Category Archives: 1980s

1980s Teen magazines and legitimizing Duran Duran

How many of us, back in the day, faithfully read any circa-1980s teen magazine with Duran Duran on the cover?  Each week, I’d accompany my mom to the grocery store. I’d go up and down the aisles with her until she’d reach the produce section. In our neighborhood grocery store, the magazine aisle served as a type of border to the apples and oranges. I’d vanish down the aisle, and take care to look at each magazine, reassuring myself that I hadn’t missed anything. Some weeks, I’d come up with a few magazines, having to choose (because there was no way my mom was paying for all of them), and others, I’d come out empty-handed. Many times, I’d have read the articles before I’d even left the store, but I still had those pin-ups to hang!

When I think back to that time period, I don’t remember the magazines mentioning much about the music. It was always the fashion, the lifestyle, the idea of being a celebrity, the idea of marrying a celebrity. Those magazines were selling a fantasy life (in many respects) to teens and preteens like me. Nothing ever went wrong for anyone, their lives were sunny and perfect in every way. Wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, happy, filthy rich, and way the heck out of my league. Even if a celebrity or band member had sadness in their lives, it was always written in a way that tied up the loose ends:  tears and despair, with a big red happy bow on the end. Then it was back to sunny, carefree days of champagne wishes and caviar dreams, right? Every article was written with a dreamy, “don’t you wish you could have him?” voice. I bought it all, hook, line, and sinker. But the music? The real reason for this band being in our record collection? Very little was ever really said.

I think about this today because one of my friends on Twitter (@guyfansofDuran, I’m talking to you, here) mentioned something today about Star Hits, a magazine that he characterized as being the kindest to the band, commenting that even that magazine never really reviewed the show, just included pictures of the guys. Not finding fault with fans, he was merely commenting on the state of the media itself back then, and he’s right.

What is sad is that I don’t think I ever really even thought about there being a problem with that during my trips to the grocery store. It never occurred to me as I was hanging up poster after poster of Roger on my wall, that someday, I would acknowledge that I was a part of the problem.

I suppose I was, in some sense.

I never demanded that those magazines review their shows. I never sent an angry letter, or muttered a cross word about their coverage, or lack thereof. I bought the magazines because they had pretty pictures and sometimes even had interviews. They didn’t talk about their music, they asked about John’s favorite car, the name of Nick’s cat, their moms, and their favorite vacation spots. I don’t think the magazines covered much of their musical career, so to speak, beyond asking whether or not they were working on a new album at the time.

I never even thought about reviews of their shows back then. I was on a relentless hunt for their posters, though. In 1983, 84 and most of 85, I didn’t think about going to their concerts beyond that first time when I asked my mom about going to see them at the LA Forum. That didn’t go over any better than a lead balloon in my house, so after that I didn’t even try. I did what I was able, which was collect their albums, buy my weight in teen magazines,  wallpaper my room with their posters, and wear whatever band t-shirts I could find and convince my parents to buy. It didn’t occur to me that I had any other choice, or that I should aspire to know more about their musical process.

It is difficult to sit here and write this blog, mostly because I want to be able to stand up and say that while sure, I noticed the band was good looking—I was in it purely for the music. It is somewhat embarrassing for me to admit that I wasn’t. I’d love to say I was “above all that silly teen stuff”.  Nope. Though it was their music that I couldn’t get out of my head after I first heard it on KROQ, I would be lying if I said that I never bothered with their appearance. You bet I did. I fawned over their posters, and sighed audibly when I would watch their videos.

Even more painful, here in retrospect, is the knowledge that the only reason those teen magazines didn’t go into a lot of detail about the music, or do reviews much beyond printing a limited number of performance pictures, is because their audience was primarily female. Young females, under 18. At the time though? I never thought twice about it.

I suppose I could say that it wasn’t my fault. I was a product of the times. I didn’t know I could be interested in the music (make no mistake, I was interested. My point here is that the magazines didn’t believe that girls could be) because magazines like Star Hits, Teen Beat and others taught me I needed to be more concerned with the fantasy-life, fairy-tale, starry-eyed dream aspect. I needed to worry more about how to find and marry one of those band members, and less about the artistry or technical merit of their music. I could say all of that. But is it true?

I am just not so sure it is that simple. Nor do I think it needs to be.

I wish that I’d known magazines other than Spin and Rolling Stone that would have covered more about the music back then. I have no doubt whatsoever that I would have read them and learned everything I could. That doesn’t mean though, that I’d have given away my Tiger Beat collection. As embarrassing as it might be to admit, I’m not sorry that I plastered my walls in Duran Duran. That was a legitimate part of my childhood (and honestly part of my adulthood). I have very happy memories of organizing those posters and giggling over the articles with my friends at school.

Part of fighting sexism is being proud of who you are as a person. I am as proud of being a female, teen Duranie as I am of being one-half of the Daily Duranie now that I am growing ever closer to the half-century mark. Consider that done.

I do have to wonder how it all might have been different had the band been taken seriously from the beginning. It took the David Kershenbaum mixes to get them any sort of regular radio play here in the US, and that happened in 1982. The pinups came a few months later here in the states. It was never only the music or only their looks that made them into the biggest band in the world. They had it all, combined with luck and timing.

Sure, the teen magazines never did much to legitimize them, musically speaking. I’m not sure that any critic would have taken the words to heart even if they had. However, those teen magazines opened up a whole new world to kids like me. I don’t know how long or how closely I would have followed Duran Duran had it not been for 16, Bop!, Teen Beat and many others I’ve since forgotten. They were my window into their world.

Yep I was definitely part of the problem.

I’ve decided that I’m not sorry.

-R

Show Me My Youth

Yesterday, I found myself in a coffee shop with my former student teacher and a couple of students of mine.  As we sat, chatting, I found myself commenting on the songs being played as they were mostly songs from the 80s.  One of my students asked me how come I knew all the songs.  She assumed that I was someone with a beyond normal amount of knowledge about music.  I explained that I am nothing special and probably a ton of people my age could name the songs, too.

This statement, of course, led to more questions about why that would be the case.  I explained that in my generation we did not the options to pick and choose our music very much.  We had radio, video shows like Friday Night Videos and MTV.  In order to hear our favorite songs, we just had to tune in to one of those and wait.  This meant that we listened to a lot of songs/artists that we did not necessarily like but it also meant that our generation has a more unified cultural experience surrounding music.  We learned all of the songs being played at the time because we were a captive audience.  I explained to the kids that while this sounds terrible, it really wasn’t.  The music gave us something in common–a frame of reference, something to always talk about.  Now, as an adult, I feel like it unites me with others around my age.

As I left the coffee shop, I started to think about what my music would have been like if I had the choices to pick and choose the way kids today do.  Some people could just hear music right away and decide if they like it within seconds.  I have decided that I’m just not that way.  I need to hear songs a bunch before I really know whether or not I like it.  Then, of course, once I do decide that a song is fabulous–watch out because I will listen to it non-stop.  One example of this was Depeche Mode.  When I bought one of their albums as part of one of those Columbia House deals to buy 7 cassettes for a cent or whatever it was, I listened to it once and thought it was weird.  Too weird to listen to.  Then, I had a friend who talked about how cool Depeche was so I gave it a few more listens.  Soon enough, some of the songs got in my head.

Really, Duran Duran was no different even as a kid.  I probably heard a song like Save a Prayer at least twenty times before I got it in my head and decided it was fabulous.  It even took awhile before I would call myself a Duranie.  I liked a lot of their songs before I knew that I loved the band.  The same thing is true with new music of theirs that comes out today.  Sometimes, the first few listens don’t do it for me.  Whenever I try to respond too quickly, it doesn’t go well.  I think Rhonda would probably say the same.  This is one of the mistakes we made with the Paper Gods album.  We wanted to review the songs so badly, we forgot that we need time.  Now, in thinking about that conversation with my students, I have to wonder if the need for multiple listens is common among my generation.

My original belief that I am glad that I grew up when I did stands, at least when it comes to music.  While I am sure that there are a lot of songs and videos that I wished that I could have skipped to get to the next Duran track, I’m glad that I couldn’t.  I believed that I found a lot more songs and bands that way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

-A

Palm Springs and Lost80s Live

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the weekend in Palm Springs. The Lost80s Live concert was at Agua Caliente Resort and Casino again, but this time, I decided to stay off property. My husband and I stayed at a tiny little boutique hotel close to downtown Palm Springs called La Maison. I’m giving them free advertising here because it is wonderful. It’s more of an inn and less of a hotel because it’s owned by a couple that treat their customers like actual guests in their home. There’s a pool, just twelve rooms, and it is QUIET (very unlike my home). In a word, it was heavenly, and I would suggest that anyone who is traveling to Palm Springs check it out.

On Saturday night, we had tickets to the Lost80s Live concert. Let me first acknowledge that any time I drive to Rancho Mirage, or better yet the Agua Caliente hotel, I immediately think about Duran Duran. So, when I drove past a billboard advertising the “Best Entertainment” in Palm Springs, it was no surprise to me that I recognized the people on stage in the background photo. (John, Simon & Dom) I didn’t grab a picture because I was driving and my co-pilot is not that quick. I’m glad I’m not the only one that recognizes what or who deserves the label of “best entertainment”.  After getting to the hotel, we went to will-call and grabbed our tickets. In full disclosure, I paid about $65 a seat, and as such, we were not in the front row. That said, we were still in orchestra, just off to the far left – or John’s side – of the stage.

(Will there ever be a time when I stop referring to the sides as “John’s” or “Dom’s”?  Probably not.)

Our seats were much better than I had even thought, even though we were back in row J and off to the extreme left as you look at the stage. The angle of the seats meant that our view was perfect. The people in front of us didn’t block, and there was AMPLE room for dancing without bothering the people behind us.  I have to say, out of the venues I’ve ever been to – this one has amazing seat layout. There just isn’t a bad seat in the place, even if you’re way up in third balcony.

The show started right on time with TransX taking the stage. The one thing I’ll say is that many of these “bands” really WERE bands back in the day, but nowadays, it’s only one person left playing with session musicians. The bands on the bill were primarily one-hit wonders, with a few bigger names thrown in. They weren’t really “KROQ” or alternative bands, a little more mainstream or top 40. TransX, The Flirts, Pretty Poison all played two songs each, and to be brutally honest – they were fine, just not that exciting to write about.

Now things were beginning to look up. Berlin took the stage next, and although I have seen Berlin about ten times over the years, Terri Nunn always puts on a good show. Tonight was no exception, although she forgot the words to (ha ha ha) “No More Words” about 2/3 of the way through. “I have been singing this song for THIRTY YEARS and I can’t remember the words!!” she said as she laughed. Her backup singer/guitarist kindly obliged, and guided her back on course. It wasn’t horrible, and a mistake easily forgiven.  Berlin was given the chance to do four songs: “No More Words”, “Take My Breath Away”, “Sex” and “Metro”.

The next band was one of the couple I was most excited to see, as  Cutting Crew took the stage.  I didn’t realize that I was going to need to serious research in order to blog about some of these groups – but in this case, I did.

I have never seen Cutting Crew live before, but I own Broadcast, and admittedly – I still know every word to every song on the album.  I have vague memories of playing the cassette over and over again in my (dating myself) Suzuki Samurai (yes, the vehicle that was known for tipping over back in the 80s. Mine never tipped, despite my best…and very stupid efforts…to drive it like a sports car. Someday I’m going to have to find pictures of it and post them here).  Apparently, Duran Duran was not the only band to grace the crappy, cheap stereo system I had for that poor vehicle!!  Once I knew for sure who it was on stage (I didn’t hear anyone announce them), I jumped up out of my seat. To the best of my knowledge at the time, the band onstage were all a part of Cutting Crew, but that was not the case.

Nick Van Eede, the lead singer, said that they’d come all the way from the UK for 15 minutes, but that he hadn’t yet worked out how many miles per minute that meant. They played one new song – “Till the Money Runs Out”, and a precious two songs off of Broadcast: “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “I Just Died in your Arms”.  It has been a long time since I was driven to tears at a show (I lie. It was in San Francisco by the band I’m normally writing about here!), but I was. Sometimes I forget how much these songs shaped me as a person, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set. I hope Cutting Crew comes back to the US with more of what they’ve been writing – I’ll be there in a heartbeat. They could have easily played ALL of Broadcast and I would have happily stood there.

Naked Eyes took the stage next, and for me, the performance just lagged. I don’t know if it’s because it truly wasn’t as energetic or if it was because I wanted more from Cutting Crew…but that’s the way it goes.

Something strange happened next, as two of the guys who had performed with Cutting Crew came back on stage. I was very confused, because I didn’t know who they were – and I actually had hoped that maybe they’d sent Cutting Crew back out for more (keep dreaming, right?) Nope. This was Nick Feldman (the bassist) from Wang Chung, and Gareth Moulton, who is the guitarist (and a fine one at that) from Cutting Crew – moonlighting as the other half of Wang Chung. It’s getting to the point where I feel like a primer is needed before I go to these sorts of shows! They were truly the surprise of the night for me because they were awesome!  Whatever was lacking in certain artists and bands before, these guys made up for it in spades. They just had a spark that was contagious, and the entire audience was up on their feet. I loved their short set, as they treated us to “Dance Hall Days”, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, and “Let’s Go”.  Such fun.

The last band to take the stage was Tony Hadley, whom I reviewed yesterday.  The show was a lot of fun, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed I went. Going to see these bands reminds me of just how much a part of my heart belongs to music. Yeah, some of it is schmaltzy and uncool – definitely not as edgy as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses – but they are songs that I’ve attached to certain memories, and it was fun to revisit part of my past that didn’t necessarily include Duran Duran for a little while that night. Lost80s Live was a lot of fun, if you have the opportunity, I recommend the show!

-R

 

 

Today in Duran History – The Spit

Betcha think this blog is gonna be about White Lines….

WRONG!

On today’s date in 1981, Duran Duran played at The Spit on Long Island. That’s right folks, they played at what was a club named The Spit.  That’s friendly and fun for the very first show played in the US, isn’t?  This is was the band’s first visit to North America, where they thought they’d be IN New York City rather than driving away from it, and this was also the trip where John announced that they should be on the “expwee” (expwy = expressway) Yep, here in the US we devise the signs so that way visitors….and the occasional US resident…get lost. Welcome to America!!!

And to think that one show…at The Spit…started all that we know here in the states from this band.

-R

 

Today in Duran History – MTV and East Rutherford, NJ.

On today’s date in 1985, Power Station played the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Funny aside about this show: during the encore, a man shows up on stage, sweeping. John goes over to confront the man and the guy turns to the audience and grins.  The “sweeper” is none other than Nick Rhodes!  He decides to “play” the encore with the band while jamming on his…you guessed it….broom.  There is also a rather well-known rumor that Simon and Roger also attended this show, thus creating a temporary five-some again, but this rumor is false.  (Thanks to Duran Duran’s wiki for this tidbit!)

ALSO on on this date in 2003, Duran Duran FINALLY received the MTV Lifetime Achievement award.  While I still think this felt very “thrown together at the very last second”…. we’ll take it, and we’ll celebrate!  Let’s watch it happen again, shall we??

-R

 

 

Today in Duran History – Power Station in Philadelphia and Girl Panic in Durham

On today’s date in 1985, Power Station played at Spectrum in Philadelphia. 

Also on this date, but in the year 2012, Duran Duran played at the Durham Performing Arts Center in none other than Durham, North Carolina!  This, my friends…was a great show, and the night began with a fantastic meet up at the West End Wine Bar just a couple of blocks away from DPAC in Durham.  Approximately 100 Duran fans came to the meet-up before the show and began the party with Stolen Leopards (a Duran-inspired drink created for that evening by the bar), mingling, and even a little Duran in the background and on TV screens over the bar as an appetizer for what was to come later.  It was a great time, and we continue to thank Karen Booth and Kim Buchanan for helping us organize and plan such a great meet-up.  Let’s do it again!!!  -R

Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC
Pre-show meet-up Durham NC

 

 

Today in Duran History – Is There Something I Should Know?

Wanna feel old for a second?  Today is Andy Taylor’s son’s birthday.  Lovingly referred to by many as A2 in the community, today is his 30th birthday.  That’s right friends…THIRTY. I announced that he apparently miscounted the years and went about my day, because that “I’m 30” business is just nonsense.  Between that and Roger posting a lovely photo of VERY GROWN Elliot and Ellea to his Facebook yesterday, I’m just done.  

Back to business….

On today’s date in 1983, American Top 40 featured my very favorite Duran Duran song, Is There Something I Should Know at #7 on their weekly countdown.  Only #7???  🙂

Here’s the video.  Today hasn’t started off so great here, so I’m just going to take the opportunity to try and reset Wednesday – my least favorite day of the week.  Cheers!  -R

 

 

 

Today in Duran History – Top of the Pops

On today’s date in 1982, Top of the Pops aired the video for Save A Prayer. On this date, Save A Prayer entered their video countdown at #27. Think back, how many of you UK fans saw this particular show?

To refresh your memories, here’s the video from the show!

Additionally, on this date in 2012, a couple of people you might know saw Duran Duran play in Atlanta at Chastain Park.

Daily Duranie Atlanta 2012253924_10151139979077733_1623041373_nBy far, this show goes down on record as being the steamiest show I’ve attended. Chastain Park is a beautiful outdoor venue in a very unique setting. The park is basically in the middle of a neighborhood and the venue is dug down into the ground (I’m sure that helps with the noise). On this particular date, it had rained quite a bit throughout the day, and being that it was summer, it was quite warm and very humid. So, when one entered the venue that night, you could see the “fog” (seriously, it was steam) settling into the venue like a steam pit. Water dripped from the roof of the venue down the necks and backs of the people in the first several rows. No, my friends, it was not very “refreshing”…but as we rocked out with the band that night, we forgot all about the steam and heat! Good times! -R

 

 

Today in Duran History – Cadiz, Spain

On today’s date in 1989, Duran Duran played at the Puerto Reel festival in Cadiz, Spain.  This was one of several festivals that the band played during this summer.

Not that I would ever dare suggest one buy a bootleg, but in my search for information regarding this appearance, I saw that there is actually a bootleg of this gig.  Live and learn!

-R