Category Archives: In The Pleasure Groove

Book Discussion—In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 73-74)

Today marks the end of our discussion of the specific chapters in John Taylor’s autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove.  I, for one, am a little sad to be getting to the end of this book discussion as it has good to really read John’s book, think about it and discuss it.  Before the discussion really ends, we finish the book this week and discuss the book, overall, next week.  These chapters focus on the years 2003-2011.  During this time, Duran released three albums, including Astronaut, Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need Is Now.  John, personally, experienced the declining health and death of his father.  On that somber note, please, grab a beverage, read up and join in on the discussion.

Chapter 73:  Learning to Survive
What was your reaction to John’s brief discussion of Andy and Dom?
A – Like everyone else, I wondered if John would discuss Andy and Dom.  Obviously, he acknowledged that things did not work out with Andy due to “differences” but he did not go further.  I am glad that he didn’t say more.  He did not use this book as an opportunity to bash Andy or criticize him.  He wasn’t harsh by acknowledging that there were differences.  Yet, at the same time, this makes it pretty clear that Andy isn’t coming back to the band, in my opinion.  As for Dom, he certainly was very positive, wasn’t he?  He said that Dom was a “player of great depth and versatility”.  John also mentioned how he appreciates their friendship.
R – I was curious what he would say, if anything.  I was pleased to see that he didn’t use the opportunity to say his peace.  To be honest, I’d have lost respect for him, and not because I am loyal to Andy, but because it’s none of our business.  His not saying anything only proves that he is still loyal to his relationships with his band members and friends, which I completely respect and admire given their long history. 


Did you have any connection to the story of John’s dad’s disappearance in 2007?
A – This event, in which John’s dad took a very, very long drive and ended up needing help, took place on November 2, 2007, the first Friday night of Duran’s run on Broadway.  John got the news that his dad was missing before the show.  I was actually at that show and I have to say that I couldn’t tell that anything was wrong.  As I’m sure you all are aware, I tend to focus on John during a show and I tend to be sensitive to heightened emotions.  Yet, I had no idea.  I give all the credit to John as he was such a professional that night even when I’m sure he was out of his mind with worry.
R – Nope. I was at home incubating (and very sick, I might add!).  Horrible story though. I can only imagine what that must have been like…and it’s a story that we all fear as our parents begin to really age.  
  

Were you surprised that John’s dad’s memory seemed stuck on his war experience?
A I wasn’t surprised by that.  In fact, I would expect that his memory would focus on those events as he got older and struggled more and more with memory.  It is so typical of long term memory to get stuck on those most traumatic moments.  I was glad to see that he talked enough for John to be able to get a glimpse of what he went through.  Obviously, he went through so much and saw so much horror during this death march that somehow he survived.  Based on the fact that this is the chapter is titled, “Learning to Survive”, clearly, that is the message John learned both from his parents and from his life.  He learned to survive.
R – I’m not at all surprised by this because it’s what the human mind does. It was a very sad chapter overall. 


Chapter 74:  Coachella, Indio, California, 17 April 2011
Do you agree with John that things were different with AYNIN versus RCM?
A – I absolutely agree that things were different.  He seems to focus on social networking and while I absolutely agree that social networking made a HUGE difference, I think there were other factors that made things different and seemed to keep the band separated from the fans.  For example, to many of us, the band didn’t follow their usual path by bringing in Timbaland.  That created a wall.  Then, Andy’s departure didn’t help.  Again, the distance between the band and the fans grew.  Lastly, the band didn’t know how or didn’t seem to reach out to the fans at all.  For a lot of us, we began to wonder if they even cared.  All of these things seem to feed that theory.
R – I can really only answer this as a fan and in my own experience – and yes, I think the two albums (and how they were made) were completely different. I’ve written more than a few articles on how removed I felt the band had always been from their fans.  One should remember that I grew up in the US. There were no fan letters from band members sent here – I think by the time they were on a majority of our minds in the 80’s they had “people” sending out responses for them, and we all know how crazy things were for the band back then.  For their own safety I really don’t think they could have reached out to fans. Then during the reunion, I recognized while they were standing there in front of us, it still felt very much as though they wanted to keep that mystique going, and by that time – I have to admit, I rolled my eyes at the idea a lot.  I think that for a while, there was a concerted attempt to create more of a demand by making them seem completely unavailable, untouchable, unreachable…even to fans.  That was a serious error in marketing, in my opinion. I think it took the band entirely too long to warm up to the idea that they should actually interact with fans once again, and in some ways I think they’re still paying the price for that.  A lot of fans simply walked away in favor of either supporting bands that actually seemed like they were not only thankful to their fans for being there (and not just saying the words at the end of every show) and wanting to get to know them and interact…or they just got busy with their everyday lives and kind of put concerts into that box labeled “childhood” or “adolescence”.  It happens. Then of course RCM came out, and in my opinion – if they weren’t already acting as if they didn’t want us around (longtime fans), that album certainly nailed that point home.  The album seemed to be created with the idea that they needed to take a huge departure and reach out to a younger fan base. I give them credit for taking that risk, even though I still feel that was a mistake.  I still stand by my assessments, that the album did absolutely nothing to help the band and did everything possible to turn long time fans away.  When they announced All You Need is Now, I was shocked they were really going to complete another album, and when it came out I cried silent tears of joy because they were finally beginning to accept who they are…and then at the same time they started embracing social media, and I give them credit for sticking with it.  I have enjoyed being a fan more in the last three or four years than ever, and I really doubt I’m alone. 

What is your reaction to the following quote?:  “At day’s end, my job is to be the catalyst for connectivity, to help bring people closer together.”
A – He’s absolutely right.  That is what anyone who has fans SHOULD do.  The focus should be about bringing people together.  The music may bring us to Duranland but it is the other fans and the friendships that develop that keep us here.  He knows this.  He gets this.  Clearly. 
R – Gosh, I’d swear I’ve read that somewhere before.

What did you think of the ending?  
I loved how he described in detail what he feels as the show starts and how there is “a million tiny seductions all at once.”  Again, John has a way with words that truly shows exactly what happens.  Likewise, the very last line, “And the music never sounded better,” was perfect.  Perfect.  As a decades old Duranie, he is right.  The music has never been better.
I just have to add that I really hope that they continue in this spirit.  I hope they keep embracing the band they really are and that Mark is able to allow them to expand upon the journey they began with AYNIN rather than having them completely reinvent themselves for the next album.  There is something to be said for not needing to reinvent the wheel, but they can certainly be proud of who and what they are – as they should. The last line is the best line – the music has never been better.  He is right.


Final Thoughts:
John ended the book with probably the saddest moment with his father’s passing and with an incredibly high moment at Coachella.  I think that is very telling.  John made it a point in saying that he learned an important lesson from his dad and that is how to survive.  It seems to me that John learned to survive through it all–good and bad, up and down, sad and happy.

-A

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 70-72)

It’s book discussion Monday!  We are getting to the end of our discussion on John Taylor’s autobiography.  This week, we discuss chapters 70-72.  These chapters cover the years 1998-2003.  During this time, John dealt with the death of his mother and his new marriage to Gela.  Professionally, the band reunited and despite challenges faced, the reunion was successful and John maintained sobriety.  For many of us, this reunion reawakened our inner Duranie and many of us found ourselves participating in Duranland in amounts and intensity not seen since the 1980s.  With that context, let’s dive in!  As always, feel free to respond to the discussion questions posed and/or add your own!

Chapter 70:  A Different Kind of Profound
What were your thoughts while you read of the passing of John’s mother?
A – This is one of those chapters that I definitely found myself in tears.  I am fortunate to have both of my parents still with me and absolutely dread when one of them goes, partly because of what John talked about with his dad.  As John pointed out, after his mother died, his dad was never the same and found himself in isolation.  I’m sure my father would be the exact same way.  Despite my utter sadness reading this, I found myself relieved for John and his parents that he was sober for this event.
R – I swear that this book, or at least parts of it, were almost therapy (for me). I found myself relating to much of it, and probably in completely different ways, or at least on different levels, than John probably ever considered. My point is simply that many people, fans, friends and probably family alike – can probably find something in this book that is relatable and speaks to them.  Like many of you, I have lost a parent.  My dad was sick for the last three years of his life, and he spent the last three weeks of his life on a ventilator in the hospital.  It’s so strange how you can think you’re over the sharpest pains of grieving and then just one sentence can send you right back, feeling the knife dig in just a little farther to remind you that it is something that will be carried forever.  That’s how reading this chapter was for me.  

Chapter 71:  The Reunion of the Snake
Were you surprised by Gela’s role in encouraging the reunion?
A – I admit that I was.  It isn’t that I don’t think she is supportive.  I know that she is as I remember the big billboard Juicy posted in Times Square when Astronaut came out.  I also knew about that Juicy promo show in which Simon did a guest appearance.  In fact, I’ll include that here.  I think it is important for Duranies to watch it and see if the vibe towards the reunion was there.

Anyway, I just didn’t realize that it was Gela who proposed that Simon participate in this show. I’m grateful that she did.
R – I was very surprised, to be honest. I didn’t know Gela on any level prior to John’s return to the band. I wasn’t there at the time and I have no idea what really happened – but sometimes all it really takes to build a bridge is someone innocently providing the pathway to begin, and I think that was Gela’s role.  

Based on what John mentioned with the reunion, what do you think was the most challenging aspect of it?
A – The possible choices here are obvious, including having Warren leave, repairing relationships, managing the band and financial decisions, musical differences or lack of interest from the fans and the general public.  It seems to me that having Warren leave wasn’t tough, at least that was the impression I have from reading this.  I was surprised that John didn’t focus more on the manager and financial debates as Andy seemed pretty fixated on these elements.  Is that because Andy was given such a different percentage of their earnings?  Maybe.  Is it because, for John, other issues were more difficult?  Possibly.  Whatever the reason, it seems like the toughest element of the reunion, even though John didn’t mention much in detail, was repairing those relationships.  I knew that Nick was upset that John left but I didn’t realize that their relationship suffered more than brief disappointment.  Yet, of course, it makes that sense that it would.  It seems clear to me that we are all lucky that they were able to overcome enough to see the reunion through as it seems like it was fragile.  Very fragile.
R – I never felt completely confident in the reunion.  I don’t know that I recognized that at the time, but looking back – I think that’s why I was so set on seeing them as often as I did that first summer out (2003).  I have mentioned before that when it was announced that Andy wasn’t returning that I was shocked at how much I was not shocked. I think I saw it coming.  I’ve said many times that the reunion of the original five was so perfect, it just wasn’t meant to last – it was meant to be a precise moment in time, and that it was. I don’t believe there was ONE aspect more challenging than any other, it was simply “A Challenge”.  Did they meet the challenge?  Yes, I think they did.  I think they did what they set out to do – and while it might not be the most popular opinion, I believe that their time as that particular five person band was simply finished.  (I’ve also learned never to say “never”.)  

Chapter 72:  Osaka Time
This chapter is a tough one to discuss since so much of it deals with religion, God and spirituality.  Do you think that John addressed this the best way he could?
A – First, let me say that I think most people, most John fans, most Duran fans reading this chapter are interpreting this description of John’s spirituality through their own personal lenses of religion and spirituality.  What I mean by this is that we have all very strong feelings when it comes to this topic.  Thus, we are all reading this chapter and interpreting how we want to interpret it.  This isn’t a criticism of any reader as I’m sure I’m guilty of it, too.  My point here really is to say that John was very careful to not alienate anyone.  He admitted that he has a new version of God but did not specify much to that, other than the idea of a higher power.  It seems to me that John wanted to be open and truthful about what he thinks and feels but understands and respects others enough to not say too much.
R – I think John relayed what he felt was important to relay. I don’t personally have issues with what ever his relationship with spirituality might be, only that I’m glad he found whatever he needed to find to get through that particular moment in time for him; and that would have included being absolutely supportive had he said he had NO spirituality in that “power above” sense.  I guess I just feel that we all find our way through life, and there’s so much to have opinions about – in this one particular area I have no answers, and my beliefs are no better or worse than anyone else’s.  

What role did fans have in Osaka, do you think?
A – John ends this chapter by saying that the band still had it and the fans still wanted it.  It made me feel that it was the fans that pushed the reunion to keep going.  The band could see and feel that the fans were still here and still loved them.  That was enough of a reason to keep going even when tensions were high.
R – Do you know what strikes me most about the reunion?  The fact that the band seemed surprised by our reaction to them. I must really be living in a bubble, because there seemed to be no other possible reaction to the original five members reuniting.  There is very precious little of which I am absolutely sure of in life – but when the band announced this reunion, I had no doubt whatsoever that fans would embrace them as before. I knew I couldn’t possibly be alone – it was a dream come true that (at the time) I was convinced would never happen.  I remember proclaiming all over the boards at DDF (duranduranfans.com) that we – the fans – never really left them; but the band left us. I felt that way again after Andy left during the time of Red Carpet Massacre. They’re back now though, and this time, I’m hopeful they stick around.  


Final Thoughts:
In a recent book club, the section of chapters we read and discussed seemed to all fit into the idea of lessons learned.  These chapters seem to be the application of the lessons.  John worked hard to learn how to cope with difficult situations without the use of drugs and alcohol.  These chapters saw tests of his effort.  First, he had to deal with his mother’s death then he had to struggle through the difficulty of the reunion.  The band’s trip to Japan could have been a disaster for John and the band.  Instead, John found a way through and he and the band got stronger because of it.

On that note, we will finish the book next week by discussing the last remaining chapters of 73 and 74.  After that, Rhonda and I will present our thoughts of the book overall in the following week.

-A

 

Book Discussion–In The Pleasure Groove (Chapters 65-69)

Is it Monday already?  Where did the week go?  While I’m way less than thrilled that my weekend is over, I’m always happy to have a book discussion, especially when it is on John Taylor’s autobiography!  This week, we move on to Chapters 65-69.  These chapters cover right after the Wedding Album to John’s solo days (1994-1998/9).  Both Duran Duran and John Taylor faced a ton of changes during the time period.  Duran recorded an album of covers, Thank You, which was released in 1995.  John formed another side project, Neurotic Outsiders.  While this project was not long lasting, John’s time with Duran ended until the reunion in 1997.  The band moved on without him and he worked on a solo career.  Personally, he had a successful experience at rehab.  He also divorced his wife, Amanda, and met and married Gela, which resulted in a blended family.  Much to discuss!!!

Chapter 65:  A Million Tiny Seductions
Why do you think the chapter was called “A Million Tiny Seductions” when it really describing John hitting rock bottom?
A – I don’t have a good answer to my question, but one that I’m left wondering about.  Is it a reference to the drugs?  They seduced him a million times.  Could that be it?  Could it be that all of the seductions John had been involved with were not enough?  He still ended up unhappy and addicted until he sought out the help that he needed.
R – I really don’t think it’s was JUST the drugs. I think it was the fact that there were seductions around every single corner and yet none of them were ever enough.  I mean really – wasn’t that truly it?  The man had everything most of us every really even think of – and yet none of it was ever enough, and some of it was just way too much.  

Did you find any thing surprising about John’s decision to enter rehab?
A – In some ways, his story seemed common.  His last night of partying that he described in this chapter was bad, but not life altering.  Yet, it seems to me that it isn’t always some dramatic moment that leads to the decision to admitting that one needs help.  It also didn’t surprise me that John heard about the rehab facility and thought it wasn’t for him, at first.  I think that is common.  What did surprise me is that those around him didn’t seem to really get that John was suffering as much as he was.  Now, I’m not saying that to be critical.  It could have been that John was such a functional addict that people didn’t see it as a problem or that John doesn’t remember them being concerned.  It is just unusual.
R – I’ve been thinking a lot about that whole “English-way” thing.  I know from my own family they just don’t talk to one another! It seems to me, as the hopeless American, that they hide quite a bit and just keep going (but they don’t call it hiding).  My point being that I don’t think he would have gotten any of his bandmates to ever tell him that it was too much until it was too late.  Maybe John hid it well, maybe the band members had their own worries, and maybe it was just expected behavior.  I don’t know.  I did like the little tale about his assistant at the time who just kept driving and dared to say “You never know John, you might make some friends.”  Good on her for not giving in to his fear – because that’s exactly what all that was – fear. You know, if John Taylor ever said “F you” to me – well, he’d think twice before doing it again. Just saying. I’d have calmly stopped the car and told him to get out and walk the rest of the way to rehab, and those of you who really know me understand that I’m not kidding. Good times.  No, I wouldn’t have made a good assistant.  

Chapter 66:  Tucson
John mentioned that he blamed his parents for some of his problems while at rehab.  Does that fit with the rest of the book?
A – I think John did a marvelous job presenting himself and others as the complex people that they are.  While his love for his parents is obvious, he never said that they were perfect.  It seems to me that John had to walk through the process of acknowledging and forgiving his parents for being human in order to heal.
R – I’m not surprised he blamed his parents for some of his problems.  I am rather fond of the saying “No one gets through childhood unscathed.”…and that’s true.  I think it’s normal because our parents very much mold us into who we become to some extent…and parents are still human.  We make mistakes every single day (as I am told).  I think it is all part of the healing process, and I still believe this book is very much a love letter to his mom and dad as a way to honor their memory.  It’s not really about Duran Duran, although I think many out there see it that way. 

Chapter 67:  Day 31
Why do you think that John believed that it would be difficult to continue his career sober before he saw the interview with Michael Douglas?
A – John didn’t explain this very thoroughly but he did comment that magazines like NME taught him that he needed to be wasted.  Why would he need to be wasted?  As we know, NME was not kind to Duran ever.  They did not think that Duran deserved the success that they had.  So did he feel like he needed to be wasted to be able to blow off the negative feedback?  Was only able to be a rock star when he was wasted or so he thought?
R – You know, some part of me thinks that John Taylor, along with many many other young celebrities out there, really just didn’t get it – it being his life, his career, etc.  I came away from the entire book thinking that it must have been very difficult to reconcile your sense of self as an individual entity away from the celebrity self.  They seem to be two very different things, and I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness and even maturity to be able to really handle celebrity.  It’s only natural to attach yourself to whomever that “onstage” persona might be, and navigating the span between the two must be incredibly difficult.  I really don’t think being a drug addict had anything to do with dealing with the negativity as much as it did for him to deal with real life – the time when he wasn’t onstage working and was trying to function as John Taylor.  Or Nigel for that matter.  Who was he supposed to be?  I think that was just as much of the issue as anything else.

Chapter 68:  A Fine Bromance
Why do you think John included Neurotic Outsiders versus something like his acting?
A – Clearly, he learned an important lesson from playing with this band, which was that he could have fun playing music again.  It didn’t always have to be career focused.  I also think it was important for him to be around other rock stars who were in a similar situation in celebrating their sober lives.  They probably acted as a support group of sorts for each other.  On a completely different and unrelated note, I love the song, Better Way, and was happy that John included something about it.
R – I think the lesson was important for him.  He needed to see if it was still fun.  I really don’t know what acting really was for John other than maybe an aside – could he do something else entertainment related?  I’m not really sure.  It’s all self-exploration when it comes down to it, but I can understand why he left acting out of the book.  

Chapter 69:  Gela
Did you feel like you understood why John left the band?
A – John didn’t go into too much depth for why he left Duran.  He mentioned how he had to travel less in order to really focus on his family and blending it successfullyWhat I find interesting is that I had forgotten he was still in the band in the last couple of chapters.  It seemed like Duran was the last thing on his mind.  While I’m sure that part of that happens after being in a career for awhile, but he didn’t talk about making Thank You or starting to work on Medazzaland.  It seems to me that John explains it more as he talks about his solo days.  He needed to see who he was or if he even existed outside of Duran Duran.
R – Admittedly, I am so fuzzy on details when it comes to this point in the history of Duran Duran. I don’t have the timeline straight in my head until I re-read what he says.  I was busy trying to define who *I* was during this period for very different reasons, so Duran Duran wasn’t really on my mind much either, I guess.  In my opinion, his quitting the band was as much of a statement as to the fact that John had finally figured out how to BE John as it was anything else. He was able to distinguish his own self from the band.  I have to applaud him for being able to walk away from that and just exist.  

What lessons do you think that John got from being solo?
A – Clearly, he learned two very important lessons.  First, he learned that he really could connect with people through music.  The machine of Duran had/has gotten so big that it must be hard for the band to think of making connections with individuals.  I’m sure it is far easier to think of us as “The Fans”, collectively, rather than a group of individual people who have something in common.  Second, he learned to really love playing live and that each gig should be approached with the idea that this gig must be the best one.
R – I think you pointed out all of the same points I was thinking!  In some ways, it is a shame that the Duran Duran “machine”, as you put it – got so out of control in the 80’s.  I don’t think it was just John that didn’t have any idea how to deal with us, “The Fans” on any sort of individual level.  I mean, let’s face it – it’s been many many years and I think it’s only just recently that they are even SORT of beginning to feel comfortable with us as people.  Sort of.  I can’t really blame them in some respects.  We’re very overwhelming as a whole.  As individuals – which might be easier to see with Twitter and Facebook, we might not be so bad, but it takes a long time to reprogram yourself to think that way after the days of the 80’s where we were a huge mob just after anything and everything we could get.  Anyway, it’s clear that he needed to see what it was like to connect with fans again.  Like he said, standing up in front of thousands was easy, but 8?  Maybe not quite as simple in a completely different way. 

Final Thoughts:
This section could be called the lessons learned part of the book.  It seems to me that John learned about himself, about the disease of addiction, about how to forgive and stop blaming, about how to stand on one’s own two feet, about how to really be in a family, about how fun music can be especially when making connections with others.  It seems to me that we could all benefit from remembering some of the more universal lessons ourselves.

Next week, we will be discussing Chapters 70-72.  This is a short section that covers his mother’s death and the reunion.  It should be interesting.  Until then, grab a beverage and chime in!

-A

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 61-64)

We are back to having book club on Mondays after last week’s change due to New Year’s Eve.  It is hard to believe that we are a week into 2013 already!  Anyway, this week, we move onto chapters 61-64, which basically covers 1989 to 1993, or to put it in terms of Duran history, from Decade through most of the Wedding Album.  For John, this time saw him get married and become a father.  The band also re-entered the charts again with the success of songs like Ordinary World and Come Undone.  On that note, grab a beverage and join in on the discussion!

Chapter 61:  Tabloid Fodder
Were you surprised by John’s interview at CNN to promote Decade?
A – In some ways, I was surprised by his inability to answer the question on a career highlight.  I was surprised, of course, because they have had a ton of highlights even by 1989.  Another reason I was surprised is that, as John himself has mentioned in the book, interviews came easy to him.  On the other hand, I can see how it can be difficult to come up with a highlight about your career when your career isn’t in the best spot.  At those times, all one can see is what isn’t good or what is frustrating.  I found it more interesting that he focused on the poster which read, “Absolute Conviction.”  Clearly, John was struggling with his conviction regarding the band.
R – I really believe this was part of his downward spiral.  I don’t know that it was really about just the career, but I do believe it’s easy to blame the lack of conviction in himself on the band at the time.  


What was your reaction to the tabloid story about John being the father to some random girl?
A – I wondered if this story was going to be covered in the book and I, certainly, wouldn’t have blamed John if he left it out.  I actually remember seeing a news clip about this where they showed John and I think, Simon, entering a hotel.  The clip interviewed the girl as well.  It must have been terribly upsetting, both in that it worried him and in the fact that she made it up.  I can only imagine how vulnerable he must have felt at that time.
R – I remember this story well.  I also know of several others from over the years.  Stories of this band member or that one having a child out of wedlock.  Without going into detail – I know of fans who still claim such things.  (Yes, I said fans) I guess for me – in all cases I have to wonder why on earth someone would even go around offering such information, even if it were true.  Maybe I’m just strange, but if I had a child with a band member (which would NEVER happen anyway) I don’t know that I’d feel the need to tell the world, especially if the band member hadn’t exactly admitted to the paternity.  Besides, I’d have my child to protect in that case.  In the case of John though with this girl, it’s mind-blowing how this girl could have worked up the sheer nerve to fabricate such a horrible lie… The only thing I will say is that obviously her parents did not do much to teach her well, as they even gave reports that he’d come to their house often for Sunday lunch. Wow.  I mean sure, by John’s own accounts it could have very well been possible.  Even so…going to the press instead of handling it privately? That’s just gross, in my opinion. 


Chapter 62:  Wedding Spaghetti
Did you know the story behind the naming of the song, Shotgun?
A – I had to laugh when I reread this part after just sending this song off the island on Friday!  I had no idea that it was a reference to the fact that John and Amanda had a “shotgun” wedding because she was pregnant.  I also didn’t realize that this is something that led Nick’s inspiration about having their parents on the cover, which, of course, has led the entire universe to refer to the album as The Wedding Album.
R – Shotgun??  We sent the memory of THAT song off into the sunset on Friday!!  It’s funny because I just listened to this section of the book yesterday in the car and I kind of choked a little when he told this story.  I’d forgotten it from my first read/listen.  Oops.  Sorry John – we voted it off!!  


Chapter 63:  Take Me to L.A.
John revealed quite a bit about the song, Ordinary World.  Did you know all of that and did it change your thinking about the song?
A – I did know that Simon had written Ordinary World and Do You Believe in Shame about his friend, David Miles, who had passed away.  I thought it was funny that John didn’t know the third song about his death.  Isn’t it Out of my Mind?  Am I remembering that wrong?  As for the writing of the song, I never thought about how the song started out on acoustic guitar, which isn’t common for the band.  It makes sense to me, though.  I thought it was fascinating when John said, “I was never a fan of the song, particularly-it had no bassline to speak of, didn’t rock or groove-but everyone who heard it fell in love with it.”  Sigh.  Perhaps, this is why the song doesn’t grab me.  This also shows me that the band truly DOES NOT love everything that they have done.  Good for John to say so.  By the way, I also knew that he wasn’t really involved with the writing of Come Undone.  Hmm…
R – I don’t love Ordinary World. Count me among the minority on that one as well, Amanda.  I have heard the stories about Ordinary World, and I also know what it means to a lot of fans out there.  The best story I have ever heard about that song though, is one that Simon told recently – in fact it was on the summer “tour” you and I did in August. I believe it was in Durham where Simon explained that the song saved the band from the brink.  They really thought they were going to end and then, that song came along.  I can understand how the song has probably come to mean much more to them now as a result, and while I personally would love to go several tours without ever hearing it again – I suppose a part of me can understand why they still play it.  I do wish it had more of a groove to it, though.  

Did you notice how the music business for Duran seemed to change during this era?
A – John mentioned it first when talking about Liberty and how they had to turn in their work to get paid as opposed to having a lump sum to begin with.  I also noticed how he said that now that they all had families there wasn’t this push to get music out so quickly.  Is this really when Durantime began?  If so, I will have a hard time telling them that they need to stop spending so much time with their families just so I get a new album, project, whatever faster.  Lastly, I noticed how the new manager didn’t want to release Ordinary World so quickly.  Interesting.
R – I really don’t think this is where Durantime came from.  I think it came from the days of SATRT, to be honest – because they continue to chase that fame thing.  They obsess over the music to the final detail and continue to try to reinvent themselves rather than embrace who and what they are. They keep trying to one-up themselves, don’t you think?  (During this period of time…not so much the present day.)  I think it’s because of their prior albums taking so long though that their label person was so tight with the pursestrings.  However, I did find it interesting that their PR guy needed an extra six months to set up the release for OW.  Do labels still do that??  Maybe those that actually do promotion for their artists…..


Chapter 64:  Paranoid on Lake Shore Drive
Were you surprised that John wasn’t super happy with the band’s commercial success?
A – I really wasn’t surprised despite his focus in the previous week on commercial success.  I think John was just at a point in his life when nothing was going to feel right, which is such a hard place to be.  I could also see him being torn between his career and his family.  I think that is a battle that a lot of people deal with.
R – Interestingly enough, I can’t imagine how it must have been for the band at the time.  I mean, it wasn’t 1985 any longer.  Things really had begun to change..and even great success wasn’t to atmospheric limits as in previous decades.  Then of course, John’s personal life wasn’t going well either, so naturally these things played off of one another.  When you’re unhappy in one area, you tend to be unhappy in a lot of areas….it leaches…


What did you think about the insight into the band structure at that time?  Do you think that is how they should have organized the band then?
A – I knew that Warren was a member and had been, officially, since the Liberty album.  What I didn’t know was that band business was still decided by Nick, Simon and John only.  That sheds quite a bit of light and makes sense to me.  Warren wasn’t a founding member and wasn’t involved with the vast majority of their catalog at that point.  Plus, it clearly didn’t work out with Sterling so it makes sense to take things slow.  Yet, of course, this leads me to wonder why the same can’t be done with Dom now.  
R – Sticky territory for me.  This period of time was truly when the band lost me for a bit, and not just because of Warren or Sterling.  I just wasn’t feeling IT with the band any longer, and I was in the midst of beginning my own adult life.  I can’t find fault with wanting a 5 piece band, and I can’t find fault with wanting the three “founding” members to be the decision makers.  I only wish they included later guitarists with the same thought to merchandising and credit as they did Warren.  Period.


Final Thoughts:
As I read this last chapter about the band being in Chicago, I couldn’t help but to think about my very first Duran show in Chicago in August of 1993.  I don’t know if this walk on Lake Shore Drive took place around this same show, but I have to wonder.  As I have blogged about before, while I enjoyed myself at that show, I felt that something was wrong.  I even openly declared then that the band should probably break up, that is was time.  Now, obviously, I’m glad that they didn’t but I wonder if I noticed that John wasn’t all that into it.  Heck, maybe the whole band wasn’t into it because they just added more dates that they didn’t want to do.  I don’t know.  As for John, it seemed like family life gave him a bit of happiness but couldn’t really solve the underlying angst.  The band’s success couldn’t solve it either.

Next week, we will focus on chapters 65-69, which should take us up to John meeting Gela.  Until then, let’s us know your thoughts about these chapters!

-A

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 56-60)

Happy New Year everyone!  We figured that there is no better way to start the new year than to continue on with our weekly discussion of John Taylor’s autobiography.  This week, we focus on chapters 56-60, which basically covers the Notorious and Big Thing eras.  It is interesting how these 5 chapters cover a few years whereas there were 4 or 5 chapters that covered just one year in the early 80s earlier in the book.  Before we dive into the discussion, let’s recap what we know about Duran Duran during those eras.  The Notorious era saw the band continue on as a trio of John, Nick and Simon.  They released a pretty funky album that did well but not nearly as well as previous releases.  Big Thing continued as a threesome and saw even less commercial success.

Chapter 56:  Dead Day Ahead
Do you think that John needed to include a whole chapter devoted to one night of “madness”?
A – When I first read the book, I couldn’t really understand why he went into such depth to one night in 1985, especially since it seemed like he skimmed over the late 80s.  Why include this?  What purpose did it serve?  Clearly, it was a night that really stood out for John.  The storm, the using, and even the phone call to his priest showed the internal battle that was being fought.  John was looking for something, some answer and didn’t find it, not that night, at least.  Nonetheless, I think the chapter really showed this battle and needed to be included for that reason.
R – I really kind of think that for John, this might have signified the beginning of his rock bottom – which in his case took a long while to settle in –  and that was the point of including the evening in such detail. There was definitely some sort of inner battle going on in John, no question there.  I like the detail he included regarding the storm – it was just the right imagery.  

Chapter 57:  In the Dark
After meeting with Roger to see if he planned to return to the band, John stated that he didn’t have time to react emotionally as he was just in survival mode.  Do you think that was an accurate way to describe him and the band in 1986?
A – It seems to me that this chapter really connects to the previous chapter.  In the previous one, John was focused on finding some answer to his life.  In this chapter, John focused on getting the band back as the answer.  I, selfishly, am grateful that he did zero in on that goal.  Nonetheless, I think the “survival mode” statement is an accurate one.  The band and John seemed to be fighting to stay alive.  It was interesting to me that John was the one to go see both Roger and Andy to get them back in the fold.  I have to wonder if Nick or Simon would have been better.  Although, both Roger and Andy seemed determined to walk away so it probably didn’t matter who went to talk to them.
R – Tough part of the book for me to read, to be honest.  In some ways, I think that John believed that if he could just keep the band together, he’d be OK.  By this point, it seemed as though John’s entire identity was caught up in Duran Duran, and to be fair – I can certainly understand why.  John became an adult while he was in the band, he became John Taylor while being in the band.  Separating the two personas was probably impossible.  So for John, saving the band was likely very similar to saving himself.  The trouble of course was that he was missing 3/4 of the problem.

What was your reaction to Warren’s introduction by calling and saying, “Tell them it’s their new guitar player?”
A – I know that this question opens a can of worms, but I had to acknowledge his entrance.  When I read this, I had two thoughts pop into my mind.  First, I’m sure that this level of “confidence” probably does work to get you where you want to be.  Second, it always feels very arrogant to me, which is why I would never use a line like that.  Yes, it means that I don’t tend to get very far in life.  Anyway, it just feels pushy to me, especially since Duran wasn’t really sure what was happening with Andy.  It seems to me that having band members leave is tough, emotionally, and there is some grieving that needs to take place.  When someone takes that place so quickly, I wonder how much of it is a genuine fit or how much of it is an emotional need to have that void filled.
R – *sigh*  Arrogant much?  Yes.  Big shock right?  The one thing that I *will* say shocked me was that Andy had also broken up Warren’s band.  I didn’t realize that.  As for the rest – I’m not even going there.  Everything I ever needed to know about Warren is right there in that one sentence.

Chapter 58:  Notorious
Did you feel like music changed from the early 80s to the late 80s, the way that John described?
A – I do.  As a kid, I noticed that there was a shift in music and culture, but I never really knew if that was due to my personal circumstance or because that was really how it was.  I moved from the Chicago suburbs in 1985 to a small town.  The world felt very different to me on a number of levels.  Yet, it did seem to me that the bands and artists who were super popular in the early 80s weren’t in the late 80s.  John talked about how pop became political and that sobriety became more common.  That would make a difference.
R – There was a HUGE change in music from the early to late 80’s.  At the time I don’t think I recognized it – but looking back, I can see it with extreme clarity.  Even my tastes changed, as I went from being a middle-schooler to graduating from high school in this period of time.  By the time I graduated high school, I was much more into rock, much less so pop.  

Chapter 59:  Surfing Apoplectic:
What was your take on John’s meeting of the Italian actress, Sandra Milo?
A – To me, stories like this showed John’s ability to pick out important moments of his life but also his ability to convey them to his readers.  Clearly, this was a very brief meeting that could have meant nothing to him.  Yet, he got the message she gave him, intentionally or otherwise, which was that he can’t get stuck in his past career highlights.  I think John probably really needed to get that message in 1987 when the band started to decline from the insane early 80s hysteria.  He needed to learn, to remember to keep moving forward.  It may not be like what it was but it can still be good, be valuable.
R – I agree Amanda, John is very good at being able to wade through all of the experiences he had and picking out the small moments that meant everything, and then conveying that to the readers.  I have no idea who Sandra Milo even is, but it’s obvious that the message she gave to John was significant and has stuck with him all this time.  

Chapter 60:  Chasing the Wave
Did you realize what the chapter referred to as soon as you read it?
A – I found this chapter fascinating considering what he had learned from the previous chapter about not living in the past with career success.  Yes, the chapter title did seem to be a clear one with fame and commercial success being the wave and the fact that the band was trying to get that wave throughout the late 80s and early 90s.
R – Chasing the wave…chasing the concert high…it’s what we all do.  I think the mistake is getting caught up in that chase to the point where you don’t enjoy what’s really going on around you.  We all make THAT mistake, too.  

John discussed a couple of theories he had that would make Duran the success again that they once were.  Did any of these theories surprise you?
A – It seemed to me that John really thought that they needed to go back and replicate what they had in the past.  Thus, two things needed to happen.  One, they needed to become a five piece again so that their live performance wouldn’t need the help of others and so that their writing process could return to what it once was.  Two, John needed to be single and available.  I wasn’t really surprised by the first theory of returning to a 5 piece band.  I think we all sort of feel like that it Duran as it should be, even now (*coughDomBrowncough*).  I understand that one, especially when it comes to writing and jamming.  It seems to me that the best Duran is when all instruments are present and accounted for.  That’s very difficult to do if there aren’t players in the studio to push for that.  The second theory about John needing to be single is one that I don’t understand.  Yes, of course, Duran had a lot of teenage followers and a lot of those followers thought the various members were cute.  There were a lot of fantasies about becoming Mrs. Rhodes, Mrs. LeBon or Mrs. Taylor.  Yet, did the fans drop off when Andy got married?  Nick?  Roger?  Simon?  I don’t think so.  So why would John be any different?  Yes, I realize that he was the “most popular” but still…it wasn’t like he had that many more fans.  I am sure that John thought and felt this way and I’m glad that he was brave enough to include it.
R – I think it’s slightly bizarre that John really spent time trying to figure out what the formula for success really was back then…in the same respect that I am amused when FANS do it today.  We just can’t replicate the past, can we?  

I do understand what John meant by needing to stay single though.  I very clearly remember my group of Duranie friends getting more and more turned off by Duran with each member getting married.  Sure, they were a pop band, but they had a very teenage audience – and girls are funny at that age.  They are fickle (Still kind of are, but that’s another observation for another blog post.) and as the boys got married, girls lost interest.  Of course, one could argue that these girls were never really fans in the way the fans are today, and I would probably agree, but the fact is that all of those girls still equaled something in sales and interest, and for the band, sure – that was golden, and so John probably did feel some pressure to stay single.  I don’t know if it really made a difference, but I know what bands like One Direction and even Jonas Brothers…amongst many others… are/were told by their PR people even today. Stay single.  The younger female fans won’t tolerate anything else.  

Final Thoughts:
It seems to me that John is just feeling lost during the late 80s.  He seems to be looking for something and isn’t able to find it anywhere.  He focuses on the band as a means to have a focus but that isn’t met with the success he wants.  At the same time, he pushes away commitment with Renee.  He even ends Chapter 60 with talking about how depressed he was and how he thought that there was too much “wrong” with him.

Next week, we will cover chapters 61-64, which is right before John enters rehab.  Before we get there, though, please join in with your thoughts about these questions or with discussion questions of your own!

-A & R

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 52-55)

This week’s book club focuses on chapters 52-55 in John Taylor’s autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove.  These chapters basically focus on the year 1985.  To refresh everyone’s memory about what we know was going on with Duran and with John, in particular, in that year, I will provide the following list.  Duran wrote the James Bond theme song, A View to a Kill, and saw it reach number one in the States.  They also played at one of the biggest concerts of all time with the charity focused, Live Aid, in July of 1985.  As we now know, this was the last show that the Fab Five played together until the reunion of 2003.  Besides that, the band had split into two side projects:  Power Station and Arcadia.  John’s project, Power Station, saw an album and a tour.  On that note, let’s dive in to John’s telling of that year with a bit of discussion.

Chapter 52:  The Wheel World
Were you surprised by the reasons that John said that they chose not to involve the Berrows for the Power Station project?
I really wasn’t.  I definitely wasn’t surprised by John and Andy’s annoyance at the Berrows’ support and encouragement for Simon’s participation in the yacht race.  Clearly, that was a source of annoyance to everyone except Simon and the Berrows from what I have heard.  I also wasn’t shocked that there was some dissatisfaction about the Wild Boys and how much that entire project cost.  I’m sure that they spent a fortune on what really was one song and one video.

Chapter 53:  The Model
What was your reaction to the meeting and first date between John and Renee?
I always sensed that this relationship of John’s was way more serious than any of the other ones I heard about as a kid and this chapter seems to confirm that.  I love the fact that John was in his words “rude” when Renee first approached him before he realized his mistake.  Then, he had to make up for it in a date that most of us would love to have that included a limo, roses, dinner and dancing.  *sigh*

Chapter 54:  Burnout
Did you agree with Andy’s quote in Smash Hits about how Power Station would help make better Duran albums?
I wondered about this a lot after I read this.  Initially, I thought that it must be true but we don’t really know, do we?  The next time the classic line-up worked together was in 2001-2004 with Astronaut.  By that point, everyone had worked with different artists.  Then, I thought about how a couple of chapters before John talked about how different it was to play with Tony over Roger and that he needed Bernard to keep it together.  I think about how our fan community, at least, much prefer anything Duran over any of the side and solo projects that were done.  Arcadia might be the only exception.  Still, logic would tell us that the more experiences, the better players each of them would become, which could lead to better music.  Again, though, I think about how I like the first album over Notorious or Astronaut.  I think instincts matter just as much as experience, sometimes.

How did you feel about how John described the filming of  A View to a Kill?
I felt extremely sad to read things like “enemy territory” and “painful”.  I am not surprised by this since we know that things were never the same again after that summer but still.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to watch that video in the same way again.  I also never really thought about the fact that there is no group shots at all during that video.  They are all shot as individuals.  How fitting since it does seem like that is how it was.


Chapter 55:  Is This the End, My Friend?
What did you think of John’s take on Live Aid?
I couldn’t help but to think of Andy’s take on Live Aid when reading about John’s.  Andy talked about Simon’s bad note.  What did John talk about?  He talked about how he remembered how fun it was to play with Duran, especially in comparison to Power Station.  I had no idea that John wasn’t all that excited by the Power Station tour.  It sounds like John realized that he needed the band to come back together.  Others weren’t there, though, unfortunately.  Roger, obviously, didn’t remember the fun and wasn’t ready to continue.  Andy clearly didn’t.  Thinking about all of this makes me want to watch the Live Aid performance again to see what the performance showed, in terms of who was feeling the band and who wasn’t.

Were you as amazed by how and when John found out about Drum capsizing?
John said it best when he said that it was messed up that he found out about Drum capsizing and Simon almost dying really by reading People magazine.  I can’t believe that no one called him or Andy to tell them about the accident.  I can’t believe that John and Simon weren’t really talking at this time.  I can’t really wrap my head around this.  How can you work so closely with other people and not be told if someone is in an accident?  I would like to believe that if I was in an accident that someone would tell Rhonda and vice versa.  This to me says more than the divide during the A View to a Kill video shoot.

Final Thoughts:
Last week’s book club covering 1984 showed more about how John was struggling with overwhelming fame.  This section, it seems to me, truly shows in many ways and in many examples about how the band was divided, how the gap was wide.  It even feels to me that within the camps of Power Station and Arcadia, there were some separation as well.  For example, John mentioned how Andy was really done with the Berrows after Drum.  This indicated to me that while John might have been upset, he wasn’t in the same spot, emotionally, as Andy.  He also mentioned that Nick was angry about Drum as well, which showed that all wasn’t perfect in the Arcadia camp either.  Based on this, I’m truly shocked that three of them were able to continue on in any fashion after this.  I’m grateful that they were, too.

Next week, we move on to the Notorious and Big Thing eras with Chapters 56-60.  Until then, we hope that everyone celebrating a holiday this week has a fabulous one!

-A

  

Book Discussion: In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 46-51)

Today’s book discussion focuses on the year 1984, which John covers in his autobiography in chapters 46-51.  I was curious about how this year was going to be talked about because this is the year I became a Duranie and when it seemed to me that Duran Duran was EVERYWHERE!  I wanted to know what it was like to be them.  More specifically, I wanted to know what it was like to be John who was often the focus as the “best-looking” or whatever he was labeled as back then.  So, let’s go back to 1984 as we discuss these chapters.  

Chapter 46:  Exploitation Time
Were you surprised that John talked about how much they wanted to perform well on the Sing Blue Silver tour of 1984?
A – While I know that Duran is a fabulous live band today, I didn’t really know if they were in 1984.  I, obviously, had heard the album, Arena, but that didn’t show me.  The documentary, Sing Blue Silver, didn’t show it either as both were able to be done in such a way to only show positive performances.  Part of me wouldn’t have blamed them if they didn’t care about their performances since there was so much pressure on them.  Yet, when I read John’s point about how this was their way of pushing back on the teeny-pop fanbase criticism, I completely understood.  After all, you would think that the critics could see and hear that they were a great live band, but they didn’t.  How frustrating.
R – I think most of their shows during this period were overshadowed…or accompanied…or even ruined (depending upon your opinion) by the screams of teenage girls. To be honest, I was surprised that the band even cared what they sounded like, because I really don’t know that many of their audience would have noticed.  On the other hand, I guess in some way I’m a little surprised because at this point John was using, and sadly I would have thought he wouldn’t have thought much about it.  That was an underestimation on my part, most definitely.


John described the US part of that 1984 tour as both “awesome and awful”.  Does that fit?
A – I think this is probably a good way to describe both that leg of the tour and probably everything in 1984.  On one hand, I’m sure it was beyond awesome to be part of the biggest band in the world.  On the other, I know that I couldn’t deal with the constant demands from managers, agents, corporation consultants and more that John mentioned.  Heck, I couldn’t handle the demands from the fans.  He commented that it was awful and scary because the fans kept pushing forward at the shows and they were worried that someone was going to be crushed and die.  Here is what I never understood:  Why in the world did they play general admission shows?  Wouldn’t that just set up this situation?!
R – I remember 1984 well.  I couldn’t turn on the TV or go to the grocery store or bookstore without seeing Duran Duran. In my teenage head, I thought this was outstanding.  Of course now, I look at things a little differently – it is no small wonder that all five band members are still with us today (if not in the band).  The pressure crushing them from all sides – I think it’s one of those things where you’ve got to be careful what you wish for!!  As to your question regarding the types of shows they did Amanda, I have to think that this is something the promoter should be asked.  I think that especially back during this period, the band probably didn’t have anything to do with those types of decisions – they were too busy just trying to ride the wave and stay afloat.  You’re right to ask though. I really know nothing about concert promotion (other than it’s a tricky, sneaky business at times), but I get the distinct feeling from various things I’ve read over the years that promoters don’t always have the best intentions of the band(s) at heart.  Go figure.  


Chapter 47:  The Remix
What did you learn from this chapter?
A – I felt like I knew much of this chapter including the battle they had with their record label over the Reflex remix, the Reflex video, the frustration of not being at the Grammy Awards, and the story behind doing both the song and video for Wild Boys.  This led me to wonder why this was the case.  Was this because this part of Duran history has been told so much that I didn’t learn much new?  I wonder.
R – I’m still annoyed at those Grammy awards.  *sigh* It’s funny though because by this point in John’s book, I have to agree that I knew most of what was being written.  I mean, maybe not the tiny details (obviously), but the general storyline – yes.  I am sure we’re not alone in that regard.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that in my case it’s because I’ve done a lot of research about the band now, and it’s gotten to the point where I’ve read the same stories over and over.  I do admit wondering how much wasn’t being written – then I realized it doesn’t matter. It’s really none of my business, I slapped myself for being so nosy, and went back to listening. 😀 


Reaction to the idea that the best producers understood that all the band members needed to be heard?
A – I have to admit that I noticed this statement.  I have to agree with this statement.  After all, I think the best Duran songs and the best Duran albums fit this criteria.  They are not a band in which there is just one main member and a bunch of back up members.  Duran is a band of equals.  Of course, I also noted that John mentioned the following producers:  Colin Thurston (1st album and Rio), Alex Sadkin (Seven and the Ragged Tiger), Nile Rodgers (Notorious) and Mark Ronson (All You Need Is Now).  Hmm…no mention of Timbaland or Nate Hills from Red Carpet Massacre?!
R – I am going to completely ignore that last sentence of yours, Amanda. Anyone who has read this blog over the years knows exactly how I feel about that album as a whole, but you hit the nail on the head there.  I completely agree with John’s comment about the producers though.  Anyone who has had true success with producing this band understands that everyone needs to be heard.  This is one reason why I adore the first album so much – Colin Thurston simply understood and worked to see that equal sums made up the whole.  I think he succeeded and then some.  The same cannot be said of other producers, but to be fair to those producers – they wouldn’t know what to do with a real instrument if it smacked them over the head. 


Chapter 48:  Megalomania at the Wheel:
Thoughts about the fans constantly outside of John’s house?
A – I have to admit that I was/am absolutely horrified by this!  Horrified!  I can’t imagine trying to live like this!  To have people going through your trash?!  Horrified again.  I’m not even sure what to say or what to think about the idea that when a new fan would show up, the others would bring her to him and ask him to be kind to her.  On one hand, I get it.  I’m clearly a fan, too.  I definitely understand the desire to wanting to meet him.  Sure.  Yet, there is a big gap between that desire and camping out or going through his trash.  Now, I’m sure that 95% or more of these fans meant well and didn’t get think about it from his perspective but…stories like this bother me.  Maybe, what bothers me about it is that this was John’s private residence and the fact that it was ALL the time.  Tell me I’m not the only one bothered by this.
R – I live a sheltered life. I have to admit that there’s a certain amount of curiosity about where the band lives. Of course there is. I’m a little embarrassed by that, but for me – that’s kind of where the story ends. I don’t know how I was a kid – but I never had the chance to even decide to do that sort of thing.  I think that on an individual level, each of these kids probably didn’t think they were doing anything creepy or weird.  I know some of those kids, who are now adults, and none of them meant harm.  They probably didn’t even realize that by going there so often they would be bothering him, and I’ll bet they didn’t even think about the fact that collectively, there were people outside of his house 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.  They were just kids.  I really don’t know if I would have done the same because I didn’t even have the chance.  So I guess I stop short of being appalled. I think we have to remember that once again – these were kids doing this.  We’re not really talking about adults here.  I hope. 

Chapter 49:  Shelter and Control on West Fifty-Third Street
What struck you in this chapter:  Nick’s wedding?  Working on the Arena album mix?
A – As someone who has been focused on the stigma surrounding Duran Duran, Nick’s wedding jumped at me. John described it as a decadent moment of the 80s.  While I’m sure that is true, I also noted how he said that the press had a “field day” with it.  I, personally, remember reading comments about how Nick wore more makeup than Julie Anne.  My point here is just that I’m sure this kind of event did not help them get creditability.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am glad that Nick had the kind of wedding he wanted.  Everyone should.  My point, only, is that everything they did was judged, which is so unfortunate.  Obviously, in this case, it was judged harshly and fed negative beliefs about the band.
R – Funny how the eyes of a teenager see things so much differently.  When I read about Nick’s wedding (I think it was in People…and probably other teen mags.) I thought it sounded so cool, and I was once again jealous over how great his makeup looked!  Ha ha!  I never really thought much about how they were judged at the time.  It’s only been in hindsight that I ever really noticed how their image might have hurt them. I don’t know why that was (that I didn’t notice). 

Chaper 50:  Nouveau Nous
Any comments about the making of the song, A View to a Kill?
A – I knew that John Barry and Nick didn’t get along so well, but I never thought about John’s place in the middle.  I am sure that he was grateful and we can all be grateful for Bernard Edwards and his ability to keep everyone together enough to finish it.
R – I don’t think I realized the strife involved with the song.  I’m sort of surprised by it too, because the result turned out so well.  I guess it’s as you say Amanda – thank goodness for Bernard.


Chapter 51:  Guilt Edge
This chapter has quite a scene with John going home for Christmas and getting very upset when his parents gave him his fan mail.  Reaction to  this scene?
A – When I first read this scene, I was terribly upset by it.  I could only imagine that his parents were equally upset and, probably confused, by what they saw.  It seems clear that John was conflicted about being famous.  On one hand, he hated having fans outside his door all day and all night but then wouldn’t take a break when the rest of the band did.  Then, he struggled with this idea that all of these people wanted him, or what they thought of him, while he could barely tolerate himself.  He seemed to be a lost soul.  Then, of course, when he decided to go home despite his misgivings, his parents seemed to fall in the same trap.  They, too, had become fans.  Fame had touched everything.  Everything.  When I think of it that way and that John seemed to have no sanctuary, I totally get it.  I probably would have responded in the exact same way.
R – On one hand, when I read that scene the first I reacted as a parent.  I thought John was a spoiled brat to treat his parents and their excitement that way.  On the other hand, I think it must have been very hard for John to be Nigel.  Do you understand what I mean by that?  I mean, I know his name is John Taylor.  But he was born Nigel, and I suspect it must have been very difficult if not impossible to somehow rectify the two of those identities into one person.  There are times when I am very happy to be Mom.  Then there are a lot of other times when I really just want to be Rhonda.  (or vice-versa!) I mean here he is coming home to the two people who know him (presumably best, but sometimes I would imagine they knew him least…) and once again he still is John Taylor to them.  I just believe this goes back to the fact that John didn’t know how to be John.  Or Nigel.  You’re right though, Amanda – he had no sanctuary.  If you read about how he set up flats or apartments and then spent barely any time in them, it’s very clear that he really didn’t know what to do with himself.  An identity crisis on top of the drugs?  Disaster.  He is lucky to be alive. 

Final Thoughts:
A – I was completely struck by how overwhelming the fans were in 1984.  I knew it, on some level.  While I was a fan in 1984, I was too young to do much with my fandom besides buy some of that merchandise that John talked about (Duran pajamas, anyone?).  I was no where near where the band was ever.  I knew that the fans were overwhelming by watching Sing Blue Silver.  Yet, I don’t think that documentary questioned it or questioned the behavior.  Now, as an adult, I put myself in John’s shoes back in 1984 and feel for him.  My belief is that everyone needs and deserves some space, some privacy and John didn’t have it.
R – I don’t think any of them had privacy in 1985, and I’m not sure that any of them dealt with it very well.  To be fair I’ve never really heard much from Nick or even Simon on the subject.  I do believe that some people are just better able to cope with such things better than others. The writing was on the wall for John since he was very young (not wanting to really be noticed much), and yet here he is – wanting to be that overnight success.  Funny how sometimes we ask for the very thing we need least.  I am as guilty of that as the next person, but I’m glad my life wasn’t lived out in the public eye like John’s.  I don’t know that I could have lasted.  I love writing and being online and being able to interact with people.  I don’t love doing it that much in person though.  I’m happy to sit on the sidelines.  I’m shy and crowds completely freak me out.  I would have medicated myself if I were John Taylor, that is for sure…so I guess that when John says that if I had been in his shoes I’d have done a lot of what he did too, I’d probably agree.  With SOME of it.  😉  

Next week, we will move on to 1985 by discussing Chapters 52-55.  I look forward to reading what the rest of you think!

-A 

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 41-45)

Today’s book club finds us focusing on the year, 1983, by discussing chapters 41-45.  As we all know, 1983 was the year that Duran worked on the album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  I think many/most/all of us know that this album did not go nearly as well or as easily as the first two.  Will John shed light on that?  What was going on with him, personally, during that year?  Read and join in on the discussion!

Chapter 41:  The Year of the Geographic
What do you think lead to Seven and the Ragged Tiger being so difficult to write and record and how does that correspond to the title of the chapter?
A -It seems to me that there were a ton of decisions surrounding the making of this album that were…interesting, at best.  First, the managers pushed for a different producer in order to push the sound.  Obviously, there was lots of pressure to keep it fresh in order for Duran to stay where they were, in terms of chart success.  As John mentions here, there was no time to process feelings surrounding this or many of the other decisions.  Then, I understand what led them to leave the country to write and record (taxes) but clearly the places they chose weren’t the most conducive to writing and recording actual music.  Then, of course, as they get frustrated, they move on to the next place.  This, of course, relates to the title, which John explains is the phrase used to describe how people try to escape by changing one’s location.  I wonder what problems they were (collectively) avoiding by doing this.
R – I really believe that at least part of the problem with this album was the enormous amount of pressure they had put on themselves, even if they didn’t acknowledge that til much later.  Part of the trouble with “the geographic” is that rather than recognizing the real problems and discussing them, was the change of location – as though to slap a bandaid over the wound and move on.  The album, in hindsight, listens that way.  Very fragmented.  


What was your reaction to the idea of John connecting with fans and how he recognizes some of them on social media now?
A – As someone on social media (facebook and twitter), I couldn’t help but to take notice.  This is a topic that I plan on exploring further in a future blog.  I am not surprised that he feels more connected.  How could he not?  After all, now, he gets asked questions and answers them.  He can also see what people are thinking about something instantly.  That’s huge.  As far as recognizing fans, I wonder who he notices.  Is it good to be noticed or not?  After all, noticed does not necessarily mean liked, respected, interested, etc.
R – I’m amused that he even went down that road. I would imagine it can be somewhat akin to being a fly on the wall (even if it’s on the wall of your own house!) because he can read every tweet he gets without ever having to respond.  Oh, to be John Taylor and get some of the tweets he does.  I have to laugh sometimes……



Chapter 42:  A Caribbean Air
Did Duran’s new collective look in Montserrat fit with how things were going with the band at that time?
A – As soon as I read about Duran’s new look of pale earth tones, pale blues and white, I instantly had images/pictures pop in my head.  We all probably know the look John is talking about here.  Those colors are all calm, peaceful.  Yet, the band seemed to be anything but.  There seemed to be more problems with the studio and problems with the bills.  Then, the band returns home to play at the Prince’s trust and it goes poorly with tuning and sound problems.  The surface, which included photo ops with royalty, writing songs like Union of the Snake and the Reflex, seemed to hide the difficulties just underneath.
R – I think it’s a part of the geographic: hoping to change things when it’s merely a band aid.

Chapter 43:  Resentments Under Construction
Reaction to the idea that they had to wait for lyrics?
A – Simon’s lyrics, and how long it takes for him to produce them, seem to be problematic based on the fact that it was mentioned in both John’s book and in Andy’s.  I found it interesting that John chose to give him space.  This, of course, implies that others did not.  Obviously, I have no way of judging which is the right way to proceed.  Was it better to try to work with Simon?  Was it better to leave him alone?  I don’t know.   
R – One thing I do know about being a writer is that the pressure does absolutely NOTHING to help the words come faster.  I really do feel for Simon in this regard, because I can’t imagine how difficult it must be.  Actually I *can* imagine – and I’m glad I’m not a poet or a lyricist.  I guess the band works in a way where the music comes first a lot of the time and then something inspires Simon to write.  I think I would have a constant nagging fear of not being able to find something that inspired me.  I have no idea if that’s what it is like for Simon, but hearing/reading about this in both Andy & John’s book and then hearing Nick talk about it in the Katy Kafe…as well as my OWN experiences with writing have given me a whole new appreciation for the lyrics as well as Simon, I must say!

Chapter 44:  Unlimited Latitude
Do you agree with John’s description of the party people around him, especially when he says that he is their “prey”?
A – I have no doubt this is exactly what was like and is like for all, or most, who are famous.  It seems to me that there are people who just attach themselves who whomever the big star is at the moment in order to further their own lives, or their own careers.  Clearly, these people weren’t real friends since John didn’t mention them more than including this description of them.  I found it interesting that John wasn’t really hanging out with very many of his bandmates.  In particular, he talked about how distant he was from Nick at this point since Nick didn’t support his using.
R – I actually felt guilty when I read (and listened) this part.  How many of us want to know John because he’s the bassist in Duran Duran?  I mean, that’s the only reason most of us even know him.  So, there is that.  I know plenty of people that attach themselves to others for the sake of a career – even in other industries besides music & entertainment. I’m sure that at the time, it was an amazing social move to be seen hanging out with John Taylor.  He recognized he was being treated more as a commodity than as a human, and that disgusts me even though at the time, John was also very clearly a bit paranoid due to the drugs.  I suppose you learn very quickly whom your friends really are when you’re a celebrity, or else you don’t survive.


Were you surprised that John said that Andy was the only bandmate that he could get comfortably wasted around?
A – Obviously, I knew that Andy was using quite a bit at this time as well.  Andy has never hidden it.  It also makes the decision to form Power Station so much more obvious.  It gave John a purpose and a means of keeping Andy happy.  It also gave John someone to party with who wouldn’t question his choices in using.  Again, though, I thought it was interesting that John described Andy’s participation as providing the balance in the band and giving the band an edge.  I wonder if John still thinks that is lost without Andy.  
R – I’ve always felt that Andy was the hard edge to balance out a lot of the softer side, and I felt it worked well.  I think though that the real reason John was comfortable with Andy was simply because Andy never questioned him or forced him to own up to what he was doing.  Every addict needs that sort of person…and when they turn away, I would imagine it’s pretty painful and hurtful, especially in hindsight when you realize that this person COULD have said something or done something and simply did not.  

Chapter 45:  Anticlimax to Reflex
What was the significance of telling the readers the story of his rental car’s fender falling off when he turned it in?
A – To me, this represented the album.  Seven and the Ragged Tiger was done.  Union of the Snake, the single, had been released.  It was done and they were ready for what came next.  The car represents the band, at the time.  Yes, they appeared to be done with an album but what they didn’t realize is that a part of them was about to leave, to fall off.  Obviously, we now know that it is Roger and Andy leaving.
R – I thought it was a terrific ending….kind of poetic really.  


What was your reaction to John starting a relationship with Janine Andrews?
A – I, obviously, don’t know much about her besides being a Bond girl and having dated John.  From the stories I read about, it seemed like their relationship was a bit dramatic.  Yet, I guess I didn’t realize or remember that she was from Birmingham.  John clearly could relate to her in that she appeared glamorous and sophisticated on the outside but was still someone from Birmingham and with the traits of someone from home.  She must have provided some comfort, in some way then.
R – I must admit I know nothing of Janine Andrews, simply that she was there.  It sounds like there wasn’t much peaceful about their relationship though…and somehow, I am not surprised.

Final Thoughts:
I was struck by how John described himself on the last line of Chapter 44.  He wrote, “But behind the party face, I was caught up in a vortex of fear, arrogance, loneliness and extraordinary popularity.” (page 238)  The vortex was the perfect word as it seems to me that John was in a vortex that he couldn’t get out of, even if he wanted to and it seems clear that in 1983, he didn’t.  The popularity continued through less than stellar live shows like the one that happened at the Prince’s trust or through an album that took entirely too long to make.  The arrogance was clearly there as well.  I could see it by the choice to distance himself from Nick and the rest of the band rather than have his choices questioned.  Yet, through all of this, the loneliness remained.

Next week, we will dive into 1984 by reading Chapters 46-51!

-A 

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 33-40)

It’s Monday!  You all know what that means!  It is a Book Club day!  Today, we continue on by discussing chapters 33-40, which cover that oh-so-important year in Duran history, 1982!  So, grab a fresh cup of coffee or tea, sit back, read and then join in on the discussion!  As much as Rhonda and I love to talk, we would love to hear from all of you, too!

Chapter 33:  Bird of Paradise
Do you agree with John when he called the album, Rio, a “masterpiece”?  (page 175)
A – It is hard to imagine an album that is more loved with Duran fans than Rio. Who doesn’t love Rio? Generally, I have to agree that it is a masterpiece. Of course, I would say that about the first album as well. That said, almost every song on the album is wonderful and almost all could have been released as singles. I know that two songs on my top 10 list are from Rio (Hold Back the Rain and New Religion) and I adored that John took the time to discuss some of the tracks in detail.
R – I don’t know. I mean, on one hand – yes, I think it’s one of the 80’s best and most-defining albums. I do love every single track and I don’t want to take anything away from Rio in my slight hesitation to jump on this bandwagon. On the other hand, I hate to talk about it as though it’s the pinnacle of their career because I really believe they’ve still got plenty left in them, and for me All You Need is Now is EASILY right up there with Rio.  The one thing I will say about Rio though is it was new and fresh when it was released. At the time, I seem to recall that most of the 80’s albums in this genre were so synthesizer-centric, and I always appreciated the fact that Duran Duran had this hard-driving guitar to balance out the synths.  I still love that to this day, and when it’s missing – I notice.  

What did you think of John’s statement about Rio being the result of “passionate, music-loving, fame-hungry guys” who were given the support and pushed to work hard?
A -From everything I know, John really nailed it with this statement. They were passionate and clearly loved music.  Were they hungry for fame?  I suppose so. We all know that they longed for success since they had planned to played Hammersmith by 1982, Wembley by 1983 and Madison Square Garden by 1984. They were a band on a mission. I would agree that they were given the supports necessary to make that happen with dedicated managers willing to do a lot, especially financially, and a record label that kept pushing. The only thing he really could have added there was that they were talented. None of the rest of that would have mattered if they weren’t GOOD.
R – I think to be honest, this is the difference between Rio and SATRT.  The band was hungry and wanted it all.  They wanted to work very, very hard in order to make it.  Then Rio hit (in a huge way), and then they were faced with already having had success and recreating it with SATRT.  We’ll read on to know how that went – but just in this one chapter I can see the pressure coming down the tracks.  I wonder if they were pushed that hard for SATRT??  

Chapter 34:  The Pleasure Habit
React to this quote, “There’s something about being in a touring band performing onstage most nights of the week that acts as aphrodisiac.” (page 185)
A -John, of course, is talking about how time is short on the road so women don’t give as much time as they normally would before jumping into bed with him.  While that might be true that time plays a role in how quickly women act, I think he is missing the key part of the sentence, which is “performing onstage”.  As a fan, a female fan, I openly acknowledge that there is something about a guy performing that really can turn me and other women on.  It isn’t the time.  It’s the profession, silly.
R – Ok, who here reading this did not EVER have a dream about a band member or two???  …Go ahead, don’t be shy. Raise those hands! Yeah… I thought so. Enough said! 

Chapter 35:  Music Television
Did you know about the meeting with the Berrows and MTV Executives in 1981?
A – I admit that I didn’t know that there was an actual meeting but, again, I’m struck by how the connections the Berrows had helped the band.  Where would Duran be without videos?  Where would they be without those videos in Sri Lanka?  I think we all can acknowledge that those videos were huge for their career.  Heck, more than half of us became fans by watching MTV and seeing those videos over and over again.
R – I actually DID know that they went in and had a meeting with MTV. I know MTV was begging plenty of bands in the 80’s for videos because they truly had nothing to broadcast.  I still say, MTV should have showered Duran Duran with affection because that band did nothing but embrace the media and if it hadn’t been for them, MTV probably would have been a lot slower to take off.  Eh, I’m bitter that the damn station doesn’t still play music. OR videos.  LOL  I can remember basically camping out in front of the TV on the weekends, just waiting for the next Duran Duran video!! 

Chapter 36:  Down Under and Up Above
John described the day shopping in Japan as “awful” after being followed by something like 6000 people.  Thoughts?
A – When I was younger, I could hear and see scenes like the one he was describing and laugh it off. In fact, I would say that I thought those types of scenes PROVED that they were successful. After all, didn’t bands at the height of popularity get attention like this? Isn’t this what other legends received? Yet, now, I’m horrified by these types of scenes. Horrified. I’m embarrassed by the fans and feel horrible for the band. I get loving the band. I get that. I do.  What I cannot understand is why must people treat them like loaves of bread in the middle of a famine? How would this be enjoyable to them? Yes, I already know that some people will say things like, “They are smiling and waving during the whole thing so they must be enjoying it.” How do you really know that they like this? Would you like being surrounded by people who don’t really know you AT ALL but think they have some claim to you because you are famous and the other people are your fans? Maybe, I’m projecting here but I would hate it. It would make me terribly anxious. As someone who already feels uncomfortable in social settings, this would cause me serious problems. Obviously, John didn’t like or he wouldn’t have said it was “awful”.
R – All I think about when I read stories like this are two things: the scene in SBS (Sing Blue Silver) when they show the fans pounding on a limo outside of a show; and the one time I went to a signing in Van Nuys at some music store for John Taylor while he was in Power Station.  The crowd surged when he came out of the store (they were running for him, I think.) I was near the back of the line and was almost run over myself as girls (the line was over two blocks long as I recall) went running towards his car as he made a mad dash out of the store and into the car.  I was shocked and just stood there, watching the scene unfold.  It was madness. I can’t begin to imagine what that must have been like – trying to shop somewhere and having so many fans follow them.  I don’t do crowds well as it is, so I wouldn’t have ever made it…and I dare to think that it’s bad when a couple of them come to a bar after the show and I can’t get in the door.  That’s nothing compared to what it must have been like in the 80’s.  No thank you.  


Chapter 37:  Incongruous on a Yacht
Can you see how Rio, the video, would be “controversial” and “polarizing”?
A – When I first started researching the stigma around Duran, I was surprised that they were so hated by so many. Then, I began to read a few things like this, which shed some light on it as well as on people’s ignorance. To the general public and critics, a video like Rio represented the jet set lifestyle with suits, yachts, champagne, etc. It was an “in-your-face” sort of image, especially when so many were struggling with economic stability. Yet, what all of these people failed to realize is what Duran was trying to do. They didn’t mean any sort of political statement by this. On the contrary, this video, in particular, was filled with humor.  Each and every guy does something that makes them look like fools. The critics took things serious that shouldn’t be taken seriously and couldn’t see the humor where there was some.
R –  Obviously I was too young to pick up the obviously abhorrent behavior of the band in the Rio video.  All I saw were five really cute guys on a yacht.  What is not to like? The thing is, here in the states – the 80’s were all about excess, of all kinds. To me, it seemed like what I might expect from a rock band and I loved it. I wanted that boat and I definitely wanted to go to Antigua someday (and I finally did make it there).  I wasn’t offended, I was intrigued, and motivated!  

Chapter 38:  Theodore & Theodore
It seems to me that this is another chapter that shows how everything continued to fall into place for Duran.  Am I the only one to think this?
A – This chapter talks about opening up for Blondie, meeting Nile Rodgers and Tony Thompson and having the 3rd big push to make Duran a hit in the US.  These seem to be important for a variety of reasons.  First, John talks about how they learned how to play to larger crowds and stage theatrics from opening up for Blondie.  Then, we all know how Nile and Tony feature in the Duran story.  Lastly, they have a record label that is determined to see Duran succeed in the US with a 3rd push with the Kershenbaum remixes.  I can’t imagine a label doing that now.  Nonetheless, if those things hadn’t happened, I’m willing to bet Duran’s and John’s stories would be very different.
R – I totally agree.  I can’t imagine a label pushing an album as hard as they did Rio.  In fact, the few bands that I know personally who were able to get label contracts found out very quickly that having a label does very little for you these days. There’s no promo, there’s not even much of an economic motivation or cushion given.  It’s a very different world.  Just recently I listened to the original album and the Kershenbaum remixes together.  It is simply amazing how such very subtle changes made such a huge difference for the band.


Chapter 39:  Coffin Sex
John seemed to ask the important questions here himself.  Why did he sabotage himself by punching the light fixture?  Was it fear?  Was it his belief that he didn’t deserve the attention he was getting?
A – It has been 30 years since the incident in Munich and John is still trying to figure out exactly why he did what he did then. I think we can all relate to not understanding our own behavior and I am cautious with trying to figure out why John did or did not do something decades ago, but I will comment on what he said. After speculating that it was fear or feeling like he didn’t deserve success, he mentioned that he missed home and missed his parents.  Could it be a combination of all 3? Maybe. I think the important thing to note here is that John acknowledges that this episode affected him for years. The realization that the band could do without him created in his words, “self doubt”. I can only imagine how that would have affected him. It would me.
R – I still don’t understand what happened in that Munich club or why John decided to punch the light fixture. Then again, I highly doubt much of it came down to actually “thinking” or “deciding”. I’ve had plenty of my own moments – like the time I got so angry I kicked a hole in the door of my apartment. I should have never gotten that angry, but I was young, and I acted out. Things happen. We learn, we move on I suppose. The incident in Munich comes down to the simple fact that John had to deal with someone else up on stage playing for him. An egobuster for sure, and I can’t blame him for having that doubt. I would have been deeply affected by such a thing, and knowing myself – I would have been angry (with myself) for YEARS, but as I said before, things happen sometimes.  We all do stupid things, and while I guess you could say that John had more riding on his behavior than I might have with my apartment door – it’s all relative, isn’t it?  We learn, we move on.


Chapter 40:  Jacobean
What was the message of this chapter?
A – I am well aware that the story of John and his first STD was one that was talked about frequently. Yet, I don’t think that is the point of the chapter. Was it that John didn’t really notice that his dad was trying to share his war experience with him then? Was it that as much as he missed home, he no longer belonged there either? I think both of those are possible points. No matter the point, I was struck by the fact that this chapter, this year ends with them partying with MTV’s New Year’s Eve.
R – I really think that this story was one way of showing just how in-between John really was.  On one hand, he was truly grown-up (at least in age) by this time.  He had already had experiences in life that most of us couldn’t even process at the ages we are now. On the other hand, he was still at the point where he didn’t know what to do for a (relatively) simple STD.  It’s nearly like coming home from college after living for a semester or a year in the dorms on campus…. for an entire year I’d had my own rules, my own “curfews”, my own schedule.  I get home, and bingo I’m back to having a midnight curfew.  Are you joking? Definitely a time of being “in limbo”, don’t you think?


Final Thoughts:
A – As I read these chapters, I couldn’t help but to think that John couldn’t really process what the heck was going on and how he was feeling.  It is obvious that life was moving pretty fast, really fast.  Even when he returned home at the end, he couldn’t return home and didn’t even stay in his new home.  It was like the ground was no longer stable, solid, unmoving or that the Earth was rotating much much quickier than normal.
R – It would seem to me that each of the band has had to go back and process these years.  I agree that at the time, they had no time to realize just exactly what was happening.  I find that myself even as I’m reading or listening – it is all happening so fast for them.  I kind of think that John longed for some stability, but didn’t know what to do when he had some.  Precarious position to find oneself, and yet I don’t think that it was recognizable as such to any of them at the time – and whats more, the band didn’t use one another as any sort of sounding board. Definite recipe for disaster.

On that note, I hope that everyone reads and jumps in by responding to these questions or providing your own discussion questions!  Next week, we move on to 1983 with Chapters 41-45.

-A 

Book Discussion–In the Pleasure Groove (Chapters 28-32)

Happy Monday, everyone!  I’m feeling particularly good on this Monday after having a four day weekend!  Thus, I’m ready to get going with our Monday Book Club!  This week, we focus on Chapters 28-32.  This set of chapters, basically, focuses on the year 1981.  What a year it was!  So, pour your favorite beverage, read, and join in with the discussion!

Chapter 28:  The Whole Package
Did John make the right move to ask for media coverage in the teen press?
A – Of course, this is a typical ‘what if’ question. It obviously changed things for Duran. On one hand, it gave them a ton of press because the teen focused media did love them and covered them a ton. I found it interesting that their first Smash Hits cover showed Nick and Roger. Could that have helped them, too, since it showed that there wasn’t just one star but 5 stars? Perhaps. Did it lead to this concept that John brought up in the chapter in that groups of friends made sure that there was only one fan per band member? Back to the original question, yes, it gave them a ton of press which couldn’t hurt their sales and didn’t. Yet, it did seem to affect the adult media’s impression of them. As John mentioned, NME declared them the “enemy” then. It did take away their creditability, to some extent. On a personal level, though,would I have become a big fan without it? Probably not. After all, like many of you, I looked for those teen magazines every time I went to the store and plastered the posters inside on my bedroom walls.
R – It’s the age-old question, isn’t it? All I know is that in my case, I LIKED the band before I ever saw them. I loved their music, and for me, it really honestly WAS about the music. It always is – but, and this is a big but, their media coverage and their looks certainly did not hurt my fandom one single bit. Did I mention that I still have their posters up in my closet???

What did you think of John’s idea that the fans at that show in Brighton were just as shocked as the band was that there were so many fans?
A – My initial reaction to reading this is that times have changed.  I don’t think that any fan would be surprised now in the age of social media.  Everyone knows instantly what is popular and what isn’t.  Back in the 1980s, though, how would you find out that there were a lot of fans out there?  I learned through conversations, initially.  Then, of course, I could tell eventually when the band was shown so much on TV and featured on so many magazine covers.  In the summer of 1981, I bet they were surprised.
R – I’m going to be honest here, I am STILL surprised when I go to see them, particularly when we went to see them in the UK last year, and they still fill up arenas. Social media or not, it’s still such a great surprise to see how much love there really is still out there for these guys, and I’m a part of that. It’s fantastic. I can’t imagine what it must have been like in Brighton back in the day though – so much more went unknown at that time.  Now, everything is so instant, almost too much so.  

One other idea that John mentioned was that he began getting more attention than the other guys and that competition between band members grew.  Reactions to this?
A – I guess I would have been surprised to read otherwise.  After all, they are human and this would be a normal reaction to that situation.  That said, how unfortunate must that have been.  I’m sure that was a situation that they wouldn’t be super comfortable with because who wants to admit that they are uncomfortable with the amount of attention you or someone else is getting or not getting.  I’m relieved that they were able to push through this, for the most part.  Otherwise, I suspect we would have seen a lot of solo careers by the end of 1984, if not sooner.
R – It is amusing to me to read about this primarily because even fans have well-known debates about each of the band members. I’m not surprised this translated over to the band, although I agree that it’s unfortunate. I still say that it took all 5 of them to make Duran Duran, and in a lot of ways I’m glad that there are five of them with very distinct personalities, because that way we (female fans) didn’t fight to the death over just one of them.  We fight to the death over five of them.  

Chapter 29:  All Aboard the Promised Land
Thoughts about the band’s first trip to the States?
A – First of all, I remember reading about that interaction John had with that customs agent.  I remember reading from their unofficial biography, I believe, that John wasn’t described as a “funny looking guy” with purple hair but as a “fag” with purple hair.  I wonder why that other book needed to make the story more dramatic.  Then, I think John described the awe I could imagine that they had, especially at being in downtown Manhattan and in that limo.  It seemed so glamorous and I bet that is how they felt.
R – I really can’t imagine what coming to the states for the first time might have been like, although I know that whenever I am in NYC, I feel incredibly small compared to the size of the buildings.  I agree though Amanda, the story I’d read about John with the customs agent was what you had quoted…and if that’s not really how it went down, then it makes us (Americans) look like complete jerks for no reason.  Of course, you and I both know that back in the 80’s (and even now to a certain extent) – it’s not too difficult to believe that some customs agent called John that particular term.  

Chapter 30:  Memory Games
Could you relate their memory games?
A – I sure could!  Heck, Rhonda and I do it by the end of a tour and that is only with a few shows.  “Which show was it when John did…?”  “Which show did Simon spew the water straight upwards?”   Anyway, I can’t imagine having 30 plus years of shows to refer back to!  I hope to, someday, though!!!
R – Absolutely, and I have a tough enough time remembering between the 30-odd shows I’ve done.  It’s a problem I don’t mind having, actually – and a challenge I will learn to meet!  

Chapter 31:  Legal Age
Were you surprised by how John described those sexual encounters with strangers?
A – I really wasn’t.  I wasn’t surprised that they happened, but I do wonder if some fans were.  After all, they did seem to have such a clean image in the 1980s.  At least, that’s how I remember seeing them.  That said, I wasn’t surprised, either, for John to say that he felt awkward and that the drugs and alcohol took away his “doubts, inhibitions and insecurities”.  I wonder if that is how the women felt, too.
R – I thought it was incredibly refreshing and very telling as to how he described the awkwardness of being that intimate with someone he didn’t know.  Refreshing because he admits he actually had thoughts of the awkwardness (and here I thought only women, including myself, might feel that way)…and telling because he admits the alcohol and drugs had much to do with how he was able to deal with those doubts.  I appreciate his honesty.  I didn’t need to read sordid details to understand where he was coming from.  Hell, I’ve been to enough shows to see some crazy things go down – I still wonder how people look at themselves in the morning.  To me that sort of thing matters, and I couldn’t give away a part of myself night after night without really wondering what was really left.  

One of the most commonly stated quotes from the book is, “Fear of loneliness is turning me into a cokehead.”  Why do you think that one is talked about so much?
A – Clearly, this one is talked about because John is open about him being a “cokehead”.  It seems to me that most people in the media like those kind of juicy details.  On the other hand, I think the first part of the quote is so much more interesting.  After all, I think a lot of people have a hard time believing that people who are famous with people all around them and cheering them on could be lonely.  Yet, I bet it happens all the time.  After all, can the famous person really get close to any of these people?  Probably not as how can the famous person know that these people can be trusted and that they aren’t just using him.  Those people must think that they know the famous person but that is far from the truth as people knowing who you are doesn’t mean that they actually KNOW you.  I can totally understand why this situation would him feel lonely.  The one thing I do wonder is why John didn’t feel like he could turn to his bandmates.  After all, they were going through the same situation.
R – Like you, I was more interested in his fear of loneliness than I was the part about being a cokehead. No offense to John, but I already knew about the cocaine.  What interests me is the fear I guess.  What a dichotomy – you’re among the most famous people in the world, you have thousands (if not millions) of fans, and yet you’re incredibly lonely. For some crazy reason, I completely get what he’s saying. I can’t really imagine what it must be like (or have been like) to BE John (or any one of them) at the time. I mean, there you are – admired by so many and yet you can’t really get close to anyone.  You’re constantly moving, constantly working, everyone wants a piece of you, but no one really knows you, and you can’t really take the time to share. We talk about the band almost being like pieces of meat that are pounced upon by a pride of lions (the fans). It’s so objectifying and demeaning. I truly dislike that about being a fan, because not all of us are that way. Yet just by the mere fact we ARE fans, the inclination is to assume we all just want our piece.  What is really funny though is that what you wonder Amanda – why didn’t John feel like he could turn to his bandmates – is probably a cultural thing more than anything else. John says several times in the book that the “feely” stuff just wasn’t the English way.  I can attest to that in my own extended family. 

Chapter 32:  Dancing on the Platinum:
Do you think John’s statement about Duran being the hardest working band in 1981 is true?
A – It seems clear to me that his statement was accurate.  The band was touring all the time that year, including 3 tours of UK, a tour of the US and more.  Truly, John doesn’t mention really anything else in 1981 besides what was happening with the band.  Besides, the band’s talents, good looks and support behind them could only go so far without the work that they did back then.
R – I believe that by the mere fact that they were absolutely EVERYWHERE, and it was only the beginning.  

As 1981 ended, do you think that John was doing well?
A – John was happy about the platinum discs as they all were.  He seems proud of the work that they did, but he acknowledged that he was a nervous wreck before shows as people would be chanting for him.  Plus, he seemed like he was well-aware that the band had a very successful year but that it could all be taken away.  That’s a lot to deal with.
R – I think the pressure was immense, and they were all so young at the time. I think the climb to the top of the charts was work, but staying there was even more so. I’m not sure that I would say John was doing well though. I mean, the signs for the coming troubles were all present and not being dealt with properly, you know?

Final Thoughts?
A – 1981 seemed like quite a year for the band and for John, personally.  I enjoyed getting some insight into what life was like for them back then.  That said, John seems unsettled, which cannot bode well as the band’s fame and fortune increases.
R – Unsettled is a good way to describe it.  Unease.  Disquiet.  All of those things wrapped up in one guy who was desperate to find the thing that completed him.  Dangerous when combined with idle time and loads of money.  

On that note, next week we will discuss Chapters 33-40, which basically covers 1982.  Until then, please respond to these discussion question and/or list some of your own!  Happy reading and discussing!

-A