Category Archives: Duran Duran

Meeting You

By Angelia Christenbury

The first time I met DD was in July of 1999. I had wanted to meet them since 1982, and had saw them in concert in 1987, and 1993. This time I vowed that I would meet them or else! During the weeks before the show, with the advent of the internet, I had posted to a related message board that I would be attending the show and would love to meet up with other Duranies. Shortly thereafter, I received a message from another Duranie named Ursula that would change my life forever!

Ursula, as it turned out, had seen my message on the internet, and was coming over from Austria to see several shows in America. One of the shows she was going to was the one I was planning on attending. In addition, she informed me she had gotten two backstage passes to the show from Warren Cuccurullo’s brother.  She had no one to go with her backstage and wondered if I would like to go with her!  Are you kidding???!! Would I??!! It was a dream come true! I have never forgotten Ursula for what she did for me. I attended the show, had a wonderful time as always, then met up with Ursula after the show.  She led me to the location where we were to wait to go backstage, and introduced me to Warren’s brother who came by to speak.

We were ushered backstage, and told the guys would be in soon. When the band came in, it was like time stopped. It was all I could do to take a breath. My eyes fixated directly on Simon and my heart all but stopped. He was the one I really wanted to speak to. He walked toward me, passed me, and sat down in a chair that was directly in front of a “Velvet Elvis” painting that was hanging on the wall. At this point I could not help but follow him around like a puppy! I walked over to where he was sitting, not able to say a word. I just stood silently beside him trying to act like I was interested in the painting on the wall. I had my hands limp at my side. Suddenly I felt someone take my right hand! I looked, and to my surprise, Simon had taken my hand! Not kidding! I was shocked! He looked me up, and looked me down and said “My goodness! You’re quite dinky aren’t you!” I had no idea what to say, but fortunately my voice did not fail me, “Yes! Indeed I am!”, was my reply. (I’ll be anything you want me to be…was what I was thinking in the back of my mind.) 

I stepped away knowing that my first meeting with my favorite Duran was more wonderful than I could ever have hoped it would be… After that I was floating on a cloud!  I went over and spoke to Nick and asked him for a picture and an autograph, which he very kindly obliged. Right before I left him, I turned and asked him “Nick, you have a cat right?” he said “Yeah” then I asked “He’s a Russian Blue right?” and he said “Yeah” then I got down to the question I really wanted to ask… “What’s his name?” I blurted out… His answer? “Yag… Y…A…G… Yag…” so, there you have it!

I had been terrified to go up and ask Simon for a picture and autograph. Again Urusla came to my rescue! I was walking from the back of the room to the front, with Ursula right behind me. Suddenly I came face to face with Simon! Ursula knew how badly I wanted a picture and autograph, she also knew how scared I was to ask! So, from behind me she pointed down at my head and said “Can she get a picture with you?” He looked at us, tilted his head slightly as if he were considering whether to do it or not, then said “Alright!” So I went over and put my arm around his waist to take the picture. I thought I felt a slight pressure on my head, but I dismissed it as my imagination… I would not find out until later when I got the picture from Ursula what he had done! He had actually bent sideways at the waist and laid his head on top of mine! I couldn’t believe it!

After that, I was walking on sunshine! I wandered over to another part of the room where I ran into Warren. He asked me how I liked the show and signed my tour program, then I headed out to go home after one of the best nights of my life!

Had someone told me then that there would be several other times I would meet the guys over the next several years, I probably would not have believed it. Of course there was the fact that I had met John at one of his solo shows the year before in 1998 with the help of Patty Palazzo.  But those are different stories, for a different time. 

Born December 30, 1968 Angelia Christenbury has been a Duranie since 1982. She has seen them in concert 17 times (at last count) and will go to as many more as she can for as long as she can! She lives in NC with her husband and one Cat. Her favorite member of the band is Simon. She has spent more money on the band than she would care to imagine (after all she has to put at least one of the LeBon kids through College!) She had one Cat named Yasmin (yes, named by her husband after Yasmin LeBon) who passed away recently at the age of 18, and has another Cat named Baby (4) who is like a daughter to her & her wonderful husband Andrew (who is sweet enough to go along to DD shows with her)! When she isn’t listening to Duran, she enjoys knitting, crochet, crosstitch cooking, movies and reading!

Big Bang (Second) Generation Duranie: I met the band!

I didn’t start out liking Duran Duran. I didn’t not like them. I was just indifferent. It may have been because I was listening to their album, Red Carpet Massacre,  I don’t know.  Then something clicked. When their newest album, All You Need is Now, came out, I became hooked. I listened to more and more of their music, bought their first 3 albums on vinyl, as well as All You Need is Now, and listen to them daily. 

What really sealed the deal of me becoming a Duranie is when I met them—twice in one night. It was on the night of the Steve Aoki concert in which Duran Duran was the surprise guest. I had won tickets to see them through the VIP fan community so I came prepared. Donning a Duran Duran shirt and messenger bag full of Duran Duran memorabilia, I waited hoping to catch them as they arrived and headed backstage. Suddenly I saw them go by, I was caught off guard and started calling their names, Roger was the one who stopped for me. I asked him to sign my All You Need is Now record, as I was shaking and fumbling through my bag to get the marker and album out. I told him how I traveled over 500 miles to see them and it would mean the world to me if I could meet the whole band to get the rest of the signatures. He said he would see what he could do. After this point I had to tell my mom about it, I was texting her incoherently as I was shaking so much, so I figured calling would be easier. Though I did not get to meet them all to get the signatures, someone who worked for them got the record from me and took it to the band for the rest of them to sign. When she came back I was in awe of how nice Roger (and the rest of the band) were to sign that for me. My marker got lost somewhere backstage, but I don’t care, I like to think that it is now traveling with them around the world. The second time I met them was as they were leaving. My mom had sent me with the movie, Sugar Town, in which John Taylor stars. I had JT stop and sign it, and I quietly asked for a hug, and he gave me one before getting in the van and leaving. I was shaking again. I am still in shock over my encounters with them that night, however brief. It was a night I will never forget.

Emily “Rubik’s” Vernon is a senior biological anthropology major and a second generation Duranie. She enjoys blasting her record collection and doesn’t care who hears. Though she was born in the 90’s she is an 80’s child at heart which shows in her music taste, her personality, and talents, such as solving the Rubik’s Cube.

I Think I’d Die…I Know I’d Cry…When I Met the Band

I hope that everyone has been enjoying this week’s theme of meeting the band.  It is definitely nice to get some additional voices in here besides Rhonda and myself.  We have more to come but I thought I would break from the guest bloggers to offer my story.  Like Rhonda, my official “meeting” of the band did not take place through a contest or an official meet and greet but a cd signing, where I was one of many, many people who got the chance to walk in front of a table where one’s idols sat and watched them sign a cd for me.  My story is more recent than Rhonda’s as it took place in December of 2007.  The signing took place in a Chicago Best Buy the night before the band was to take part in the Miracle on State Street show at the Chicago Theater.  I went to the show and the signing with a good friend whom I also worked with at the time.  Here’s how I described the experience in diary form in my Duran scrapbook with additional commentary from today in parathesis:

Thursday, December 13, 2007:
This was a busy, crazy day but one that I will always remember.  It started out rushed as I had to get myself packed and drop off the cat before school.  (My cat stayed/stays with my parents while I’m gone.  What can I say…spoiled!)  We left work at 2:30 as planned and Madison by 2:45.  We were confident that we would make it to Best Buy in Chicago where Duran was holding their cd signing event.  Of course, we had to stop by another friend’s work, first, to pick up the wristbands and cds that she got for us last week.  (I don’t remember the exact details but you had to buy a copy of Red Carpet Massacre to get a wristband.  Luckily, I had a friend who could do that for us so we didn’t have to make an additional trip.  This made my third copy of the album, an album I don’t especially like.  Alas…)  The drive was uneventful until we got into traffic!  We were anxious to get there but kept our cool.  (On the outside, at least!)

After meeting my friend for the quick pass off of cds and wristbands, we arrived at Best Buy at 6:35.  Even though we didn’t see the band arrive, I was on the phone with another friend when they walked in so I got to hear the screams!  (LOL!)  We quickly got in line and realized that we would have to brave the cold for awhile.  (It was December in Chicago.  This means it was dang cold.  All things Duran are worth it or so we like to say.)  I ran inside to go to the bathroom and straighten myself out a bit after work and the drive.  It started to feel like a reunion then as I ran into other friends inside.  All of them had been through the line and had nothing but wonderful things to say about the boys!  My level of excitement increased!  Soon enough, I rejoined my friend outside and patiently waited.  We were never so happy as to get inside the doorway and we did get a chance to make friends with the Chicago policemen who were manning the door. 

While waiting in line inside, I called Rhonda.  I was missing her terribly and really felt that she should be there with me.  Anyways, during the conversation, we decided what I was going to say.  Some of the things included:  How many of the fans have embraced Dom Brown, suggesting that they play Vegas before March (would have worked our schedule!), giving support to John in hopes that he doesn’t have to sacrifice as much, musically, during the next album (thankfully, he did not!), etc.  Is that what I actually said?  Absolutely not.  Anyway, I wasn’t that interested in getting my cd signed because I had already one a signed one from DDM (my second copy).  I was hoping to get my Broadway Playbill signed instead.  Unfortunately, when I got to the front of the line, some guy told me that it had to be the cd.  Great.  Fabulous.  Wonderful.  Okay, onto Plan B.  I already had the wrapping off the cd.  I thought I was prepared.  Nope.

So, there I stood right in front of the guys and unable to rip the sticket off the cd case to get the insert out.  I mumbled an apology to Katy who was standing to the left of the table.  She smiled at me and said, “Were you like that with homework as a kid, too?”  I answered back about how I was a teacher now so I should know to be prepared.  At this point, Simon seemed frustrated with me and said, “Just give it to me.”  I told him I would get the insert out and I did before handing it to him.  Then, I found myself saying something about having to work today and how traffic sucked, which I’m sure he did not care about.  As he handed the insert to Nick, I thanked him and moved on, grateful to be done with Simon.  (By the way, the order was perfect for me.  It went Simon, Nick, Roger and John.  I obviously focused my energy on John.)  Nicked looked at me and smiled.  I smiled back and again found myself rambling about how I should be more chatty.  Yeah, smooth.  Not.  Clearly, I couldn’t remember anything I had planned to say.  Fabulous.  Roger was next.  I greeted him and asked how he was.  He looked at me and answered with a simple, “Fine.”  Obviously, he wasn’t in a mood to be chatty.  Okay.  It was fine.  After all, I had saved all my coherent thoughts for John.

John helped me feel comfortable right way since he asked for my name.  I gave it to him and then asked, “Wear any fun socks lately, John?”  (A little history lesson here that some of you I know will remember.  A number of members of the Church of the Bass God from DDM sent him socks for his birthday in 2006 after noticing the frequency of silly socks he kepts wearing.  I sent him a pair-James Bond ones.  Then, at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans in 2006, I held up a sign asking him to show his socks.  He did.  All I saw, unfortunately, was the bottom of his shoe.)  After the question, he was instantly confused.  I repeated the question and added, “You know the Church girls sent you all of those fun socks.”  He then beamed and said, “Oh, yeah.  That was totally fun!”  I commented that I was the one to send him the James Bond ones.  His response was very sweet, “You did?  Then, I got scarves next, right?”  I nodded while he continued to say about how fun those gifts were.  Seriously, if I wasn’t a huge fan, I would have been after that.  He seemed genuinely pleased and had a big smile on his face the whole time.  *squee* 

After that, we moved along and joined a group of people for dinner across the street.  Everyone was so excited by the signing and were looking forward to the show!  Good times!


Looking back on the experience, that entry in my Duran scrapbook still seems right on.  Of course, I left out a key piece.  I blame Rhonda for making Simon…short with me.  After all, I was on the phone with her right up to getting to the table.  If I wasn’t, I am sure that I would have been completely ready!  LOL!  I am still thrilled by how sweet John was and I’m still proud of what we as a group of John fans were able to do with those socks and scarves.  The insert hangs on my wall proudly to this day and I can’t imagine ever taking it down.  Good times, indeed!


I Met the Band!

By Renee Peek

I met Duran under different circumstances than most. My meeting with the band was organized by the Children’s Wish Foundation. My wish was to have 45 minutes of private time pre-show on July 17, 1987 – the date they played at Six Flags over Atlanta. I had intractable Epilepsy and had to have brain surgery at the age of 15. I actually changed my brain surgery date in order to see them!  My doctor’s secretary told him, “If you don’t agree, she’ll be worst patient you ever treat”. He agreed to put it off for one week. When I met the band, I had already had one pre-surgery test. As a result of the test, I had scars from temple to ear on both sides of my head, and less than inch of hair.  Before meeting the band, the Children’s Wish Foundation had had a conference call with the band, during which the band (Simon, specifically) had asked if there was anything physical that they should be aware of in my appearance so that they wouldn’t react surprised and possibly upset me.  I always thought that was nice of them to worry about my feelings.
The band was so great and sweet.  As I was waiting my turn to go back to meet them, I had been told that if I saw any of the band, I was not to speak to them yet. Naturally as I was sitting there, Simon came by, wet from riding water rides in spandex jogging shorts. I wanted to say something so badly! It was clear that he knew this, and in a cheeky way that only Simon can pull off, he winked as he walked by.  Eventually, it was time for me to go back and meet them.

I saw John as I came around the corner.  He was sitting on the box that contained their equipment and wardrobe. I walked up to him, ran my fingers though his bangs and asked, “What did you do to your hair?” He smiled that smile that melts you and replied, “I cut and coloured it”. Without thinking I said, “Don’t you remember what happened last time you dyed it that colour? Sydney 1984 – you died your bangs lilac for the photo session on Sydney Bridge and stayed in the sun. They ended up blonde”. He chuckled and said, “I call it henna myself”. He then asked, “How long have you been a fan?” When I said six years, he seemed surprised.  In this picture, John is laughing because he had just asked me if I was standing on my toes.  I’d told him yes, and that it wasn’t funny!

Then Nick came out. He spoke and was very sweet. I brought my copy of Interference, hoping he would sign it. When I handed it to him, he exclaimed in that familiar high-pitched voice, “Wow my book!” I said, “Of course, we all have it”. So I then asked him about his cameras. “How many Nikon’s do you own, Nick?” He said, “I don’t, I have Minoltas”.
Prior to meeting the band, I had been saying all day that I was going to ask John for one of his shirts. So I swallowed my nerve and said, “John, could I please have one of your shirts?” He replied, “Ooh I don’t think I can do that”. I know I felt my shoulders fall. As Nick and I were talking, John said, “Excuse me ladies, I think I hear Simon calling me”. (He referred to us as ladies because I had a friend with me.) Apparently he had gone into the trailer and got the red tour shirt he had cut. The next thing I knew, he had laid it on my shoulder. He very pleased with himself as he watched my reaction. I’m only 4’10” tall, so don’t ask me how I reached his neck to hug him while he was standing in order to thank him, but I did.
Simon was difficult to talk to because he was constantly moving. When he finally stood still long enough, I introduced myself. My first thought was,“He’s huge”. The photographer caught a picture of me introducing myself with my hand in Simon’s. He was sweet and not put off by my illness. (Nor were Nick or John.)  The guidelines for my visit with the band included that my illness wouldn’t be discussed, but we know how well Simon follows rules. He did his vocal warm-ups while signing my program. He rubbed the short hair on top of my head and said, “Will it spike up or lie flat like mine did on the boat?” He rubbed it into a good spike and said, “Let’s spike it”. He was really looking at my fresh scars, and tilted my head sideways by my chin to get a better view. If the photographer had snapped two minutes earlier, she would have caught him running his fingertips down the length of one of the scars while asking, “Do they still hurt?”  To which I responded, “Only at night”. 
I have a photo of Simon looking at my scars. The concern on his face is completely visible in the photo, which is amazing really.  Then Simon said, “You’re awfully young to be having brain surgery. What are the chances something could go wrong?”  I replied, “Only 5%”. He then said, “Well, I want you to promise me that if anything goes wrong you’ll work hard to correct it”, and then asked, “Do you want to sit on the stage?”  I replied, “Simon I have no hair. Where would I see better from?” He said that I would see the best from out in the audience. He hugged me and was off and running once again.
The rest of my time was with John. We played trivia, to which I beat him. (You know how we fans remember everything, although I didn’t mean to win!) There were some guys who had won a radio contest that came back for their meet and greet with the band. When they came over, I moved to stand behind John for their picture.  I had been sort of pushed out of the way, and due to the fact that I already had a piece of skull removed, I needed to be careful. They had a few 12 inch album covers with them for the band to sign. John told them that he would sign one and do a picture, but then they would need to leave. When I was behind John, I noticed a scar on his back where shirt fell of his shoulder. I said, “John how’d you get that scar?” He said, “Oh its from the sun”. Without missing a beat or realizing it, I looked around his shoulder and blurted, “Antiqua’82, sun poisoning”. He threw his head back and laughed, then spun around and crossed his arms while he said, “I know something you don’t.” I looked up at him in the eye and said, “Try me!” He asked, “How much did I weigh at birth?” I said,  “6 pounds,13 ounces.”  He laughed again and said “Ok I give” and put his hand on my shoulder. He had fun and made me feel so relaxed and comfortable that I forgot to get his autograph.  I remembered as I walked out the back gate, so someone ran back and told him. John’s autograph is on the back of a legal pad, and it was mailed to me while I was in the hospital.
After my surgery, I had a massive stroke in recovery, paralyzing my left side. After that stroke, I was in a coma for 24 hours. In a funny twist of fate, my mom had the television tuned into Soul Train, hoping to rouse me out of the coma.  Duran Duran appeared on the show that day. I heard Meet El Presidente and it woke me up out of the coma. My mom requested that if I could hear and see Duran to squeeze her hand.  She said I squeezed her hand once. Then she asked if John Taylor was sexy to squeeze twice. I squeezed her hand twice and she knew I was going to be just fine! My promise to Simon kept me going while in rehab. The band was so awesome and was there for me when I needed.
I met them again briefly at a meet and greet during 1993. I wanted to thank Simon personally. I briefly explained who I was and reminded him about the 1987 promise. He said that he remembered. I started to cry softly as i told him that my promise to him was all that kept me going some days because rehab was very hard. He rubbed my back and said “I’m so glad you’re better now, Renee”. He leaned over and said something to Nick, and then Nick turned to me and said, “Oh hi Renee, its great to see you again”.  I replied “Hey Nicky” (I swore I’d never say that to his face, but I did!) just as I was moved out of the way.

In 2003 during the reunion tour, my son Nigel had rodding surgery the day of the concert so I could not attend. A friend said she’d say hi to John for me. While waiting for them she kept saying “John, I have a message for you”.  He finally turned and asked about the message. She told him “You met my friend Renee in 1987 at Six Flags before her brain surgery”. She said that before she get the words “brain surgery” out, he walked over to where she stood. She said to him that I was married and adopted a son named Nigel, and that had surgery that day and that I was at the hospital with him. She said he chuckled when she said my son was named Nigel. She told John that Little Nigel wanted to come see Big Nigel too. He threw his head back, laughed and said, “Tell Renee we missed her and we’ll see here next time. Tell Little Nigel that Big Nigel hopes his leg heals fast.” That made my day since I never saw all 5 original members together. 

Renee Peek has been a Duranie for thirty-one years.  She has two children: Nigel who is 14, and Mya who is  4. When she isn’t listening to Duran, she is a disability rights advocate and scrapbooker.  Both of her children know all the Duran songs and can name band members.

Finest Hour: One Item Off of the Bucket List!

By Laura Duker

I always dreamed of meeting Duran Duran when I was a teenager, but alas – it was not meant to be. Now that I look back and think of the way it did happen, I’m so glad that I WASN’T a teenager, because the experience I had was much more meaningful. I came home the very next day after the event and typed out a 20 page journal so that I would never forget one detail of that magical weekend as memories faded over time.  I’ll spare you all those 20 pages, but here was the basic gist…

Back in 2003 when the band was starting the whole reunion thing, they had 3 opportunities to have “Meet and Greet” parties with fans in LA, Atlanta and Chicago.  The price was outrageous and I wasn’t even going to consider it until my husband told me “this is something you’ve had on your Bucket List your whole life and now you have the opportunity – you HAVE to do this!”  I made him promise me that he wouldn’t get me a birthday present for the next 5 years and I took the plunge and went.

15 fans (and some of you may be reading this – so HELLO!  I miss all of you!!!!) were taken to the Four Seasons in downtown Chicago for a cocktail party with the band.  When we got there, the band wasn’t there yet and they sat three fans at each of five tables.  The idea was that each band member would sit at one of the tables and then they would rotate from table to table throughout the evening.

When they walked in, the first thing that struck me was how NOT nervous I was!  After waiting nearly 20 years for this moment, it was more like seeing a long lost friend than meeting my idols.  They were the most gracious and down to earth group of guys – I was blown away.  I remember the most amusing things…
  • Talking technology and keyboards with Nick, being amazed at how green his eyes were up close and personal and both of us turning up our noses at the Steak TarTar as he said “I don’t eat anything with a mother or a face”
  • Roger being a shameless flirt with every woman in our group and being so much less shy than he was back in the 80’s.  He kept joking about how all those pretty little girls had turned into such beautiful women.
  • Swearing like a sailor with Andy and listening to his story about meeting Russell Crowe.  He was the first one to sit down at our table and just dove right in and started the conversation like we’d known him our whole lives.
  • Telling Simon that I used to practice writing his name all the time when I was a teenager as a joke and he took out a napkin and made me show him how I did it.  Then he gave me instructions on how to do it properly…  When he hugged and kissed me at the end of the evening I remember how amazing he smelled!
  • I had made thank you notes for each of them thanking them for writing the soundtrack to my life and a bunch of other things and John took the time to read it at the table and tell me how thoughtful he felt it was and that was something his mother had taught him – to write thank you notes!  =)
They were only supposed to be there for 30 minutes, but they had such a great time it was over an hour before they left.  It was so great to see Katy and Dave and all the other behind the scenes people that were there too – like a big family reunion!  I am beyond grateful that I had this experience.  I saw them after a show in Indiana and Milwaukee two concerts after that as well, but nothing will ever compare to that night.

Laura Duker has been a Duranie Diehard since the dawn of MTV in the early 80’s.  Being in  middle school and high school during those years, Duran Duran taught her everything she knows about life, love and the pursuit of happiness at such a formative age and knows that they’ve written the soundtrack to her life ever since!  When she’s not scouring YouTube, Google and for the latest and greatest on these fabulous men, she keeps busy in the Chicago suburbs with her wonderful husband and amazing boys (age 8 and 11).

Our Day with Duran Duran

By Heather Hagler
I have had many significant days in my life: my wedding day, the days my children were born, the day I finished graduate school. But I wouldn’t classify those days as “fun”. I can honestly say that April 4, 2011 was the Most Fun Day of My Life.
I’m not a blogger – no one wants to read the dry details of my average life. Since I have lived over half my life as a fan of all things Duran Duran, I wanted to tell you the story of my amazing day.
My adventure started when I discovered Duran was booked to play in Atlanta, GA, our closest city, the day after my birthday. What a gift! I decided to treat myself to my first live show (I know, and I’ve been a fan since 1980!) and to bring my daughter along. At eleven years old, she was the same age I was when I bought my first Duran LP.
The birthday gifts grew when I won 2 tickets in a radio contest for an acoustic mini concert and a Q & A with the band! Funny, but the first person I called to tell I had won the tickets was my mom; only she could appreciate the significance of those tickets, after all the posters, albums, videos, and general hysteria of the last 30 years.
My daughter and I started with the challenge of driving into downtown Atlanta and finding our hotel – country girls loose in the big city. We checked in, parked the car, and bought tickets for the train to the hotel for the mini concert.
Our train took us to the ultra swanky W Hotel where we gathered with the other contest winners. Because I am insane, we were 45 minutes early and one of the first people in line. We had a great time chatting with other fans. Another mom brought her 9 year old daughter, so my daughter had a friend for the event.
Thanks to my craziness we were one of the first through the elevators to the fourth floor to meet the radio staff. There we learned the “Q” part of the Q & A time with the band would be from the fans, and I was selected to submit a question to ask the band.
I gave the emcee of the event my question, but after a bit of discussion, we decided my daughter would be the one to have the microphone and talk with the band – I thought it would be a better memory for her and, frankly, I wasn’t sure I would be able to speak.
We were ushered in to a large meeting room with a small stage set with guitars, microphones, and stools. Of course we chose a seat on the left, next to the bass guitar (all the closer to JT). In a few minutes the room filled with about 75 people, and the band was introduced. Inside I was having a huge squee moment when I saw John, Simon, Dom, and Anna up so close, but I behaved myself – no fainting spells or screaming! But, of course, I had my eyes on John most of the time…
At the Q&A time, an employee from the radio station carried a mic around the room to each person when it came their turn ask their question. When they called out for our turn, I pushed my daughter up to stand at the mic. My eyes were on John when they called my name, but I felt my daughter reach out nervously for me to hold her hand and stand up with her. John looked at me and smiled when my daughter reached to hold my hand with one hand and hold the mic with the other. Sigh! A definite highlight!
My question: If you couldn’t be a musician, what would you be? Simon answered Brad Pitt! John said he would be an RAF fighter pilot in World War II.
After my daughter asked the question and we were returning to our seats, Simon said, “That was a very good question, my dear.”
The band sang 3 songs and had a very informal and funny time of talking in between. I am amazed at how smooth and clear Simon’s voice was, and we had a laugh at John’s socks! After 45 minutes it was time to go. Too much fun and sad for our time to end.
After a train ride back to the hotel and some time to rest, I thought we could go early to concert, park and have dinner before getting in line for the concert (the tickets were General Admission). But I was wrong. When we arrived, the line for the concert was already around the block! Girl Panic! We quickly found a parking lot and got in line at 5:00 for the 8:00 show! My daughter was such a trooper, she stood in line without complaining, even without dinner!
I had a great time in line talking with other fans. Everyone was very nice, and we all had stories to tell about growing up with Duran. Some were trying to be impressive by naming off obscure bonus tracks and B sides they know and love.
We got into the show at 7:00. And thanks again to the insanity we had seats right in front – five rows from the floor and on the aisle.
We had over an hour to wait, but we were patient. As we waited a reporter from the Atlanta Journal Constitution who was working on a story about parents taking their kids to concerts asked us questions, wrote down our names and took our pictures. The story ended up on the paper’s web site.  I’ll either the cool mom for taking her daughter to the concert, or on the Family Services list for observation.
After an hour and a half wait finally the concert started! Breathtaking! We were shoulder to shoulder with 1300 other crazy people screaming and dancing and having the time of our lives. My daughter took over the aisle for her dance floor, and fans who came by gave her high fives all evening!
The set was a mix of old and new songs, and the audience was a mix of men and women, old and young. The best new song – my opinion and the opinion of the guy next to me – was Girl Panic; best oldie was Rio (you could hardly hear Simon singing over the crowd belting out the tune!).
At the end Simon introduced the band with traditional chants and an awesome drum solo from Roger that had the crowd roaring his name.
We were delirious and exhausted as we walked to the car with our ears ringing. God bless GPS to get us back to the hotel.
My daughter had dinner out of the vending machine (another strike for Family Services) and we sat up talking until midnight.
When I told Jillian it was time for bed, she said, “But I don’t want to go to bed, Mom. This day was so perfect; I don’t want it to end.” That was the ultimate thrill for me – not swooning over JT or dancing with 1300 of my closest friends to the greatest band of all time – but having a very memorable day with my wonderful daughter. A day to remember, indeed.

Heather Hagler lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a children’s program director and frustrated novelist. Happily married with two children, she shows her 80s style by proudly wearing her Duran Duran concert t-shirt to the grocery store and leading karaoke sessions with her kids in the mini van.

My Moment in the Sun: The Day I Met the Band

At some point recently, it occurred to me that I’ve never really blogged about the one and only time I met the band.  This was at the Los Angeles Virgin Megastore signing for Astronaut in October of 2004, and yes – it’s the only time I’ve ever really met them.

I had heard murmurs of a record store signing when I was at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans, but I knew the signing was in Los Angeles, and in the middle of the week. I told myself there was no way I was driving up there, that I had too much going on, and that was that. At some point over the weekend though, a story someone told me just clicked. That “someone” was my friend Machelle, and I don’t even know if she remembers telling me the story of when she first ran into John Taylor. (No really, I don’t honestly know if she remembers.  It was one of those weekends!) I really can’t even remember the details of the story, other than she had me almost crying I was laughing so hard, and that at the very end of it all I mentioned the signing and she said to me “Rhonda, you have to go. You’ll continue to kick yourself forever if you don’t.” She said those words with such a declarative tone…who was I to argue?

I really don’t know if I would have ever gone to the signing if it hadn’t been for that weekend and of course my conversation with Machelle. Just the act of going to the convention had been a huge step in the direction of finding myself once again after many years of just being “Mom”. But, on the way home in the plane from the convention, I gave the idea of going a lot of thought. Part of me was completely willing to put that part of myself: The Fan, back on it’s appropriate shelf when I got home. Being just “Rhonda” wasn’t especially comfortable on me yet, and absolutely not in the presence of my husband or children. I also worried about how I’d feel meeting the band. At the time (and is frequently discussed in the community), I suppose I really did have the band on their prospective pedestals. In October of 2004 I hadn’t yet heard the Astronaut album, gone to Chicago to see them with friends…or really seen them with anyone but my husband. I know that I gave thought to the idea that if I truly went to the signing and actually got past the door, that perhaps in some way the fantasies I’d had about all of them from the time I was a child would somehow change. That concerned me.  By the time the plane had landed though, I had made up my mind that yes, I would go to the signing…and I’d take my daughter with me.

That’s right, not only had I decided to take my chances and go, I wanted my oldest to go along with me. There were a number of reasons I’d made that decision, but most importantly – I wanted my oldest to know her mother. I wanted her to see and maybe get a tiny taste of what I was really like as a person. After all, I wasn’t an awful lot older than she was when Duran Duran first came into my life. (She was 7 years old at the time we went to the signing.  She’s now 15.  Time flies!!!) After convincing my husband that I wasn’t crazy and that she and I would both be perfectly safe, we put our plans into place. She was so excited to be going along with mom, and I have to tell all of you – if I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t hesitate for a single second in asking her to go with me.

That’s the real story here. Sure, meeting the band was something I’ll never forget and I’ll get into that in a second, but the real story is how much just taking my oldest child with me changed our relationship as mother and daughter. She was just a little thing, but she has always been far more mature than her years. I wanted her to understand that it is OK to have other interests that are outside the boundaries of family or career, even as a woman. I wanted her to understand that it’s OK to love a rock band, and it’s even OK to do crazy things once in a while – even when you’re grown up. Honestly, I just wanted her to see that living can really be a lot of fun sometimes! I really think just standing in line the night that Astronaut went on sale (you had to buy an album at midnight when it went on sale, and then a wristband came with the purchase for you to come back later in the week for the signing) really taught her a lot about who I am. She listened intently as I told her stories of going to the grocery store to buy magazines each week or how crushed I was when my parents wouldn’t allow me to go to see them in concert back in 1984 for the Sing Blue Silver tour. If that weren’t enough, people around me chimed in with their own personal stories, and it became very clear to my daughter that while plenty of other people around us had met the band, gone to shows, and even traveled for them – her mom had done next to nothing. The closest I’d ever come to actually meeting the band prior to this signing was back in the summer of about 1985 when Power Station was touring. John Taylor had done some sort of an appearance at a Tower Records store in Van Nuys, and my cousin and I begged to go. Her parents took us, but the line was what seemed like miles long, and after about an hour of standing in 100 degree heat outside, John Taylor left in a limousine…taking our dreams of meeting him right along with him. So this signing for me was about finally seizing my own moment.  Somehow, I was able to properly convey, in terms she would understand at the age of seven and yet still remember quite clearly at the age of fifteen, just how important it was for me to be in that line with her that evening.

The moments to midnight seemed to take forever.  I was so proud of my little girl though, because she was a real trooper that night.  Never once did she ask me to pick her up or tell me she was tired, even though I knew she had to have been.  We talked and joked up until the time we got up to the door of Virgin Megastore, and then once inside they had Duran Duran videos running along with the music from the new album playing in the background.  I was still nervous until we got up to the register though, because I recognized that there were probably only so many wristbands – and that line sure did seem long outside, stretching for a least a couple blocks up Sunset Boulevard.  We did make it to the register though, and I remember her huge grin when she handed the salesperson her money and got her wristband for the signing.  I was just as excited when I got my own!

In the few days leading up to the signing, she had listened to the album nearly non-stop, making sure she knew each song. (Or wait – was that me??) She’d already announced that Sunrise was her favorite, and she was really thrilled to have the chance to see the band and have them sign her CD. We spent several hours over the course of the days leading up to the signing talking about how my room looked as a kid, and what I did to find out what the band was up to. (No internet in those days!) She was surprised at how much work it took to be a fan back then. (Me too!!) We talked about which band member was my favorite, and how much her dad – my husband Walt – looked like Roger Taylor. (Huh. Interesting coincidence I suppose. He doesn’t really look THAT much like him any longer, but the olive skin, dark eyes and dark hair seems to be a common theme. Go figure.) In fact, one night she asked me aloud at dinner when her REAL dad would be coming to pick her up. Of course, she said this just to yank her dad’s chain – and to her surprise Walt responded “Well, whenever he does show up here I’m going to show him the bill for your dance classes. ‘Bout time that man starts paying up!” She collapsed in a fit of giggles that night, I’ll never forget it.  (Of course we were all joking and nobody, least of all ME, thinks Roger Taylor is my oldest’s father!!!!)

The day finally arrived and after driving up to Los Angeles, we waited in another very long line.  After what felt like an eternity, the line slowly began to creep up Sunset, getting ever so slightly closer to the side door of Virgin Megastore. I could feel my nerves heighten as we crawled closer to the door, and I got very quiet. Mostly, I was doing some serious “self-talk” before I got anywhere near that door. Wanna know what I was saying to myself?

Rhonda Lynn (My middle name and how my mother still refers to me to this very day).  You have been waiting for this moment for over twenty-five years now. You will not make a fool out of yourself.  There will be no giggling, no requests for a hug, marriage proposals or anything else that will make you appear stupid. You will smile, speak with intelligence, and most of all – there will be absolutely no fainting. NONE. Furthermore, under no circumstances will you forget that your oldest child – your only daughter (at the time) is with you. She will remember every silly thing you say or do and use it against you later, so do not let that happen!!!  (I was totally right about that, by the way.)

Once we’d gotten to the door, my daughter stood in front of me and I had my hands on her shoulders, both to keep her from running in there as well as to steady myself. I could see all of them, huddled over the table hurriedly scribbling their signatures over the albums and CD’s put in front of them. Nick looked up, gave a big smile to my daughter and called her over. I could have died right then. We both went over, and he took her CD and signed it – sending her down the line. Then he looked at me and asked if she was mine. I said yes, that I was doing my part to raise her right, and he smiled. Next was John. John didn’t even see us – he was doing what *I* would have done had I been on his side of the table, which was keeping his head down, signing the damn CD’s as they went by, and not looking up to see the wall of people closing in on him. I did say that the album was beautiful, and to that he did look up – but he had no idea who had said it and just said “Thank you” to the air. Next was Simon. Now, I’d heard outside that Simon arrived in a somewhat pissy mood that day (by this point in time the stories of Simon’s moods had made it to my little spot in the community), but he’d had some red wine and seemed to be a bit better by the time I got to him.  Hey…he’s a scorpio. So am I. I get the moods. Anyway, he was busy quizzing my daughter when I turned to look at him. She had carried her book in with her, and he wanted to know what she was reading.  So, she showed him and then he guessed her age. (Good guess, Simon. She was dully impressed.) Then he narrowed his eyes at her and asked what her favorite song off of the album was. I think Simon thought he was going to catch her, but guess what Simon?  My daughter is wicked smart! She smiled with her “You think you’ve got something on me, but actually I am way over your head” smile and said, “Sunrise is my favorite off of THIS album, Simon.” She even used his name, I was so proud. He grinned and pushed the CD down to Andy. Oh, Simon didn’t even bother looking up at me. Andy was amazing though  Easily the best reaction of the night because he literally jumped out of his chair and practically dove across the table to shake hands with my daughter. She was giggling like crazy and saying hi. I loved it. He seemed so happy to see a little girl there, and it warmed my heart. To this day she remembers Andy, and he is still her favorite. Finally, there was Roger.  This was the one *I* had been waiting for. My daughter knew this, and she stood off to the side of the table waiting for me. I asked him if he was tired, and he looked at me and said “Yes”, but quietly as though he didn’t want to make a fuss. Then I thanked him for doing the signing, explaining that I’d never had the chance to see them as a kid and that I was really glad they were back together as the original 5 member band. Then I lost all of my senses (no, I still don’t have them back, I guess) and told him that he had always been my favorite for all of that time, and that he still was.

Hey!  Hey!!! I hear the groaning back there!!  Knock it off!

Time stopped at that moment, as Roger looked up at me, smiled the *best* smile ever, and said thank you, that it was really sweet of me to say. Then I said goodbye, collected my daughter and floating out of the Virgin Megastore.

As we got out of the store and I regained the feeling in my body, my daughter leans over and says “Wow mom, thought for sure you were just going to propose marriage to the guy right then and there.”

She was just seven then….  Just imagine how much worse she is now at fifteen and you’ll know why I travel so often.

All of that aside, I’ll never forget that experience. Meeting the band was amazing even though I was just one face of hundreds that night, it meant the world to me. My daughter and I still talk about that week from time to time because as she puts it – it was the first time she got to really know me. Since then I’ve taken her to see them in Vegas (odd place to take a kid to see a band, but we were already there for a dance convention!), and out of everyone in this family, she is the one who understands me most. She still thinks I’m insane, but I know somewhere behind those teenage eye-rolls and sighs of annoyance – she thinks I’m pretty cool.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.  🙂


How Much My Eyes Have Darkened…

First, let me apologize for the absolute lateness of this blog.  I have been traveling home (about a 5 hour drive) and am under the weather.  Luckily, I knew exactly what I was going to write about after seeing a comment from a Duranie friend about Duran’s music.  The statement was basically how their music is “bright” and does not contain the negatives of other music.  This statement combined with some research I have been doing about how Duran was advertised as “escapist”, especially back in the 1980s, formed today’s blog.  So, let’s dive into the question of whether or not Duran’s music is upbeat, bright, positive. 

Obviously, in many ways, Duran’s music is bright and upbeat.  After all, this is the band designed to make you party as Simon LeBon still belts out at almost every show.  This is the band that wanted to reintroduce color into the music world after the drab black, white and grey world of punk and post-punk.  Goodness, I think about videos like My Own Way and how bright and cheerful that seemed with dancing and even a parrot!  What other videos come to mind when talking about the cheerfulness of Duran?  I guess most people would immediately think of Rio, Save a Prayer and even the Reflex.  Rio was pure fun mixed with humor and the Reflex focused on how the band’s performance makes fans happy.  Save a Prayer, though very different from the other two, seemed peaceful at the very least.  So, what about the lyrics to accompany those positive videos?  Did they give the same feeling?  My Own Way speaks of independence and a carefree attitude.  Rio definitely had that fun vibe, especially when the words, “You make me feel alive, alive, alive,” are sung.  Save a Prayer, on the other hand, deals with a one night stand.  While it is deemed a “paradise” on one moment, prayers are also needed the morning after.  Is that as positive a message?  While Duran isn’t advocating violence there or swearing up a storm, they are exactly encouraging monogamy, are they?  The Reflex, obviously, is very much left up to the imagination in terms of its meaning.  It does speak of a game…so maybe it is all about fun.  😉

How about the rest of the early videos and songs?  Were they as positive?  The first video that popped in my head was Girls on Film.  It is clear in both the video and the song that it is focusing on the exploitation of female models.  I don’t see a lot of bright there even when Simon sings, “I’m shooting a star”.  He might be shooting a star but an unhappy one at that.  Careless Memories is rather dark and deals with a breakup and a bad one at that.  Whenever gun violence is mentioned, it ceases to be bright and happy.  Nightboat was clearly supposed to be scary as the band, for the most part, gets overtaken by zombies or something like zombies.  Anyone Out There touches on loneliness and rejection.  Friends of Mine focuses on betrayal and even asks the question, “Why don’t they drop the bomb”.  Again, that does not scream happiness and light to me.  Maybe some people want to argue that the albums that followed were more upbeat.  While I can think of examples of songs on Rio that are happy and positive, I can also think of New Religion or The Chauffeur, which seems dark to me.

What about recent albums?  Yeah, songs like Sunrise are upbeat.  What Happens Tomorrow is absolutely positive.  Still Breathing seems less so.  What about Bedroom Toys?  Where is the positive message in that?  What about the songs off Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need is Now?  Red Carpet Massacre is anything but positive.  Skin Divers seems kinda naughty to me.  Dirty Great Monster deals with sexual abuse.  Even songs that are more upbeat have a twist to them.  Tempted may get people moving but it also refers to the devil tempting someone.  As far as AYNIN goes, yes, the title track is very positive and gives a really good message.  Does Leopard, though?  That seems to be about obsession.  What about songs like Other People’s Lives, which absolutely is a commentary on society and the joy people seem to experience by watching celebrities crash and burn.

I guess my point here is simple.  Duran is much more complex than simply being positive or negative.  I, for one, appreciate that they make me think and that there is often way more than what is on the surface of a song, a video, a product of theirs.  They seem to touch on humanity and everything that comes with being human.  Do I think that Duran advocates a very straight and narrow lifestyle?  Absolutely not.  Even the songs and videos that are fun seem to have something extra to it to make people think.  As for how they make us, the fans, feel, they can and do bring joy into our lives (most of the time).  I suggest, though, they do this through honesty and analysis of people and what makes them tick, which is way more complex than a simple good/bad, positive/negative dichotomy. 


Olympics Reactions

Yesterday was the big day for Duran Duran as they represented England in the Olympics concert in Hyde Park. I was lucky enough to hear some of Duran’s performance through an Absolute Radio app on my phone as I drove to Minneapolis. Later, I had to chance to see some of the songs on youtube and checked to see reactions from Duranies who were there. Based on everything I heard, saw and read, Duran absolutely rocked it! I didn’t see one negative statement in regards to their performance, including from the press. Heck, I even read an article from the Daily Mail that indicated how good of a job Duran did!!!

In some ways, it seems like we have been talking about this performance forever! First, we had the rumors flying. Will Duran be playing? Won’t they? Then, the announcement came and all of the reactions that came with it. The media, for the most part, was horrified and thought Duran was a terrible choice. The fans, of course, were thrilled and very proud! Some of us were anxious as well as being pleased. After all, this was a big deal and the pressure would be on. We wanted so badly for Duran to perform well–not only to silence the critics but to also make the fans proud and maybe even get some new ones. Throughout Duran’s history, the big gigs have not always gone so well. I heard horror stories about some gig they played in front of Princess Diana. We all know about Live Aid and the bum note heard around the world. Even now, I feel like they don’t do so well during the important TV performances and I have heard that their shows in Birmingham are not as good as others due to anxiety or whatever. Perhaps, this kind of thing also has to do with expectations. Sometimes, fan expectations are so high that no one could meet those expectations. Anyway, whatever the deal is with important gigs, I worried. Would they prove the media right or would they show the world how fabulous they truly can be? Again, based on what I heard, saw and read, they absolutely proved their talent and skill!

Duran played for about 50 minutes for what I heard. They seemed to play a greatest hits set with a couple of new tracks. While I suspect that we all knew they would play a setlist like this, I still saw a few complaints about it. I’m sure we all understand why they would play songs that were familiar to most people. After all, it wasn’t a show just for fans. It was a showcase–to show what Duran has done. While we might be sick of those songs, casual fans and non-fans aren’t. Besides, it sounds like some of the more frequently played tracks did really well. For example, I heard that Ordinary World and Save a Prayer really captured attention. The fact that the audience, for the most part, joined in to sing the chorus to Save a Prayer shows that they really were able to connect with the audience. Good for them!

This show, of course, marked the last day of the European leg of the tour. Now, the band gets some time to relax before the last and final leg happens in the States. I hope that this Olympics show renewed the band some as I can imagine how tired they must be. A big victory like this one might energize them and us enough to finish this era of All You Need Is Now well!!!