My world was very small back when I was eleven, twelve and even thirteen. I read magazines like Tiger Beat, Bop or Teen Beat. I watched Video One, MV3, Friday Night Videos and later, MTV. I had a group of no less than four and no more than about eight friends with me at school…and although the cast of characters changed depending upon whom was angry with whom at any given time…these were the people I counted on outside of my family. It was these girls I trusted to know just as much about the band as I, and it was with these girls that I first learned to share and coexist.
You see, as John Taylor touched upon in his book, it was not enough to say you liked the band – at least not in my experience at Sunflower Junior High in Glendora, California. Oh no, because the very next question after “Who is your favorite band?” and one answered “Duran Duran” was “Who is your favorite?” The funny thing is that even today – this is EASILY one of the first questions I hear being asked when people meet for the first time. It’s even become a way of introducing oneself on a message board. “Hi, my name is Rhonda, I live in Southern California, I’ve been a fan for over 30 years now (who is counting???) and my favorite band member is Roger.” (Or Dom, as the case might be.) Back when I was in my formative years, this question of naming a favorite band member signified plenty. As John mentioned, it was simply not done to have more one person in a group of friends like the same band member. It had the potential to get very messy when we’d be sitting in a circle at lunchtime out on the quad, discussing the merits of the latest Tiger Beat article. (Yes, even then we would complain about the interview questions!) I mean, if someone just openly announced that they were expecting John Taylor to swoop in on his white horse and proclaim his love for them…what would be done if yet another John Taylor girl was sitting in the group? No no, this just would not do. So oddly, we found ways to work it out. We simply chose another band member as our favorite.
In my case, it always seemed that the trouble was with John. As in, there was only one of him, and at any given time in my circle of friends – there were at least two girls, and very likely three or even four, who were insistent that he was indeed, taken. As in, “He’s mine. You’ll need to choose another favorite to follow.” Never did I see this happen with other band members. There always seemed to be just one Simon girl, one Nick girl, and one Roger girl (that’d be me). I never had to fight off other girls for Roger – they would say “Oh, he’s just far too quiet, Rhonda.” I’d smile shyly and say “That’s fine. I am too.” And I was. Back then. Never really had a lot of friends that were Andy girls, but I do remember my friend Terri from junior high being exceptionally fond of Andy – saying he was the only “real man” in the group. She was twelve.
I came to believe that John Taylor was the prime real estate of the group. It was easy to figure why – those cheekbones should have been illegal and don’t even get me started on his bleached bangs (in the US we call them bangs – I think elsewhere they refer to them as “fringe”, which sounds so much better…). Alas, I was not a fighter – I was very much a peacekeeper at the time, so I simply found the guy that no one really knew much about because he was so quiet. Other friends found their favorite, and for the most part we coexisted as our own band of five. Or eight…which was sticky at times, but we made it work. From what I could tell, even the teen mags sided with John here on the US soil. Naturally much of this might have been my teenage perception at work, but the way I saw it was that John was the “face”, Simon (while certainly no slouch in the looks department) was the outgoing one, Nick was well – king of eyeliner and fashion – the artsy one, Roger was the dark and quiet one, and Andy was the rocker. Made perfect sense to me and I never once questioned whether or not it was the case everywhere else in the world. “Everywhere” for me consisted of my relatively small junior high school (I think there might have been 300 kids at the school in total over 3 grades (sixth through eighth grade) and maybe it branched out to my city of Glendora/Covina. Then again, maybe not. Like I said, my world was very, very small in the years of 1981-1984.
Oddly, it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I ever started questioning whether or not what I believed to be case law when it came to Duran Duran was really and truly the case worldwide…and it was because of a simple comment that was made on our blog. The commenter simply mentioned that she had always thought Simon was the most popular. When I first read the comment, I sat back bewildered and pondered the situation. No, I was certain that it was always John. Although, what she mentioned about Simon’s twitter is in fact true – he does have more followers. Then in a flash I realized that wait, I’m 42 years old now!! Do we really care who is the most popular these days?? Should we??
I can’t answer that question. For me personally as someone who is claiming that their “favorite” band member these days is someone who wasn’t even in the original group – I think I have to let a lot of that just go. I mean, here I am at 42 and I’m still even claiming I have a favorite! Obviously some part of me never quite grew up, and I’m just going to own and embrace that. But, I do wonder if things were the same for every other fan across the continents. As I traded replies yesterday, the subject of where each of us lived came up. She is from the UK, and I am from the US. Maybe that really made the difference. Who was the band member that girls seemed to “fight over” the most where you lived?
The internet has both exponentially expanded my world, and made it infinitely smaller at the same time. When I was twelve, I would have never dreamed of making friends with people on the other side of the world. I certainly wouldn’t have thought I’d ever have the ability to debate serious issues such as the popularity of band members, much less blog about such things to a worldwide audience and getting responses that make me think and even challenge my preconceived notions. I love that and I hope it makes all of you reconsider some things you once thought to be “law” as well!