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Single by Duran Duran
B-side "The Chauffeur" (Sing Blue Silver)
"Hold Back the Rain"
"Rio" (Part 1)
"My Own Way"
Released 1 November 1982 (UK)
2 April 1983 (US)
Recorded January-February 1982
AIR Studios, London
Format 7", 12"
Genre Pop
Length 4:40 (Single Version)
5:11 (Part 1)
5:29 (Part 2)
4:34 (US Single Version)
3:57 (US Single Remix)
Label Capitol, EMI
Writer(s) Duran Duran
Producer Colin Thurston
Duran Duran Official Video

"Rio" is the seventh single by Duran Duran, released by Capitol-EMI on 1 November 1982 (UK) and 2 April 1983 (US).

The song is the fourth, final, and title single lifted from the band's album Rio, and was edited for its release.

About the song[]

Development of this song had been in continual progression since the late 1970's. John Taylor said the track was based on the Andy Wickett song See Me Repeat Me, first recorded in 1979. The chorus, however, was inspired by the song Stevie’s Radio Station by the band TV Eye, fronted by Andy Wickett, who briefly had been the frontman for Duran Duran. Wickett had initially performed the song with Duran Duran. As it was a particular favourite of Nick and John, they continued to perform it for a while after he left, changing “Stevie” to “Rio”.

John: "I was obsessed with writing songs to begin a gig with. I’d say: “We’ve got to have an opener!” I’d been working on this groove with Roger Taylor, our drummer. It just wouldn’t go away. We played it at every soundcheck, every rehearsal, trying to make it work. And then we landed on this vibe and I knew we’d cracked it. That was Rio."[1]

In July of 1980, the track was played live at the Rum Runner club in Birmingham, under the title Amy a Go Go; with lyrics based on a waitress Simon noticed in a restaurant in Birmingham.

Simon: "I was in a restaurant in the middle of town, and I saw this waitress literally swanning across the floor, and that was how the lyric was born. And I just started writing on the back of a napkin about how she was, and that’s what turned into the verse."[2]

“I came up with the title Rio,” said Roger Taylor, “which I thought sort of said it all in kind of a Roxy Music cool sort of way.” Simon adds "And we’d been to America, and it had a lot of references to America in it.

The musical hook for "Rio", well-known among Duran Duran fans and synthesiser enthusiasts, was produced by an arpeggiator - a software tool which can play the individual notes in a chord in a chosen pattern. It was once rumored that the synthesiser used to achieve this was a Roland Jupiter-8. However, it has been said by Nick Rhodes to actually be a Roland Jupiter-4 using the random mode on the arpeggiator with a C minor chord.

Rhodes created the unusual sound at the beginning of the song by throwing several small metal rods onto the strings of a grand piano in the studio. The recorded sound was then reversed to create the intro. Nick said "the kind of experimentalism I got from being into Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage." The laughter on the track was that of Rhodes' girlfriend at the time.

John Taylor told the A.V.Club that for the song's complicated arrangement, which "shifts gears several times," the band were thinking along the lines of Sly & the Family Stone's 1969 tune, "I Wanna Take You Higher."

The song did not attract much notice in the United States upon its initial global release, but a slightly retouched version by remixer David Kershenbaum became a favourite among DJs who heard the EP Carnival. After the band's breakthrough hit "Hungry Like the Wolf" stormed MTV and scaled the American charts in December of 1982, radio programmers paid closer attention to the catchy melody and insistent, intricate bass line of "Rio", and Capitol Records reissued the single for the American market to great success.

Donald A. Guarisco of All Musig Guide said:

The lyrics have a playful, romantic feel as they paint an enticing portrait of the title character, a woman whose "cherry ice cream smile" is too lovely to resist: "Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand/Just like that river twisting through a dusty land." The music behind realizes this narrative with a surprising amount of ambition for a pop song: the chorus has a purely pop feel, thanks to its slowly ascending hooks, but the verses have a jazzy swing reminiscent of 1950s-era Sinatra and the final chorus wipes away the melody for a languid instrumental break before working in a staccato melodic bridge that builds the song back to a final energetic peak. Duran Duran's recording of "Rio" has a feel reminiscent of Roxy Music's work circa Flesh and Blood and Avalon as it welds quietly spacy washes of synthesizer to a hypnotically churning rhythm section anchored by John Taylor's fluid bass lines and also works in a saxophone solo from session man Andy Hamilton that sounds just like Andy Mackay's famous solos for Roxy Music. However, Simon Le Bon's tongue-in-cheek lounge lizard vocals and the stream-of-consciousness lyrics ensure the song has a distinctive feel all its own.

Music video[]

Rio video capture

"Ever since, people think we spend all our time riding around in silk suits, on yachts, getting wet." -- Nick Rhodes

The video for Rio almost came by accident. Simon, John, Nick and Roger had returned from touring Australia, Japan and America, and decided to take their girlfriends on holiday to Antigua together. At that point, the band had already released two singles from Rio, and were on a pause before a British tour. They rented four beach huts together, and each day they would gather together and have fun. Just a few days before they are meant to leave, their manager Paul Berrow telephoned their resort and says "Don't go anywhere. I'm coming out with Andy and a film crew, and we're gonna do a video!". [3]

Duran Duran remained on island of Antigua with director Russell Mulcahy in May of 1982 to film the vivid music video for "Rio", where the yacht scenes were filmed on the bay at English Harbour, the beach scenes at Miller's Beach, and the bit with the raft at Shirley Heights. They also filmed a video for the album track "Waiting for the "Night Boat" at the time, and both appeared on the Duran Duran video album released in 1983.

"Rio" featured iconic images of the band in Antony Price suits, singing and playing around on a yacht speeding over the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. Short segments show band members trying to live out their assorted daydreams, only to be teased, tormented, and made fools of by a body-painted vixen. The London model in the video is credited as "Reema", said to be member of the Models One agency, of half English, and half Lebanese origin, but her true name has been lost, even to the band and never kept in contact with her afterwards.

The style of the video was inspired by a book of photography by Cheyco Leidmann called Foxy Lady.


John: "I think he was Belgian? We really loved his coffee table book Foxy Lady, and we used that as the style, kind of a guide for that video. Yeah, very camp, very kitsch, but quite cool". [4]

Nick: "There were a lot of bands around at the time who decided to stay in the UK and complain and make a lot of moaning songs. That’s fine. I love a lot of moaning songs. The idea was just to make something funny and bright that worked with the song. And what’s wrong with a bit of aspiration?"

The yacht in the Duran Duran video is a 1936 wooden Fife yacht called Eilean. Regularly confused with Simon Le Bon's former yacht Drum, Eilean fell into a serious state of neglect after the video was shot. She was purchased by an Italian watch company, who completed a 2½ restoration and relaunched her in 2009.

Nick Rhodes was reportedly dreadfully seasick during the filming, and has often said "I hate boats unless they're tied up and you've having cocktails on them."

Song versions[]

  1. "Rio" - 5:33
  2. "Rio" (Night Version) - 6:39
  3. "Rio" (Part 1) - 5:10
  4. "Rio" (Part 2) - 5:28
  5. "Rio" (PT. II - Carnival Version) - 5:03
  6. "Rio" (US Edit) - 4:43
  7. "Rio" (Single Version) - 4:40
  8. "Rio" (US Album Remix) - 5:24
  9. "Rio" (US Single Version) - 4:34
  10. "Rio" (US Single Remix) - 3:58
  11. "Rio" (Promo Single Mix) - 4:58
  12. "Rio" (Recall 22 Dance Mix) - 5:03
  13. "Rio" (Recall 22 12" New Club Mix) - 7:47
  14. "Rio" (Recall 22 12" Dance Mix) - 9:22

In 1998 three new mixes by Recall 22 were released on promo in France.

Covers, samples, & media references[]

Cover versions of "Rio" have been recorded by Goldfinger, Bodyjar and Nip Drivers.

Nirvana performed the song "Rio" during the Rock in Rio show in Brazil, on 16 January 1993, and Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies played "Rio" live in Calgary on 1 April 2004.

The video for the Fountains of Wayne song "Mexican Wine" is partially based on the video for "Rio."

Parts of the song were sung by Santa Claus on the "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics" episode of South Park.

It has been referenced in the lyrics of the 2005 UK #1 hit by Arctic Monkeys, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor": "Your name isn't Rio, but I don't care for sand".

Track listing[]

7": EMI EMI 5346 (UK)

  1. "Rio" - 4:40
  2. "The Chauffeur" (Blue Silver) - 3:48

12": EMI 12 EMI 5346 (UK)

  1. "Rio" (Part 2) - 5:29
  2. "Rio" (Part 1) - 5:11
  3. "My Own Way" (Carnival Remix) - 4:34

7": Harvest B-5175 (US)

  1. "Rio (Edited Version) - 4:34
  2. "Hold Back the Rain" (Original LP Mix) - 3:59

7": Capitol B-5215 (US - March 1983 reissue)

  1. "Rio" (US Single Remix) - 3:57
  2. "Hold Back the Rain" (US Album Remix) - 6:32

CD: Part of the "Singles Box Set 1981-1985"

  1. "Rio" (Part 1) - 5:11
  2. "The Chauffeur" (Blue Silver) - 3:48
  3. "Rio" (Part 2) - 5:29
  4. "My Own Way" (Carnival Remix) - 4:34


Duran Duran are:

Also credited:


Moving on the floor now babe you're a bird of paradise
Cherry ice cream smile, I suppose it's very nice
With a step to your left and a flick to the right
You catch that mirror way out west
You know you're something special and you look like you're the best

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande

I've seen you on the beach and I've seen you on TV
Two, of a billion stars
It means so much to me
Like a birthday or a pretty view
But then I'm sure that you know it's just for you

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twisting through a dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande

Hey now, wooh, look at that
Did he really run you down?
At the end of the drive
The lawmen arrive
You make me feel alive, alive, alive
I'll take my chance
'Cause luck is on my side
I tell you something I know what you're thinking
I'm telling you something, I know what you're thinking

Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand
Just like that river twists across the dusty land
And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande

Her name is Rio, she don't need to understand
I might find her if I'm looking like I can
Oh Rio, Rio hear them shout across the land
From mountains in the North down to the Rio Grande


See also[]

Simon Le BonNick RhodesJohn TaylorRoger Taylor
Andy TaylorWarren CuccurulloSterling Campbell

Duran DuranRioSeven and the Ragged TigerArenaNotoriousBig ThingLibertyDuran Duran (The Wedding Album)Thank YouMedazzalandPop TrashAstronautRed Carpet MassacreAll You Need Is NowPaper GodsFuture PastDanse Macabre


CarnivalDecade: Greatest HitsGreatestNight Versions: The Essential Duran DuranStrange BehaviourSingles Box Set 1981-1985Singles Box Set 1986-1995From Mediterranea With Love


"Planet Earth" • "Careless Memories" • "Girls on Film" • "My Own Way" • "Hungry Like the Wolf" • "Save a Prayer" • "Rio"• "Is There Something I Should Know?" • "Union of the Snake" • "New Moon on Monday" • "The Reflex" • "The Wild Boys" • "A View to a Kill" • "Notorious" • "Skin Trade" • "Meet El Presidente" • "I Don't Want Your Love" • "All She Wants Is" • "Do You Believe in Shame?" • "Burning the Ground" • "Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" • "Serious" • "Ordinary World" • "Come Undone" • "Too Much Information" • "Perfect Day" • "White Lines" • "Out of My Mind" • "Electric Barbarella" • "Someone Else Not Me" • "(Reach Up for The) Sunrise" • "What Happens Tomorrow" • "Nice" • "Falling Down • "All You Need Is Now • "Girl Panic! • "Leave A Light On • "Pressure Off" • "Five Years" • "Invisible" • "More Joy" • "Anniversary" • "Tonight United" • "Give It All Up " • "Danse Macabre" • "Black Moonlight"

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