Category Archives: history

On this date in DD History – The Joint in Vegas!

Do you remember 2003?  I sure do. It was the summer of Duran Duran shows, and not just “ordinary” Duran Duran shows…but reunion shows. John, Simon, Roger, Nick and Andy. On stage. Together. For the first time in 20-some years.

Complete insanity.

My summer began that year with a show in Costa Mesa at the Pacific Amphitheater. I can still remember completely losing my mind when all five of them walked on stage together. I pinched myself until I was bruised just to be sure I wasn’t imagining everything I was seeing. It was absolutely, positively, unreal.

I know I wasn’t the only one, and little did I know at the time that it wouldn’t be the ONLY show I’d see with them that year. From then on, I was a woman out of control, or so it felt. I bought tickets to see them at 4th and B in San Diego, and then again in September to see them at Inland Invasion (a festival). I hadn’t seen all five members together on stage EVER, and then suddenly I saw them three times in the same year.

That said, I didn’t try to get tickets to see them in places like, Las Vegas, which looking back, seems like a silly thing to overlook. At the time though, traveling to see the band in another city so “far” away (it’s what, four hours from my house if I drive?) seemed so ridiculous. So “out there”.  Who would do something so frivolous???

I can honestly say that in 2003, I didn’t really know anyone in the Duran Duran fan community. I know I had already started dabbling on the message boards, but it wasn’t until after the summer that I found the message board that eventually became my online home. So, I wasn’t aware that droves of fans from So Cal went out to Vegas to see them that summer. It never even occurred to me.  But on this very date in 2003, a gig happened in Las Vegas at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel. Many of you were probably there, and can tell me all about what I missed out on, and that’s OK.

So yeah, my fandom with Duran Duran – or at least the really active part of it – happened later in life. I’ve tried to make up for lost time since, though!

Does anyone remember the show at The Joint?

-R

Mi Vida Loca and John Taylor

Hi everyone! I love it when the day in history gives me something new to learn. Did you know that John wrote a score for a movie? (you probably did, I however…did not.)

On this date in 1994, Mi Vida Loca was released. The movie was directed by Allison Anders, and it is about a group of Mexican-American women in Los Angeles, describing their struggles with gangs, drugs and betrayal.  John wrote a portion of the soundtrack for the film, which was then performed by other artists. A list of the tracks he wrote are as follows:

1 “La Blue Eyes Theme”

  • Written by John Taylor and Jonathan Elias

2 “El Duran Theme”

  • Written by John Taylor
  • Performed by El Chican

3 “Echo Parque”

  • Written by John Taylor
  • Performed by El Chicano

4 “Giggles and Big Sleepy Get Busy”

  • Written by John Taylor
  • Performed by El Chicano

I’ve never checked out this movie, although I’m sure Amanda has. I’m on vacation this week, but I need to find time to see it!

-R

Live Aid – The Music Between Us

Do you know where you were on this date in 1985?  If you were like me, and likely millions of other teenagers around the world, you were sitting in front of your television watching Live Aid.

While this date will ring forever bittersweet to me (and probably any other Duranie out there), I can also remember the feeling that we could conquer anything. Sure, to many adults out there, Live Aid was just a festival with two locations that day: one at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and the other in London at Wembley, but to me and others in my generation, it become something far greater.

For me, Live Aid marked the beginning of a new era. It wasn’t solely about being the last time that all five original members of Duran Duran would convene onstage until 2003.  In many ways, it marked the end of my childhood infatuation, and taught me that there is indeed a whole world out there to take care of.  Growing up in America at the time certainly had its advantages. Comparatively speaking, I wanted for nothing.  Being poor here in the states in the 1980’s was rough – any kid who actually grew up poor will tell you as much ( I was not. While my parents seriously struggled at times, we always had food on the table, a roof over our heads and some semblance of safety and stability. Many others did not.), but it wasn’t quite the same as living in a third world country with no resources, world attention, or funding. Remarkably, I don’t necessarily remember ever really hearing about the plight of others around the world, except in hindsight—like in a history class. Our nightly news would use the Ethiopian Famine as more of a “In other news” than a headline, and I believe that Live Aid marked the beginning of that changing. Live Aid brought awareness, and once that door was cracked open, there was really no turning back.

Some will argue that the US still does very little to help with the rest of the world. I’m not really here to get into that discussion or to prove our self-worth. I can just share my own experience. Prior to Live Aid (and also Band Aid), I really don’t remember having much of an awareness of what went on outside of the United States. Perhaps that was me and my family, or maybe it was my age, but I know from even looking at old newspapers from back in that day, the front page rarely discussed world issues. That was hidden back on page three or four of the first section.  I think that speaks volumes about America at the time, and while I will always be proud of where I was born and raised, I recognize our shortcomings – and let’s face it – there are many.

When I think back on Live Aid, I try not to focus on Duran Duran. Enough has been said about all of that, and as I said before—for Duranies, it was a bittersweet day for a multitude of reasons.  I think about how for just that 24-hour period, it didn’t seem to matter where we lived or how we grew up. It felt like the world uniting for a common cause, and for this then-fourteen year old, it felt empowering. I think that was probably the first time in my short life that I really felt that way, too.

For me personally, Live Aid took place on an incredibly hot day in July 1985.  We didn’t have air conditioning, and in Glendora, California, I’m pretty sure the thermometer hit 100 degrees F or more that day.  I can remember hearing the very loud fan on our swamp cooler (if you don’t know what that is – it’s a cooling system that runs cool water past a fan – this theoretically cools off the air that is then blown into the house. Not as good as an A/C, but it was all I knew as a kid.) My parents saw me in one of two places that day: sitting on our brown, thread bare living room carpet, eyes glued to the TV, or sitting outside on our patio on a lounge chair, with the television volume (from the living room) turned way up so I could hear. Their attempts to tear me away in order to do chores were futile—I always managed to sneak back in to see how much longer it would be before Duran Duran would take the stage. At the time, I didn’t think I paid much attention to the cause for the event. I was interested in the music, and the rest of it didn’t matter. Except somehow over the course of that day, the more I watched, the more I began to understand the immensity of what was happening, and why.

Nowadays, having an understanding of what is going on in the world is commonplace. It’s difficult to believe or remember a time when it wasn’t. We’ve got Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ (among others!) to inform, confuse, and confound. Cable news is 24/7, and if that isn’t enough, within a few clicks of the keys, the internet awaits. It wasn’t always that way, and certainly not here. I know American’s boast about the freedom of the press, but that “freedom” was also the choice to cover whatever they wanted. Back then, news from the rest of the world didn’t always make the headlines in the same way it might now.

Live Aid inspired a number of other concerts around the world on that same day. Everywhere from Canada to the Soviet Union took part in their own way, and the world came together—if only for a short while—the music between us.  In the decades since, there have been any number of music festivals done in the same vein (albeit not with the same exuberance). Just recently, there was a festival done in Manchester for the victims of the bombing at Ariana Grande’s concert. A variety of different online and print sources claimed it was this generation’s Live Aid.

Only history will decide, but I think we all know how and where Live Aid stands. Thirty-two years later, and we’re still talking about it.

-R

To be a fly on the wall at the Rum Runner

To be a fly on the wall…

On this date in 1986, there was a party. It was a demolition party, held at the Rum Runner in Birmingham. The first scene of the crime, so to speak.

There are plenty of things I am thankful for at this point in my life, trekking the streets in Birmingham among them. I’ve even wandered down around the Cheapside area, where Duran Duran spent time before getting their big break. One thing I couldn’t do was visit the Rum Runner. Sure, I could see where it had once been, but that’s not the same as having gone inside, really. It’s not the same as seeing the mirrored tiles for myself, or smelling (what I can only assume would be) stale cigarette smoke, or just knowing that once upon a time, a band named Duran Duran once occupied the building.

Nostalgic much? Of course! I love that stuff!

There are just times when I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, just to get a small taste of what it was like to see the austere beginnings of this band, prior to Girls on Film and Rio. But on this date especially, I can only wonder what that party was like.

Also on this date, but in 1999, Behind the Music with Duran Duran was first aired.  In my attempt to find the video on YouTube to post here, a few things became clear—namely that it would seem there was more than one version of this made (and even then, I’m really not sure).  In any case, I found one that is Behind the Music Remastered, dated in 2010. I’m assuming that this edition is updated to include the reunion, which would not have happened yet in 1999. In any case, take a gander and see what you think!

-R

Twenty years ago, John plays his first solo gig

I’m struggling this morning. First of all, it’s Monday. Second, in the past 72 hours I have had a bout of food poisoning, had a massive allergy attack, and I’ve gotten a cold. I’d really just rather be sleeping right now.  Today’s blog will be short and sweet.

On this date in 1997, John Taylor was seriously committing himself to going solo. He played at Radio Antenne Bayerne in Stuttgart, Germany.  It was his very first live show as a solo artist.

Flash forward twenty years (yes, twenty!), and he’s back with Duran Duran, getting ready to hit the road for what seems to be the final leg of the Paper Gods tour.

Time flies when we’re all having fun, I guess!  Today’s date in history is a gentle reminder to trust the process. Just when you think all is lost, maybe it’s not after all!

I’m off to begin the week. Happy Monday, everyone!

-R

 

Duran’s Peak Live Performances

Lately, our daily questions/polls have focused on Duran’s live performances.  Specifically, people have picked which version of a song they like better.  The versions are live performances from different tours.  We have asked about New Religion, Careless Memories and the Chauffeur.  Interestingly enough, for each song, fans who participate in our daily questions have stated that the 1984 Sing Blue Silver version of these songs are the best.  This has made me think.  Was Duran really better live in 1984?  Were the arrangements better?  If so, what does that say about the band?  If not, what does that say about the fans?

1984 was the height of Duranmania.  They were selling out stadiums worldwide and had songs and albums at the top of the charts.  Most would agree that they were the most popular band in the world at that time.  Their concerts were often filled with teenage girls who spent a LOT of the time screaming, from everything I read.  I have also read/seen many interviews in which the band discussed the “wall of sound” that was created from the screaming crowd.  Watch the video below and hear the band talk about this about 7 minutes in:

Now, in fairness, I did not see Duran Duran in 1984.  I’m sure that I would have thought that they were amazing then!  But, would they be better then than now?  Would the 30 years after that not make them better, in terms of their musicianship and performance?  Did their live performances peak over 30 years ago?!?  Listen to what Nick said in 2005 about 1 minute into this clip:

Duran would argue that their live performances are better now.  That said, I’ll play devil’s advocate.  In 1984, they were younger and had more energy.  Perhaps, that energy would make their performance more entertaining.  I could see that.  Yet, when I think of live performances, I do want the songs to be entertaining and fun, but I also want the music to be played well.  

Let me try an experiment.  I’m going to put videos of Careless Memories from 1984 and then from 2004.  Just listen to them.  Do not watch them.  Then, tell me which version you like better.  Both of them are from official videos, too, to ensure that the sound quality is decent on both.

In thinking about this question, when did Duran play better live, I think about my own career.  Just yesterday, I was asked to meet with a bunch of soon-to-be-teachers.  While I appreciated their enthusiasm and their idealism, I liked that they wanted me there as someone with experience.  While I might not be as energetic as I once was as a teacher, I know that I’m a better teacher now than I was when I first started.  Experience matters.

Personally, I would hate to believe that the best days of my career were in the past, when I first started.  I would imagine that Duran would hate that, too.  I’m willing to bet that Duran gets a lot of questions in reference to their “heyday” and how they “peaked” in their mid-20s.  I’m sure that’s frustrating and that they would prefer to think that they are at their best right now.  After all, if they were at their best in the mid 80s, then why continue now?

I’m sure that the fans who are voting for the 1984 Sing Blue Silver Tour versions of the songs don’t mean all this.  They are just thinking that they loved that time period.  Sing Blue Silver and As the Lights Go Down bring back nothing but fond memories of a band that they fell in love with.  I guess, for me, while I loved the band then, I love them differently and more now.  Maybe it is the fan in me that actually believes that they are better now, too.

-A

Electric Barbarella finishes filming in 1997

I feel free!  Summer may now begin! Now that the graduation festivities are over and I have another high school graduate on my hands, I’m ready.

It felt really good to see Gavin cross the stage and get his diploma on Saturday, and I’m really thankful that most of my family was there to see it, including my brother-in-law, who spent quite a bit of time in the hospital recently. He’s doing really well though, and we have great hopes that he’ll receive the bone marrow transplant he needs in the coming months. Until then, we treasure whatever time we have together.

Next on the summer “fun” list is Gavin’s 18th birthday, and then 4th of July, which is my favorite holiday, and then I pick Amanda up from the airport for an extended weekend of fun and road tripping to the bay area. I’m excited to see the shows, but I’m also really looking forward to not being in a hurry to get from one place to the next. We are leaving early enough to have time to ourselves, and the same holds true for on the way home. I am hoping it will feel like a real getaway rather than a race, even though the two shows are GA.  We may be waiting in line, but hopefully we will be amongst friends and have a good time chatting the weekend away. I’m not going to think much beyond that because I want to savor every moment.

So, for today – I have a moment in history to think about. On this date in 1997, filming for video for “Electric Barbarella” was completed.

I never really fell in love with this video, and I think it’s one of the pieces that really tends to stir up a fair amount of controversy amongst fans. The woman is a robot, looks an awful lot like Barbie, and the song lyrics are enough to make you wonder just what is meant by the song. Is it all just for fun, or is there another message?

-R

 

Happy Birthday Stephen Duffy!

On this date in 1960, Stephen Duffy was born. Now, some of you might be wondering why on earth I am bothering to mention this today, and that’s OK. Not every Duran Duran fan is aware of it’s very beginnings…so I’m going to use this as a Duran Duran 101 teaching moment.

Let’s all step into the time machine and head back to Duran Duran’s beginnings. Back before Andy came back, way before Warren stepped in, and even before Simon showed up to sign in pink leopard print pants. Stephen Duffy was in fact one of the first members of Duran Duran. He started out as vocalist, also penning lyrics and playing bass (yes, BASS), while John was on guitar (that’s right, at first John played guitar).  It wasn’t long before Simon Colley joined the band and took over on bass, and then Stephen moved over to drums.

Stephen was only in Duran Duran for about a year before he left, well before Duran Duran was signed to EMI.  Stephen went on to form Tin Tin (amongst a few other variations), and in the 80’s released the song “Kiss Me”. It is this song that most people recognize from him, although I am sure there are others.  See the original video for the song below,

 

Much later, Stephen and Nick came together as The Devils to work on a CD that is essentially the music that led up to Duran Duran as we know it. For the historical value alone, it is worth including in your collection if you don’t already have it. (and it is good music, too)

Happy Birthday Stephen Duffy!!

-R

Night Boat with Smashing Pumpkins – were you there?

Sometimes, I just like to throw videos up on the blog for people to watch!

On this date back in 1998, Simon joined Smashing Pumpkins on stage to perform Night Boat. This was shown on MTV, and I found it on YouTube to share.

Personally, I think it’s kind of cool to see Simon up there with Billy Corgan. Night Boat was a perfect song for Smashing Pumpkins to cover. Thoughts, anyone?  Were you there? Feel free to share in the comments!

-R

Newcastle show canceled, 2011. Do you remember??

On this date in 2011, some of the longest “waiting” of my life began. Duran Duran was to play the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle that evening, and was the first show to be canceled during the All You Need is Now tour.  Here’s the original announcement from DDHQ:

(from duranduran.com) Singer Simon Le Bon has today been diagnosed with a throat infection that is forcing the band to postpone their Newcastle Arena show that was scheduled for tomorrow, May 18. All fans should hold on to their tickets. Details of the rescheduled date will be forthcoming within the next couple of days.

I can remember hearing about this show being canceled. I can still feel the shock waves that reverberated through my body when my friend called to tell me the bad news that day. Every one of my hairs stood on end and I really didn’t know what to do.

Amanda and I, along with two of our friends, were to fly to the UK to see shows in Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and London.  We were leaving in less than 48 hours for what was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. I had an afternoon flight from LAX on the 20th and would arrive in London the 21st. I’d meet Amanda and the rest of our friends that day and we booked a car to drive us to Birmingham. We would stay at the Birmingham Malmaison in a very fancy suite that we’d spent a bundle to book, and continue on from there. It was going to be the second time I’d been to the UK, and the first time I’d ever flown outside the country without Walt. For me, the trip was huge.

I stood there by my stairs, listening to my friend rant on and on about what my choices were and whether or not she thought I should still “chance it” and make the trip. All I could do was stand there, bite my nails, and hope it was a one-time thing and that Simon would be fine for the next show, which was in Glasgow the following day.

Of course, it wasn’t. The next day, it was announced that Glasgow would be canceled. I was to leave the very next day, and this was about the time I began to panic.  I think I kind of knew our shows would be canceled, but I held out hope until the following day, literally minutes before I left my house. My bags were packed and I was waiting for my husband to arrive home to take me to LAX so I wouldn’t have to leave my car.  I believe I got a phone call from one of our friends, who alerted me to the latest announcement from Duran Duran, canceling the next three shows….all three of which I was supposed to attend.

I remember thinking about what my options were that day, but my husband quickly quelled any plans I had to stay home. “You’ve already got your plane ticket. You’re going.” I knew he was right. It was a lot to give up, and at the time, there was still that London show. It was possible he’d be able to do that, right? I gathered my things, made my flight and hoped for the best.

As we all know, the entire UK tour was canceled, so no – London didn’t happen. It was months before Simon was in the clear and able to perform again. The trip itself was good, but strange. In some bizarre way, I think going over there and experiencing the cancellation with people who understood how I felt was oddly comforting. Amanda and I tried our best to make the trip fun, and parts of it were. For me personally, the trip was cathartic. I can say that I came back home as a completely different person. A totally different fan.

I’m still annoyingly critical, sarcastic and judgmental. I still make plenty of rookie errors when dealing with the public. But, the love I have for Duran Duran is far, far different now. I think that trip made me see them as humans. Finally. Not every fan wants that. Some want to keep the band on their pedestal as perfect, mystical beings. That’s fine. It just wasn’t the path I wanted. I can’t say it’s helped with my writing or even the blog (I have still upset fans in the past and will likely do so again at some point), but I think maybe the trip gave me a little more perspective.

Later that year, Amanda and I went back, this time seeing shows and experiencing all that a Duran Duran tour in the UK had to offer. The memories from that trip are wonderfully happy and I’m glad I went back. However, the trip that taught me the most was the one that didn’t go as planned. Maybe there’s something to that.

-R