Back in 1981, I was an awkward little tween by just about anyone’s description. No, I didn’t wear glasses and I didn’t have braces, but I had the biggest hair ever (and not because it was the style, but because I didn’t know enough to use conditioner and contain the frizz!), I wasn’t allowed to wear make up yet, I had zero…and I mean ZERO… fashion sense, and I was in 6th grade. I was a young 6th grader in that I had only just turned eleven by the time January 1, 1981 rolled around. As I’ve mentioned previously in lots of other blogs, my musical taste was pretty limited. I cut my chops, so to speak, on Disney records (give it up for Winnie the Pooh and Disney Disco albums my friends!!) and a few K-Tel compilation efforts. I did have brief, fleeting affairs with Shaun Cassidy (I always wondered what the lipstick on the coffee cup for his “Room Service” album was all about…) and Rick Springfield (I was a sucker for the dog, what can I say?), but all in all, I didn’t really have the first clue. Or the second!
Being rather young, I felt like I was miles behind most of the girls in my grade at school. While they were all pouring themselves into their Jordache jeans and Vans….I was still wearing Dittos and whatever shoes my mom could find on sale at Gemco. They were holding hands with boys in the hallway, and I was wondering why they’d want to touch them. Then there were the ones who liked to glue their faces to the boys. (I always wanted to know what the “Wanna suck face?” pins were about and why anyone would seriously want to do that!) Suffice it to say, I was way, WAY behind. After school, I’d rush home to turn on General Hospital, do my homework, practice my clarinet and then turn on KROQ 106.7 to listen to music. I was always intrigued by what I would hear, and I would sit there, wish I could be brave enough to ask my parents to take me to the record store over the weekend, and wonder what it must be like to be cool enough to actually buy records and have my own stereo in my ROOM. This is no joke. I was once a very pathetic tweenager, and now – I’m a pathetic parent, according to my two oldest. 😀
One evening, as I recall, KROQ would play the new music. The DJ would make a big deal out of it and play a new record that no other radio station in the area would DARE play because it was so new. They called it “New Wave”, and aside from that, I really didn’t know much other than I liked whatever they’d play. On this one night, Rodney on the ROQ mentioned that he was playing a song from the new group, Duran Duran. I remember thinking the name sounded so completely lame that no one would ever remember it. Ha! Live and learn….the stupid names tend to stick with you! I turned the radio up as loudly as I could without drawing the attention of my parents, who were sticklers for my 8:30 bedtime and I was pushing it. (no that’s not a joke either. I was 11 and had a bedtime earlier than my own 3 year old!) I heard the beginning chords of Planet Earth, and I was immediately curious. I loved the way the keyboards sounded, and it was clear to me right then that I needed to find out who this band was, and hear all of their music. I remember going to the trouble of taping their song off of the radio with my super classy cassette player/stereo combo – that cassette was full of static, but you know – it was Duran Duran! The next day I hurried through breakfast, grabbed my books and my clarinet, and set off to school earlier than normal. I rushed to my locker, through my books in there and found my little group of friends – who were every bit as awkward as I – and told them about my new found interest. Curiously enough, I wasn’t the only one listening to the radio that night. My friend Marsha had also been listening, and it was agreed that I would spend the night at her house that Friday night, and we’d go to the record store in search of Duran Duran!
I’m sure it really was not that following Friday night, but at some point in the future, I did stay over at Marsha’s house, and at that point she introduced me to a show on TV that until then, I’d never stayed up late enough to see – Friday Night Videos. It was on that show Duran Duran first appeared in our living rooms. By then, I know we’d acquired Rio, and quite possibly the first album as well. My memory is fuzzy of the details, but I can tell you that the very first video I saw of Duran Duran was Hungry Like the Wolf. That little memory nugget remains clear as a bell! I was shocked by how primal and raw it all felt – and I was completely sucked in; hook, line & sinker! After that, it’s a blur of going to Wherehouse records for any and all albums, singles, posters and even t-shirts we could find. (I had the white sleeveless t-shirt with their faces on the front and the “eye” symbol on the back) I remember staying at Marsha’s house as often as I could in order to watch Friday Night Videos, squealing any time they played a Duran video, and going to the grocery store without fail every single Sunday morning with my mom so that she could go shopping and I could read all of the teen magazines. (Tiger Beat and Bop among them!) Not long after Friday Night Videos started, Video One was on TV in the afternoon with Richard Blade, and I loved rushing home from school to watch. My walls grew crowded with their pinups, and at some point, I learned how to dress so that I wasn’t teased at school, and I finally found a hairstylist that was able to teach me the finer points of conditioning and good haircuts. I’ll even let you in on a little secret – my mullet was WAY cooler than Simon’s ever was! ;D
I don’t really think my story is much different from anyone else, but it’s a good memory. I still smile when I think of how excited I’d get when I’d hear them on the radio, or how giggly I’d get when Marsha and I would watch them on TV. I even remember sitting with her when they did their infamous press conference right before the Sing Blue Silver tour – I think that was at the Roxy theater in LA or something. (yes, that’s how “good” of a fan I am, I can remember what is said at certain press conferences, but never where they were held or what they were for. Sue me.) Regardless, it was the one where they talked about how Roger had “two hands” for his. We laughed a LOT. I think that’s part of what made Duran Duran so fun – I shared it with my group of best friends, and we spent a lot of time laughing at the band’s expense. Not entirely unlike how it is today, actually. (sorry guys!) In all that time, it never occurred to me that in 30 years, I’d still be listening to the band, still getting excited when they’d be on the radio…or even going to shows overseas! (come to think of it, I don’t think my husband thought any of that would be the case when we married, either!)