Sri Lanka doesn’t have a ton of international rock and/or movie stars visit the island, but they do have some (hello, Leo Sayer).
However, thanks to our new blog-friend Eric, we have just uncovered another celebrity visit from the early 1980s. Looking to kick start their music career, the UK pop group Duran Duran came to Sri Lanka in 1982 to shoot the video for arguably their biggest hit – “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the video shoot:
In 1982, music video director Russell Mulcahy, who had directed the band’s first video “Planet Earth,” was brought back to make the music video for “Hungry Like the Wolf” and two other songs for the band’s 1983 video album. The band had a vision of jungles and exotic women, and Mulcahy suggested Sri Lanka, a country he had just visited. EMI invested $200,000 to send the group to Sri Lanka; the band made a stopover there in April, on route to a scheduled Australian tour. Keyboardist Nick Rhodes and guitarist Andy Taylor remained behind to finish the mixing of the Rio album while the rest of the band began filming the video; they flew straight to Sri Lanka after handing over the final masters to EMI.
As it was described in the pop culture book, The 1980s, the video was lush and cinematic, with shots of jungles, rivers, elephants, cafes and marketplaces evoking the atmosphere of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Andy Taylor, who contracted a stomach virus serious enough to require hospitalization from accidentally drinking water in the lagoon during the shoot, describes the storyline as “Indiana Jones is horny and wants to get laid.” In the video, singer Simon Le Bon’s head rises in slow motion out of the river as rain pours down. He then chases a beautiful tiger-like Indian woman played by Bermudian model Sheila Ming, from open markets in the city through obstacles in the jungle. During the chase, Le Bon has his face mopped by a young boy and overturns a bar room table, culminating in a final chase and struggle in a jungle clearing, which is sexually suggestive. In the meantime, the other band members hunt for Le Bon.
Less than two months after the shoot of the video, the American cable television network MTV put “Hungry Like the Wolf” into heavy rotation, playing it four times a day. The exposure eventually helped propel the single into the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, and the Rio album into the top ten of the albums chart. Les Garland, senior executive vice president of MTV, said: “I remember our director of talent and artist relations came running in and said, ‘You have got to see this video that’s come in.’ Duran Duran were getting zero radio airplay at the time, and MTV wanted to try to break new music. ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ was the greatest video I’d ever seen.” MTV named “Hungry Like the Wolf” the fifteenth most-played video of the network, and was eleventh on the century-end MTV “100 Greatest Videos Ever Made”. “Hungry Like the Wolf” won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video at the 26th Grammy Awards, making it the first video to ever win that award. In 2001, VH1 rated it thirty-first on the “VH1: 100 Greatest Videos”.
Enjoy the video, again and again (I know we did):