The 1980s rock band Arcadia published a few encrypted messages on their record covers and in a sheet music book. The solutions are not known to me.

My friend Elonka Dunin

…, who is fan of the 1980s rock band Duran Duran has made me aware of an encrypted message I had never heard of.


The message on the cover

In 1985, the Duran Duran-spinoff group Arcadia published an album titled “So Red the Rose”, best known for its hit single “Election Day”. In the Wikipedia entry of this record we read the following:

Some versions of the album and related singles contained a numeric code in their artwork, this code allocated random numbers to letters. The numbers on the cover say “So Red the Rose” and then the surnames of the band members being “Rhodes, Le Bon and Taylor (as in Roger Taylor)”.

When I googled for the cover of “So Red The Rose”, I found the following:

As can be seen, 18 two-digit numbers are written on the black frame around the picture of a face. Here’s a transcription:

02 16 12 38 44 50 | 50 30 44 22 24 52 | 38 24 00 18 44 42

The same numbers are present on the cover of the single “Election Day”:

Now I ask myself if the explanation on Wikipedia is correct. 18 letters do not fit with the cleartext “So Red the Rose” or “Rhodes, Le Bon and Taylor”. Can a reader find out what the message really means?


The messages in the sheet music book

Via Google I also found a few scans from a sheet music book that was published as an add-on to the record. On the cover the following three numbers can be read:

And then the sheet music book contains a double page with the following number sequences:

I assume that this is an encrypted message. Can a reader break it?

Further reading: A code in the Hollywood movie “Wanted”


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Kommentare (5)

  1. #1 cimddwc
    24. Januar 2020

    The three 6-number sequences fit the three names pretty well: Taylor, Rhodes, Le Bon – with o=44, r=50, space in Le Bon=00, etc.

  2. #2 Gerry
    24. Januar 2020

    If you fill TAYLOR RHODES LE BON into the 6-6-6 numbers, you see an error at LE BON, as in the first two names 44 stands for “O”, and not 14 (as in the third). This leads to a scheme strting with A = 16, B=18 and so on until S = 52, T = 02, U = 04 and so o until Z = 14. 00 is a blank.
    02 50 38 equals TRL, the initials of the band members.

  3. #3 Gerry
    24. Januar 2020

    There must be more errors or deviations from the scheme, as the number matrix leads to useful words and gibberish:

    I see “the promise” and “Orwell”, so maybe there are deviations from the linear code or another cipher.

  4. #4 Gerd
    25. Januar 2020

    Compairing the pictures above, the error 14 vs 44 in Le Bon is only in the second one, “Election Day”. On “So Red The Rose” from which Klaus took the transscription has Le Bon with 44.

  5. #5 cimddwc
    25. Januar 2020

    The song “The Promise” ends with the line “Heaven’s eyes will never dry” (according to, which is partially jumbled in there. Remains the question of how much of the rest is another cipher, sloppiness, arbitrary parts from other songs, meaningless, the book’s publisher misreading bad handwriting, or whatever…