Category Archives: In The Pleasure Groove

Duran Duran History – London Bass Show

Duran Duran history for March 2nd: in 2014, John Taylor appeared at the London Bass show in support of his autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. He spoke about his career, his book, and also played his signature Peavey Bass.

We know there were more than a few Duranies in attendance, share your photos and experiences!!  -R

 

Duran Duran History – John Taylor Signing

Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back to 2012 when John Taylor had a book signing event at Waterstones in Brighton, England.  Obviously, this was a promotional event for his autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove.  As someone who was lucky enough to go to one of these book signings, they were a real treat.  While I thought it was cool enough to hear John read from his book on the audio version of it, it was super cool to see/hear him read it in person.

If you haven’t read the book, I cannot recommend it enough.  Then, dive into our blog posts about it.  The first one is here.

While I couldn’t find a video clip of him reading in Brighton, I did find one from Bath:

-A

We were shaken but not stirred

A special thank you to Mr. Nick Rhodes for making my blog topic today so easy.

I’m not sure how many have seen it, but the new foreword in John Taylor’s book In the Pleasure Groove (US paperback edition) is up online.  I caught it today by mere luck, and I’m really glad I did. There are times when I just need something a little life affirming, and for today this was it, and it worked.  Wanna see it?  Here’s your link.

Nick’s love and respect for John is evident. I appreciate that, given the bumpy ride that Nick describes.  Nick mentions that he and John always tried to find a way to make things work. Amanda and I have a similar mantra. It began well before we ever lost our minds and announced we were planning a convention – and now it’s nearly become the way we close each of our conversations: “We will do what must be done.” (all the while crossing our fingers and hoping we live to see the Monday morning following the convention!)  Seriously. What on earth were we thinking?!?

The foreword goes on to describe the differences in personalities, which is something that I think most fans are not only well aware, but stand in wonder and admiration – this band has always had five very distinct individuals (someone for everyone, as it is seems!), yet each has taken their own very personal journey, and as Nick mentions – even in this band of brothers, some things were just never discussed. Then Nick writes about penning “Buried in the Sand”, a song that both saddens and frustrates me personally, but then – I’m just a fan. I don’t know what it must have been like to have John Taylor tell me he was quitting the band, and I don’t know what it must have been like for Nick to realize a dear friend was going his own way.  Did he try to stop John? Did he just let him slip through his grasp?  I really don’t know.  I only know how I felt as a fan.  I was happy for John, sad for myself, selfishly so..and angry at Simon and Nick.  Why?  I suppose at the time I felt like they just let him go.  I’m sure that wasn’t the case, or maybe it was… it wasn’t my place to know.  I think that’s the frustrating thing about being a fan.  We can only react to things, and for the control freaks amongst us (raises hand)….it’s a tough place to occupy.  I like to plan!

We all know about the reunion. Most of us lived it and we’ve written about it many, many times in blog postings…but there is something about Nick’s description that warms my heart.  I guess that for me, there is something about knowing that the band wanted that reunion even more than I probably knew I did that makes it all that much more special. Of course now that reunion is a memory, but a good one…one that won’t dim in brightness over time (for me).

Finally, and probably most importantly, Nick still has not read John’s book. I have to say that for a while, I struggled with understanding why Nick wouldn’t read it. I thought maybe Nick didn’t want to know the things he hadn’t witnessed firsthand. I really wasn’t sure. Maybe their friendship was still mending? No idea. The most obvious of reasons being the one I didn’t consider. Nick someday hopes to write his own memoir, and what I love most here is Nick’s explanation: “…I don’t want to borrow what I don’t remember.” I hope that someday, Nick will be able to sit down and read John’s memoir (and that someday, I will be sitting down to read Nick’s!).

The journey for this band has been incredible (and really kind of incredulous!) thus far.  What I believe I am most enamored by in this moment is their friendship and how it has stood the test of time. I really do believe that the love, respect and friendship they feel for one another has somehow seeped through the music and into some of the relationships we have with one another. Maybe not all, maybe even not most…but some. I love the body of work the band has created. That’s why I became a fan. I love the opportunity it created for the friendships I’ve made along the way even more. The band didn’t actually give any of that to me – but being a fan created the opportunity for moments of which I took full advantage. Funny how a band based on a childhood friendship has at least been the soundtrack if not the catalyst to friendships that have become long term.

“We were shaken but not stirred”…. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better, more fitting description for this band OR it’s fans…or Daily Duranie for that matter.

-R

Happy Birthday Mr. Taylor!

This is a first for me!  I am actually writing this year’s birthday post for our favorite bass player, John Taylor!  Of course, as Rhonda mentioned last week, we switched days in order for her to write Dom’s birthday post and for me to write John’s.  Frankly, I suspect that this blog will not live up to the high standards that John’s birthday post should meet.  I will do my best, though.  As I begin this post, I think about all that John is and has been.  It is clear that he is much more than a bass player.  He is more than a founding member of our favorite band.  Obviously, his musical talents have expanded far beyond Duran Duran as he has been involved in side projects (Power Station and Neurotic Outsiders) as well as his own solo work.  He has also been involved with other musical projects as a guest like his vocal performance on Koishii and Hush’s C’est Tout Est Noir.  John isn’t all music, either.  He has been an actor and, this past year, we saw him become a best-selling author as well.  In fact, it is truly difficult to hit on all aspects of John Taylor’s successful career.  I will attempt to the best I can here, though, because he deserves the effort!  Besides, his fans deserve to celebrate everything he has given us, too!

Obviously, most of us became fans of John Taylor through Duran Duran.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m thankful on pretty much a daily basis that John discovered music as a kid and had the desire to form a band.  Then, of course, he had determination and ambition to do what he needed to do in order to be a success.  These qualities can be seen from the very earliest days of Duran to Duran today.  To me, these qualities along with his absolutely outstanding bass playing make him such an important piece to the Duran enterprise.  Yes, I’m sure that there are people out there reading this who want to remind me and others that John left the band and the band continued.  While that’s true, it is clear that the band would not have survived much longer with that line-up.  Simon, in particular, was open about how much he missed John.  For John fans like myself, it was really hard to get excited about anything Duran without him there.  All of this said, this blog post is about celebrating John and what he brought and brings to Duran Duran and their fans.

Clip of John discussing playing Planet Earth from the early 1980s-

An acoustic performance of All You Need Is Now from 2011-

Of course, for many of us, when we think about what John does best, we often think about live performances.  As a kid, I will never forget seeing the live video of The Reflex.  There was just something about him that caught my attention.  Yeah, yeah, I’m sure those flattering camera angles didn’t hurt.  Nonetheless, as an adult, I have learned that he truly does a tremendous job during their live performances.  Of course, one thing that I truly love about John live is that he is always interacting with either Simon or Dom.  I am a big fan of both the JoSi and the DoJo–honestly, partly, because it seems to me that they sincerely love performing together!
The Reflex-

Careless Memories from A Diamond in the Mind:

Now, of course, John hasn’t just performed with Duran Duran.  He has been involved with two side projects.  The first one, Power Station, is probably one that most Duranies are familiar with.  Yet, I would also recommend Neurotic Outsiders.  I suspect that this project did John a lot of good.

Power Station’s Some Like It Hot-

Jerk by Neurotic Outsiders (live)-

I happen to think that John’s most important musical work outside of Duran Duran is his solo work.  If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it.  John’s solo catalog reveals so much about his musical open-mindedness, skills and passion.  Perhaps, just as, or more, importantly, his solo work is so personal.  I often say that the majority of Simon’s lyrics are either pure poetry or a story about someone else.  The exact opposite is true of John’s.  Most of his songs are intensely personal.  It shows a lot about what kind of person he is to share so much of himself with the world.  Of course, his autobiography did that as well.  Someday, I’ll do a blog of must hear John songs.  In my personal opinion, all serious John fans should familiarize themselves with his solo stuff.

John’s song Fields of Eden-

Beyond music, John has been been both an actor and an author.  How many people out there can claim all of this (musician, actor and author)?!  His acting appearances were always entertaining to me from when he played an English rockstar in Sugartown (that sounds familiar…) to a badass rock star who enjoys trashing his hotel rooms in Strange Frequency to a hitman in Four Dogs Playing Poker.

John in Strange Frequency-

Of course, last year, we all had the pleasure of reading John’s autobiography.  I have read it multiple times and continue to be impressed by his writing skills as well as his ability to be so open.  If you haven’t read it, you totally should.  It provides such insight into John but also into Duran Duran, the Birmingham scene, fame and more.  
John reading the chapter on Coachella from his book-

I adore this final chapter of the book.  Why?  It feels to me that John really gets it.  He understands his role–to make music, to connect with us when they are on stage and we are in the audience.  Clearly, he understood the importance of connecting, including the band to us but also fans connecting to other fans.  In the end, that is what it is all about—making connections, long lasting, lifelong connections.  Thus, on this day, we celebrate John’s birthday but we also celebrate all that he has given us–his music, his voice, his talent, his words, his creativity, his soul and, through all of that, each other.  Truly, June 20th is one date to celebrate.
Happy Birthday John!!
-A

Get Angry at the Weekend and Go Back to School

Tuesday evening, I went to a meeting to discuss possible political work with the people who were my campaign volunteers.  I looked forward to the meeting as I miss many of the people now that it isn’t campaign season.  Yet, instead of enjoying myself, I found myself increasingly frustrated.  Why?  Well, our discussion included the results in the last election, which included results on three seats for our local school district’s board.  Now, as you all know, I’m a teacher and many of my team are current or former teachers as well.  (That probably says something about Wisconsin teachers!)  Anyway, the discussion moved away from the results to discussion on the new superintendent of the district.  During this never-ending discussion, everyone kept asking me what I thought about the new person, what her plans are, what she has done as far as outreach was concerned, etc.  Eventually, the discussion became just about education, in general, and different mandates within my district.  After an hour, I wanted to beat my head against the wall.  Do I have some opinions about the state of my district?  Of course.  Do I have thoughts about the school board results?  Sure.  Do I have a few ideas on the new superintendent?  Maybe.  Yet, we weren’t there to discuss all that.  We weren’t.  We were there to discuss possible upcoming political actions.  We weren’t there to debate actions on education, either.  What irritates me is that a number of these people ALWAYS ask me about teaching and the state of education and only about that!  I understand why they do.  They know that I’m a teacher.  It seems logical to them.  For me, though, I don’t have those meetings to talk about WORK.  I am there to talk about other things.  I talk about work plenty when I am at work.  I want a break from work.  Is that too much to ask for?

After the meeting, I arrived home to check on the online world, including facebook.  That night, like I frequently see, someone had posted an article by a teacher who talked about why he would not encourage anyone to go into teaching.  That didn’t surprise me.  Yet, I made the mistake of looking at the comments that followed.  A number of comments were offering support to teachers and how hard our job must be.  Unfortunately, a number of them were usual anti-teaching rants about how little we work since we only work until 3 and how we get so many days off and summers, etc.  Yeah…that isn’t the first time I have read/heard things like that.  It won’t be the last.  My only response to those comments is that I would gladly allow them to take over my job for a full calendar year so they can see how wrong that comment is.  As I tried to sleep that night, I pondered about how both the meeting and the comments were expressing the same thing.  They want me to be a teacher at all times and do nothing but think, breathe and talk teaching and education.  I shouldn’t want to talk about anything.  I shouldn’t want to have other thoughts or interests.  I shouldn’t want to take a break from it ever.  Teaching should be my only identity.  I shouldn’t be an organizer/campaigner/activist.  I shouldn’t be a fan/writer/blogger.  I am not sure where my friends and family should fit in.  Maybe they shouldn’t be that important either.  Nope, it should be all teaching, all the time.

Clearly, I don’t think it is fair of people at my meeting or the random people posting comments to think that I should only talk about teaching.  I think we would all agree that people aren’t just their jobs.  People should be allowed to have other interests, no matter what your job is or how important it is.  I shouldn’t have to just think about teaching.  I should be allowed to have a life outside of work.  I bet everyone reading this would agree with this.  Yet, I wonder if we really think this for the members of Duran.  Do they have a right to think about something outside of their JOB?  Can they think or talk about something other than Duran or something else connected to Duran?  Do we as fans let them?    I wonder if we do.  This week, for example, Simon showed up on Twitter.  The first tweet I noticed was about Margaret Thatcher’s passing.  Soon after that, my timeline was filled with tweets to Simon.  Were they tweets about her death?  Were they tweets reacting to what Simon said?  From what I saw, they weren’t, for the most part.  Many of the tweets were about the band and the work in the studio.  Is this just like the people at my meeting who seemed to think I would want to talk about work when I’m not at work?  While I understand how we all want to know what is going on in the studio and how the album is going, should Simon and the others only get to talk about work?  After all, Duran is just their job.  Yes, it is a big part of their lives but it isn’t their whole lives.  They have ideas outside of the band.  They have other interests.  I know what some of you are saying…but they are celebrities.  Their job is different than yours and mine.  True.  They are.  Yes, their job is different than mine.  What part of being a celebrity means that they can or should only think about work?  Maybe, I’m missing something but I think they should be allowed to think and talk about other things.

Then, of course, I have also seen some criticism around Duran’s time in the studio.  Where/when did this criticism come from?  I saw some of it as soon as John’s book talk in Copenhagen was announced for April 17th.  Then, when Roger’s DJ Set in Chicago was announced for April 25th, the criticism increased.  “Shouldn’t they be in the studio?  Shouldn’t they be working more?  Why are they taking breaks?  This album will never get done.  Why isn’t the album their priority?”  I could keep going but those are some of the things I have been hearing.  Isn’t this like those people who criticize teachers like me for getting a break?  Some people are allowed breaks but others aren’t?  Is this fair?  I get it.  People want the album to be done as quickly as possible.  We all want the album today or, at the very latest, next week.  We love Duran music and we would love to hear new music from them.  That said, they aren’t machines.  They are people who do create and perform music for their careers.  I believe, though, that they, like everyone else, need breaks.  Breaks help people be productive.  Also, they are involved in the creative arts.  I don’t believe that people can just be creative every single day to the same level as the same as the day before and the same level as  the day after.  People can’t control creativity like this.  I know that my mom, who is an artist, can’t.  She has times when nothing hits her.  She may try to work on something and nothing shows well.  Then, at other times, she can’t stop her creativity.  On those days, I think my dad has to make her step away from her work just to eat.  I know that I feel this way with writing.  Some days, I don’t feel like I can even write a sentence and if I do, none of them make sense.  Other days, I wish that I could just write the whole day and all of it sounds fabulous.

I think my point here is that I’m not just my profession and should be allowed to have breaks and other interests.  Likewise, John, Simon, Dom, Roger and Nick are in a band for their careers.  They, too, should be allowed to have other interests and be allowed to have breaks.  Maybe, I’m crazy but I don’t think their fame took away this element of their humanity.

-A

John Taylor’s Writers In Treatment 4th Annual Experience Strength and Hope Award

By Krista Hamby (With special collaboration from Christina Alva, Nicole Cosand, Sandy Fong & Ellen Shen)

Photo: Christina Alva

When an announcement was made back in December that John Taylor would be receiving the Writers in Treatment Experience, Strength and Hope Award, I immediately wanted to attend and said so to my Duranie posse. Christina, Ellen, Sandy and I decided we would drive down from the San Francisco Bay area and meet up with our Southern California friend Nicole, to attend the event. We all felt a desire to be there to support JT. We are proud of him and his recovery. Though we are not personal friends of his, and we would not be recognized by him at all, we all felt like we had gone through this journey with him, albeit from a distance. We wanted to share in this celebration of his achievements.

A couple of days prior to the event, attendees received an email from the event coordinators indicating a suggested dress code of “evening casual”. What on earth did that mean??? Luckily, the email offered clarifications: men no tuxes or t-shirts; women, no gowns or Birkenstocks. WTF?? That was random!
Photo: Krista Hamby
So we made our way to sunny LA! The event was held at the Skirball Cultural Center in the West Los Angeles hills, somewhat of a traffic nightmare. But we made it! We arrived close to the start of the reception, and it wasn’t too crowded yet. They took our tickets and gave us wristbands for admission (I said–gimme a wristband!!). We hung out in the reception area, talking, eating light hors d’oeuvres, and people watching. There were several celebrity attendees, including Master of Ceremonies Ed Begley Jr, Kurtwood Smith (“Red” from That 70s Show), Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Ione Skye & Ben Lee, Julie Anne Rhodes, Michael Des Barres, Steve Jones and the fabulous Patty Palazzo!! There were only a couple dozen Duranies in attendance. Most people present seemed to be a part of the recovery community. One person asked a friend of mine if she was in recovery; she replied, “No, I’m a Duranie.” No 12-step program for that!! We were not sure what to expect from the event, and it was nice to mix and mingle with “real people” and celebrities in such a relaxed environment.
Photo: Krista Hamby

I happened to turn and look at the door just as JT & Gela came in (psychic sixth sense??). John checked them in and began milling about. He posed for pictures with a couple of people, said hello to people he knew, did a little interview (no idea if/where this will air) and made his way to the backdrop for the paparazzi. The whole time he seemed happy and engaging, and very casual and unpretentious. This was in contrast to Robert Downey Jr, who came in with security that escorted him directly to the paparazzi and told attendees not to photograph him.
Photo: Christina Alva

Photo: Ellen Shen

Photo: Krista Hamby
After a while we left the reception area and entered a theater-like auditorium. The first several rows were reserved, so we sat toward the back. It was a very intimate space. Before the presentation began, a video played showing some funny clips of JT eating sushi and trying to speak Spanish.
The evening consisted of not just JT’s award presentation but also celebrated the work of Writers in Treatment, the REEL Recovery Film Festival, and other recovery programs. The whole evening was a fundraiser for Writers in Treatment’s Jewelle Sturm Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides rehabilitation treatment for women.
Photo: Krista Hamby

As for the award, Robert Downey Jr took the podium in an Iron Man t-shirt and blazer to present (the award) to John. He spoke about his own recovery. He spoke of the fact that he has been good friends with JT for several years, and that they share a mutual friend in Jonathan Elias. He joked that he was able to read In The Pleasure Groove in its entirety while stuck in traffic that evening. Robert also clarified that he was NOT a Duranie, stating that if he were he would be jumping off of the stage, sitting in John’s lap and saying things like, “on page 17 of the book, you were talking about me, right??” (Uh, I’d never say something like that..OK, I did. Ha ha) He then introduced the man of the hour, John Taylor.

John Taylor took the stage and Robert Downey Jr left without presenting John anything. John joked that he had practiced his speech holding an award and didn’t know how to proceed with nothing in his hands. Robert then handed him a guitar as a stand-in award, for which JT thanked him. It was a funny moment. Robert did eventually hand JT his award plaque, and then sat on teh side of the stage for John’s speech. John had been sitting in the front row with Gela, Michael Des Barres, and Steve Jones. John said that Steve Jones (Jonesy) has been his strongest and longest sober friend, and dedicated the award to him.
Photo: Krista Hamby
Photo: Christina Alva
John took a moment to make fun of the event’s dress code, saying he had been dressed in his tux and Gela had on her Birkenstocks, and they hadn’t known what to do! He said that he had to hold Gela down to strap on her boots! Joking aside, JT made a point of thanking Gela for her supportiveness during their time together. (Note: the man himself was dapper in black suit and tie with a white shirt and suspenders. No brown loafers!!)
Photo: Krista Hamby

John shared that when he decided to write In The Pleasure Groove he knew what the publishers wanted and he knew what the fans wanted, but he felt he had to include his recovery to be true to himself. He said that his ghost writer was also sober. When they had a bad day writing, they went to a meeting. When they had a good day writing, they went to a meeting. They worked the program throughout the writing of the book. John said he was very privileged to have had the ability to afford treatment and not go hat in hand to an employer to ask for assistance and time off. Then he joked, “Well, I did have to go to Nick Rhodes.”, but said that Nick was very supportive. JT expressed several times how lucky he was to have the resources available to get treatment, and that he hoped access to treatment becomes more universal in the coming years. John ended his speech with the thought that if his book helps one person seek treatment, it was worth writing. Then he posed for pictures with the award and Robert Downey Jr, and received a kiss from Robert before leaving the stage. Alas, WE HAVE NO PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF THE KISS!

Photo: Krista Hamby
The Writers in Treatment founder, Leonard Buschel, then accepted his own award. During his speech he talked about a swanky sober birthday celebration that JT hosted for himself, complete with photo.
The night also included a performance by singer Divina, doing a unique and moving rendition of Red Carpet Massacre, as well as a version of Hungry Like the Wolf and Save A Prayer (dedicated to John’s parents with the “one night stand” line omitted.). The finale was a very funny Bobcat Goldthwait, who stated he did not know JT and once attended a Duran concert in the 80s, but left for a Romantics show because Duran was not punk rock!
The night was enlightening. There was a lot of love in that room.
As we left the venue and were walking to our car, a beautiful black Aston Martin had to stop as I crossed in front of it… Good night, Mr. Taylor.


Krista Hamby lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is currently celebrating her 30th year as a Duranie.  Some of her closest friendships have been made through the Duran fandom. She and her Duranie Posse have traveled near and far for Duran Duran shows, radio station appearances, book signings, and now award ceremonies! Between tours they assemble for non-Duran related get togethers, such as girls’ night out and baseball games (Go Giants!). They are a bunch of crazy Duranie sisters like the rest of us, and we love it!

John Taylor: Award Winner!

Friday night, John Taylor received the “Experience, Strength and Hope Award” in Los Angeles for his autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove:  Love, Death and Duran Duran.  This award is given by Writers in Treatment, an organization that supports recovery from addition in the arts community.  This particular award is presented to a writer who has written about his/her experiences from addition to recovery.  Of course, dd.com described it more thoroughly in the official press release, which can be found here

It goes without saying about how proud I am of John, which I suppose sounds kinda silly since I am just a fan.  Still, I am proud of him.  I cannot begin to imagine the level of courage it took to not only admit to himself and others about his addiction but to then travel the long, challenging road to recovery.  Many of us  were well aware of this journey before his autobiography came out.  Yes, he would, at times, mention it in interviews but more in-depth understanding came from some of his solo work that seemed to focus on it.  Two songs immediately come to mind:  Trust the Process and Better Way.  The lyrics are posted below:

Trust the Process:
Don’t you worry
Time’s a healer
‘fore you know it
You’ll be through it
Just believing
keeps you breathing
keep on building
Trust the process

Keep the liars
in my head home
take no notice
they’ll be dead soon
trusting instinct
trust the feeling
trust in living
trust the process

I will love forever
Trust in you
Trust in my love
Last forever
Trust in you

Days of innocence
are behind me
all I’ve left is
my adult life
Lots of time left
left to move up
Trust the ceiling
Trust the process

I will love forever
Trust in you
Trust in my love
Last forever
Trust in you
Trust in my love
Last forever
Trust in you
Trust in my love
Last forever
Trust in you 

Better Way:
Set up the mission, unfurl the flag
It’s time to lay roots down, take my head out of the bag
Make me a baby, take me a wife
With these things, maybe I’ll be alright

There’s a better way
I know there’s a better way
When I need it, and I need it for sure everyday

Fill up the museum, an island in the sun
More things that I don’t need just pick me up
Head for the waterfall, don’t drown in the juice
Make the right noises maybe I’ll be alright

How come it’s so hard to climb
And so easy to slide?
How come it’s so easy to fly
And so hard to thrive?

There’s a better way
There must be a better way
When I need it, and I need it for sure everyday

It’s so much harder much harder to try
It’s easier to lie, to turn a blind eye

But now
There’s a better way, I know that there’s a better way
When I need it, and I need it for sure everyday
There’s a better way it makes for a better way
When we need it, we need it
We need it for sure, everyday

Unfurl the flag
Got my head out of the bag
I know it makes for a better day 

Then, of course, 2012 came around and John did more than write songs about his addiction.  It was prominently featured in his story, in his book.  He opened himself up and poured his story all over the pages of his book.  There was no hiding his addiction or his recovery.  Clearly, this organization felt that his openness was something to recognize.  Interestingly enough, John talked about this award during his last Katy Kafe.  At that time, he questioned the award.  I believe he said something about how he was being recognized for “fucking up” his life.  Part of me understands what he is saying.  After all, he wouldn’t have earned the award if he never became addicted to begin with.  Yet, the more significant aspect isn’t the addiction, which, truly, could happen to anyone.  No, the valuable part is that he chose to fight for recovery.  His story, then, can inspire others to seek the same battle.  That, I believe, IS worth celebrating. 

I would be curious to know how John perceived the event and the award on Friday.  Did he still feel this award wasn’t really an award someone would want?  Could he perceive it differently?  Based on the pictures I saw from DDHQ, it appeared that he seemed to have a good time with the host Robert Downey, Jr. or his friends, Michael Des Barres and Steve Jones.  Then, of course, I wonder exactly what the ceremony consisted of.  I understand there was a performer there who did some interesting and cool versions of Duran songs.  Did John get a chance to speak much?  If so, what was said? 

I know that there were some fans present as well.  What did they think of the event?  Were they pleased they had gone?  Perhaps, this is my hint for one or more of them to do a guest blog.  I’m sure that there are many fans who are like me and want to really know what it was like to be there.  While I wait for those guest blogs, I will remain proud of John and his very important accomplishments of his own recovery as well as his ability to inspire others to seek their own recoveries.

-A
 

 

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Overall)

It is hard to believe that this series of discussions surrounding John Taylor’s autobiography is coming to an end.  When we started discussing the book back in October, I had no idea about how long it would take, what parts we would discuss and more.  I just knew that I couldn’t wait to hear what people had to say and to really focus on Mr. Taylor and his life.  Let me just say that I haven’t been disappointed by what came out of the book or our discussions.  I wished that more people would have jumped in to discuss but I’m thrilled by those comments and the people who made them.  I figured it might be good to do one more post to wrap up the book completely with some big discussion questions and to give our overall rating.

Many fans wanted to compare John’s book to Andy’s.  Thoughts about that?
A – I think it is inevitable for fans to compare the two books.  After all, they are both autobiographies from members of Duran Duran.  Yet, to me, they are two very different books.  First of all, the timing of them couldn’t be more different.  Andy wrote his pretty soon after he left the band whereas John wrote his in the middle of a Duran project.  This fact of timing, I’m sure, played a role in what was written and how it was written.  For example, John seemed very careful to be respectful of all people in his book and only shared what was pertinent to his story.  Andy, on the other hand, seemed, at times, to take some jabs at people when it wasn’t necessary or added information that didn’t fit.  Second, the book titles show the differences in perspectives.  Andy’s book is Wild Boy:  My Life in Duran Duran.  John’s is In the Pleasure Groove:  Love, Death and Duran Duran.  Andy’s book is mostly about his time in Duran, his experiences in the band.  On the other hand, Duran is just a PART of John’s story.  Duran isn’t the focus.  I’m sure that this may disappoint some readers.  I, on the other hand, appreciated it.  John is more than just the bass player for Duran Duran.  Likewise, I would have been happy if Andy’s had a broader scope as well.  After all, he, too, is more than the former guitarist. 
R – I don’t really know that I could have fairly compared the books other than what you’ve done right here, Amanda. I’ve seen people call Andy’s book anything and everything from “complete negativity and lies” to “the honest truth no current member of Duran Duran would ever admit”…so there you have it.  I’m not going to be a party to picking out the truths, half-truths or subtle innuendos that may or may not exist in either book, because each is THEIR story. Who am I to decide what is right or fair?  I’m glad both were written and I’m sure that for each of them – it is their truth.  One thing I will say: you can definitely hear the voices and personalities of each man in their books, which I think is something for which they should be commended.  So many autobiographies sound robot generated and unemotional at times, and that’s not something I would dare say about either book. I enjoyed both for completely different reasons, and I would expect that to be the case in any book by any band member. 

What themes could you pick out from John’s book?
A – It seems to me that there are a few themes in this book.  First, and I think John makes this very clear, if you were in his shoes, you might have made the same decisions that he did.  John faced some pretty unique life circumstances and made some good choices and some not good decisions.  The same can be said for ALL of us.  Yet, most of us did not experience the fame that he did.  Under those circumstances, our decisions might have been exactly like his.  Thus, we cannot and shouldn’t judge him.  Period.  A second theme is connected to the first one.  John clearly learned to accept himself and others.  Life is short.  No one is perfect and that really is okay.  Lastly, there is theme connected to the “pleasure groove”.  For some time, the pleasure groove might have meant sex and drugs.  Now, as it was back in the early years of his life, John’s pleasure groove definitely has to do with music.  He truly does love music and his entire life has been surrounded with it.
R –  Themes that I see played out throughout the book is that of love for his parents, learning to be Nigel, learning to deal with John, and learning to love – whether that is learning to love his band, himself, or his family.  While I did take note of the theme you mentioned, Amanda – the notion that had we been in his shoes we might have done the same – I don’t know that it was all that powerful for me personally. I think it’s part of the literary experience to read and feel emotion, and those emotions go into judgment making. I just think it feels far too preachy to say one shouldn’t judge him for the very actions he writes about. John makes a clear point of presenting many situations that might be viewed as negative and he lays them out for all to see – I think he expects a certain amount of judgment at times, which is why his book reads so honestly.  

How did John do in terms of pacing and what he included/did not include?
A – It seemed to me that John took a long time with his childhood and early Duran Duran.  The more recent years were not as well-covered.  Personally, I think that is how it should be.  Maybe this is the historian coming out in me but there is not as much perspective with recent events and can’t be, for anyone.  The full meaning of them and what is important and wasn’t isn’t is not well-known.  Yet, there is much more understanding about events and times decades ago.  Plus, those were the years and experiences that formed him as a person and as a rock star.  In order to understand his life, those years were the ones we needed to know.  Plus, from my stand point, the part that I loved the most was all of those chapters about John’s early life.  I had no real idea about so much of what he wrote about there.  Yet, a lot of the Duran stuff I felt like I knew and the recent stuff included a lot of what I have been a witness to, at least as a far removed fan.  I know that there are some people who are frustrated that John didn’t include much about his solo days or about his acting career.  Yet, I think it is fair for John to choose which events are important and which aren’t.  I’m sure that there were some choices that he had to make.  After all, the book was pretty long as is!
R – I learned the most about John’s childhood and about himself after rehab.  The mid-section of the book was interesting from a fan perspective but I really learned about who John Taylor really IS from the beginning and the end of the book.  I know most fans liked reading about his life in Duran and I’m not surprised.

What do you think of the book overall?
A – I knew that I needed to ask this question but I dreaded it, too.  How can I summarize my thoughts about the book in just a paragraph or a few sentences?  After all, there is so much that has been said and could be said.  I think I’ll keep it short and simple.  I loved the book.  LOVED it.  I loved gaining insight into John and his life.  I particularly loved the first part that covered life before Duran.  My respect for John increased from reading it.  After all, he is a great writer and, obviously, took such care in writing it.  Also, I think we can all respect what John has dealt with to become the person he is today.  He was open and honest, even when it clearly wasn’t easy for him.  I learned a lot about him but I felt like I learned some general life lessons about acceptance, about empathy, about being open.  I thank him for that gift.  My rating would definitely be a 5!
R – I enjoyed the book very much. I l learned a lot about John as a person – he’s so much more than the guy I’ve seen on page or in pictures.  I also learned a lot about the band in general – there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, so many more gears in the machine that make it run, than I ever really considered as a fan.  I have to thank John for being so incredibly open – I can’t imagine it was an easy book to write in that aspect, and he was brave to do so.  I have great respect for John, even when I call the band (or him) out on the carpet here on the blog from time to time.  I do feel that there are many more unspoken stories and tales he could have chosen to include, but I don’t believe the book is lacking for having not done so, if that makes sense.  I know he’s mentioned writing again – I really hope that when the time is write, he’ll consider the opportunity, and not because I think we need to know about Duran Duran, but because I think that John has more to tell of his own journey – but only if/when the time is right and the opportunity is presented. 


On that note, we close the book on John Taylor’s autobiography.  

-A 

Try to Explain It…

On Monday, we wrap up our discussion on John’s book.  I enjoyed writing about his book and reading what other people thought.  Even more than that, though, I liked being able to read carefully and think about what was written.  When I first got the book, I read it very, very quickly in something like 12 hours with a few breaks within those hours.  I couldn’t put it down.  The book discussion allowed me to take the time to savor every word, every page.  Now, I realize that I’m not all that typical in that I enjoy diving deep into a topic, that I like to analyze.  I can blame my family for that and my college education.  That said, I have been surprised to read that there are many fans, including many John Taylor fans, who haven’t read it.  In many cases, they own the book, but haven’t read it.  In some cases, they even went to signings and still haven’t read it.  I am not sure why they haven’t.  I could make some guesses but I’m hoping that people will explain it to me. 

Do I own books that I have not read?  Of course.  I have a long list of books I want to get through.  Why don’t I?  Well, like many of you, time isn’t always available to read.  For me, I often have to stop reading things I want to read and read for work.  That said, when I squeeze in time after reading things that I have to read, I read things I want to read first.  Logical, huh?  Obviously, when John’s book came out, everything else got pushed behind.  His book was most important.  Not only was it important because Rhonda and I planned to discuss it but because I wanted to read about his life.  I wanted a better sense of who he is and what he thinks and feels.  To me, that is my fan side coming out.  I long to know as much as I can.  I was never satisfied with just looking at the pictures in magazines–not even as a kid.  I wanted to know who John Taylor was as a person, not a pin-up.  As I have grown older, getting a glimpse into John’s personality has been even more of the focus.  When I buy a magazine with him in it, it isn’t for the pictures anymore.  It is for the article.  If I get excited for new interview, you can imagine that I could barely contain myself when the book was released.  Heck, Rhonda and I were so impatient that we downloaded copies from Amazon UK as it was released earlier in the UK than it was here.  All of this said, I definitely realize that not everyone expressing their fandom in the same way.  Maybe there are people who don’t want to know as much about John as a person or worried about reading the book.

John’s life, as we all know, wasn’t always pretty.  He, like the rest of us, made some mistakes.  Unlike the rest of us, he experienced tremendous fame and fortune, which allowed different kinds of mistakes than what some of us might make in our lives.  Perhaps, some fans didn’t want to read about his less than positive choices.  We all know that John had to deal with addiction.  Maybe drug use bothers some fans.  Likewise, he didn’t exactly stick to one woman in the 1980s.  He had a lot of attention from a lot of people.  Maybe, that part would bother people.  In fairness, though, I have to say that John dealt with both topics of sex and drugs, tastefully.  He was honest and forthcoming but didn’t overdo it or go into unnecessary detail.  He said enough for us to understand.  Nonetheless, while those topics do not bother me, I understand that they do others.  Maybe, some fans were worried that reading the book would show John in a way in which they would lose respect for him or think less of him.  Everyone wants to keep their idol as their idol.  I get that.  Again, though, I have to reassure people who haven’t read it yet.  Everyone I know who has read it feels MORE respect and admiration for John, not less. 

Obviously, though, the people going to one of John’s book talks and signings had to know that they couldn’t avoid some of those tougher topics.  They knew that he might read about them or might be asked questions about them.  For those fans, then, it couldn’t be that they didn’t want to know the darker side to John or his life.  Maybe it was that they were willing to listen to them in order to do what…meet him, be in the same room with him?  I don’t know.  Help me out here.  Maybe they didn’t want to read the book until after hearing the book talk.  Maybe they didn’t want to be spoiled?  Yet, from what I have seen, a number of people who went to signings still haven’t read it. 

My point in this post isn’t to judge.  I honestly want to understand why some people have chosen not to read it.  After all, my big focus is fandom and understanding it.  In particular, I want to understand our fandom.  Some of us read the book immediately and have read it a few times now.  Others haven’t.  I know why I read it immediately and I’m just guessing as to why others haven’t.  At the same time, I also want to encourage those who haven’t read it to do so.  If you are a John Taylor fan, the book will make you more of a fan.  Trust me. 

-A