died in his hotel room after a Chic gig in Tokyo. The band were shellshocked at his sudden death, however vowed to continue as a trio and complete the project. They subsequently finished the album with Canadian Engineer/producer Mike Fraser, with a Japanese & US tour to follow in order to promote the record.
In 2001, Taylor reunited with the other original members of Duran Duran to record their first new music together since 1985. The band secured a new recording contract with Sony Records. Their ensuing album, Astronaut, featured a blend of Taylor's heavy guitar with the synth hooks of the classic Duran Duran sound. The first single, "Sunrise", reached No.5 in the UK, and the album reached No.3 (No. 17 in the US).
Months prior to the album's release, the band played their largest ever UK tour in the spring of 2004, which was followed by a world tour in 2005, including Asia, Europe, South America and North America. The band also performed at Live 8.
In 2006, whilst recording a new Duran Duran album, Taylor once again parted ways with the band. The subsequent album, titled Reportage, was scrapped by the band after his departure. More recently, Taylor strongly hinted in his blogs that Duran Duran's management company were partly responsible for his departure. This was confirmed when The Sunday Times (UK) printed a retraction on 4 May 2008 .
A short controversy followed as Taylor wrote in his 2008 autobiography that there was no "blunt message" and that in addition to the problems of writing and recording Reportage, old conflicts between himself and other bandmembers had resurfaced. The other band members have maintained their version, in which Andy Taylor's chronic unexplainable absences are pointed out. The band issued a statement in the wake of his departure, stating they "will be continuing as Duran Duran without Andy, as we have reached a point in our relationship with him where there is an unworkable gulf between us and we can no longer effectively function together."
In November 2007 Taylor co-founded RockAffairs.com alongside Sarah Eaglesfield, the former Flightside vocalist and webmistress at duranduran.com. RockAffairs was developed to allow unsigned artists to sell MP3s and merchandise, promote their band and keep 100% of the profit. It also pioneered a maverick Profit Share Scheme where 100% of income from listener signups was distributed amongst bands who sign up for the profit share scheme.
In June 2008, Taylor handed control of the website over to Eaglesfield. As of 2011, Taylor remains the owner of RockAffairs Ltd in the UK.
In 2008, Andy Taylor published an autobiography, Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran, in which he tells his life's story from youth in an extended family to his life with wife Tracey. The book aims to give a backstage look on Duran Duran's rise, a survey of the band's career album by album as well as of Taylor's solo works and collaborations. It also deals with the iconic status of Duran Duran in the time of early MTV and the band's issues with drugs and alcohol.
With Duran DuranDuran Duran (1981)Rio (1982)Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)Arena (1984)Notorious (1986)Astronaut (2004)
With Power StationThe Power Station (1985)Living in Fear (1996)
With Robert PalmerRiptide 1985 - Lead guitar on Addicted to love
SoloThunder (1987)Dangerous (1990)The Spanish Sessions EP (1999 – with Luke Morley)Taylor, Andy (2008). Wild Boy – My Life in Duran Duran. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-0446509305.