Category Archives: Andy Taylor

Happy Birthday Andy!

Could it be true?!  Am I really doing another birthday post?  In today’s case, I get to wish Andy Taylor a wonderfully happy birthday!  Now, of course, a simple happy birthday isn’t good enough.  Nope, an occasion such as this deserves a little celebration!  How can I celebrate Andy’s birthday?  That’s easy.  I need to commemorate Andy’s birth by enjoying some of my favorite clips/moments/songs of his. 

From Early Duran:

From Recent Duran:

How about a little Power Station?


It may be Andy’s birthday but watching all of these videos has reminded me about what gifts Andy has brought to all of us over the years.  Happy Birthday Andy!  I hope it is the best one ever!


On today’s date in 1986, Notorious was released.

I had difficulty coming up with a blog topic day (as a quick aside – happy birthday to my husband!!!), so I shot a note to Amanda for help.  She responded with a couple of ideas, and as I glanced at them I realized that I have almost no memory of Notorious. The only thing I can tell you is that I was sitting in the back of my parents car on the way up to Oak Glen, California to pick apples when I first heard the song, Notorious on the radio. Picking apples was one of my favorite “Autumn” activities as a child, and I looked forward to our yearly trip to the small town for apples, pies and a picnic under the many oak trees. I remember hearing the very first note and knowing it was Duran Duran, without a doubt. I didn’t know an album was in the process of being made, and I was very surprised to hear them. I don’t remember if I even knew that Andy and Roger had left the band, to be honest, but I think that by this time I must have known. And…that’s about all I’ve got for a memory of that time.

What is interesting in hindsight is how quickly I knew the song was indeed Duran Duran.  It was instantaneous, almost like Pavlov’s bell. As soon as I heard it, I knew who it was and I could feel the excitement build within, like a glass pitcher being filled with water to the very top. Back then, I relied heavily on the radio for all of my Duran news – while maybe many of you were involved in the fan club or had other ways of getting the latest intel from the group – I wasn’t quite that connected. In many ways, I was incredibly far removed from the world of Duran Duran. I probably didn’t hear information until it was nearly stale, and somehow – I miss that complete ignorance at times. You know what they say? Ignorance is bliss.  Sometimes, I still feel that way.

I don’t think I even recognized that there was somebody else on drums when I heard the music for the first time. I have a funny way of ignoring the obvious if my psyche needs – and for me the absence of a Mr. Roger Taylor would have been pretty traumatic, so I am almost sure I didn’t allow myself to even come to terms with that little notion until much, much later.  Of course, this was also the album that brought Warren Cuccurullo to the band. The funk that can be found on this album wasn’t something I really appreciated much until many years later (although I did love the song Notorious from day one), but it was an odd time.

I guess that for me, Notorious marked a brand new beginning. It put an exclamation point on the idea that Duran Duran would continue on. I had to get used to the idea of three. Three remaining original band members. I mourned the loss of Roger and Andy. I wondered why they left, I wondered if I would ever grow to appreciate the new guys, and mostly I wondered if the band would ever be the same.


Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Chapters 15 through Epilogue)

We are concluding our discussion of Andy’s book today, so if you have anything to say about Andy, his history in Duran Duran and this book – let your comments fly!

Chapter Fifteen

This is the chapter we’ve all been waiting for – hearing how the band got back together after so many years.  It begins with Andy finally speaking with Simon again, which seemed to open the door for more communication between the other members.  It’s funny to me that while they really couldn’t speak as they broke up, they were able to speak about getting back together as a group.  What’s more, it seems clear, at least through Andy’s writing, that very little was actually said regarding their breakup in the 80’s.  Have these boys learned nothing?!?  (Obviously and sadly, no.)  Andy writes of their first real meeting, and how much of a transformation there was in John.  On one hand, Andy’s description seems parental – seeing how much a child or loved one had changed; on the other, Andy mentions that John couldn’t remember many of the things that happened during the time he was in the band.  I got the feeling that in writing this, Andy was surmising that for John – this was a chance at a complete “do-over”.

I have to say that I had always believed (erroneously…and prior to reading the book the first time) that Andy had wanted the reunion purely to tour and make money.  That was just always my own impression of matters, but Andy explains that he and Nick wanted more out of the reunion than just a flash-from-the-past tour, and of course anyone who has been paying attention throughout the book realizes that there are precious few things that Andy feels he and Nick truly agree upon, and this is indeed one. I was shocked, and truthfully disappointed, to read that John hadn’t really wanted to even enter the studio.  He just wanted the tour, according to Andy.  It was Andy in fact who convinced John that recording was necessary if for no other reason than to familiarize themselves with one another again, and I have to admit, that surprised me. It still surprises me, in fact.

Not at all shocking to anyone who has been a fan, the head-butting over who has ultimate control started immediately, but Andy describes it as being between John and Nick.  Again, that’s not something I would have imagined on my own – but then we’ve never really known a sober John in Duran Duran, up until this point.  As most know, the band did have monetary problems during the recording of Astronaut, and as unfair and completely selfish as this sounds – I’m glad they did.  Who really KNOWS how long we would have gone without seeing these five guys on stage together again?  So yes, while I pity that Simon wasn’t able to get money out of the ATM on that fateful day with Andy, secretly (well, that ship has now sailed, hasn’t it??) I am kind of thankful.  They were able to see just how “with them” the fans really stayed, and I think that gave them the confidence they needed to keep pushing onward, as well.

Chapter Sixteen

So the band begins/continues the sold-out US tour that many of us attended. As I continued on in this book, I realized that at some point, we would come to the time when my own history would intersect with that of the band.  Yes, I was a fan well-before this time, but the lions share of the shows I’ve attended and things I’ve done with regard to the band have taken place since 2003. Andy mentions several of the shows that I attended during the 78-03 tour, and I have to say that reading about those shows in print gives me the strangest sensation of deja-vu, it’s really kind of bizarre and energizing all at the same time.  I know the story of the band from here, but I don’t know Andy’s story.  It’s reading a completely different point of view of the same events, and I have to say that I love it.  It’s not just Duran’s story at this point – it’s mine (and likely yours) as well.

Andy talks about the decision to sign with Sony over Universal (UK).  I’m not really very-well versed on the business-end of the music industry.  I know very little – enough to get myself into a great deal of trouble and not much else, I suppose.  It never occurred to me that the band might prefer to sign with a UK label – but of course now in hindsight  I can ascertain the cultural differences that would make working with a US-based company and all of the US expectations for musical direction very difficult for a UK band, even a UK band that had been around for nearly 30 years that should have had their own branding by now – but naturally, a large corporation like Sony felt they could do even better.  Do you hear sarcasm there???

Strife between various band members continued.  Andy still thinks Nick is head of the Lyric Police – and according to Andy, Nick narrowly avoided actually saying he’d write the lyrics himself.  This, my fellow readers, is not the least bit surprising to me, and in some ways, I feel as though Andy might be a little too harsh on Nick here.  We know that Nick wrote lyrics on the Medazzaland album, and I am aware from other reading I’ve done that Simon had trouble writing for Pop Trash – his depression about where the band was headed made it difficult for him to write.  I’ve heard Nick comment about lyrics on a few of the Astronaut songs that never made the album as well (Salt in the Rainbow and Beautiful Colours comes to mind) – and he’s said that he believes Simon will eventually get those lyrics right. So, it’s not surprising that Nick felt that he could step into that role (and has done so since).  I guess I would like to believe that this wasn’t so much about control as it was about working as a team.  Of course, I believe in sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, too.  Once again, everyone’s truth is different.

Andy talks a little about the Duran partnership as well.  I remember seeing “Duran Duran New Partnership” on the bottom of albums and things during this time, and the words always made me smile.  The trouble was, I never gave much thought to how the money was divided.   I just wanted the band together again.  In this new partnership, Andy and Roger were given less of a percentage than the rest of the band, and while I would LOVE to comment on this, to be fair – it’s really none of my business. The only thing I feel comfortable in saying is that, in my opinion as a fan, it took ALL FIVE of them to make the Duran Duran that I went to see at shows in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

With all of the excitement the fans had during this period, Andy seemed to get more depressed.  His father was fighting cancer, and at one point, Andy admits to feeling as though he was nearing a nervous breakdown.  He speaks of feeling “twinges of agoraphobia” (page 288), and missing part of the US tour as a result of a type of panic attack – this was during the time of his “flu”, but there were other signs that all was not well.  The sales of Astronaut were not what Andy was hoping (it sold around a million copies worldwide); he talks about the lack of “good advice” from their recently appointed New York management, his discomfort with the overexposure of the band, and he even comments that “some band members thought we were U2 and attempted to emulate them.” (Page 288)  To be perfectly fair, being a fan is very much like being on the outside looking in.  I have no idea what went on behind closed doors, but what strikes me is that all this time – while fans were overjoyed at the idea of the band being back together, already cracks were formed in the foundation that kept the house of Duran stable.  I suppose the reality is that the cracks were never repaired from the first go-round.  Naturally Andy talks about the fact that his father’s cancer as well as the deaths of Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson didn’t help – I’m sure at the time he may not have even realized the toll all of this took, we humans are funny that way – but in hindsight it typically becomes clear.  He ends the chapter on such an incredibly down note, I just have difficulty in seeing how the band could not have possibly seen what was going on with him.  “I went back onstage with Duran Duran in Detroit.  I wore my dark sunglasses on stage as normal, and after the show I received an e-mail from a fan who had seen the tears rolling down my cheeks under the shades.  Duran Duran later played a gig at Boston University while I was back in England for the funeral, and Simon dedicated his rendition of “Ordinary World” on stage to “absent friends!” (Page 291)  It’s not that Simon dedicated the song, I believe Andy is even commenting on something a little different here.  He’s not incredulous (given the exclamation point) that Simon thought to dedicate the song to “absent friends” – it’s that Simon didn’t even mention Andy or his father. Sure, it’s very possible that Simon didn’t want to spread Andy’s grief or speak of personal news – I am certain – but I also believe that Andy felt that the band were close enough to share one another’s pain.  I think the depression that Andy was fighting helps paint this in the worst possible light in Andy’s mind and heart, and the pain resonates.

Chapter Seventeen

So we all know what happens in this chapter.  The end result repeats itself.  When this book first came out, I was greedily absorbing this chapter, trying to ascertain what one single event made the choice for Andy, or whether it was the band or Andy who truly was at fault.  One thing the years have done for me though, is made me see that the details truly do not matter.  All someone needs to do is read this book and understand that Andy simply was not happy.  It wouldn’t have made a single bit of difference if Andy had been granted that VISA, because I think the end was already completely inevitable.  That doesn’t mean I necessarily put blame on Andy OR the band – I just think the time had come.  “We played a lot of gigs and we made some good money that summer, but at times I felt as if we were just treading water after almost twenty-five years together. the old creative frictions within the band were still there, and it struck me that we’d never actually sat down together to lay to rest the problems and arguments that we’d had with each other for various reasons the first time around.” (Page 295)  I know I cannot be the only fan out there that wonders how it was that the band could do all of the interviews and promo that they did surrounding the reunion, and say over and over how they spent time while recording Astronaut literally hashing out everything – and yet have a band member say that they never sorted anything out.  I suppose it’s just a little sexist of me to say “How typically male of them!”  Honestly!!!

Sure, there’s Reportage – and every fan wants to hear the songs and know that body of work.  They are not alone – I’d love to hear it myself.  I’ve been told it’s “out there”, but to me that is some sort of mysterious statement that is somewhat akin to “I’ve heard the album, I’m in the know, and I’m friends with the right people.”  Well my friends – I am not.  I have never heard a single song, I am most CLEARLY not in the know, and I definitely am not friends with the right people.  Wait.  That sounded wrong somewhere… Anyway, this was to be the second album with Sony, and it was supposed to be an edgy-alternative record where they went back to their roots.  How many times did we hear that talking point while they were recording Reportage??  So much that I have it permanently memorized and I’m not even in the damn band.  But as we all know, things happen, and somehow, we end up with Red Carpet Massacre instead.  I know Amanda will want to talk about Andy’s assertions that John somehow wanted to act as producer on the record, and that Nick had lost patience with Simon who was having trouble writing and so forth.  My take is just that I think from a creative standpoint, they needed a referee of sorts during this period, and they are not the first band to benefit from such a thing. (they are called PRODUCERS, as it turns out!)  While I truly believe that John has the skill to produce, I would imagine it is a far different thing to produce a band like Duran Duran, if in fact that is what he was trying to do.  I don’t know, I wasn’t there.  John himself talks about the guys as four (five) hard-headed stubborn people, and so I can imagine that trying to herd them in the same creative direction can be difficult.  I wouldn’t want the job, that is for sure.

I don’t know what to say about Timbaland that I haven’t already said, except that for me personally – he was truly the final nail in what was the original five member Duran Duran’s coffin.  What wasn’t already dead, he killed off – and yes I mean that – even though I highly doubt he would even know that the band originally had five members or what instruments needed to appear on the album.  That wasn’t his worry or his plan, and I get that.  Harsh?  Absolutely, and I stand by my comments 150%.  However, I also believe you’ve got to go through a whole lot of bad to get to the good sometimes.

One of my favorite quotes in this entire book is what ends this chapter, and it holds completely true even four years after it’s original printing, “I guess that what she was trying to say was Simon and Nick were always very good at delivering roses and chocolate, but that I was the steak and the beer in Duran Duran.” (Page 312) If I could hug the person who said that to Andy – I would, because it is the perfect description of why I love(d) this band.


Thankfully, Andy finally answers the question he posed at the beginning of the book.  “Was it all worth it?”

“The answer is a resounding yes….Maybe if there had been fewer lows there wouldn’t have been so many highs, so you learn to take the rough with the smooth.  I can honestly say that even if I had to do it all over again I don’t think I would change a thing.” (Page 314)

I have to say that throughout the reading of this book, I have questioned whether or not Andy really WOULD do it all again.  I think that while he says he is completely back to normal – and I have no reason to question that – sometimes I wonder whether or not his depression at the time he went through some of the things he went through may have colored his perception a bit.  There are truly moments in the book that are well prior to his diagnosis in 2007 that I can see the depression already taking hold, even if the moments are fleeting.  I believe that his mother leaving him had a profound effect on the way Andy has continued to conduct his life – he never seems to ever say a proper good-bye.  Andy questions why the band never sat down to sort things out properly, and yet I wonder as an outsider why HE didn’t start the conversation himself.  Hindsight, right?

Overall, I agree with many of you who have taken to reminding me that there are many funny parts of this book. I smiled right along with you, rest assured.  I have always appreciated the way that Andy chooses not to sugar-coat things.  I myself have been accused of the same – it’s a difficult road to walk at times.  I also appreciate that this book is about Andy’s life in Duran Duran.  It’s not Andy coming to terms with himself nearly as much as it was probably cathartic for him to sort out how he felt about Duran Duran.  I know many, many fans out there felt that the book was far too negative and that Andy was far too harsh on the rest of the band.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know for certain.  I can only offer a statement that my son is learning in his 8th grade literature class, and that is “The Truth is not the same for Everyone.”

I hope you enjoyed going back through the book with me, and that none of you minded that I chose not to make obvious parallels between this book and John’s book, which is due to be released tomorrow here in the states.  I hope that we can continue to discuss the books on their own merit and not try to contradict one over the other.  To do so cheapens the work product that both John and Andy rightfully earned, and that is simply not our goal. That said, Amanda will begin directing the discussion for that book next Monday!


Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Chapters 12-14)

Continuing with our discussion, we will focus on chapters twelve through fourteen of Wild Boy today.

Chapter Twelve

R: Live Aid.  I don’t know how many fans had any kind of a notion that this performance would the the last for the original five band members until 2003, but that tidbit of knowledge in hindsight changes everything for me personally.  Live Aid was a epic event, certainly.  It is a memory that for those of us who were in or nearing our teens, really kind of sums up the 80’s.  I’ll bet for many, it very nearly carries on the same sort of ideals as other life-altering events.  It is a subject that is spoken of with regularity on message boards, Twitter and Facebook – and nearly every time it comes up, people remember where they were, what they were doing, and if they watched. Live Aid is synonymous with the band, and while sure – we remember how Simon sounded, when I think back – I just try to remember what the band looked like that day (I have very little memory of it without watching YouTube).  Did they engage with one another on stage?  Were there really signs of fracture?  This is indeed the event that Andy chooses to open the book with, and now we’ve come full circle.

There is a general theme with this section of the book, and that is Andy is trying to find a way out.  It would seem that Andy desperately wanted to leave Duran Duran, but in order to walk away properly – he needed to feel as though there were something waiting for him on the other side.  He speaks of Power Station in this regard.  “The Power Station was still going to be my bridge out of the madness, with or without Robert. One thing I was determined to do was to make a clean break from the Berrows, who I remained unhappy with over the large slice of our earnings that they were entitled to under the terms of our contract with them.” (Page 210) What is curious to me is that by his own writing, it seems that Andy doesn’t think the madness would follow him. I am not a rock star and I don’t know what it is like to be in a successful rock band, but I would imagine that many of the problems Andy continues to see would exist no matter where he was or whom he was playing with, and I think that becomes increasingly apparent as we head towards the end of this book.

A:  I, too, took notice about Andy’s desire to get out.  I thought his reasoning to want to get out from underneath the Berrows was interesting.  He mentioned how the managers had too big of a cut and, more than that, they were pushing too many shows, appearances, interviews, and videos.  I can’t, obviously, comment on whether or not this is true since I wasn’t there but I did want to point out how much managers matter when it comes to the day-to-day decisions regarding the band and their activities.  Also, interesting to me, was that John supposedly supported this idea but didn’t seek legal assistance to break the contract when Andy did.  We know that the rest of the band did eventually separate from the Berrows.  I’m curious as to what led to that.  

R:  One point on Live Aid that I find incredibly poignant and telling is that Andy talks about going to the show that day in the limo as though they were headed to a funeral – it was that quiet between the five of them, yet there was a party atmosphere taking place around them.  Andy brings up Simon’s voice again, which I suppose that yes – you can’t think about Live Aid without really thinking about Simon – it was one hell of a note to go out on, I guess, but it just adds to the negative mood at the end of the book.

Andy does speak about Drum.  I must admit, I have little memory of hearing about the incident on the news, although I remember reading the article in People magazine.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like to hear about such a thing as a band member.  Andy recalls being convinced it was just another sign that they couldn’t continue.  “In a funny sort of way the Drum incident was just another example of how the lifestyle threatened to destroy all of us.” (Page 217)  As much as I understand where Andy is coming from, I think it’s fair to say that it could have happened to anyone – you don’t need to be in a rock band to capsize a sail boat, and having money has nothing to do with it.  People die from risks or even from just trying to drive to work every day whether they are rich, poor, into excess or otherwise. I really believe this was a sign of Andy’s own well-being (lack thereof) as anything else.

I know that there were many, many legal issues revolving Andy leaving the band.  We’ve all heard about them over the years, and so I really don’t want to waste time and space going over them here.  However, I want to call attention to the final sentences in this chapter.  “Our dissolution wasn’t caused by people. It was caused by the circumstances that we found ourselves in.” (Page 220)  Without getting preachy here, I daresay that it was also caused by a complete lack of communication from day one…and THAT is what is so incredibly sad.  People who made their lives every bit of what it is today by communicating and connecting with perfect strangers through their music couldn’t find a way to communicate with one another.  It’s heartbreaking.

A:  This lack of communication is clear when Andy met with Simon, John and Nick in London before the recording of Notorious.  At that time, he admitted that he gave them the impression that he would be returning in order to avoid confrontation.  I certainly can understand wanting to avoid that but a band that was able to communicate wouldn’t have had this happen and I can’t imagine that it helped.

Chapter Thirteen

R: As this chapter opens, Andy is in Malibu with Tracey and little Andrew.  He has bought a home and settles into life as a solo artist.  He makes a statement that I fear is telling for not only the time in which he is referring, but for later on as well. “I’ve always believed that if you are good enough it comes to you, and you don’t need to run around like a headless chicken chasing hits, doing dodgy promo tours or any of that ‘where they are now’ stuff.” (Page 229) I guess my comment would simply be that while his album did fine – selling 300,000 copies, I’m not sure where his statement is coming from.  Did he feel that Duran was in fact “chasing hits” and if so – why?

A:  Besides, the discussion surrounding Andy’s new life in Malibu, including his friends like Steve Jones and Don Johnson, he also discussed a public fight with Simon.  According to this, Simon did an interview that criticized Andy for getting lawyers involved.  He also said that Simon stated that Andy was bored with being in Duran and wanted to be more of the center of attention.  Andy took responsibility here by admitting that he responded and shouldn’t.  I have vague memories of seeing articles like this in those frequently-purchased teen magazines.  What I realized by reading this is just how human all the members are.  They do say and do things that they might not be proud of.  They also have horrible moments like this, which we all do.  We have all had falling outs with other people and do and say things that are ugly.  I appreciated Andy’s admitting this.

Chapter Fourteen

R: Out of the entire book, this chapter is by far the saddest for me to read and absorb.  It’s quite daunting when you sit back and take stock in just how many people that Duran Duran worked with that are no longer with us.  Overwhelming, really…and yes, like everyone else I feel very, very lucky that each one of the original members are still here.  It’s very, very clear that Andy was very frightened that unless they changed their ways, one or more of the band members would die.  He mentions this several times throughout the book, enough to make me wary.  It’s funny how as fans we simply choose to ignore the obvious, to ignore the signs of aging, of poor health, or even of poor life choices.  We see what we want to see, and I am as guilty of that as the next fan.  I simply refuse to believe that any of them could possibly die.  I am aware that is a dangerous pattern of thought, but the alternative is something I just cannot reconcile at present.

The list is lengthy, and to his credit – Andy spends time talking about each person and what they may have meant to him personally.  He spends a great deal of time discussing Robert Palmer, and I suspect that for Andy, this may have been the greatest blow to date, and likely the one he was least expecting.  As I, and I’m sure many others amongst us have learned – this is typically the case.  You just never know.

On the back end of the chapter, Andy discusses his own idols.  He writes of those who paved the way for him, as well as those that connected the band together.  As he says, “we connected through our idols and influences.” (Page 251) He talks a bit about his own evolution as a guitar player, and I found it striking just how similar his own interests are to say…the band’s current guitar player.  They are very different as players if you can catch the subtleties, but there’s a reason why THIS fan loves both of them best.  I loved the sentence “We wrote with guitar and keyboards – and that was a fundamental part of our success.” (Page 253)  It was a fundamental reason why so many of us learned to love Duran Duran, and we must thank Andy Taylor for his contribution to that.  It was, and still IS…essential.

A:  One of the people that Andy discusses is the late Colin Thurston who produced Duran’s first 2 albums.  Clearly, one thing that he really did for the band was ensure that they write all their own chords, lyrics and melodies.  As a fan, this is one thing that I truly admire!  It is something that they should be proud of!

On Monday, we will conclude the discussion from Andy’s book by taking a close look at chapters fifteen through the epilogue.  Study hard!

-A & R

Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Chapters 7-11)

We’re continuing with our discussion of Wild Boy this week – focusing on chapters seven through eleven.

Chapter Seven

This chapter takes place during what we know to be the Sing Blue Silver tour of America.  For many of us, this is the point when Duran Duran took over our world. One couldn’t go into a grocery store and down the magazine aisle without seeing the band on a half-dozen covers. Andy opens the chapter by discussing The Reflex and how they had to practically force Capitol Records in America to release the version that Nile Rodgers had remixed. According to Andy (and every other piece of information I’ve ever found on the topic), the label felt it was “too black”. Andy is right that in 1984, black musicians had a very difficult time getting airplay. Not even MTV would play videos by black musicians, and this was an open standard in the industry. Of course in the coming years this will change dramatically – but during that time, the music industry was extremely resistant and slow to react to change.  (Still is, in my opinion!!)
As we all know, the band went to bat for The Reflex, and it’s a good thing they did – it reached number one in both the UK and in the US.  “Some things are worth fighting for.”  (Page 147)  Absolutely.
Andy spends time discussing the enormity of the US tour. I have to say that just the idea of needing to coordinate how each semi-truck gets on and offloaded would make my head spin.  This is why I never went into stage management, apparently. I know the difficulties of just getting five teenaged kids, along with their instruments and gear on and off of a stage and back into a small van without incident, so I can’t even begin to think of what dealing with 9 semi-trucks, 150 people and a zillion fans must have been like. No thank you.  
One thing Andy does mention though, is this idea of an “Inner circle”. He makes mention of it throughout the book here and there, and basically – no one gets in. If you’re a member of the band or perhaps a family member, fine – but by Andy’s account, he was a firm believer in “No New People”. He goes to the length to even say that “contrary to popular perception, unlike the free and easy days of the Rum Runner, no member of the band slept with fans while we were on the road. It was just something that we never did because we simply didn’t allow outsiders into our inner circle, plus we all had partners by now.” (Page 150)  I never went to a show on the Sing Blue Silver tour, mostly because at the time I was barely thirteen and my parents were extremely strict at that point. I have no way of knowing for sure what went on, but I will say this much – and this is not a spoiler because it’s been written about in nearly every single promo article that has been done for John’s book. If band members didn’t sleep with fans – I have to wonder what point there really was in publishing a number in the corner of the day sheet the band members received each morning under their hotel room doors.  That number, as we all know by now, was the legal age of consent in whatever city/state/country they were visiting. Sure, it could very well have ONLY been for the benefit of the road crew. True. But then if that were the case, I wonder why John brought it up in his book? I guess my point is simply that once again, this proves that the truth may not be the same for everyone.  
At the end of this chapter, it becomes clear that Andy has some definite questions about his place in the band, and the unity within. He brings up the recording of Seven and a Ragged Tiger, and how the experience really broke up the unity. When John and Roger finished their parts, they no longer hung out in the studio. Andy talks about how Nick wanted to change things, and so Andy felt as though he needed to stand his ground to protect their input. Alex Sadkin had asked John to rerecord some of his parts, and according to Andy – John became enraged. Then there was the relationship of Andy with the Berrows. I barely remember the year that the band was nominated for and won two Grammy awards (Best Short Video for Girls on Film/Hungry Like the Wolf video 45 & Best Video Album for the Duran Duran video album that I’m sure most of us have somewhere in our VCR or Beta tape collection….) The reason I probably don’t have a good memory of it is because the band wasn’t present to accept their awards. I didn’t realize that the band didn’t even know that they’d been nominated until I read this book! It’s funny because as a fan, there are times when I wonder “Does the band even KNOW this is going on? Do they even realize that it’s important to us as fans that they know??” and invariably there will be someone else to say “Oh Rhonda, I’m sure they know. Of course they do, it’s their band!” Well, here is one case where apparently they didn’t. I thought it was horrible that the Berrows brothers didn’t tell them until it was too late, and I agree with Andy that of course it had everything to do with the fact that they didn’t want to reschedule a show to accommodate the band appearing at the award show in person. It’s just a shame that they never were able to experience that moment the way it had been intended. There are some things in life that you get one shot at – and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I’ve heard a similar story with regard to another band member (not Andy) and their child being born (It doesn’t matter who this was…only that it happened.) The news was kept from them until just before the show, when in fact another member of the band was planning to announce AT the show that a baby had been born. I have got to say that as a parent, a partner and a spouse to someone who always travels – that I would have had that person’s HEAD, no matter the reasoning. Being in a band shouldn’t give someone else the power to decide how and when information like that is delivered. It’s wrong, it’s irresponsible, and it’s flat out dehumanizing. I still get angry when I think about it!  I can’t blame Andy for wanting to be rid of them, it’s difficult to be forgiving in situations like that.  
Chapter Eight

Andy begins this chapter with another tale of John hurting himself. This time, it is his foot – and I’ve got to say – I don’t ever remember hearing this story “way back when”. Andy says it was downplayed in the press and I’m sure he’s right. The story he tells, about how horrible the scene was, how John need stitches, morphine AND pharmaceutical strength cocaine to be able to shoot the video for Arena – is harrowing to say the least. I’m such a lightweight MOM at times. It’s obvious I couldn’t have come from a place farther away from the rock-and-roll-world, because I just can’t even imagine it all. Even more alarming to me as a person though, was how nothing was ever discussed. It’s as though real problems like that couldn’t be discussed in such a “fake” world full of smoke and mirrors. As a fan, it really makes me angry, because to me – these guys have been nothing BUT real. Why couldn’t they have helped one another? Andy explains it as though they all came from different directions when it came to communicating. I can see what he means, but I think the real issue is that if they made notice of John, they’d have to actually look in the mirror to admit what was happening to themselves – and at that point in time – they weren’t quite ready.  
There just seems to be more cracks in the foundation as we read deeper into the chapter. Andy talks about how physically demanding the tour is (and I have no doubt he is right about that!), and then he delves into the friction between himself and Nick. According to Andy, Nick was “increasingly dismissive of the contributions from John, Roger and me.” (Page 163)  This is of course a subject that is near and dear to my heart – simply because I’ve always had trouble with the direction(s) the band seemed to take after Rio. It seemed to me that with every subsequent album, guitar took less and less of a leading role – while the synthesizer became more and more of the broad stroke holding the artwork together. I know I’m not the only fan that missed the hard edge that Andy’s guitar would provide, and I felt that their music needed that edge just to make it different from everything else that was out there. Andy comments that he used to jokingly refer to Nick as the Lyric Police – in turn I know many of us that lovingly refer to Nick as The Controller, whether that is a fair statement or not, I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure – I only know what I see and hear. All of that said, Andy seems fairly rough on Nick when he tells the story of hiring a stripper to close the tour in San Diego – and I can imagine just how angry Julie Anne must have been at the time.  
Andy closes this chapter with more of his fragmenting thought process when it came to the band and if he really wanted to continue. He speaks of how demeaning it was to go through customs to get back into the UK, that they had to submit to a strip search (So, so wrong, in my opinion) and while that was happening, the car that Tracey was waiting for him in outside of Heathrow was completely mobbed by fans. Now, as a fan of the band – I’m mortified when I read this. I feel horrible for Tracey, and I feel horrible for Andy. It’s fine to love the band. It’s fine to even want to greet them when they come home. It is NOT fine, however, to create mass hysteria. I know what kind of a frenzy can happen though – and when the energy of the crowd seems to feed on itself, there’s literally no stopping it.  Andy aptly describes it as a mob mentality. Scary. He ends the chapter by saying “Fuck it.  I am leaving it all behind. Thank God.”  I think that in that moment, Andy knew what he wanted to do, whether or not he was consciously leaving the band right then or not.
Chapter Nine

This entire chapter is about the band’s drug use, purely because someone in their entourage from back in their days at the Rum Runner turned out to be a complete asshole and sold his soul to a paper. It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve read yet about this band, and when I think about it, it still pisses me off, to be honest – it’s not about whether or not the band did drugs.  (I think we all know now that yes, they did.) It’s not about their image (although at the time, it most certainly was), it’s about the fact that from that incident – that band learned that they couldn’t trust anyone, and that’s a shame. I have to say that for myself – I never really knew much about their drug use until probably the mid to late 90’s. That isn’t to say I didn’t wonder about it, but it wasn’t something I really considered or thought about. I was just too far removed, and quite honestly – *I* was as squeaky clean as you could get. At least until college.  
“Drug use is very common in the music industry, so the people immediately around us were not actually that shocked. It’s true that we had a young teenage audience, which sat very uneasily with the drug revelations. But we were all teenagers ourselves when we started out – and we certainly didn’t ask to be role models.” Oddly, when I read this – I think about the hundreds of other celebrities and musicians out there that have said nearly this exact statement. The thing is, when you become a celebrity or a rock star, you’re basically asking to become an idol to people, whether or not you take the time to recognize that fact. From adoration becomes idolization. One doesn’t typically happen without the other to some extent. However, that shouldn’t/doesn’t mean that you stop being human – although to this very day I think there are a good many fans out there that bring themselves to admit that the band is human. The problem is far more complex than I think any of us care to think about. (Well, anyone except perhaps Amanda and I!) 
Chapter Ten

This chapter talks about Wild Boys, which is fascinating in it’s own right, but not what I want to highlight. Andy talks about a subject that encompasses a lot of my own childhood, and I have to say, when I first read this chapter, a lot of memories that I had buried in my head came to surface. He writes about the beautiful birth of his oldest child, Andrew and how he settled in to being a father. What didn’t become immediately apparent, though, was how Tracey was adjusting. He writes about how he “came home one night and there was a different person in the house…She seemed to be confused about how she was.” (Page 188) He explains how he found her standing next to an open window with Andrew in her arms and that he was afraid she’d jump, and how she was diagnosed with a nervous breakdown brought on by a full-blown postnatal psychosis.  What’s more, Tracey is put into a medical coma in order for her brain to rest. This hits incredibly close to home for me, as my own mom was diagnosed with this same exact issue after my sister was born. I was only four-and-a-half when this happened, and while the exact order of events are extremely fuzzy for me, I can remember with vivid clarity the day that my mom took a nap on our couch because she had a horrible headache, only to wake up and ask me who I was, and then when I told her – she started crying for her mom, as though she were a child. For what seemed like hours, she ran back and forth between the couch and her bedroom while my dad spoke to her calmly, trying to make her see reason. It wasn’t long after that I was sent to the neighbors and my mom was admitted into a psychiatric hospital, where she remained for the better part of the next six months. I only saw her on limited occasions, and from what I understand – it wasn’t until about nine months later that my mom finally came home permanently. It’s not a subject we ever spoke about much and my mom still doesn’t seem to remember much of it herself, but it made it’s mark on me – I never got into trouble much, out of pure fear that I’d send her back to the hospital if I made her angry. (My younger sister though? She more than made up for me!!) So while sure, I recognize that Andy has made many of you angry over the years, the very fact that I understand SOME of what he went through here, but in a very different way has made me feel somewhat akin. I can’t really imagine what Andy felt like as a spouse, but I would bet he had/has the same sorts of fears as I did – that never really goes away.  
Chapter Eleven

This chapter opens with a story about meeting David Bowie. What I found the most interesting about this story is what Andy said about meeting ones idols. “I’d learned pretty early on in life that meeting your heroes doesn’t always live up to expectations. But we went downstairs and were introduced to Bowie.” He doesn’t say a lot about the meeting, other than he was “very opinionated and quite odd to talk to”. That is one excerpt from this book that I’ve never forgotten, mainly because it’s almost an omen to fans. I’ve kicked the thought around a lot, trying to decide how I really feel.The main thought that comes to mind is the word “Expectations”. I can’t really tell any of you just how many times a fan has come to me and told me how so-and-so was just awful. They either rebuffed their advances, refused a hug, refused a photo, or was simply rude. I never really know what to say or how to react.  I feel bad for the fan, I wonder how the situation might have been handled differently, and then I have to wonder if the fan just didn’t have expectations well-beyond reality. I never really know, but I try to put myself in their shoes. It’s just not easy, or normal. For me? I merely hope that should I ever run into the band – it’ll be under a normal, every day setting. I still think about the day I ran into Dom Brown on a plane to New Orleans. I hadn’t been feeling well that day, so as I saw him coming down the aisle towards me, I was ready to melt right into the floor and hide.  Unfortunately for me, I also had my Duran Duran VIP bag out – and he didn’t miss it. I am sure I turned about 5,000 shades of red to purple before quietly telling him how great of a job he’d done the night before. It was completely bizarre, and yet so natural – I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other way, and no, I didn’t ask him for a photo. I didn’t need one, as the memory serves me pretty well as is. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities since then, but the fact remains – expectations are key. The band is human, and we fans need to remember and respect that.
We are trying to wrap our discussion of Wild Boy up this week – so we will continue on THURSDAY this week, with chapters 12-14, and then the final wrap up on Sunday, with chapters 15 through the Epilogue.  Happy Reading!!  

Return to Now

Once in a while, I’ll check in with Facebook and see that a lot of my friends had somehow read my mind and posted various old clips, interviews and the like. Plenty of times, I have to ignore those posts because I don’t have time to sit and watch, but today I’m nursing some sort of weird back thing (I slept last night. Obviously that must be the problem.) so I’m not about to get up and go running (Ha – I’m not being chased, so that definitely isn’t going to happen) or clean much today. So I took some time this morning, and I’ve got to say, sometimes looking back really IS good for the soul moving forward.  

One clip that I am going to find again and attach here is a three-minute clip from the Forum Show in London back in 2003.  If you don’t recognize the significance of the date, it’s a show with the original five back on stage together.  I think it’s fair to say that many of us have seen more than a few clips from gigs over the years.  Most of them make me at least crack a small grin, some make me smile, and then….there is this one.  I don’t want to give it away, so I’ll just post the clip here so the rest of you can experience pure joy.
I must be getting really soft with age, or this band is just killing me slowly, because tears sprang to my eyes when I watched the video.  The reaction from the audience is the closest thing to pure joy that I’ve really witnessed without being an actual part.  
I know much has happened since this moment.  It’s been nine years since this gig, and in many ways, it feels like a lifetime. That still doesn’t stop me from looking back with fondness and feeling some of that same joy I felt back in 2003 when I experienced my own first gig with the original five.  Never mind what came later, just being in that one moment again feels good. 
Many in the community haven’t been able to reconcile their feelings regarding the band or regarding Andy since these moments in 2003.  I can understand all of that, and whether you became a fan in the 80’s, the 90’s or even just recently, sometimes looking back helps you to feel better about going forward.  
Take a look back and just absorb some of that pure electricity and joy.  As for me, I’m going to attempt to sit back, take some Advil, contemplate calling the chiropractor and watch some DVD’s that some friends have made for me of shows from the past couple of years.  Can’t wait to hear some Hungry Like the Wolf again.  HA!!!

Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Chapters 4-6)

We continue with our discussion of Andy Taylor’s book this week, focusing on chapters 4, 5 & 6.  Like last week, Amanda’s comments are in blue.

Chapter Four

R:  The chapter opens with a description of how/when Andy met Tracey.  I’ve always been curious about the relationships between the band and their significant others. Each of the members are so different, and naturally the relationships they have with the people surrounding them have extremely different dynamics as well.  For Andy, Tracey seems to be the person who grounds him, who keeps him whole…and in several places, Andy refers to her as an angel.  He clearly has great respect and pride for her, and it’s clear that their relationship has gone the distance at least in part due to his reverence.

Andy comments that “By the time I was twenty, I’d played hundreds, if not thousands, of gigs in different countries, but for the first time I had something worth sharing in life.” (Page 82) I thought this was such a sad statement, as if only by having fame and some money that only THAT was worth sharing…and then later on the same page Andy comments that many girls flocked to the band because “they needed what we had, but Tracey didn’t need any of it.” Indication that at least to some degree, Andy appreciated that Tracey stood on her own two feet and that her relationship to him wasn’t driven out of “need”, but rather out of mutual admiration and respect. I would imagine that this was, and probably still is, a common problem for the band, or any band for that matter.

As we all know, Andy marries Tracey the following year, and as I’m sure many of us could have guessed, there was some discussion as to whether this would affect the fan base.  Would fans be upset that Andy was getting married – assuming that “Well, that’s the first one, I wonder how long it’ll be before they’re all gone and married!” As most fans would probably recognize, Andy was never really marketed as “the sex symbol” for the band in the way that perhaps John and Simon were.  Each of the band members did have their own role to play though, and I can remember hearing about Andy’s wedding (and seeing pictures) in Tiger Beat magazine.  I remember seeing the top hats and the picture of Andy & Tracey – and I can also remember thinking that he was the first one.  I guess I did wonder how long it would be before the rest of them were taken, but to be fair – I was not even quite twelve when they got married. It was hardly realistic for me to think ANY of them would A) Notice I existed or B) Wait a good ten to fifteen years for me. So, I got over it all pretty fast. Sure, Roger stayed my favorite for many, many years, through marriage(s), children, divorce (his), remarriage (also his) ….we all need fantasies to get us through the rough times, don’t we?  I think for most fans, we recognized the fairy tale for exactly what it was.

A:  I noted that this chapter held the first real mentions of significant others.  Roger’s girlfriend and later wife, Giovanna, was mentioned before but not in any detail.  I found Andy’s courtship with Tracey to be very sweet.  As Rhonda mentioned, there was a great deal of admiration and respect there.  She definitely seemed to bring stability to Andy.  As he stated on page 82, “…she brought stability into my life at a time when I could easily have slipped into a different lifestyle that I would have later regretted.”  That’s a big deal.  It also seems like when they had a chance to spend time together, they made a point of getting away from the insanity of Duran Duran, such as buying a house more out in the country or riding horses. 

R:  The other major event discussed in this chapter was the incident in Germany.  There was a bar fight leading to a night in the hospital for Roger (who was apparently very, very lucky) and John severely hurting his hand.  I have to be honest here.  I still don’t really understand what happened that night.  I’m not at all sure ANYONE does, and I definitely know I never heard any of this story before this book came out.  I just wasn’t aware, even if I should have been by now.  The one thing I do know is that this single incident changed the entire dynamic of the band for Andy going forward.  I really don’t understand why though.  Perhaps it’s that because I am so far removed, I’m not understanding the subtleties, or that because the story feels so disconnected and disjointed that much of the details are being left out.  Andy seems to feel badly on one hand that he wasn’t there to help out, but on the other hand, he seems at least partially relieved that he had made the decision to stay in.  I can’t honestly blame him – it sounded like a nasty beating even though at this point I still don’t understand why John punched his hand into that light fixture.  Perhaps Andy explains it best when he says that John was angry with himself.  I don’t think anyone but John truly knows.  The one VERY telling comment that Andy makes here that is worth discussing “I think you can forgive anything when someone is suffering, but in my view John had either meant to punch the light, or he’d been so out of control that he’d done it by accident – and either way he needed help.” (Page 93)

If that is in fact the case, that John needed help – why is it that no one, not one single person in that “Band of Brothers” didn’t make the attempt?  Lack of maturity?  Hindsight?  Is this a case of the band failing John?  By Andy’s own admittance, nothing was ever done.  He says in the last page of this chapter “Did we ever sit down and talk about it?  Was there ever any consideration of whether John or anyone else needed any help coping with the intense pressure of constantly being pursued? The answer is no.  We were just glad to et off the road. Deep down inside, it was the first time that we realized how fragile we were and how bit the ramifications could be if any of us went off the rails”….”We had to understand that none of us could afford to have a bad day, and from this point on there could be no more days off. Ever.” (Page 98)

Isn’t that the truth? The entire Duraniverse comes to a screeching halt and screaming prevails whenever something goes wrong – and I have to admit, that has got to be daunting.  Just recently I had a discussion with Amanda about something I’d noticed at a show, and in turn she shared that she’d noticed a member who doesn’t make the effort to shake hands with fans as he is exiting the stage. Sure, we could label the person as a slight germ-a-phobe, but more likely, he’s watching out for himself.  He can’t afford to be sick.  None of them can afford to have an off night, as inhumane as that sounds, and this is 2012.  Can any of us really imagine the pressure that was on them back in the mid-80’s?  Probably not.  That alone would have made me want to run screaming for the hills if I were in the band, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

A:  I, obviously, took note of this incident as well.  I would be curious to read John’s account of this event, Roger’s account of it, and everyone else who was there.  It isn’t that I don’t believe Andy or his speculation about why John punched the light fixture but, like Rhonda, I feel like there is a lot more to this story and only with everyone’s perspectives would we begin to understand.  Then again, I know that things happen so quickly in traumatic events that it is hard to figure out what happened and why.  Clearly, though, Andy thought it was a big deal.  He wrote on page 93, “I think that some of what occurred that night got bottled up inside John and Roger, and it may have had a bearing on how things unfolded in the future.”  Would John agree with that?  Would Roger?  Like Andy, I would have a hard time imagining that it wouldn’t.  After all, it sounds like Roger was attacked and, maybe, literally, for no reason.  That can definitely affect you.  John’s reaction seems to be quite extreme.  I would have a hard time thinking that his scars were mental and emotional as well as physical.  Now, the fact that they didn’t talk about what happened I think is probably the most significant.  If that is the case, I bet they weren’t talking about much.  That’s huge as communication is key when working together and, in their case, they were not only working together but living together and going through an intense experience together. 

R:  Andy also discusses Nick’s relationship with Julie Anne. As an outsider, it appears to me from the onset that Julie Anne never quite made headway, especially not with Andy, but perhaps with anyone in the band – that’s not really proven by Andy’s writing – but it’s definitely intimated in what he says.  Why is that?  Andy makes sure to point out that Julie Anne is not British, but in fact American.  How much do you think this played into how they treated her as an outsider?  “But as for Julie Anne, I remembered something that Paul Berrow had told us before we’d left for the States. ‘Ooh, when those bloody American birds get hold of you, you won’t catch your breath,’ he warned. ‘Different set of values.'” 
As an American fan, those are harsh words to overlook.  I’m really not sure what was meant – and given that I was barely a teenager at that point, I really couldn’t even guess.  Any ideas??

A:  Wow.  I, too, took note of Andy’s reaction to Julie Anne.  He described her as “very pushy because of her social standing”.  Was this a case of American vs. Brit?  Was it a case of class differences?  Was it is a case of perception that rules did not imply equally to everyone as Andy was upset that Julie Anne was allowed to travel with the band while he sent Tracey back home?

Chapter Five

R:  This chapter is all about the videos. I know I’m not the only Duran fan that is fairly well-read on the videos at this point, but even so – it’s interesting to get Andy’s point of view. Naturally when we’re thinking of DD videos, not only does Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf come up, but also Girls on Film.  Easily serving as the most “shocking” video in the band’s repertoire, it also did exactly what the band’s management had hoped – it got the band noticed!  One thing that Andy does say, that frankly I take issue with only because I live here in the US – is that the video encountered no problems with the audiences here in the United States.  Curiously, I never saw the video unless it was the very watered down version or I was watching it from the video album that the band put out.  Granted, I was young at the time and not a club-goer, but even so – the US was not really known for open sexual imagery on regular TV, and certainly not in the 80’s.  But, the main point is of course that the video was a brilliant marketing tool…

“And some people will do ANYTHING to sell records.”  🙂

The relationship between Andy and especially Paul Berrows seems to be called into question several times during the course of the reading so far.  One such scene takes place on page 114 of this chapter when they are filming in Sri Lanka.  Andy describes how Paul wants to build something on the island – Andy mentions a temple (hopefully in jest?!?) and how he wouldn’t want to build anything with the guy.  Simon, on the other hand is far more sympathetic to Paul’s desires, saying that he’s just eccentric and creative.  Andy of course feels that being creative and eccentric is the job of the band.  I don’t think it’s any surprise to fans that Simon was closer to the Berrows brothers than Andy, and that it becomes Andy and Nick (by Andy’s account) later in the book that begin to question just how much profit is due the Berrows brothers.

A:  I, too, noticed some negative statements towards the Berrows.  For example, on page 101, he stated, “…even though the Berrows helped, I still believe we would have found everything without them.”  Thus, in Andy’s mind, they didn’t do as much as they think or as much as others might think.  Fascinating.  Obviously, as an outsider, I have no way of knowing.  

R:  Say what one will about Andy’s tone and sense of negativity – he also has moments of proper perspective that I rarely see or hear from other band members thus far.  “Along the way along the roads, children would spill in front of the vehicle and stop us, offering us watermelons….we soon cottoned on to the fact that what they wanted from us most of all were any Biro pens or pencils that we had with us…I remember thinking: How long will that last them and where will they get another one from?”  (Page 115)  Truly.

One comment that Andy makes that I really do identify and believe comes when he surmises the experience the band had with videos in general at the end of the chapter.  “It helped us to connect with our audience a bit like the way the Internet helps new bands to do the same today.” (Page 121)  Back in MY day (as I settle back into my rocking chair, here), videos were all we had. Other than seeing the band in the occasional interview in a magazine or watching a video – we had no other way to know what was going on with them. I can remember being surprised as to whatever color Nick’s hair was next (or Simon’s or even John’s for that matter), or whatever fashion choices they’d made.  I think I expected ALL of their videos to be like the Sri Lankan videos, and I always wondered what exotic locale they’d take us to see next.  Never did I dream that one day I’d trade tweets with them online, or “meet” thousands of other fans on Facebook.  Who knew?!?

A:  I enjoyed reading about the videos that I have seen thousands of times.  I like hearing about things that I never knew before like how Simon got hurt during Rio or that the video director for Union of the Snake focused on this idea of lizards.  I also like reading about the irony of filming these beautiful videos of Save a Prayer and Lonely in Your Nightmare in a poverty-stricken country on the verge of civil unrest or the idea of Girls on Film showing the band putting on hairspray and makeup.  That said, at times, I struggled to place events in proper order as there wasn’t real chronological order given even with the videos.  For example, Is There Something I Should Know was talked about before Save a Prayer. 

Chapter Six

R:  I don’t know how many fans out there had ever heard the tale of the IRA planning to assassinate Prince Charles on the night of July 20, 1983 – but I’d never heard that story prior to this book.  To be honest, it STILL sounds a bit James Bond to me, not that I don’t believe it – just that it seems like such a crazy plan. That’s just how far removed the US really can be sometimes though.  As a citizen here, I’ve always felt very safe – up until 9/11 of course. I think we’re incredibly lucky that we’ve not had more happen here to keep us on our guard, to be honest, and I, like millions of other Americans, grew up taking my safety for granted. That’s why the IRA story sounds so Bond-like to me.

A:  I noted that, according to Andy, the band had technical problems during this important show.  I immediately thought about Live Aid and wondered if Duran struggles during big, important gigs like this or if it is just that they show the cracks, the rifts, the problems with the band.  Something to ponder…

R:  During this same period of time, the band was in the process of recording Seven and the Ragged Tiger – the last of the albums that the band would record as the original five, and most certainly the toughest for them to record, by the band’s own accounts.  So much goes on during this recording, and it’s impossible to ignore the influences that any of it had on the success of the album.  Nick and Andy begin to question just how much the Berrows brothers were taking from the band.  They want to talk to them about it, but Simon is becoming closer with them.  Roger is non-confrontational and according to Andy – John buries his head in the sand.  I’m not sure if that characterization(s) is/are fair, but the point is that this too, creates a rift.  Andy and Nick have their own problems, coming to a head over Julie Anne.  How does this translate into the record?

A:  I am interested in what Andy decides to include and what he doesn’t here in this chapter.  I can definitely understand his inclusion of the fighting with Nick, regarding Julie Anne, whom he really didn’t (doesn’t?) trust.  Obviously, that is important to the story of Duran and important to his story.   He also includes a story about Simon and John competing over this Miss UK who was there.  Why put that in the book?  Did this competition affect Simon and John’s relationship?  Did it affect the band?  Maybe it did and maybe I will see the connection later.  Until then, I have to wonder.  The same question can be asked about the story about Nick getting sick or John crashing his car.  I guess the point there is that they were all harming themselves with the intensity of their lives, but it still makes me slightly uncomfortable. 

Next week, we’ll discuss chapters seven through eleven – read up!

– A & R

Book Discussion – Wild Boy (Prologue, Ch 1-3)

As promised, we have started our discussion of Andy Taylor’s autobiography, Wild Boy, My Life in Duran Duran.

With the very first note, Andy makes it very clear what his intention will be with this book.  His life IN Duran Duran. That is very pertinent, particularly because while it is an autobiography, most people are not aware of Andy beyond is work as a musician in Duran Duran as well as his solo work thereafter. (or in between his “tours of duty” in the band.  To make things even more interesting, Rhonda’s notes will be in the standard black font and Amanda’s additions/comments are in blue.


R: Andy begins the book discussing what is ultimately Duran Duran’s last appearance together as the “original five” at Live Aid, July 13, 1985.  Not in the UK of course, but in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA…a grace note that has always somewhat ruefully amused me. I don’t think many, if any of us who were fans back in the 80’s really knew the end of an era was taking place that day. I certainly didn’t, even if I remember being slightly deflated by the performance. I suppose the humor, if there really is any, to be recognized in that moment is simply that it could have been in any city, in any state, in any country.  As good of a statement as any that it happened in Pennsylvania than anywhere else, simply reinforcing the notion that you just never know when it will be the last time.

Andy chose to open his book with the what is the ending to the first act of his career in Duran Duran. The encore of course comes much later, but I found it rather telling that he chose to open with an account of performance that was not only the last, but also highlighting on a bum note. This recount is profoundly negative, if not for Andy, then at the very least for the fans who followed them along the way. I don’t personally know of any fan who looks back on that Live Aid performance with feelings of triumph and joy, if the performance itself didn’t bother us (and how could it not? It wasn’t only Simon’s note that fell flat – there was zero charisma and connection going on that stage that day.), hindsight tells us that the performance was DD’s last as the original five, and for many, it still remains a bittersweet memory. In many ways, the description of this performance sets the tone for the book – bittersweet.

One section of the prologue describes the ride they took to the venue, “We drove to the venue through streets packed with excited rock fans, but inside the bus the atmosphere was if were were on our way to a funeral.”  (page 5)  Immediately following the recount of that bus ride describes the scene of Live Aid as a giant party scene.  Not only is are the two “scenes” diametrically opposed, what I found poignant is that the only partying to be done – the festivities, so to speak – were found only when Andy is on his own, away from the band.  Although Andy admits that his heart just wasn’t in the mood to party as he tries to fall into bed that night.

A: When talking about this party lifestyle, Andy wrote, “But the lifestyle we had aspired to, and for which we had worked so hard, became the very cancer that was starting to destroy us.”  Clearly, Andy wanted to really show how problematic he found the life that he had created by describing it as “cancer”.  Word choice can be everything.  It also reminds me that so many people who become famous question if fame is really a good thing.

R: Andy closes the prologue with a question – “Was it all worth it?”  Keep that question in mind for later discussion.

Chapter One
R: Andy begins this chapter with one of the saddest things I’ve ever read – the day his mother leaves he, his brother and his father. It is quite obvious that this single event changed Andy forever, and I think the aftermath of this abandonment proves to be something Andy struggles with to this day.  I think that while perhaps not many of us have experienced something similar, we can all certainly feel empathetic. I think that after reading this section, I felt some sort of connection to Andy.  My mom never exactly left – but there was a time when I was very young (about five years old) that my mom was away for six months.  I know that for me, the worry of having my mom leave again played a huge part in the person I became.  I followed the rules and tried to be a “perfect” child, just to make sure she wouldn’t leave again, no matter the reason. Those feelings follow me to this day, and so I have no doubt the same holds true for Andy. Later in the chapter Andy comments that he has difficulty saying “good-bye” to this day, and I have no doubt this taps into the ways that he and the band have parted…twice. 

A: I also noted the importance this event must have had for him.  I took particular attention to the steps leading up to his mother’s departure.  At one point, he stated that he had no idea that there was trouble with his mother then he starts to discuss the horrible arguments his mother and father had.  Then, part of him was relieved when she left.  I wondered how much, if any of this, influenced his own behavior and his way of dealing with problems.  

R:The austere and rough beginnings from Andy’s childhood seem to be far more blue-collar than what the rest of the band experienced.  Not being from the UK myself, I can’t decide if this is in fact the case, or rather just the way Andy writes.  No matter, Andy still talks about where he is from with pride – and as someone who grew up on the “wrong side of the tracks” myself, I still speak of my neighborhood with pride.  I am well-aware of who I am and where I came from, and I think most of us can appreciate that, especially since we all know that he’s experienced far more luxury in life than most at this point.

When I think of Andy Taylor, I think of someone who just isn’t going to be forced to follow the rules.  He’s going to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.  Call it stubbornness, call it whatever you’d like.  I laughed when he described various “rules” in his house – not going into specific rooms, not touching certain things – and of course Andy still did what he liked.  Somehow I think we’re going to find that carrying over into his tenure in Duran Duran.  Call me crazy.

One extended note to carry for later discussion: Andy carries much of his feelings about his mom leaving with him, choosing not to discuss but rather keep it all bottled.  He is fairly silent about much of it until he is in his adult years.  Many fans have mentioned how fairly “silent” both the band as well as Andy have been regarding the events leading up to his departure(s) from Duran Duran. Granted, none of us are on the inside and know just how much talking was or wasn’t done, but it is certainly something that should be thought of for later on in the book.  Is that “silence”, the lack of finality, the lack of “good-bye” something that Andy continues?? 

A: On the topic of keeping his feelings to himself, I noted that Andy seemed to try to focus his energy or feelings towards other things.  In this chapter, he obviously turns to music, but he also mentions that he played sports, aggressively, and got into fights.  In his view, music was the best of these as they kept him out of trouble. 

Chapter Two
R:In this chapter, Andy talks about The Rum Runner.  The scene of the crime, so to speak!  Again, coming to this story as one who didn’t grow up in the UK – I always took what people said about Birmingham for granted.  I’d always heard it was a very industrial sort of town, not very nice, not some place to spend time. In fact, just two years ago when I was coming into the UK to see Duran Duran for the ill-fated shows that ended up being canceled, I was headed to Birmingham straight from Heathrow.  The customs official that stamped my passport wanted to know “Why on earth” I was going to Brum.  He told me it was not a nice city and that I should pass it by in my travels. I smiled (what else am I going to do with a customs official?  Argue??) and went on my way, not really knowing what I was getting myself into – but I figured it would be an adventure.  I have to say – I LOVE BIRMINGHAM.

A:Ditto, says Amanda! 

R: Sure, it has a certain industrial feel to it, not at all unlike where I grew up.  I think that’s why I fell for the city – it feels like home to me. (Sans the canals. The closest thing the “Charter Oak” area of Glendora/Covina had when I was growing up was “The wash”, a place I was strictly forbidden to go and play. I guess it was a “sort” of canal…it was a big concrete gutter lined with chain link fence that collected the runoff water and funneled towards treatment plants or the ocean!)  Anyway, in reading the book what struck me was how, compared to Cullercoats, Birmingham was the utmost in trendy.  I still don’t think anyone would actually say that about where I grew up, unless you want to talk about the downtown area that has been used for various movies over the years…but that’s OK.

A: Ditto again! My childhood was also spent in a place with an industrial feel (south side Chicago), adds Amanda.

R: Another sight that comes into plain view during this chapter is Andy’s feelings for Nick.  Even on a musical level, it’s pretty obvious that there is no love lost here.  Andy talks about how Nick only played the black keys on his keyboard – something that Kate Bush was known for doing at the time – and that it only amounted to playing one key.  “Nick’s interpretation of doing music was very obviously going to be different to mine.  Playing seemed to be the last thing on his mind, but he wanted to make keyboard sounds and textures and layers of sound – and in that sense he wanted to do something different that had never been done before.”  (page 40)  I’m not sure at the time that Andy recognized the significance of what Nick was trying to do – but I think it’s clear in the tone of his writing that he felt Nick was on a completely different musical planet.  Of course, it’s that difference between the two that helped to create the most iconic sounds of the 1980’s…. 

A: I, too, took note of Andy’s comments regarding Nick, especially when Andy said that he didn’t want to understand traditional structure of music.  Besides Nick, I thought it was interesting that he took time to describe first impressions of each band member in some detail.

R: I did as well, Amanda.  What I noticed though was that in nearly every description – Andy poked fun, and of course the now-infamous LeBon Leopard pants, in pink, were mentioned as well.  I suppose a reader could take his gentle ribbing about his first impressions of each band member as a sort of “dig”, but I really think Andy reflects back on that time with fond memories, thinking that when they all first met – they were really all just normal kids – the farthest away from being rock stars than we could imagine.  Things changed very, very fast!

The chapter ends with the band getting signed to EMI. “It felt strange and unreal to be at the headquarters of EMI negotiating a new beginning at the same time that John Lennon’s death brought to a close a huge chapter in the history of rock and roll. We didn’t know if it was fate or a bad omen.” (page 56)  In my opinion, this continues that bittersweet tone of the book. The passage reads so negatively, I can’t honestly believe Andy feels that way about his career in Duran Duran.  This edition of the book was published in 2008, and I have to think that not enough time had passed from his second tour of duty to allow the sharpness of the more angered or painful memories to dull…does the negative tone overshadow all the good??

A: It is fascinating to me that they agreed to split the royalties equally as John and Nick could have easily asked for more as the founders.  To me, that shows something about their characters. 

R: I didn’t even think about that, Amanda.  I think it’s because I’ve heard for so often that they always split things equally that I read right over that without noticing.  I’m not sure it really says that much about Nick or John’s character as much as it shows their naivete and youth at the time. They were probably so excited by the very prospect of being signed that they didn’t give any thought to whom had been around longest.  Ego probably didn’t crop up until a bit later.

Chapter Three
R:The chapter opens with Andy talking about the first time he tried cocaine. We all know by now that the band and cocaine were fairly synonymous back in the day. Apparently Andy felt (and perhaps this was widespread belief at the time) that cocaine was a “rich man’s drug” and that it was harmless. I have to be honest, as a kid – I never thought about their drug use and I’m not even sure I was aware.  I think that for me, it was the beauty of being far removed.  I didn’t *see* all of those things.  I heard the music, saw the (eventual) videos, read the articles and didn’t know about the rest.  I’ll go one step further and say that I’ve never tried cocaine. That’s right. I really am one of those good kids to this day! I just never saw the point.  I think I was fairly judgmental about people who did any kind of drug when I was young – alcohol aside – and so for me, I’m really kind of glad I never paid much attention to the murmurs of drug use by the band. For me it probably would have made a difference (keep in mind that we’re talking about me at the age of twelve or thirteen) because drug use scared me, apparently for really good reason!

One thing that I find fascinating is how Andy describes the recording of Planet Earth and his role that he shared with Nick in being the two that made most of the commercial decisions at the time.  Knowing the tension that seemed to exist between Andy and Nick makes it all the more…humorous, perhaps…that they were the most involved on the business-end.  Of course Andy explains their backgrounds and why this made sense, but I have to wonder if this didn’t just add to the friction. 

A: I noted the same thing and was surprised by that.  Why wouldn’t John have been involved more? 

R: In reading this chapter, I noticed that Andy takes the time to point out the tiny fissures already  forming.  In one part he talks about the lack of confidence in Simon’s vocal quality while recording Planet Earth, at another point he says though that as far as he was concerned, Simon was the vocalist.  Fair enough. Management always has different ideas than the band and record company, it seems.  Andy talks about how the label chose to promote John first (He was the most photogenic.  No, really?) in Japan and that he (Andy) thought this would upset Simon.  He talks about the competitive nature, notably between John and Simon, of meeting the most girls, this of course being the beginnings of the much-publicized hedonistic lifestyle of the band. Andy goes on to point out that this lifestyle goes completely against what was happening in the rest of the country at the time, with rioting in the UK, the height of the cold war, nuclear bomb fears, etc.  Yet the band known for excess everything grew beyond the limits, meeting Warhol, taking a bus filled with crazily dressed fans from The Rum Runner into Paris.  I think Andy continues to make his statement simply by juxtaposing the good times with the rougher moments that fans like me never really saw or experienced.  Bittersweet. 

A: Adding that this focus on fun, partying, and statements about being the band dancing when the bomb dropped did not help Duran get critical acclaim.  Instead, it led many people to look at them with scorn, according to research I have done.  

– A&R

Who Do WE Think We Are?

I’ve been thinking a lot about books lately. I can’t imagine why. So many people have talked about John’s book and comparing it to Andy’s book that I started trying to remember back to what Andy had written. We’ve never properly tackled Andy’s book here on the blog, so I decided to take it out, dust it off and give it another good look. Andy’s book Wild Boy was published in 2008. It’s been quite a highway I’ve been traveling on since that time. I’m curious how my eyes and brain will process his book now as opposed to four years back. So, if you are inclined and have some time, pull Andy’s book off of the shelf and read along with me.  My plan is simple: I’m going to read a few chapters at a time and discuss them here on the blog.  We have four weeks until John’s book is released here in the US, and we’ll finish Andy’s book during that time.  Chances are, I’ll discuss the chapters in Andy’s book on Mondays – just as we’ll do with John’s book. However, I want to stress: I am not comparing the two books. We can certainly do that on a blog if need be after we’ve finished both books, but for now, we’re reading each book on its own merit. (Which really, that’s the way it should be. The truth is not the same for everyone.) So for this week, I’m reading from the prologue through chapter three. 77 pages. We can do this!


There has been a little chatter about some of the questions and comments that John has been fielding during his Q&A sessions. Most of the questions have been great, but there always seems to be one that makes me scratch my head and wince, and some even make me blush! (If you know me, you know this isn’t really that difficult to do…) I just have to wonder why it is that some people seem to have absolutely no filter for the things that should be asked verses the things that should honestly be kept in one’s brain.  I’m not talking about the slightly cheeky questions that get asked – I’m no prude, and I laugh as easily as anyone else. I’m talking about the really off-color comments that would make nearly anyone wince. I recognize that John is likely an expert at navigating slightly unnerving questions these days. I am pretty sure that things that make me want to squirm in my chair are probably topics he handles without batting a single eyelash. My question to all of you though is “Why does that make it OK to ask those questions or make those comments?” Yes, I realize that in some cases these comments will get a laugh out of the audience, or even out of John. (honestly – what is he going to really do otherwise? Throw the person out? Call them names? Get angry? Of course not. He’s going to be a gentleman because in all honestly – he HAS to be if he wants people to like him and buy his products.  It’s part of the deal.) I maintain – why does any of that make it OK?

This is the same topic we’ve discussed before, in different wrapping. These guys are still human, aren’t they? I know we joke about Nick being alien, but I think he has more than proved that yes – he’s really still human! In the same way that I would expect people to treat me with respect and kindness – I suppose I expect the same for the band. Why is that so unusual? Admittedly, I’m incredulous when people respond (and they always do when this topic comes up) that they’re celebrities and they should be “used to that” by now. Being used to it and knowing how to handle it doesn’t mean the band gives any of us the “permission” to be rude or make off-color statements at the onset, does it? I see it over and over again, and if I’m not right there to hear it – I get told about it much later. People will be at a bar or pub after a show, a band member will show up, and fans will think it’s perfectly acceptable to go up to that person and pet them as though they were an animal, or make comments as though they’ve been lovers for quite a while. It’s bizarre and uncomfortable to witness for me, and I can’t imagine how it must feel to the band themselves.

There is a fine line here that is incredibly difficult to walk even under the best of circumstances. We all want them to know we’re fans and we support them. We also want them to know that (most of the time), we’re pretty sane. I know that *I* would prefer them to walk away thinking that I’m respectful, and in return, I’m worthy of a little return respect. I wouldn’t want them talking to me as though I was to be their next nightly conquest. (I realize that not everyone agrees – some really do WANT to be the nightly conquest and to you I say “More power to ya”. I need to be able to look myself in the mirror and my children in the face in the morning, and for me – I couldn’t do that if I were just looking for a one-nighter.) I guess for me, it comes down to simple respect. I believe the same could be said for the majority of my fellow fans out there.


Appreciating Duran and Their Ability to Find an Ordinary World

For those of you who haven’t been around the internet today, it is Duran Duran Appreciation Day.  This is a holiday for Duranies, for Duran fans.  Many people have posted pictures celebrating the band.  Others have written a little something to the band or band members telling them how much they appreciate Duran.  It is a special day for the band and fans alike.  Heck, John Taylor even said so in his little write-up on  I pondered today’s blog.  After all, I had planned on finishing up our theme this week on favorite concerts.  Then, it hit me.  Why couldn’t I combine celebrating the band while celebrating their live performances AND their ability to continue on throughout the good and not-so-good times?!  What show emphasized this the most?  For me, it had to be have been the show in Chicago in October of 2006.  To review Duran history a little bit, let me remind all of you about what event happened right before this show.  The band announced literally the day or a few days before that Andy Taylor was no longer in the band.  While many of us suspected that something was going on and many had heard rumors, we have all learned to wait for official announcements because many, many, many rumors are just that–rumors.  Like a great many in the fan community, we were reeling from the official announcement.  How could we not?  Was this the end?  Would the band be able to continue on?  If so, would it continue to have the same feeling?  The same quality it did with the Fab Five?  By the time the announcement was posted on, Rhonda and I were ready for our mini-tour.  While our excitement level was certainly less than normal, we looked forward to at least seeing each other and to see how the band would cope.  The answer, for me, came during that show. 

This concert was the very first event in the brand new Sears Center, located in Hoffman Estates, north of the city.  We had a difficult time getting there because the weather was horrible (cold and rainy) and traffic was worse, especially since I had to pick people up at two different airports.  By the time we got everyone, checked in and ate dinner, we had to rush to the venue.  We had signs made and cameras, both of which were forgotten in our rush to get to the show.  I’m sure that those pictures would have been the best I had ever taken, too!  Ha!  Perhaps, though, this was good as we could truly only focus on the show.  As we walked around, we heard a number of people talking about Andy’s departure.  Obviously, news had gotten out.  When we finally ventured to our seats, we were pleased that they were 8 rows back, right in front of John Taylor (Was this the last of our John seats?!  Maybe…).  Soon enough, we heard the first notes of Burning the Ground being played, which was how they started the shows then.  I wasn’t too sure of it as a beginning but my excitement definitely increased during it!  This excitement not only remained but increased as the show went on. 

A number of moments stood out for not only me and Rhonda but friends of ours as well.  These moments say a lot about Duran, too.  First, Ordinary World was a complete standout for me.  I will be the first to admit that it isn’t my favorite song and I’m rarely moved by it.  Yet, on that night, Ordinary World became about Duran.  As my friend, Sara, pointed out that night, “This song takes on new meaning tonight.”  Duran had to find their new “ordinary world”, a world without Andy, a world after the reunion ended, a world that could allow Dom Brown, a world that could maybe embrace him.  As soon as the solo started in that song, both Rhonda and I noticed that Dom played it differently than he had previously (We had seen him play in 2005 when Andy was gone to take care of his ill father).  Then, Dom again drew our attention during Sunrise when he was singing the chorus.  Dom began to really show himself without disrespecting the band’s loss and our loss as fans.  He needed to step up but he didn’t hog the spotlight.  Somehow, he managed a perfect balance that night on a night that was a true turning point.  Right then and there, we were fans.  We had to be. 

Beyond those highlights with Dom, John and Simon seemed to be playful.  It was Simon’s birthday (the next day) and he definitely enjoyed the extra attention he received from the crowd while John kept trying to bring him back down to reality by reminding him that it wasn’t his birthday until midnight.  Simon kept arguing that it was past midnight in the UK.  Another key highlight was that John seemed to keep looking at Rhonda and me.  Perhaps, this had to do with the fact that we were in direct line of sight.  Nonetheless, I was amused when John mouthed to Rhonda that she should “keep singing.”.  That Rhonda can be such a slacker!!  By the end of the show, Rhonda and I were full of energy and excitement that was obvious to everyone around us.  In fact, at the end of the show, some woman in front of us said to us, “I haven’t seen such enthusiasm in years.”  The band seemed to think the show was a good one, too.  John kept coming back to the microphone to talk to the audience.  It was like he didn’t want to leave.  I didn’t want them to leave either. 

When I look back to that show, what made it one of the best shows I have been to was it showed how strong the Duran spirit was.  The band seemed to be pushing themselves to be their best.  Was this because they felt like they had something to prove after Andy left?  Maybe.  Did they need to prove it to us?  In some ways, sure, it was important to show the fans that they weren’t planning on ending and that they knew that they could and would continue on.  Dom’s performance showed us, not only what a talented and respectful guy he is, but also that he would and could contribute to Duran’s future.  Yes, it would never be the same but it could still be good.  Isn’t that what Ordinary World’s message is really all about?  Yes, there is sadness and heartbreak in life.  Yet, one has to keep moving in order to find the new normal.  Duran took that step on that cold, damp night in Chicago.  They showed us and themselves that they were strong enough to survive. 

It has been almost six years since and, in my opinion, Duran has found their new “ordinary world”, their new normal.  It isn’t like it was with Andy and it isn’t like what it was with Warren.  Yet, it is still good and like all of Duran history, it is worthy of appreciation and celebration.