Why April 16th? It is the day that a certain single was released. What song? The Reflex. It isn’t even my favorite song now but it was so dang important in 1984. Had I heard Duran Duran before that? Of course. I lived in the Chicago suburbs then, which meant that I listened to B96 (Top 40) and watched MTV. I remember Hungry like the Wolf playing on MTV. I also remember watching their performance on MTV’s New Year’s Eve in 1982 at my cousin’s house. I knew that it seemed cool to like them (at least among my older cousins). I started inching towards being a Duranie when Save a Prayer got in my head and I couldn’t get it out to save my life. I have a very vivid memory of singing it over and over again late one afternoon as I hung out in my backyard with my best friend at the time. It was okay, though, because she liked the song, too. Soon enough, though, Seven and the Ragged Tiger came out and my best friend and I were spending more and more time watching MTV or spending the night at each other’s houses on Friday nights so that we could stay up to watch Friday Night Videos. At that time, Duran was on constant rotation and certainly the Reflex got played over and over and over and over and over. We probably saw it thousands of times and that was just in 1984. To say that we became addicted is an understatement. We were so addicted, in fact, that I remember how we would call each other up each and every time it aired. I remember so many times that I would call her while I was setting the table for dinner as the small black and white TV in the kitchen showed the video.
What was it about the song and/or the video? I remember trying to analyze the lyrics with my friend. We couldn’t figure it out, which we liked. It seemed different and made us feel a little smarter. The video, on the other hand, was all about John Taylor. While we thought everyone looked good in the video, John caught our attention and hasn’t freed me yet. That look of his in that video is pretty famous with the blonde bangs, the leather pants, the white jazz shoes. Perhaps, more importantly, the way he looked into the camera felt like he was looking right at us. Another element of the video that I remember focusing on was the crowd. The images of the fans looking cool, rocking out and screaming for the band burned in my head. The desire to go to a show was born in that video. Obviously, that still lives on with me to this day as well. The bigger issue, though, was that it was something I shared with my best friend. We got excited together. We squeed together at those essential John Taylor moments. It created a bond. Interestingly enough, our brand new fandom put us against the common grain where we lived.
At that time, Michael Jackson was the be all and end all. Break dancing was common and Duran Duran was made fun of on a daily basis at lunch. My friend and I spent our time at school defending Duran Duran. By the time We Are the World came out, I was ready to declare war. I kept trying, with no luck, to explain that this American song had copied the idea from Band-Aid. The kids at school wouldn’t hear it. I tried everything I could to prove that Duran was better. No luck. By the fall of 1985, I had moved to a new town. This small town, unlike the suburbs, had no MTV and no Top 40 radio. The kids didn’t know who Duran was and certainly didn’t care to find out. My reaction to all of this was simple. I held on to my fandom and wouldn’t let go. While I’m absolutely sure that part of this was my love of the band, part of it was my need to cling to my old home and to my best friend who I missed terribly. By 1986, I was ready for Notorious and tried to share my excitement with her once again. She had already moved on. Things had already changed. Yet, my fandom remained and continues to this day. Why does fandom live on? Anniversaries like this one make me think back to when I fell in love with Duran in the first place but they also make me think about why I stay. That’s the topic for tomorrow. Until then, I would love to hear your coming out as a fan story! When, why and how did you become a fan?