Category Archives: history

Let’s Celebrate the First Gig!

On this date in 1978…I was seven years old.

I like saying that in some ways because while I was seven and didn’t have the foggiest idea who Duran Duran was, or what they’d come to mean to me in the decades ahead, the band members were already grown and playing music.

On the same token, I was seven years old when this roller coaster started. I’m “several decades” older now. Like four.

So I’ll begin again. On this date in 1978, Duran Duran played their first gig at Birmingham Polytechnic University. I don’t suppose there’s anyone reading this who was actually there?? Oh, how I would love to interview someone who had been in the audience that night. Can you imagine that story?!? I mean, you go to see some band because you’re tired of studying and you don’t have anything else to do…and several years later they’re the biggest act on the planet. Four decades later and, well, here we are.

I see constant, spirited exchanges between fans over what should be the observed anniversary date. When should we celebrate the fortieth anniversary?  My answer?  ALL OF THE TIME.  Every single day. Why not?  It has been one hell of a road, hasn’t it?  Each morning, I get up and check our Duran calendar, and rarely is there a box with nothing in it. There might be two days on the entire calendar where the band took time off or nothing happened – but for the most part, each day something happened and they’ve made it through all of it. Sure, people have joined and left over the years, but they’re still together. Still making music. We’re still fans. I think we should celebrate all of that.

I can’t really imagine what it was like in that first audience. I don’t know how the band sounded. I’m not sure if I would recognize the music as Duran Duran, but it was the beginning. Here we are, forty years later, waiting for more. Let’s celebrate THAT.

-R

HMV Signing in Toronto 1995 – Were You There?

April 4th has been a busy day in Duran history. “White Lines” was released in the US and UK on this date in 1995, as was Thank You. VH1 aired Behind the Music in 1999. In 1987, they performed on Soul Train. On this date in Toronto, Duran Duran held a signing at HMV. Were you there?

I have been to Toronto exactly one time, and it wasn’t that long ago.  Amanda and I decided to take the road trip to end all road trips (not really, because if the band announced a tour tomorrow I’m sure we’d be planning another!) to see several dates on the Paper Gods tour. Toronto was one of the cities we visited along the way.

Crossing the American-Canadian border was a new experience. While I’ve actually been through customs with Amanda before, this time we were in a car. (Always something new, I say!) It was a long drive, but when we finally made it into Toronto, it was nothing like I’d imagined. I’d describe it as very busy, with tall buildings on a beautiful waterfront. I can remember it being hot and humid (as were all the shows that summer).

Were you at the HMV signing in Toronto?  Weather for April can be iffy…if you were there, did you have to wait outside?! (Written like a true Californian, right?)

-R

 

 

CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland 2005 – Who was there?

On this date in 2005 Duran Duran performed at the CSU Convocational Center in Cleveland. This was one date included on their Astronaut tour. Were you there?

Here’s the setlist from that night. Relive the moment and set up your own playlist while you’re dying Easter Eggs, doing some spring cleaning, or—if you’re lucky enough to be somewhere warm and beach-like—sitting outside!

  1. (Reach Up for the) Sunrise
  2. Hungry Like the Wolf
  3. Planet Earth
  4. Astronaut
  5. Hold Back the Rain
  6. Chains
  7. What Happens Tomorrow
  8. A View to a Kill
  9. Tiger Tiger
  10. The Chauffeur
  11. Ordinary World
  12. Save a Prayer
  13. Notorious
  14. Nice
  15. Is There Something I Should Know?
  16. Careless Memories
  17. The Wild Boys
  18. Girls on Film
  19. Rio

-R

Label comings and goings

I don’t know what it is about March 27th, but Duran Duran has announced a record deal ending, as well as one starting on this date in the past.

In 2009, Simon Le Bon wrote about their deal ending with Sony on duranduran.com.  It was also on this date in 2015 that Warner Bros. announced their deal with Duran Duran.  Two sides of the same coin, perhaps?

I can remember thinking that it was wonderful that Duran Duran was getting out from under Sony Records, particularly after Red Carpet Massacre. I don’t know what Sony had expected for the album, but I know that at the time, the album seemed to be underperforming. That isn’t a critique of the band, it is a critique of Sony, in my opinion. I felt that the label allowed the album to fall flat after its release. (Yes, I expected the label to move mountains rather than expect it to move under its own steam, I suppose.) Context is everything though, and during this time period, labels all over the country were redefining and consolidating themselves. It was, and still is, a very difficult time to be a musician.

On the same token, or the other side of the coin, there is Warner Bros.  Duran Duran released Paper Gods with Warner, and while yes, the album spent a small period of time in the top ten – did it really do well? I am really not sure. I don’t mean that I’m skeptical of its success…I mean I’m really not sure what DEFINES success these days. Is it sales? Is it tickets to live shows? What ever happened to videos? Do they matters? What about streaming – where does that fit into the equation? Does ANYONE, aside from the execs along with the Adeles, Justin Timberlakes, Taylor Swifts and Beyonces in this world, anyway, make money at this business in 2018?

I guess that really is the question, isn’t it?

-R

Spring Break and Songbook!

Happy Spring Break to anyone is lucky enough to have this week off, and that includes Amanda and I! I’ve decided to take some time for myself this week, in which case my posts are likely to be shorter than normal.

With that in mind, do you know what was aired on Sky Works on this date in 2009? Anyone?  Songbook!  I didn’t see this until well-after its airing…but since it has been seven years since it aired, so let’s watch again!

In full-disclosure, I did not have time to watch both of these clips before posting. They were uploaded by two different people but one seems to have more the interview and the other looks to be more of the performances. That said, I can’t be sure they don’t overlap. So, my apologies if they’re not perfect. I’m going to watch now, and you know – if I have to see Duran Duran perform with Dom twice, I suppose I’ll manage. Somehow.  😀

In any case, enjoy!!

-R

Watching Over Lucky Clover

The other day Duran Duran tweeted a question about how they celebrate anniversaries of songs, albums, etc. and then asked fans what DD dates they commemorate.  Immediately, I responded about how I like to remember my concert show dates.  In fact, in our homemade Duran calendar, the dates and locations of each show that Rhonda and I have attended, together or separately, is listed.  Today is one of those dates for me.  On this date in 2005, I saw Duran play in Detroit.  It was the last of my spring Astronaut shows and the end of an amazing Spring Break in which I saw five shows that week.  More significantly than that, it was the first show I saw with all five original band members.

At the time of Astronaut’s release, I remember feeling so behind the curve because I had yet to see the Fab Five live.  It seemed so many other people I knew saw all of them in 2003 or 2004.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for me so I had to wait until Astronaut.  In December, tickets were purchased and a countdown began.  January and February felt like the longest months ever.  During that time, I kept my excitement about seeing all 5 mostly to myself.  I didn’t want to point out that I wasn’t a cool fan like all those who saw reunion shows.  Then, finally, my part of the tour approached only to find out that Andy had to fly back to the UK to take care of his dad.  Obviously, I understood but was disappointed.  Others around me expressed that while I quietly convinced myself that I would still enjoy the shows, which I did.

By the time the third show came, I stopped hoping that Andy would return.  I reassured myself that this was just one tour and that the band would be back around.  Yet, I was stunned when my friend called the day of the Detroit show telling us that Andy would be there for the show!  I cheered along with my friends and my excitement of the show increased immensely!  Indeed, it was a special show and have a fond little spot in my heart for it.  As I drove home the next day, I found myself feeling very, very lucky to have been able to see the Fab Five live and it didn’t matter that it was in 2005 rather than 2003 or 1984.  I did it.

Speaking of lucky, I believe that I have been a very fortunate Duranie in that I have had the opportunity to see the band live with not only Andy, but Warren once and Dom a bunch of times.  The debate of Duran’s guitarist will probably never die.  While I personally love Duran as it is right now and feel strongly that Dom should definitely be there, I appreciate the history that came with Andy and the creativity that came with Warren.  I know that each guitarist has brought something to Duran that cannot really be measured.  So, on today’s date, I celebrate not only the Detroit show that took place 13 years, but also the guitarists that have been a part of the Duran story.

-A

Denying the reunion of the original five, 2001.

I think I must be on the topic of rumor this week or something…

As I was looking at our Day in Duran History spreadsheet (yes, we actually have one!), I noticed that on this date in 2001 – there’s an entry that says “dd.com denied a tour with the original five on this date”.

I laughed.

The real story is that the day prior –  March 19, 2001 – allstarnews.net broke a story about the original five (Simon, Nick, John, Roger & Andy…in case you forgot!) touring together. DDHQ, or duranduran.com, was quick to announce on this date in 2001 that such rumors were completely untrue.

Except of course they weren’t.

Turns out, timing is everything. Now, I don’t know how allstarnews.net found out the news before DDHQ was ready to make the big announcement, but I suspect it went a little something like this:

Management calls a promoter, perhaps forgetting to have them sign a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before getting them under contract to put together a tour for Duran Duran.  It could have been that they actually did have them sign one, but as the promoter contacts venues who may be interested in contracting a gig with the original five members of Duran Duran, who haven’t performed together since the 80’s – the news was expertly leaked to a news site. After all, HELLO, this story was huge!

Hell, I’d have taken out a full-page ad in a newspaper at the time.  (note to DDHQ – I’m much better at keeping secrets now, I promise!)

Moving on…

Said news site does their job and broadcasts the news on the ‘net. Even without social media, it takes almost no time before this headline reaches Duranies around the planet, who begin to fall off of  chairs while typing the word thud on message boards and forums around the world. Meanwhile, DDHQ is found taking Advil, Tylenol and/or Paracetamol, while needing a lie down with a cool compress.

It is decided that, rather than admit to the Fab Five reuniting and losing full control of the narrative, and how it will be unfolded to the world, it is best to deny the story completely.  The words saying as much are posted on dd.com for all to see.

Meanwhile (most) Duranies skip the Tylenol, Advil and Paracetamol and go straight for shots of whatever hard liquor is available. Vodka shots, anyone??

Or maybe that’s just MY version of the story.

Of course, we all know how this turned out, don’t we?  It would be two years before the band actually started to do shows together, but yes – the original five DID reunite – and it was a bright and beautiful time to be a fan.

This story is also why, even when DDHQ denies, or even better, full-well ignores rumors and questions about rumors, fans don’t necessarily listen – in fact I’d argue that it just forces fans to do more sleuthing and investigating on their own. I suspect that this might where the “relationship” between DDHQ and fans started to go really wonky, although there were certainly signs of that prior to 2001.

While it is really neither side’s fault – DDHQ did need to protect their ownership of such a huge breaking story, and fans had the right to be excited by such a bombshell announcement – I think it makes it difficult to work together at times, and perhaps that alone is part of the problem.  Are we (fans) really just a problem that needs to be handled, or are we people who can be trusted to be there when it counts? I’m not quite sure. Regardless, the distrust is palatable, and pretty unfair, both ways.

-R

Tales of Duranlore

Over the weekend, I heard a Duran Duran song I’d never heard before.

Think about that. We’re in between albums, I think I’ve heard everything the band has recorded…so how is that possible?

It turns out, the song I heard is one of Duran-lore, which means it’s a song that some people have long-held as existing, while others swore it did not. In actuality, it is a song that I believe eventually became Seventh Stranger.  That happens during the writing and recording process. You start with what you think is one song, and eventually, it ends up being something else entirely.

Reminds me a little of what Amanda and I have experienced with writing a manuscript. We started with one thing, switched it up and came out with a completely different version that we are now working on which will become something altogether new. Trust the process, so they say! Let’s write a book, it’ll be fun…

ha ha ha

Back to the case in point, I’ve seen a great many things written, asked and implied about this particular song. I’m not posting the link here because my point here isn’t to anger the powers that be or disturb the masses. I don’t honestly care whether the song is real or fake (although based upon the stories I’ve been told – I wholeheartedly believe the people who took the time to explain and share with me). What I find far more interesting is something I’ve titled “Duranlore”.

I grew up in the USA, and as I’ve said before, my world didn’t extend much beyond Glendora or Covina, California. Public transportation where I lived was something you didn’t take unless you wanted to get mugged, or had no other choice (meaning my mom wouldn’t let me step one toe onto any bus!). So I didn’t have the experience of going into Los Angeles or hanging out anywhere outside of my little neighborhood. It comes down to the fact that I’ve got no great 1980s fandom stories to share. From what I gather, that wasn’t the case for my friends in the UK.

I hear so many great stories, or lore, from my friends there. They had a much different experience when it comes to Duran Duran back in the 80s. To me, they were exotic and completely untouchable.  I couldn’t relate to them. They were very enigmatic and otherworldly. They didn’t seem real. I suspect that half of my curiosity about them, even as an adult back during the reunion tour, came from the fact that I’d never even been anywhere near them. I suspect that may be the case for many other fans as well. Yet my friends in the UK knew them and are still familiar faces to the band. They were frequent sidewalk-outside-the-studio visitors.

I can’t help but be envious. I don’t know what that level of recognition or having that type of history feels like.  In contrast, I spent my days between albums going to school, watching MTV, doing normal kid things, I suppose. I didn’t really think or hear about a Duran Duran album until news came out about it on the radio, on MTV, or in one of those teen magazines. That isn’t to say I didn’t spend time being a fan. My albums received ample play, but that was about as close as I could really get to experiencing the band.  In all honesty, my “story” with Duran Duran really didn’t get started until much, much later in life.

Not so for my UK friends. I am always equal parts amazed, impressed, and envious, that so many of them have known one another since childhood.  They met from hanging outside of the studio (or band members homes)!  I love that. They have an entire story that I can’t even relate to, or be a part of, because they met when they were so young and grew up with this band in a way that was impossible for anyone outside of England to really understand. When I say I’m envious, that’s the truth. I’m not jealous of them—I wouldn’t want to take any of that away from them—I just wonder what it must have been like. So, I tend to ask them a lot about it whenever I get the chance.

When I saw the link to this song over the weekend, I listened with the same sort of giddiness I do when I get a new Duran Duran song. The thing is, the song has been around for a while. It’s not new to YouTube, and I know there have been questions about it before. I certainly had questions of my own, and in many ways I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never heard it before. So many die-hard fans have – it’s one of those songs “everyone” knows about. Here I am, Ms. Blogger-lady, and I hadn’t yet. Awesome.

Those who remember Kitty will know that she posted it on her now defunct website, Gimme A Wristband. John has said in the past that the song isn’t Duran Duran (although I am not an expert in sound engineering, it sure as hell sounds like Duran Duran to me). Katy has said this song doesn’t exist (which to be fair, it really doesn’t anymore because the song eventually became something else anyway). Yet my friends, who were there at one of the (many) places the band recorded Seven and the Ragged Tiger album – know it’s real. It is one of those songs that, the more it’s denied, the more it has become something of a treasure. My friends were able to tell me the story behind the recording itself. The quality of the recording is, well, not good – it’s been cleaned up quite a bit so one can hear it – but it’s still pretty muddy sounding. There’s a reason for that. It was recorded through a drain pipe.

That’s the good stuff right here. Imagine a kid taking the time to bend down, and getting what had to have been a horribly distorted recording of a song coming through a drain pipe, just because she was a huge fan! Yet the story doesn’t surprise me one bit, given the fan in question.  I can’t imagine that she actually thought she’d be answering questions about that song and the way she recorded it thirty years later!

I went back and forth about whether or not I’d write about this song here on the blog. It comes down to this: for me, the true importance isn’t about whether the band says it’s real or fake, or what song it is…or was at the time. I wasn’t there to confirm it all, but I believe the people who took time to explain to me how it is that they have a recording of a Duran Duran song that was never released. It doesn’t matter what DDHQ has said in the years since, because they weren’t even there at the time.

No, the point that sticks in my head is the fact that these kids were so into Duran Duran that they spent their spare time (and probably some school time too!) sitting at the studio. They met one another, they became friends, and they experienced the same sort of fandom that many of us had to wait until we were adults to fully experience and enjoy. Think about how so many of us will wait hours in a hotel lobby just to be able to say hi to the band. Then think about the people we’ve met while waiting.

It is from these same friends of mine (ha ha ha) that many of the stories of how Duran Duran’s history all really happened and unfolded comes from.  With all due respect to management, for the die-hards, it’s not about the “story” that they want out there in the general public. After all, that bio and image is a highly polished veneer that is expertly applied to the raw, organic reality.  I think the real “stories” or Duranlore, particularly those that fans are most interested in, come from the fans who were actually there. They aren’t the ones who need to project a certain impression, or put on airs because the reality doesn’t match the pretty PR image that gets albums sold.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely a place for the image created by a hard-working management team, and I have ample respect for that. But there’s also the reality that comes from fans who have been there since day one, or close to it. Rarely does a management team stick with a band from beginning to end. Some fans do, though, and some lived close enough to actually see it happen. The tales of Duranlore these fans share aren’t always pretty, and they’re certainly not polished, but yet – it’s the oral history of people who, in spite of it all, are still fans forty years later.

That says something, doesn’t it?

-R

Duran Duran at the Rum Runner, 1980

There are mornings that I sit down to this laptop and don’t really know where to begin. I’m feeling that way right now. Beginnings are simply just a starting point. It is what happens after that decision to begin that matters most. Sometimes, those auspicious beginnings aren’t even noticed at the time. The notice comes much later.

Today, very much in hindsight, we celebrate one of those beginnings, although I’m not sure we should really call it a beginning.  On this day in 1980, Duran Duran opened for a band named Fashion at the Rum Runner in Birmingham.

There does seem to be some confusion on social media about what this day actually represents. It was not the first gig Duran Duran played with the classic lineup, for example.  That came a bit later, in July of 1980. (see the timeline on duranduran.com)

This was also not the first gig Duran Duran played. Their first show was nearly a year earlier, at Birmingham Polytechnic, on April 5, 1979. The band formed during the year prior – in 1978 – although as we all know, it was not yet with the lineup we all recognize.

What this day does represent, however; was the first Duran Duran gig at the Rum Runner, at least to the best knowledge of those who painstakingly compiled the full Duran Duran tour list on dd.com. We know that John, Nick and Roger were there that night, along with Jeff Thomas singing (Simon didn’t audition until May), and Alan Curtis on guitar (Andy didn’t answer the Melody Maker ad until April). They opened for Fashion, a band we don’t often hear about, who also rehearsed at the Rum Runner. It’s kind of wild to think that at one point, Duran Duran was opening for other club bands. Yet as time wore on, Duran Duran became the band to be remembered.

It is somewhat apropos that a picture of Roger visiting the site was posted and tweeted recently. It is difficult to think about that area of Birmingham and not smile. I’m sure that has got to be the same reaction that many of you have, and I’m thankful we can all share those kinds of “memories”, even if we weren’t all there in person. I think of the Rum Runner as a special place in my own history, yet I really didn’t know anything of it other than what I read until much later in life.

When I think about places I wished I’d experienced, the Rum Runner comes to mind every time. Yeah, I would have loved being in that club and part of that scene (although I think in reality we all know just from looking at me that I’d have never quite fit in). I would have loved every second of watching the band grow and come into their own. Of course, I write that full-well knowing that the appreciation of such things only comes with hindsight. Even so, I find myself wishing I could have been there to have been a part of it all from the start.

Was this show really a beginning? I’m not really sure. As I’m writing this, I can certainly see why the band hasn’t announced an exact date of anniversary to celebrate DD40. Do they celebrate the moment John and Nick decided to start a band? What about the first gig – and if they do, is it really the “beginning” when more than half of the members weren’t even a part of it yet? What about the first gig at the Rum Runner?  How about the first gig that the classic lineup we all know and recognize played together?  It is all very vague, yet—at least in my opinion—all worthy of celebration.

Then again, maybe I’m just in the mood for a party.

To me, this date marks the beginning of the Rum Runner era for Duran Duran, and provides a perfectly good reason to post this video of Planet Earth filmed at the Rum Runner. I love this video because up until the DVD for Greatest was released, I’d never seen it – so it was a complete surprise (and an Easter Egg on the DVD)! I don’t think I had seen many pictures of what the Rum Runner looked like on the inside before I saw this, so when I watch the video, I really try to absorb the vibe. In a weird way, it is a little reminiscent of the club I used to go to on the Redondo Beach pier while I was in college, called Fashions. I love it!

I’m sure most Duranies have seen this video by now, but it’s still one of my favorites. I love the idea of watching the video, imagining what it was like in the club on any given night while the band played. I don’t know very many fans who were Rum Runner regulars back in the day, but can you imagine being one of them, watching Duran Duran skyrocket to fame?  If you haven’t seen the video, what better day to watch?!?

-R

 

Duran Duran History: Orlando 2001 and More

On this date in 2001, Duran Duran played at the House of Blues in Orlando.  This show was part of the Up Close and Personal Tour.  Were any of you lucky enough to attend this show?  I was not there.  In fact, I did not attend any show during that tour.  During 2001, I was a bit busy as I was teaching full time and attending graduate school.  This makes me think about a couple of little mental games I like to play with my history students.

What If?

Thinking about that tour, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had attended that tour.  Would I have had amazing, life altering experiences?  What would my fandom be like now?  Would I still be a fan today or would I have gotten it all out of my system?  Of course, like my students, I cannot properly answer the question without thinking of context.  If I attended this tour, does that mean that I would have been active in the fandom?  Would I have met Rhonda earlier than I did?  Someone else?  Would my Duranie friendship group be a lot different?  If I had to guess, I suspect that I might have known and had some friends within the fandom but I doubt any of those friendships would have been like the one I share with Rhonda. (I know what many of you are thinking…thank goodness!  The world could not handle another blog like this!  Certainly, vodka suppliers are relieved that there isn’t another friendship like ours!)  If that’s the case, then I bet I wouldn’t have had as much fun.  Therefore, I doubt that my fandom would be like it is today.

What Tour?

Another question I like to ask my students is about which era they wish they could have lived through.  So, I apply this question to my fandom.  Which tour that I did not see do I wish it did?  Would it be the Up Close and Personal Tour?  I know that this tour allowed the fans to get pretty close to the band and included a lot of small venues.  All that sounds great to me…but John Taylor was not part of the band.  So, I might not choose this tour.

What about a tour like the Sing Blue Silver Tour of 1984?  I was too young to attend and this, of course, was at the heart of Duran’s popularity.  If I attended that tour, would I be able to fan out in a way that I don’t now?  For example, would I scream myself to losing my voice?  Would I faint over a look or a glance my way?  What would it have been like to be around that level of fan hysteria?  Would I have loved it?  Found it fascinating?  Wanted to run from it?  I’m not sure.  So, I don’t think I would have chosen that tour.

Honestly, if I had to pick one, I might go to the first US tour.  I would have loved to have seen some of those early days.  Right now, the band is at the top of their game when it comes to live shows.  I would have love to have seen them then.  What were those live shows really like?  How did the crowds react?  Did they get what they were witnessing and how huge the band was going to get?

What about the rest of you?  What tour do you wish that you attended and why?

-A