Colin Thurston

Duran Duran producer
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The Independent Online

Colin Thurston, record producer: born Singapore 1947; died 15 January 2007.

When the budding record producer Colin Thurston was taken to see Duran Duran in 1980, he wasn't in the best of moods. He had just flown back from the United States and the jet-lag was catching up with him. However, as soon as they began playing "Girls on Film", Thurston snapped out of his torpor. By the end of their set, he knew he had found the next band he wanted to work with. Producer and musicians sealed their partnership with a four-day session during which they aimed to record both sides of a single but actually completed half of Duran Duran, the group's début album for EMI.

Issued in June 1981, in the wake of the Top Forty success of the singles "Planet Earth" and "Careless Memories", Duran Duran began a steady climb up the charts. The band's good looks and emerging pin-up status did the rest. By autumn 1981, as I witnessed when I joined Duran Duran on tour in Edinburgh, Beatlemania-like pandemonium followed them everywhere, with teenage girls climbing over cars to try and reach their idols.

In 1982, Thurston oversaw the recording of Rio, the group's second album, and the one which established them around the world with the catchy hit singles "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Rio", and the ballad "Save a Prayer". However, David Kershenbaum remixed several Rio tracks for the dance market in the US and Thurston wasn't involved with the album Seven and the Ragged Tiger the following year.

Still, Thurston remained on good terms with Duran Duran. With their keyboard-player Nick Rhodes, he co-produced "Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo, and turned it from a prospective B-side into the group's first and biggest hit in 1983. He also produced Kajagoogoo's album White Feathers and the singles "Ooh to Be Ah" and "Hang on Now".

Born in 1947, Thurston played the guitar in various bands before taking up jingle-writing. In the mid-Seventies, he bluffed his way into an engineering job in a small studio in London and learnt on his feet, joining the T-Rex and David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, and engineering two of 1977's defining albums, Iggy Pop's Lust for Life and Bowie's Heroes.

His first work as a producer was with Magazine, the Manchester group formed by the enigmatic Howard Devoto. Magazine had originally wanted Visconti to produce the follow-up to Real Life, their masterful 1978 début, but were happy to settle for Thurston, his engineer. "I didn't tell them it was my first production," Thurston admitted later. Recording throughout the cold winter of 1978-79, Thurston gave Secondhand Daylight a glacial, eerie, detached feel. The album proved the perfect calling card for the producer.

Duran Duran's bassist John Taylor says:

Without Colin's depth of vision, we would never have become the band we became. He will be remembered as an important musical stylist who was a major catalyst for the Eighties sound.

Pierre Perrone

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