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"Save a Prayer" is the sixth single by Duran Duran, released on 9 August 1982.

The song was the third single from the band's second album Rio. It became Duran Duran's biggest hit to date (at the time) in the UK Singles Chart, reaching #2, held out of the top spot by Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". The track is opened by a somewhat eerie synthesizer riff which plays in the background throughout the song. Cover art for the single features a shadow being.

It was not originally issued as a single in the United States, although the video was very popular on MTV. However, a special US Single version with the live version from the Arena album on the flip side was released in January 1985. The single reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As well as being a commercial success, the song has received critical acclaim. Allmusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco described the song in a retrospective review, as being "a lilting epic". He wrote: "The music maintains the stormily romantic quality of the lyric by combining meditative verses with an aching chorus that swells and ebbs in a way that perfectly captures the song's heartbreak."[1]



  • 1 Music video
  • 2 B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes
    • 2.1 Complete list of mixes
  • 3 Chart positions (1982)
  • 4 Live version
  • 5 Track listing
    • 5.1 7": EMI / EMI 5327 (UK)
    • 5.2 12": EMI / 12 EMI 5327 (UK)
  • 6 Other appearances
  • 7 Personnel
  • 8 Cover Versions
  • 9 Sampling
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links

Music video[edit][]

The video was filmed by director Russell Mulcahy among the jungles, beaches, and temples of Sri Lanka in April, 1982. Scenes were filmed atop the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, among the ruins of a Buddhist temple at Polonnaruwa and the island's southern coastline.

The shoot was a difficult but memorable experience for the band. Simon Le Bon and Roger and John Taylor went ahead to the location while Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes were in London finishing mixes for the 'Rio' album and B sides.[2] They had almost no time after that was done to change clothes before catching their flight, and Rhodes wore the same leather jacket and trousers he had been wearing against the London chill.[2][3]

When they arrived in Colombo, it was very hot, and Rhodes was uncomfortable in his clothing. Taylor reassured him they would be in their hotel soon and could relax. The driver who met them in a flatbed truckinformed them it would be several hours' driving time to Kandy in the centre of the country, where the band were lodged. Along the way they were struck by the poverty they witnessed.[2][3]

During the filming of the scene where the band members were riding elephants, a female elephant made a strange sound. One of the crew had recorded it, and found it funny enough to play back. It turned out to be the elephant's mating call, which led the elephant carrying Roger Taylor to charge downhill and attempt to mount the female. "It was funny as hell, but quite hairy for a moment", says Rhodes.[3]

While perched on a branch over a lagoon and miming playing his guitar, an intoxicated Andy Taylor fell into the water. He accidentally imbibed some, and had to be hospitalized during the band's subsequent Australian tour due to a tropical virus he contracted at that time. The band members all initially refused to do the scene where an elephant sprays water from its trunk onto one of them due to its homoeroticovertones; they finally settled on John Taylor since he was the band's pinup boy. He would be teased about it for years afterwards.[2] "I didn't care," he wrote in 2012. "I loved it. It is one of my most treasured memories."[4]

Andy Taylor recalls in his memoirs that the shooting at the temple was very tense, since the country was on the verge of civil war and the temple's monks were impatiently waiting for their leader to arrive and address a large political gathering. The band members wore bare feet in deference to the temple's religious importance, frequently scorching themselves on the bare rock they were standing on. During some takes, the band members yelled "Fuck you Russell!" instead of mouthing the lyrics. For one scene, Le Bon and Rhodes were dropped off from a helicopter that could not itself land on the monument.[3]

A live version of the song was released in 1984. That night, Simon LeBon dedicated it to Marvin Gaye, who had been fatally shot the previous day. The video was taken from Duran Duran's Oakland, Californiaconcerts that were filmed for the Arena (An Absurd Notion).

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes[edit][]

The UK release of "Save a Prayer" was backed with a remix of "Hold Back the Rain".

Complete list of mixes[edit][]

  1. "Save a Prayer" – 5:34
  2. "Save a Prayer [Single Version]" – 5:24
  3. "Save a Prayer [Video Version]" – 6:03
  4. "Save a Prayer [Australian Promo Edit]" – 4:10
  5. "Save a Prayer [Brazilian Edit]" – 4:04
  6. "Save a Prayer [US Single version]" – 3:44
  7. "Save a Prayer [Special Edited version]" – 3:55
  8. "Save a Prayer [Japanese Single version]" – 4:00

Chart positions (1982)[edit][]

Chart Peak


UK Singles Chart 2
Irish Singles Chart 2
Australian Singles Chart 56
Billboard Hot 100 (1985) 16

Live version[edit][]

"Save a Prayer (US Single Version)"
Single by Duran Duran
B-side "Save a Prayer (From the Arena)"
Released January 1985
Recorded AIR Studios, London 1982
Genre Dance, new wave
Length 03:44
Label EMI
Writer(s) Duran Duran
Producer(s) Duran Duran
Duran Duran singles chronology
The Wild Boys


Save a Prayer (US Single Version)


A View to a Kill


"Save a Prayer (Live)", an edit from the live album Arena, was released as b-side of the single "Save a Prayer" (US Single Version) in the United States in January 1985. The single peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending 16 March 1985.

The release was accompanied by a new live video, drawn from footage shot in 1984 for the concert film Arena.

Track listing[edit][]

7": EMI / EMI 5327 (UK)[edit][]

  1. "Save a Prayer" – 5:25
  2. "Hold Back The Rain (Remix)" – 3:58

12": EMI / 12 EMI 5327 (UK)[edit][]

  1. "Save a Prayer" – 5:25
  2. "Hold Back The Rain (Remix)" [extended] – 7:05

Other appearances[edit][]

  • 1984 Arena
  • 1987 The Secret Policeman's Third Ball
  • 1987 Now Smash Hits
  • 1989 Decade: Greatest Hits
  • 1993 "Ordinary World" single
  • 1998 Greatest
  • 1999 Now That's What I Call Music!: 1982
  • 2001 Rio (reissue)
  • 2003 Singles Box Set 1981-1985
  • 2004 Singles Box Set 1986-1995
  • 2005 Live from London
  • 2009 Rio (2CD Collector's Edition)
  • 2009 Live at Hammersmith '82!


Duran Duran:

  • Simon Le Bon – lead vocals
  • Nick Rhodes – keyboards, backing vocals
  • John Taylor – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Roger Taylor – drums
  • Andy Taylor – guitar, backing vocals

Also credited:

  • Colin Thurston – producer and engineer

Cover Versions[edit][]

  • In 2014, singer-songwriter David Mead (musician) released a cover version of the song on the multi-artist compilation album Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion[5]


  • The song is sampled throughout on Cosmic Belt's single "Do It".[6]