After leaving school at 16, he worked as a DJ at a local Birmingham club called "The Rum Runner". As the band coalesced into its final lineup in 1979-80, Duran Duran started playing at the club, and the owners ended up as the band's managers.
The band achieved rapid success, and Rhodes was a driving force throughout. He studied production techniques in the studio, eventually helping to mix several tracks on the Rio album, and was a co-producer on many of the band's later albums. He was also quick to recognize the potential of the music video, and pushed the band to put more effort into their early videos than seemed warranted at the time (before the advent of MTV).
His contributions to the band were sometimes underestimated by contemporaries and critics. Barely twenty when the band hit major stardom, he cultivated an androgynous and sometimes flamboyant image, wore heavy makeup, changed his hair color at whim, and spoke with a deep, deceptively lazy Birmingham drawl. As the band "grew up" in the public eye, however, his intelligence, determination, and incisive dry humour became well-known to fans and fellow musicians, and he has become known as the "keeper of the Duran flame." Indeed, he owns the rights to the "Duran Duran" name.
An unschooled musician, Rhodes loved experimenting with the sounds his analog synthesizers were capable of, but shied away from the "novelty" sounds of some other early synth bands. The distinctive warble of "Save A Prayer", the keyboard stabs of "A View To A Kill", and the elegant string sounds of "Come Undone" are some of his most recognizable contributions. His arrangements were rich, multi-layered, and unique, and although he has continued to explore the cutting edge of digital synthesizer technology, he has an enduring love for the analog synths of his early days, using them even on albums released in the 2000s.
In early 1983, he discovered the band Kajagoogoo and produced their debut album "White Feathers". He jokingly said he would never do so again because their hit single "Too Shy" was the song that bumped Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" out of the #1 spot on the UK charts.
He met Julie Anne Friedman (heiress to the Iowa, USA Younkers Department Store fortune) at a yacht party while on an American tour in 1983, and they were married August 18, 1984. They had one daughter together, and divorced in 1993.
Rhodes became enamored of the art world, making friends with Andy Warhol and The Factory crowd, and attending exhibitions worldwide. He once described a highlight of this period of his life as "buying a Picasso on my American Express card". At the end of 1984, he released his own book of art photographs called "Interference", many of which were displayed at the Hamilton Gallery in London.
With his bandmates Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor, Rhodes formed the side project Arcadia while Duran was on hiatus in 1985. The band had a moody, keyboard-heavy sound, far more atmospheric than Duran Duran or the hard rock of the other Duran splinter group of 1985, Power Station. The band scored hits with "Election Day", "Say The Word" and "Goodbye Is Forever". The band's only album So Red The Rose went multiplatinum, but the band never toured and was dissolved when Duran reunited in 1986.
Since the early nineties, Rhodes has been working on a massive side project called TV Mania with Duran bandmate Warren Cuccurullo. They have created a self-described "social junk culture triptych opera" composed of music, dialogue, samples, and "found sound". They hope to make it into a Broadway play. The music and packaging have reportedly been finished, but they have not found a label to release it.
Rhodes and Cuccurullo also wrote and produced three tracks for the Blondie reunion album in 1996; due to shifting label politics, the tracks were not used, but one called "Pop Trash Movie" was later recorded by Duran Duran for the 2000 album Pop Trash.
In 1999, he reunited with one of Duran Duran's early singers, Stephen Duffy, to create new music based on some of the earliest Duran music the two had written together; the result was the album Dark Circles, released under the name The Devils.
In 2002, Rhodes co-produced and played some keyboard tracks on an album by The Dandy Warhols.