You would think that I would welcome writing this blog, right? After all, I am a John Taylor fan. He’s my favorite. Yet, this blog makes me nervous as I want to do an amazing job to be worthy, to do his birthday justice. I am not all that confident that I’m up to the task, especially since this is a big birthday for our favorite bass man. Alas, I’ll do the best I can.
I have a confession to make. I was not always a John Taylor girl. I hesitate to even admit this but…when I first found out about Duran Duran at the tender age of 8, I gravitated towards Simon. After all, he was the voice of the band. Even the initial videos that I saw from Hungry Like the Wolf to Save a Prayer focused on him, or at least that is how I saw it then. One video changed all that.
All it took was one direct look into the camera for me to openly and loudly declare, “Oh, he’s cute!” Thankfully, my childhood best friend totally agreed with me. We both fell for him at the same time. Interestingly enough, we were too young to compete or to fight over who got to claim him as theirs as many other young, female Duranies did. No, for us, it was reassuring that we could pick out the “cute one.” It meant that we were normal, somehow.
After that, Beth (my childhood friend) and I sought out every picture, every interview, every moment focusing on John Taylor. When one of us got a new magazine, we would stare and dissect every picture and every word credited to be his. We tried to like what he did. John is a James Bond fan? Let’s check out some Bond films. He liked cars. Let’s fantasize about which cars we wanted as adults. Of course, we followed him with the Power Station side project and thought we had died and gone to heaven when this solo song came out.
For me, for my friend, John Taylor was just the coolest. He was so fashionable, so smart, so articulate–the exact opposite of what we saw in our working class south suburb of Chicago.
Like so many, Duran Duran took the back seat of life for awhile as I finished high school and throughout college. Yet, I never forgot the band and tried to pay attention to what they were doing, when I could. At that point, a new friend made sure to let me know what she was hearing about the band happenings. We went to see Duran for the first time in 1993 and loved the show even though something felt slightly off to me. After that, I paid a little bit more attention and remember being shocked when I heard that John had left the band. It felt like one more foundational piece of my childhood was gone. I didn’t know the circumstances or his reasoning. I just never thought I would see it. That said, I still felt excited whenever I saw John appear on TV, usually to celebrate the 80s like in this clip:
Thankfully, all the stars aligned in the early 2000s as the band reunited and I finished graduate school. I found myself with more time and desperately seeking some fun. All I needed was to have someone mention Duran Duran and their reunion and I became obsessed. When did they get back together? Would that make new music? Would they tour? Would I be able to find fellow fans to hang out with? Similarly, what did I miss? What could I catch up on? It was like someone invited me to a Duran Duran all-you-can-eat buffet. I literally could not get enough as I caught up with albums like Medazzaland and Pop Trash. More fun, though, was to find all of John’s solo work.
As I got to know John’s work, I discovered that his lyrics were vastly different than what we were used to with Simon. John’s words tended to be more personal, more obviously autobiographical. As I listened, I often thought to myself that he had to write them in such a way. He needed to. He needed to be that honest, that open. It reminds me of how writing this blog has allowed me to think through things, to figure stuff out. While many Duranies criticized his work for this reason or others, I found it so incredibly brave. It is not easy to show yourself like that, especially after being on a pedestal for decades by countless fans.
As the reunion moved into present day Duran Duran, I noticed that I began seeing John differently. He was no longer that perfect fantasy of youth, cooler than cool. He also wasn’t the guy trying to process through life changes and the battle for sobriety that I saw in looking back at his solo days. It felt like I began to see John more as a complex human being with a full range of characteristics, feelings, etc. He was no longer the flat stereotype of a teen heart throb of my childhood and he was no longer the 2 dimensional image of a rock star trying to get himself together. No, he is way more than that. He can be the teacher educating us all about how various Duran songs were created in his bass tutorials. He can also be the writer of his own experiences in his autobiography.
While he is still the coolest guy in the room, he is also willing to be silly and even dorky as seen by the awesome Dad dancing of Danceophobia.
As I think about wishing John Taylor a happy birthday, I cannot help but to think about the gifts that he has given all of us. Those presents are more than just the music that he has created and performed over the years, at least for me. I think about how much he has taught me about the kind of person I would like to be. It isn’t about trying to be super cool. No, it is about embracing who you are, sharing your truth and finding joy without really caring what others might think of you. For all of that and more, I wish John the happiest of birthdays and many, many, many more to come!
June is a busy month, isn’t it? After all, it is one filled with graduations, parties and everything else that is connected with the end of a school year and beginning of summer. Mother’s Day just happened and Father’s Day is around the corner. For my family, my sister’s birthday is in between those. Obviously, my Duranie family celebrates quite a few special days with first Nick’s birthday, now Dom’s and later John’s. Has everyone had a chance to read Dom’s lengthy birthday message on the band’s official website? Let me copy and paste it here:
I’ve been very quiet on social media as of late but glad to say we’re all well here and I hope that you and your loved ones are too, staying safe wherever in the World you are! What crazy and unprecedented times we’re going through!
Yep, it’s that time of year again for us Geminis to celebrate another birthday. It’s mine today!
It’s been an interesting year, but obviously the last few months can’t be compared with anything any of us have ever experienced before. I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy during lockdown: homeschooling, working in my studio, gardening, reading and watching much more news than usual.
I’ve been hunkered down in my studio working on some solo music that is very long overdue. I’m pretty happy with a lot of it, so there may even be something released later in the year. I feel quite lucky having my own studio where I’ve been able to safely hideaway whilst experimenting with some new equipment, ideas, songs and sounds.
I’ve also been very busy with the new challenge we face of homeschooling, and I’m sure all the parents out there can relate to my description of using the word ‘challenge’! It’s been going well but my recently-turned-fourteen year old boy is constantly trying to get away with the bare minimum and shaving off time where ever possible. It’s been a good time for bonding with the children though, and I’m getting quite used to the new normal… but am hoping things will soon return to some semblance of how they were before.
I’m particularly missing performing and going to see concerts and shows. It was pretty disappointing having to postpone some of the DD shows we had lined up for this summer, especially Hyde Park, Rock In Rio and the Isle of Wight headline slots. I also had a few of my own shows lined up that have been postponed, so I’ve attached a video (taken by my 10 year old daughter) of me playing the last section of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” with theDB3 last November. It was a fun show, hope you like it. (Head to duranduran.com to see the video!)
Anyway, off to have some socially distanced social time with some of my family. Look after each other and hopefully we all have a safe year ahead!
I, for one, was pleased to see a long message as it is nice to know that he is doing as well as we can hope for and working on some new solo material. I had to laugh when he talked about homeschooling and how his son wanted to do minimal work. As someone who teaches 14 year olds on a regular basis, I get it. In fact, imagine about 30 of them in the room at one time!
Anyways, as we celebrate Dom’s birthday, I want to thank him for being a part of the Duran Duran team. I remember back in 2005 when I held tickets to shows for the Astronaut tour during my spring break and finding out that Andy had to go home for his dad. Instantly, I felt for Andy and his father but also relief that Dom could step in at a moment’s notice so the shows could go on. As we know from there, Dom made his presence known more and more through having a greater stage presence at shows, to playing on albums, and to helping write some of the best songs Duran has done. On that note, let’s celebrate some of my favorite Dom moments/contributions!
On that note, I wish the happiest birthday to Dom!
The happiest of birthdays to you, Mr. Controller. I can’t say for certain that my friends and I were the first to bestow that moniker upon you, but I do know that we began using that name in 2003 on our message board and it seemed to spread from there. There is not much that pleases me more than hearing your own bandmates use it in reference to you. It is like the gift that keeps on giving, year after year.
I must admit, I have no idea of what you’re doing (or have done) to celebrate this momentous day, but whether it is sorting photographs, taking more photos (which of course will then need to be sorted at some point in the future), working on a musical…trying out new eyeliners…or watching films you’ve been hoping to make time to see but somehow have missed until now, I sincerely hope you have a lovely day.
As you might imagine, I…and thousands of others just like me…dearly miss seeing you on stage, peering down over the top of your keyboards with the occasional knowing smirk. I sincerely miss the joyful expression on your face as Amanda and I duck during the near-misses in the Spit Zone, or as my eyes automatically roll as the first drum beats of Hungry Like the Wolf hit my ears. Those moments, along with many others, make me laugh, and the memories continue to keep a smile on my face.
I can only hope to be in the audience again sometime soon. I will look your way and grin, whether or not you look or notice, but it will indeed be a wonderful “reunion” of sorts. Please stay safe, wash your hands, take care of yourself and Nefer, and have a wonderful birthday!
It’s Roger Taylor’s birthday, everyone! I suspect that you all knew that. If you didn’t remember, Duran Duran’s social media reminded us both last night when it turned midnight in the UK and then again this morning with a message from Roger himself. If you want to hear it for yourself, you can not only check it out via the band’s social media but also on the band’s official website. Now, on top of that, Roger brought us all a gift. (I’m not sure if he understands how this birthday thing works. Usually, the person with the birthday gets the gift and not the other way around. That isn’t to say that we all don’t appreciate it! We all do!) Roger shared a party playlist. Like the message, this can be found on the band’s official website.
Anyway, in honor for Roger’s birthday, I would love to share some clips that I like featuring our favorite drummer.
Interview from 1982
Q&A from 2013
I just realized that most of this post is made up of gifts for us, the fans. After all, who doesn’t love to watch videos of Roger?! Then again, he started this trend himself since he shared a party playlist with all of us. I’m just following in his footsteps, right?
On a more serious note, Roger is celebrating a milestone birthday this year. (60! EEK!) He might not be able to have a huge birthday bash with thousands of people but I hope he is able to enjoy his day with his family and whomever that he is at home with. Happy Birthday, Roger!
My blogging to-do list includes my part of a review that I’m supposed to do for today. I’m being a rebel, though, and not doing it. I will do it for the weekend, though. No, instead I want to take some time to celebrate a certain blogger’s birthday. Yep, yesterday was Rhonda’s birthday. When I started to think about her birthday, I realized that I have been wishing her a happy birthday for 15 years now! 15! So, I figured that it might be fun to share a favorite memory of each of those years as a way to celebrate her and our friendship! (By the way, you should probably get a beverage or 10. It got a little long. I got carried away!)
2004-Howl at the Moon
Rhonda and I met in September of 2004 even though we had chatted online a few times before that. As we have talked about many times before, we came together in New Orleans for the Duran Duran Fan Convention. At the time, I really just wanted to meet as many people as possible, not really thinking about meeting my best friend or partner-in-crime. Then, I would go so far as to say that if I had, Rhonda might have been the last person I would suspect. After all, I knew that she was from Southern California and seemed to be from a far different world than my Midwestern, not-that-cool background. That said, by the time we found ourselves at Howl at the Moon on late Saturday/early Sunday, I felt a connection. I have a strong memory of us sitting in the audience, sipping our drinks while singing along with Hungry Like the Wolf. Yep, that song always seems to have been there.
2005-Partying in Vegas
Here’s a story that I don’t think we have ever shared on this blog before. In the fall of 2005, we met in Vegas for a girls weekend that happened to be the same one as the Andre Agassi charity show that featured a (way too short) set by Duran. After the show, we were ready to party as were the thousands of Duranies there that night. At one point, a friend of ours told Rhonda that she knew where Roger was going to be and that she had access to the VIP part of the club. Rhonda had a choice. She could have easily gone with the cool crowd into this VIP area, but she wouldn’t go without me. So, we found a way to both go. To this day, I’m not really sure why. Rhonda has always been the far cooler one between the two of us with many more people in the community seeking out her friendship and company. For some crazy reason that I’ll never get, she has always included me, probably killing a little of her social status by doing so.
In March of 2006, we attended a Duranie weekend gathering in Chicago. Originally, Rhonda had no plans to go but when an unused plane ticket came available, she jumped at the chance. The weekend was super fun from spending a lot of money on weak drinks at the Holiday Club to watching Live from London with a bunch of other fans. One of my favorite memories of that weekend was when we got separated for some reason and Rhonda had no idea where the heck I had gone to. So, she called and ended up leaving a voicemail. The message was a simple one–where the hell are you followed by…”ho-bag”. Did she just call me a ho-bag, I asked myself. She did. From then on, it is a term that we use more often than you might think we should!
In June of 2007, we met up in New York City for the show-that-shall-not-be-named. The best part of the weekend, though, was attending a pre-show party at the Pyramid Club. As we entered the bar, without speaking, we separated to join other groups. (Strangely enough, I wanted to meet up with fellow John fans and Rhonda moved towards the Roger fans.) What was cool about this was how we met new people, which isn’t easy for either of us, but then came back together at the end of the night to dance and laugh before eating a diner before bed.
2008-George Washington Bridge
The fall of 2008 found us on the East Coast, hitting shows in New Jersey and Connecticut. In the process of traveling from show to show, we had no choice but to hit New York City. Fun fact. I hate bridges and the George Washington Bridge has to be one of my least favorites, especially when stuck on it due to horrendous traffic. Did you know that you can feel the bridge move?! Not fun. Thankfully, Rhonda did not laugh at my anxiety too much. The heavy traffic turned out to be helpful, in some weird way, though. Since we had a lot of time to talk, the first ripples of our research began. I remember this weird feeling of being alive, which came from being with someone who is equally curious, who seeks out knowledge and understanding, who gets excited by revelations.
In 2009, we took Rhonda’s eldest daughter, to her first Duran show. While it was super fun to see her reaction, I enjoyed being a part of this mother/daughter moment. It reminds me of how lucky I have been in that she has shared her kids with me. Not only did I get to see Heather at this show, but I was able to share some advice for her son and her youngest followed my footsteps by being born on April 29th. Fun fact. My mom’s best friend has the same birthdate. It seems like a pattern now!
2010-The Beginning of the Blog
Uh…we started this blog in 2010, a million years ago. While we have talked plenty about the blog, I have to acknowledge that it has made us closer and has worked to always keep us connected. I’m forever thankful for this. We are truly the only two people who know exactly what it is like to be us, the owners of this site. I know that I’m constantly thankful that I am not alone in this public journey. Speaking for myself, I know that I would have folded a long time ago but knowing that I am not alone has definitely given me strength. On that note, I have to give another shout out to the birthday woman. Thank goodness that she deals with keeping the computer programming aspect of this going as I have neither the will, the time or the patience to tackle it.
We have probably written about some aspect or another of our trips to the UK in 2011 countless times. This is a little different, though. When we went to the UK in May of 2011 for the shows that did not happen, we still ended up in Birmingham, mostly because it was too late to change plans. Even though many told us that there was no reason to really go there, I was glad to be there. I wanted to see where the band I know and loved came from. In fact, before we left, I had done some research about where Duran related places were located and wrote up a walking tour of sorts. After all, I figured that this was my one chance to really gain a new and/or deeper understanding of Duran. Well, by the time we got to the city, our traveling companions weren’t that excited, to say the least. In fact, they really wanted Rhonda to push me into forgetting about it. She didn’t do that. No, she supported me in my desire to really see the city. Much like the VIP club in 2005, she could have chosen to be with the cooler people and chose me instead. By the end of the day, I believe that she was glad to have joined me on this tour even if it separated her from the others. On top of that, again, we found ourselves having a unique experience that only worked to bring us closer together.
The summer tour of 2012 was a monumental one in that we finally found ourselves in the front row. Biloxi’s general admission setting provided us the chance to get up early and wait all day to get that coveted spot. For once, we just embraced the idea. We didn’t talk ourselves out of it or tell ourselves that the desire for the front was dumb. Then, as we have previously written about, we weren’t so awesome during the show once we met that goal. This reminded us that we are still learning and to just dive into enjoying shows, no matter what.
Umm…we organized and hosted a weekend long convention in Chicago during the fall of 2013. That alone would make for an awesome memory but there is one part that really made me smile. At the end of Saturday night/early Sunday morning, we arrived back to the hotel from the 80s club via the party bus along with a number of convention attendees. Something told Rhonda and myself that we shouldn’t follow the crowd in. Instead, we ran down the road before heading over to a diner for an early breakfast. The relief we felt after having it all go successfully required some down time.
Over the years, Rhonda and I have visited each other’s houses a number of times. Sometimes, those have been connected to shows or tours and some have not. Rhonda came out to visit in the summer of 2014 in order to finish one of our manuscripts, which we did. Beyond that, though, the time allowed us plenty of time to talk and just enjoy being together. Typically, when we are together, we are constantly on the move to get to shows or to get ready for some event or another. This visit, though, wasn’t about that. It gave us real time. I, for one, loved showing off my life to some extent. Visits like these help give insight that cannot really happen on tour. This is why, at some point, I would love to welcome Rhonda into my classroom so that she could see that aspect of my life or even on the campaign trail.
Desperation results in people flying out to Los Angeles to see one to three songs performed live. Yep. This was me in the spring of 2015. I needed a Duran fix so I did what must be done and flew out to LA to see the band perform at the David Lynch Tribute Show. The night of the show was so fun from getting pictures with some band members, enjoying many drinks, closing down the bar and more. Yeah, it might not have been the most logical move for me, but so fun. I’m forever thankful that Rhonda just went with my crazy plan (as usual). (Let me make it clear–when it comes to shows, I’m almost always the one to push for more shows and not less.)
This memory makes me shake my head. I know that you have all read the story of our interactions with Simon that night at the hotel bar after the show. While I love the heck out of that part, I’m almost more amused by two statements made by Rhonda that night. When we first arrived at the bar, we knew that the night was going to be something…um…interesting, so when the waiter asked if we wanted drinks, Rhonda let him know that he should just keep them coming. She explained that there was no reason for him to waste time by asking. No, he should just keep making them. The result? We were a little tipsy by the end of the night and that was a pricey bar bill. Then, if that was not enough, at the end of the night, Rhonda struggled to take off her earring. No clue why. I even tried to help. I think back to how ridiculous we must of looked, I laugh and laugh.
2017-Lime Green Shoes
Who would ever consider doing this and why?
2018-Post Election Day
I suspect that a lot of people don’t really understand my political activism. Rhonda might not either but I do appreciate that she tries to get it. More than that, she has celebrated my wins. I cannot begin to express how much that means to me. Likewise, she offers sympathy when I lose a battle. That kind of support means a lot and helps me to keep going for the next fight. A good example of what I’m talking about is the blog she wrote the day after Election Day 2018, after I had won a big one. She didn’t care about writing about Duran or fandom. No, she used the blog to congratulate me. I thank her for that. It means a lot.
Somehow, despite all, we are venturing onward with another project. It would be safe to say that we are both excited by this one. Every time we conference (like we will today) I am reminded about how lucky I am to have a best friend that is so smart and committed to doing a good job with researching and writing. How lucky am I that my best friend is not only the person I laugh with the most, have the most fun with but also can work with?
As I look back at these last 15 years, I realize how fortunate I have been to have Rhonda in my life. She has been around for so much, including some absolutely amazing times and moments and some really tough ones. On top of that, together, we have created an amazing blog that has such an overwhelming amount of posts. Our research has taught us a lot about the process, about ourselves and about each other. So, on the day after Rhonda’s birthday, I raise a glass for her, wish her a happy birthday and thank her for all of these memories and countless more! Happy Birthday, Ho-Bag!
This is a true statement, and I think it’s kind of funny! I know I fantasized for years about marrying Roger, and I even thought about Nick for a time or two, but never John. (We’re not even going to talk about my fellow scorpio – Simon.)
It is John Taylor’s birthday. For many, it may as well be an international holiday, judging from the looks of my social media this morning. I had no idea that so many have been less than arms length away from the man!!
In full disclosure, I am not one of those people. I would almost say I have no business writing a happy birthday post for John. Aside from loudly announcing “The album is beautiful, John!” across a very crowded table at a signing for Astronaut, I don’t think I’ve even spoken to him…or even yelled words his way. (unless you count “Play the Fucking Bass, John” at a concert. I’m not really sure I do.)
That isn’t to say I don’t greatly admire him. Of course I do. I just never thought I was going to marry him. (and it turns out, I was 100% correct!) Even Amanda has met and exchanged words (along with a Daily Duranie wristband!) with him before…and there was that picture as he was leaving the Ace hotel in Los Angeles. I was there for that!
Funny story – that night at the Ace hotel, I was right beside Amanda and a few others as John left the hotel with Gela (and I honestly can’t remember who else). I was standing there eating some of the worst crackers I’ve ever had, all because I’d missed dinner. I was starving though, so as lousy as those crackers might have been, I was eating them, Just as I’d shoved some in my mouth – of course – out pops John Taylor from the hotel. My mouth was completely dry at the time, and I was trying to eat these stupid crackers that seemed to make my mouth even drier with every chew. I couldn’t get them down fast enough.
So my friends were yelling for Amanda and I to run up and stand with John for a picture. He was clearly in a hurry, and his wife was not amused by our fan antics one single bit. In all fairness, I am pretty much the same way when Walt and I are leaving one of his work parties. I don’t care that so-and-so wants to get one last word in about a product they’re working on. It’s actually NOT lovely that his boss wants us to meet gorgeous wife #6, or talk to my husband about the upcoming trade show. Do it at work! Do not get in my way, people – I’m going HOME now.
Say what you will about wives buying into the dream when they marry a rock star. When it all comes down to it, at the end of the day, all wives want to do is go home, get into comfy clothes, and have their guy take out the damn trash…and maybe grab them a bowl of ice cream while they’re in the kitchen. Gela doesn’t strike me as an ice cream person, but you get the idea. Maybe she wants a nice kale salad before bed, or something, who knows?!? All I really know for sure is that a husband, is a husband, is a husband, John Taylor or not! They’re all men, and we’re all women, when it comes to life at home, people!
Anyway, as I took a quick once-over at the entire situation there in front of the hotel. John stopped long enough to allow a picture, and I saw Gela standing in front of their car, ready to go…and I was still chewing. I realized there was no way I’m was doing it. Nope. Instead, I casually took about three giant steps backward, cheered Amanda on, and congratulated myself on once again, avoiding a super awkward situation with one of my idols.
I’m so good.
<you should in fact read sarcasm, and imagine an eye roll right here>
As I stood there, I was able to really see the insanity in all of it’s glory. I was thrilled for Amanda, no doubt about it – I mean, that was her favorite, right there beside her! No part of me was jealous because that’s dumb, and I’m the one who refused to take part. As I was finally getting the last of the mouthful of crackers down my gullet, narrowly avoiding choking on them, I heard my friend Katie loudly say, “Smile, John!” He snapped into full rock star mode, breaking into a toothy grin. I would have sworn the words were like Pavlov’s Bell.
I chuckled as I leaned against a pole. All I could think about was how well-trained John was to the whole picture-taking, fan-paparazzi thing. I decided in that one millisecond that it would drive me crazy if I were famous. I glanced over at the Escalades lined up in the street. Gela was crossing her arms at this point, and my friends had the nerve to ask John to smile on top of just having him stand there. God, I love Duranies. There were people milling all over the place, and I was starting to see (and hear) other Duranies crooning for his attention as he dashed off to the car. I can only imagine what Gela must have said to John as he got to her side and into their vehicle that night. I stood there and said nothing. It all happened so fast that I could have blinked…or chewed some crackers…and missed it. Instead, those few seconds seemed to drag on, probably so that I’d be able to commit them to memory forever.
Several years later—like just this past February—I had the opportunity to ask a mutual friend if it drove John crazy to be stopped every few feet, or if they think it’s crazy to have people want 50,000 photos, or to see people practically living in their hotel lobby. She said that it doesn’t bother him most of the time, and that he gets it.
(I’m still not entirely sure I’m buying that he’s on board with the lobby situation, but whatever floats your boat.)
Of course he gets being a fan, though. I’m equal parts not surprised, and genuinely shocked at the same time. I suppose a part of me always figured that human nature would dictate annoyance. I mean, who really freaking wants to be stopped every few feet? I don’t care if you are a living rock GOD, or if you’re John Taylor and owe your success to fans like me (which I find to be a pretty repugnant statement that entitled fans like to throw out whenever they please) – you also sometimes just want to go up to your room in peace. By the same token, John has spoken about his own idols and his own fandom enough to where I realize that out of everyone in this band – if anyone does get it – it’s him.
I think that’s probably what I admire most about John…at least from afar. He is pretty normal. I mean, for somebody who has been a rock star for most of his life, anyway. Upon first glance, you look at him and think he’s got to be just about perfect. Right?!? But then, you realize he’s worn glasses that were probably thicker than yours, and you see him dance on stage, and you’re like – Oh yeah. You ARE still human! Thank goodness!!
It’s true, I’ve never met the guy. I am friends with some of his closest friends (true story!!), but I’ve never met him. Yet. (who knows??) I just know the same things that the rest of you do about him. I like that he gives back. He continues daily work on a serious, life threatening illness – addiction – and used what he has learned from it to help other people. I just don’t believe people give back in that way unless they mean it. That matters to me. He also wears what I would call high-water track pants on stage, and has a sense of fashion that quite frankly, makes me laugh. I’m thinking of that sequined jacket of Gela’s he stole for a photo in Vegas, and of course – the neon pants he (and Simon – in different colors) wore to an interview in Toronto a few years back. Awesome. I love it. Then again, I live in denim jeans. So, there you go.
Once upon a time, John was pretty active on social media. One of the things I remember most was that he had followed a couple fans (not me, but others). I remember wrangling the idea in my head because on one hand – he should be able to follow, befriend, and converse, with whomever he wants. On the other hand – it meant certain disaster. Fans compete for that sort of thing, and I felt it might get ugly. Even so, I encouraged it because I really believed (and still do believe) that fan engagement matters. One day – not long before he quit social media altogether – he tweeted something about how people can get their feelings hurt once he followed and then unfollowed them. I’d not thought about that. I’ve been followed and unfollowed thousands of times now. I don’t even pay attention anymore because it doesn’t matter to me personally. It’s just Twitter. That said, I’m pretty sure I’d notice if someone important to me followed me, and then unfollowed me. I felt awful, because he was right. I think John understood being a fan better than I even did.
John is one of the most knowledgable music people I (don’t) know. I still thoroughly enjoy hearing about his music recommendations when he is a guest in the Katy Kafe. I appreciate that he wants to learn how to paint someday, maybe. I can’t even draw much, beyond doing a pretty good freehand copy of Pikachu. (It’s a Pokemon. I did learn a few things from being a mom, I guess.) Weirdly, I like that he’ll even mention what he might want to do when he retires from Duran Duran. I guess that does sound funny, and I’m sure many fans recoil in horror at the idea. I just like the idea that in some super small way, we can get past Duran Duran and just be people. Is that strange? Probably.
I may not be normal, and I may not have ever said I was going to marry John…but I DO wish him a very happy birthday! As I said on social media: Thank you for continuing to inspire (and teach) me. See you in September!!
I have another Duran birthday to cover! Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to share a little of what I love about Nick Rhodes to celebrate him and wish him the happiest of birthdays. Now, I turn to the person behind the guitar. That’s right, it is Dom’s birthday!!! Like Nick’s birthday blog, I’m opting to share a little bit about what I love about Dom and why I’m super glad to have him in Duran.
The first time I saw Dom play live was in March of 2005 during the Astronaut Tour. While I had seen him make a couple of TV appearances in December of the previous year, I didn’t pay much attention. In 2005, I could not ignore him. I would go so far as to say that I appreciated the heck out of him. Like many, then, I was so upset when I discovered that Andy would not be touring with the band during that week as he had traveled back to the UK to be with his critically ill father. While I desperately wanted Andy as I was one of the last people to see the Fab Five live (or so it seemed), I understood and was grateful that Dom could step in. After all, I didn’t want the shows to be canceled. During that week, I saw Dom play in four cities: Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Moline. My biggest take away then. This guy had no ego. He helped make the songs sound like Duran without drawing one ounce of attention to himself. In my mind, he did exactly what he should have.
Fast forward to October 2006 when the band had just announced the departure of Andy Taylor. Again, I found myself at a show in Chicago, wondering what the heck it was going to be like without Andy. At the time, I had no idea if Dom was just filling in before someone permanent came in or what. I assumed that he would play as he did in 2005. Yet, I saw something different that night. He still was respectful, professional, but he also was part of the show more. I distinctly remember noticing him sing back up during Sunrise as I turned to Rhonda and welcomed him to the band. While I was still heartbroken over Andy, Dom’s presence felt right, good. Even his introduction showed this:
The next tour provided me something new to pay attention to when live shows. That’s right. I started to notice the DoJo, those moments when Dom and John seemed to really jam. I went to see the band perform on Broadway in the fall of 2007 when they played the entire Red Carpet Massacre album. After the show, I told Rhonda about how awesome the song, Tricked Out, was live. She didn’t believe me. It sounded so different live. If that was not enough, the DoJo during the song was mind-blowing, to say the least.
The next album cycle found Dom more and more active with the band. I loved seeing him in the video for All You Need Is Now, for example. I’m glad that he participated as a writing partner on the album as well. Then, I saw him give some interviews or on video clips like this holiday greeting.
He managed to do something else pretty amazing, which is to help make Hungry Like the Wolf live more tolerable. Heck, part of me even began to look forward to it. Impressive.
If all of that was not enough, Dom also has a solid solo career that I recommend that Duranies check out (if you haven’t already).
All in all, I’m so glad that he is around and part of the Duran Duran team. He certainly has made my fandom better and I wish him the happiest of birthdays!!!
This blog is much later than I had hoped. I have not been feeling good all day so I’m going much slower than I expected. Today is a big day in all of Duranland as it is Nick Rhodes’s birthday! How best to celebrate the keyboard player, the controller, the alien?! I would like to highlight the moments/videos that make me really appreciate him and super glad that he decided to form Duran Duran with his buddy, John.
Let’s start with the video in which Nick first caught my attention. I thought he looked so cute in it and even thought that he might be my favorite after seeing it. More interestingly, after I saw this video, I decided to dress as Nick in this video for Halloween. This, of course, worked better in my brain than it did in my childhood neighborhood where people didn’t get it. I got a lot of, “Who are you supposed to be?”
Of course, I quickly found out how smart he is when I started to pay attention to interviews with him. I remember watching Sing Blue Silver as a kid and thinking about what an amazing vocabulary he has. Simon even commented there about the “agile brain of Nick Rhodes at work.” It impressed me and made me want to be equally as smart. (I’m not but I will always try!)
Then, as I got older and my fandom matured, I noticed different things about Nick. I had heard, for example, that his gum chewing (which the Nick girls love!) was to show his frustration with the decision to make Serious a single. I don’t know if it is true but the story amuses me. It also tells me that he is passionate about all things Duran and the decisions the band makes.
I also appreciate the artistic side of Nick. First, of course, there is the photography from Interference in the 1980s to more recent exhibits like Bel Incubi as seen here.
Then, there are other examples of his artistic side through projects like Unstaged when the band worked with David Lynch.
I also appreciate the heck out of Nick at live shows. My favorite live show moment with Nick definitely has to be in Brighton in 2011. After having traveled to the UK twice in a year to see the band play there, we were finally seeing them on stage. Rhonda and I were beyond excited. Then, when the first notes of Secret Oktober began, we couldn’t contain ourselves as we turned towards one and another to hug. As we focused back on the stage, we noticed Nick looking at us and laughing. Clearly, he thought our reaction was pretty ridiculous! Likewise, he always seems so entertained by people’s reactions of disgust to Simon’s water spitting during White Lines. Lastly, there is his addition to the Reflex live when he answers the question, “Why don’t you use it?” His responses are always so entertaining (when and if I can understand them!)
But I think the video that best captures how I always want to think of Nick Rhodes is the following one. As someone who got to walk through the same Brompton Cemetery, I feel very lucky because not only did I get an amazing place but I also felt closer to Nick for having done so.
On that note, I wish Nick a very happy birthday! I hope he has an amazing day and that it begins the very best year for him!
I love April 29th. If there is one thing I know each year – it is what will be written on this beautiful day. For me, this day has practically taken on “National Holiday” type significance. In a single day, I get to celebrate both the birth of my very best friend AND my youngest child. I can’t really think of a better reason to take off from work and school – although I would is at school, working as usual today.
Oh – yeah, my youngest is at home. In fact, she’s still upstairs sleeping. She’s also homeschooled on Mondays, so I don’t know that this really “counts” as taking the day off from school. (although we are – we’re going to the zoo instead, which is a learning experience cleverly disguised as a fun day out!)
There is no question here – Amanda is, by far, the hardest worker I’ve ever known. I’ve never known anyone with the passion she has, whether it comes to teaching, or politics. She isn’t someone who just says how she feels – whether in person or on Twitter or other social media. She works for the change, and she works hard. Amanda takes causes to heart, and she’s the kind of person who feels these things with her whole heart, mind, and body. I love that about her, even though I am almost the opposite.
I’ve known Amanda for sixteen years now. The time has really flown by, and while we’ve done a lot together, she has done an amazing amount of things outside of Duran Duran. I can’t really be sure of how many campaigns she’s worked on now – I try to count, but I know there’s been more than “just” the few Presidential, at least two gubernatorial, and a local school board campaign – I just can’t quite keep track. She’s worked at three schools, and has personally touched the lives of probably thousands of children now.
Then there are the every day things. She still finds time to check in with her wayward writing partner every now and then. Recently I’ve had some serious worries going on outside of what I would normally blog about, and she’s made sure to let me know she’s there if I need her. I have no doubt whatsoever that she’s done the same for other family and friends, too. Amanda is quick to put herself and her own needs aside more often than not – purely because she really believes you do for others before you do for yourself.
I know that to many – particularly Duranies – Amanda is quiet (I’m gonna add “until you get to know her” right here, because it is true!). I’ve been told she’s hard to get to know, and I know Amanda is aware of that perception, although I would wholeheartedly argue that it’s really not true. No, she doesn’t really hang out online because in her view – there’s really no time for that, and the time she does have, she’d probably rather spend doing something more productive. I really didn’t get to know Amanda until I met her in person at a convention, even though we were both on the same message boards beforehand. I’m glad it happened the way it did. I mean, who else bonds over vodka tonics??
I would say, in the kindest sort of way possible, that she isn’t very quick to let people in. I appreciate that she’s guarded about who she trusts, too. However, once she does open up a bit, she is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you’ll ever meet. Amanda isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in, but she’s also not afraid to let you know that she’s right by your side. I’m very lucky to call her a friend, much less my closest one.
She and I have been through quite a bit together…much of which, I would prefer to keep out of print. We’ve spent many hours over the past sixteen years laughing. More than a few of those hours have been at the expense of this band, which makes me giggle even today! Lately though, we’ve done precious little of that. Life has this crazy way of changing in incremental ways over the course of a few years, and before you notice – you realize you haven’t spoken with your closest friend in many months. I am hoping to correct that this next year and get back to regular phone calls and video sessions.
There is no one else with whom I’ve written more than one manuscript, spent blocks of hours on Skype, planned a convention, huddled over a notebook making edits, reviewed concerts, taken train rides all over the UK, v-logged in hotel convention areas, stayed up all night laughing, or even spent an entire week using dueling computers in an office. We have done a lot, my friend!
For a while, I really thought we were done writing, though. Turns out that no, we did need a break, but we’re going to get that damn book published. Even if we have to do it ourselves.
So, we’re not quite finished with one another yet. I suspect we have at least one more UK trip left in the tank, and hopefully a few more shows. After all, we haven’t hit the century mark yet. Still think we need to do a cross country trip with a motor home and a group of concert buddies…. can you imagine that insanity??
So, to my dearest friend Amanda: enjoy your birthday. I hope you take pride in what you’ve accomplished this past year. Your tenacity, passion, and drive continually make me stop and marvel at what a single person can manage to influence! If I had one small piece of advice as an older (but not really wiser) human, it would be to stop and smell the roses just a little more often. It will not hurt anyone for you to take a moment and breathe deeply. Our souls need replenishing every once in a while so that we can keep fighting that good fight. Your soul and body will thank you. You always feel guilty for taking a break, and yet everybody needs one. The better care you take of yourself now, the longer that fight will stay in you.
I do not know if I have ever actually the blog post for Roger’s birthday before! I am feeling the pressure a little bit to do a quality job. Typically, when I do a blog post for one of the band member’s birthday, I usually either focus on personal stories or his accomplishments. I will try to do a little bit of both even though I have had limited interactions with Roger.
As a kid, I didn’t notice Roger a ton. I’m sure a big part of that is that he did not get a lot of attention in teen magazines, interviews, etc. That said, I don’t know any Duranie who missed Roger Taylor in this video:
That said, when I did see an interview with him as a kid, I always liked him. He seemed sincere and sweet. It wasn’t about being funny or charming or cool like I sometimes sensed with the others. (Not that I think any of that is bad!) Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
Of course, we know that Roger walked away in 1986, which made everyone so sad. We knew that we would miss him and that the band wouldn’t be the same without him. Then, after almost 10 years, he appeared in this video giving us all hope of a real return:
We all had to wait for a few more years before he came back to the band during the reunion. One thing I immediately noticed with the reunion was the sheer relief that everyone I knew had about Roger’s return. I bet the band felt the same way. They no longer had to teach someone Roger’s parts!
Since the reunion, I have found myself appreciating him more than I ever did as a kid. I think some of that is simply his skills as a drummer, which can be seen in the this clip.
As an adult, I have been lucky enough to see Roger in person a few times outside of the concert venue. The first time was in the summer of 2005 when I saw the band at a hotel they were staying at. Admittedly Roger was not my first priority when the band arrived as I was determined to get John’s autograph, which I did. After meeting that goal, I sought the rest of the band. I found Roger chatting with a couple of friends of mine. The word I would use to describe him at that moment was friendly. He didn’t seem guarded or reserved but social. I approached him about getting an autograph and he said that he didn’t give out autographs at the hotel, that was his line in the sand. I told him I understood and moved on. I learned something valuable that day. It was the first time I really got that celebrities might have personal rules about how, when and how much to interact with fans. I appreciated that he had that line and respectfully told him that I understood as I walked away. Later, Roger approached me as stood by the elevators to ask if I had seen “any of his people.” I kid you not. That is how he asked me. The funny part is that I pointed in the direction I saw Simon go and he chose the opposite!
After that night in 2005, I have also seen Roger at a CD signing and a few nightclubs (some where he was DJing and one where he wasn’t). In almost all of those cases, I chose not to go to him for pictures or autographs. I am not really sure why. Maybe that initial meeting stayed with me more than I originally thought. It certainly wasn’t negative and I didn’t fear that he would be angry or annoyed with me for reaching out. No, it was more about respecting his desire to have space. I distinctly remember seeing him in a bar in 2011. As usual with Rhonda and myself, I stood to the corner with my friends and just watched people interact. Roger talked with lots of fans that night and smiled the entire time, from what I could tell. Yet, I continued to give him space even though I wanted to approach him like everyone else was. I, too, wanted my moment or my picture but I felt conflicted based on that previous interaction.
Now, I think I see Roger in a different light than I did as a kid. Back then, he almost didn’t seem real, like a character in a movie. Did I feel that way because he was so guarded? So shy? So often not in the spotlight? Now, he feels real, complex. Maybe it is from listening to so many Katy Kafes as he discusses his young son or his work with Road to Recovery as seen here:
As Roger celebrates another birthday, I know that I’m very glad about what he brings to the band, both musically and personally. As a fan, I feel like he brings a unique perspective and a balance that Duran Duran has always and will always need. Thus, on his 59th birthday, I wish him a fabulous birthday and the most amazing year of his life so far! Happy Birthday Roger!!!
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!