“We are so excited and honored to be recognized in this way. It’s the closest thing you’re ever gonna get to a rock n’ roll knighthood,” Le Bon tells Billboard by Zoom from Sicily, where the band is playing the next concert of its world tour supporting 2021’s Future Past album. He adds that “there is a faction, some people who felt we should’ve been up for it years before,” given that Duran Duran has been eligible since 2007 but never nominated until this year, “and that the Foundation had ignored us and [they] maybe bear a grudge about that. Generally we’re not a grudge-bearing bunch of people. We live in the moment, and this is something that’s happening now.
“It’s another chapter in an incredible story that is called Duran Duran.”
Duran Duran was also the top vote-getter in this year’s public fan voting; its tally of 934,880 nearly 300,000 more than second-place Eminem. “That’s one place you really want to be No. 1,” says Le Bon, who along with bassist John Taylor inducted Roxy Music into the Rock Hall in 2019. “I was blown away by the dedication and the application and the sheer determination of our fans and everybody else who voted for us, keeping us in that No. 1 slot for almost the entirety of the public vote. I am so grateful to all those people for doing that because it’s shone a light on us … that catches in the mind of all the people who are voting.”
Le Bon says he’s particularly looking forward to meeting fellow Birmingham, Englanders Judas Priest at the Nov. 5 ceremony in Los Angeles, as well as Dolly Parton. He acknowledges the various debates about this year’s inductees and who belongs in a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but he takes a broad view of what the distinction entails.
“Some people think it should just be there for, like, blues artists, guitar bands and ‘rock and rollers,’ and I just don’t think that’s realistic, personally,” he explains. “I think it’s got bigger than that. I think Dolly Parton made some very interesting points when she said, ‘Don’t vote for me’; I got the feeling that what she was really saying was, ‘There are other people who need this accolade more than I do.’ But she got voted in, and she deserves it every bit, I think.
“Rock n’ roll is such a broad term these days. I think it’s about people who have done something meaningful in contemporary music. Personally, that’s what I think it should be.”
The induction will also give Le Bon and Taylor — along with keyboardist Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor — an opportunity to reunite with original Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor as well as his successor Warren Cuccurullo, who was with the band from 1989 to 2001. Le Bon says the group has been in touch with both and has started discussions about performing together at the ceremony, though details are still being finalized. “I think we’re all gonna get on stage together and play music. That’s what we’re aiming for,” Le Bon says. “I’m not sure whether they’ll be on stage [at] the same time as each other, but we’ll certainly have some time with each of them up there.”
“We’re just taking it easy and building it up slowly,” Le Bon says. “We’re not jumping off the high board and into the deep end. We’ve all had to be so careful because of COVID; you can really end up on a banana skin if you’re not careful. But the shows have been great so far and getting better. [The Future Past songs] fit incredibly well into our set. We’re playing songs that were written a year ago that sound like classic Duran Duran, but they’ve got a modern edge to them. That’s what we really wanted to achieve.”
There was, of course, a seven-year gap before Future Past, but Le Bon and company aren’t yet committing to what they might do next. “We’re not even thinking about another album,” he says. “We’re doing a world tour. That’ll come to an end, then we’ll all probably want to take at least six months off, maybe a year off. And after that I know what’ll be happening. We’ll be going, ‘Oh, maybe it’s time to go do what we do, go back into the studio again.’ Like I said, we live very much in the moment. The job really forces you to live in the moment.”