Passion, Obsession, Bliss, and Success

“Don’t ever let anyone take your bliss away.”

This is one of the most thought-provoking sayings I’ve ever had directed in my general direction. Uttered by a well-meaning friend, I continue to let that grouping of words wash over me from time to time. It is both a good reminder of how I need to handle my own life, as well as how I should respect the choices of others.

At this moment, I find myself in this now-familiar territory. One of my children is at a serious life crossroad. To explain the entire story would give far more away than I think is prudent. However, these same words have flooded back to me at regular intervals during the past six months.

The storm’s about to blow

One of the things I learned far too late was that the only person who should have a hand in deciding what my passions should be in life, is me. When I was young (and even when I wasn’t), I allowed other people to literally change my entire direction in life. Fresh out of college, I wanted to go back for my masters – my plan being to teach. I had found a school where I could go back for the extra year (for teaching in California you need a bachelors +1 extra year for the credential), and then continue classes for my masters. I wanted to either go into administration or teach at college level – I wasn’t positive which direction I’d go in, but I knew I wanted to have a masters degree. I was sold on the program, ready to sign on the dotted line and get started.

I had two hurdles left. One was to tell my parents. My dad wasn’t as sold on the idea as I was. He wanted me to get a job and start bringing in money to help, which was hard to hear. I didn’t have the money for school on my own unless my dad was agreeable to let me continue living at home rent free and covering my car payment. He wasn’t. His feeling was that masters degrees were unnecessary. I needed to work. Then I had to tell my then-boyfriend. He told me that I needed “a taste of business” before deciding to teach.

Knowing that my both my boyfriend and father were against the idea, I quickly shelved my plan. I scoured want ads, sent out my resume to hundreds of companies – basically floundering from the moment I graduated from college in June until mid-August. My dad came into my room one morning as I was looking at the newspaper and announced I had to come up with the money for my September car payment. “By the way, you are starting at my friend’s office in downtown LA as their temporary receptionist on Monday.”

The gaping hole

The phone? I hated covering phones. I went to school…got a degree…to be a receptionist?? He kept telling me that I had to pay my dues and work my way up. It was like being sentenced right back to hell because I had been working as a receptionist most of the way through school to begin with. All I could think about (and still occasionally think about when I’m down in the dumps) is that I went to school and worked my backside off to get a degree that didn’t help me one single bit.

Over the next couple of years I bounced from job to job. I was never satisfied, and I always felt like the work was “just a job”. I don’t know what it is like to have a career, much less one I’m passionate about doing. Instead, l’m passionate when it comes to writing about Duran Duran. I am obsessed with their career, their music, this fandom.

Caught in the crossfire

Parenting is tough. When you first start out, you think having this newborn is going to be the hardest time. You’re tired, sick, frustrated, exhausted…how much worse can it really get than that? Well, I’ve done all that three times now. I have to say that at least for me, cuddling a crying newborn has nothing on parenting a young adult. NOTHING.

I’ve made serious mistakes with my kids, and sadly for my youngest – I continue to make them. My heart is always in the right place, but sometimes I just blow it. In parenting, you don’t necessarily realize the severity to which you’ve failed until years later. For me, now is that time. My comeuppance.

Too often, I turned a blind eye when I should not have done so. I ignored obsessions and interests when I should have fully encouraged them. The things I thought were just hobbies or wastes of time, were in fact road signs that I forced us to pass by, in favor of sticking to the “tried and true” way to get through life. Only now do I realize that essentially, I tried to push my kid into a mold s/he wasn’t destined to fit. I think s/he always knew, and it’s a funny thing – even a kid on the spectrum wants their parents and family to be proud of him, even if at the time they’re not fully aware of those feelings.

Take a look before you run off and hide

I spent most of Heather’s teen and college years reminding her to look for her passion, and live it fully. My husband would look at me in utter horror with a little bit of irritation mixed with good measure as I’d recite these words to her, but I meant them with every fiber of my being.

“If you love dancing so much that you’d live in your car – then damn it, that’s your passion and it is what you were put here to do. Go do it!”

The trouble is, I didn’t extend those words to anyone else in my little family. I didn’t consider other obsessions that were perhaps just as lofty as a performance art. It never occurred to me that by not saying them directly to each child – I was basically saying that their own interests weren’t worth living in a car to do. Their passions were maybe just hobbies. Stop playing video games, go to college, and get a degree, in other words.

Don’t look away

What on earth does this have to do with Duran Duran, you say? Can you imagine what would have become of them, of ALL of us, had their parents not encouraged them? What in the hell would I be listening to, writing about, or traveling to see had they just gone into trade like their parents before them?

Unconventional choices aren’t always bad. Sure, there’s risk involved, either way. Success is reached when you finding the thing you’re so passionate or obsessed with that you’ll stop at nothing to keep doing it.

I don’t really believe that Duran Duran keeps making music because they want to achieve some tangible goal or dollar amount. Chart success or critical acclaim isn’t the one thing that keeps them going. While perhaps they are underdogs to some extent, I really don’t believe they’re continuing to chase a carrot. They’ve already been the biggest band in the world. They know what it means to sell out arenas and have millions of fans. Music is a part of their soul. At one point, I think they would have lived in their car(s) to keep doing it. If nothing else, they lived in a Cheapside squat in order to be a band.

If you’re willing to live in a car to keep doing your thing – then go do it. “Don’t ever let anyone take your bliss away.”

-R

Gold Package Review 2019

Anyone else get a nice little package this week from DuranDuranHQ? Yes, the new gold package from DuranDuranMusic, the official fan community, arrived this week. If you have no idea what I am talking about, let me explain. The official fan community is open to fans who are willing to pay a membership fee. There are two levels of membership: silver and gold. Silver gives members access to the website including exclusive content, a message board, contests and access to presales. The gold membership comes with all of that and extra merchandise. Every so often that merchandise package gets updated and recently that was the case. Like others, I went ahead and renewed at that level to get the stuff. I’m a sucker when it comes to Duran merch. So what do I think about what came?

T-Shirt

This t-shirt is black with both Duran Duran and part of the chorus from the song, Rio, in white. The writing is such that it creates a box shape as seen in the picture here.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I thought of the t-shirt design. I like the black and white but not sure about the shape. Would the name Duran Duran be seen or overwhelmed by the lyrics? I honestly think it looks better in person than in the picture. Plus, I appreciate the soft quality of the t-shirt material. I’ll be interested to see how people react to it when I wear it.

Post-it Notes

I love post-it notes. I use them all the time both at home and at work. In this case, the notes are a good size. They are smaller than the standard but a little bigger than the usual small size. They are white with the red Duran Duran. I like them.

Speaker

The speaker included in the package is a water resistant one (pool side). I have to chuckle at that. I wonder how many of us have no access to pools. I guess I could bring it to a hotel but I don’t see that as a common happening. That said, I know that I could use this speaker in my house. There is a space in which a string could be attached for easy carrying but that is not included. What is included is the charging cable and an audio cable. I have not tried it out yet, but I look forward to it. It will fit nicely in my office and the rumor is that I’ll be doing some writing in there this summer.

Sticker

I like stickers. This is a basic white with black font. I’m not sure where I want it, so for now, it will hang out on my fridge. Where are the rest of you putting yours?

Portable Phone Charger

I feel like we have received a Duran phone charger in the past. Am I imagining it? Gone crazy? Don’t answer that last question. In this case, it is square and pretty compact. I think it is a great idea as there are frequently times when I need a charge when I am out and about. Now, if I can only remember to use it…

Popsocket

Full confession here. For the longest time, I didn’t even know what these were or what their purpose was. I get it now after watching all of my high school students use them as they attempt to watch whatever on their phones whenever they can. This makes me feel old because I would not be interested in watching something on a small screen unless I had to. The one included in the package is basic black with a white font. Right now, I doubt that I will use it as I have a really nice JoSi picture as my phone case. But I am sure that I will when I get a new phone and case.

Tea Towel

The tea towel is a natural color with a red box that lists all the songs released on albums. This is the one item I have seen the most discussion on as people are not certain what to really do with it. I have to agree. It is a rather large towel but the Duran part is less than 25%. The only thing I can figure is to fold it and frame it. My friend, Suzie, is planning on making a little dress out of it for her vodka bottles, which is a fun idea! What are the rest of you doing with it?

4 Lyric Posters

These posters are 11 by 17 in size. They feature lyrics for Rio, Do You Believe in Shame, Ordinary World and The Seventh Stranger. I do like that these posters are different colors and are on thick glossy paper. I would love to display them in some way. I just have to figure out where!

Overall, I like the package. There are some items that I will immediately use and appreciate. Some others are great that I will need to remember to use. (Anyone want the job of reminding me? Anyone? Anyone?) A couple of others will need me to be creative but that isn’t a bad thing. What do the rest of you think? Was it worth it?

-A

Happy Birthday Nick 2019!

This blog is much later than I had hoped. I have not been feeling good all day so I’m going much slower than I expected. Today is a big day in all of Duranland as it is Nick Rhodes’s birthday! How best to celebrate the keyboard player, the controller, the alien?! I would like to highlight the moments/videos that make me really appreciate him and super glad that he decided to form Duran Duran with his buddy, John.

Let’s start with the video in which Nick first caught my attention. I thought he looked so cute in it and even thought that he might be my favorite after seeing it. More interestingly, after I saw this video, I decided to dress as Nick in this video for Halloween. This, of course, worked better in my brain than it did in my childhood neighborhood where people didn’t get it. I got a lot of, “Who are you supposed to be?”

Of course, I quickly found out how smart he is when I started to pay attention to interviews with him. I remember watching Sing Blue Silver as a kid and thinking about what an amazing vocabulary he has. Simon even commented there about the “agile brain of Nick Rhodes at work.” It impressed me and made me want to be equally as smart. (I’m not but I will always try!)

Then, as I got older and my fandom matured, I noticed different things about Nick. I had heard, for example, that his gum chewing (which the Nick girls love!) was to show his frustration with the decision to make Serious a single. I don’t know if it is true but the story amuses me. It also tells me that he is passionate about all things Duran and the decisions the band makes.

I also appreciate the artistic side of Nick. First, of course, there is the photography from Interference in the 1980s to more recent exhibits like Bel Incubi as seen here.

Then, there are other examples of his artistic side through projects like Unstaged when the band worked with David Lynch.

I also appreciate the heck out of Nick at live shows. My favorite live show moment with Nick definitely has to be in Brighton in 2011. After having traveled to the UK twice in a year to see the band play there, we were finally seeing them on stage. Rhonda and I were beyond excited. Then, when the first notes of Secret Oktober began, we couldn’t contain ourselves as we turned towards one and another to hug. As we focused back on the stage, we noticed Nick looking at us and laughing. Clearly, he thought our reaction was pretty ridiculous! Likewise, he always seems so entertained by people’s reactions of disgust to Simon’s water spitting during White Lines. Lastly, there is his addition to the Reflex live when he answers the question, “Why don’t you use it?” His responses are always so entertaining (when and if I can understand them!)

But I think the video that best captures how I always want to think of Nick Rhodes is the following one. As someone who got to walk through the same Brompton Cemetery, I feel very lucky because not only did I get an amazing place but I also felt closer to Nick for having done so.

On that note, I wish Nick a very happy birthday! I hope he has an amazing day and that it begins the very best year for him!

-A

Going On Together

Last weekend, I attended the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention with two members of my former campaign team. I have been to other types of conventions before, including Duran related ones (attended and organized), other fandom ones like Wizard World, and the National Popular Culture one. I was not really sure what to expect exactly but I looked forward to finding out. While I learned more about the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, the more interesting thing was how much it felt like touring to me.

It’s All About the People

As soon as we began walking through the convention space to register and to see what groups and organizations had tables to advertise people or organizations, I began to see many people who looked familiar. In some cases, they are people I have seen at other events but don’t know well but others were people excited to see me and vice versa. In those situations, it was common for hugs to be exchanged and comments about what people have been working on lately. Each and every time that happened, I found myself smiling from ear to ear both because it is nice for people to be glad to see you but also because it totally reminded me about what it is like on tour. I think about just the last shows we attended in Las Vegas. As we walked from the bar we were hanging out at to our seats, we were stopped every few feet. Like the convention, typically there was an exchange of hugs, a quick conversation about how people are, maybe some discussion about seats or what they are doing afterwards and more. We were greeted so much that we ended up getting to our seats super late but thankfully arrived just before the lights went down. Obviously, in both cases, the venue and occasion provided a chance to see people who have a shared interest or a connection with.

Night Time Focus

The convention last weekend opened early in the morning. We aimed to get there a couple of hours after it opened just to give ourselves a little more sleep and the chance to drive there. On top of it, the schedule seemed light and was. The afternoon featured some meetings of different groups within the party. While interesting, everyone looked forward to the main attraction. At night, the large convention hall filled with party members all there to hear from the state’s elected officials. The lineup started out with less important people like the leader of the Assembly Democrats. As the night wore on, bigger names appeared to speak including our U.S. senator and our newly elected governor. The cheers got louder as we got closer to the keynote speech by Governor Evers. By that point, the crowd greeted the speakers with signs and standing ovations. What does this remind you of? I couldn’t help but to think that this was like a festival with the bigger acts coming on at the end and the crowd getting more and more excited and impatient as time passes.

Of course, the night does not end there. Like concerts I attend on tour, there is the after party. We looked forward to the various parties that were going to be held as we ran back to our hotel to change clothes and have a drink back in the room. (Not our first for the day as my friend, Andrea, and I found bars at the convention site!) Notice that what we did not have is food. We managed to grab something quickly back at the convention but I would not call it a meal. That is exactly how Rhonda and I usually roll on tour. So, what were the after parties like? It probably does not come to anyone’s surprise that the parties offered ice cream and beer for free. It is Wisconsin, after all! Of course, we ended up at the party with the DJ and dancing. We were not all that excited when it ended as we were ready to keep partying. Even then, though, it was all about people watching for awhile.

Next Time

Needless to say, I had fun. As Andrea and I drove back home, we found ourselves having a conversation about what we would and should do next year. Do we know the dates? Do we know the location? One thing that we determined was that we wished we were staying at the convention hotel rather than a different hotel. That meant we lost time at the parties by traveling to and from our hotel. Plus, we could drop stuff off as we need which would make things easier. Then, we also learned which sessions we would want to go to again. Again, this conversation reminded me of what Rhonda and I have sounded like after almost every tour ever but especially when we started to tour.

While the focus of last weekend was completely different, there were many similarities between the convention and touring. I loved them both. It also got me super excited for the shows coming in September!!!

-A

In Conversation with Simon Le Bon

By Douglas Armstrong

Prologue

“Excuse me? Aren’t you…?”

“Bon. SIMON…Le Bon”

This humorous Paris conversation atop the Eiffel Tower marked the end to the cinematic music video for the 1985 MTV anthem, “A View To A Kill”. The film theme marked a crossroads for Duran Duran, and for global pop culture itself. Why?

  • “A View To A Kill” became the FIRST single from the (decades old) James Bond motion picture series to reach # 1 in America.
  • “A View To A Kill” remains the ONLY Bond anthem to reach #1 in America.
  • LIVE AID became the concert event of the decade in the 1980s. In the “Woodstock” of its era, the one-day charity stadium mega concert spanning the Atlantic Ocean in both London (UK) and Philadelphia (America) simultaneously played host to a wealth of music legends: Queen, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger, U2, Madonna, George Michael, Adam Ant, Phil Collins, Sting… with reunions by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. (Only one band, however, marked the zeitgeist of the moment with the NUMBER ONE single on the Billboard Hot 100 that week: “A View To A Kill” by LIVE AID’s ABC and MTV prime-time headliner: Duran Duran.)
  • “A View To A Kill” came to mark the summit of Duran Duran’s commercial blaze as well. As guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor soon departed, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bass guitarist John Taylor forged ahead as a trio with singer Simon Le Bon.

Styles change. Style doesn’t.

This promotional manifesto emerged from Capitol-EMI Records in the 1990s, serving as the catalyst for a return to form for Duran Duran. New Wave was out. Glam Metal was out. Hip-Hop was in. Grunge was in. Was there room for the unflagging vision of Duran Duran? Yes.

“Comeback” is a tricky word for Duran Duran and their fans… this omnipresent dance-rock band has seen the top, the bottom, and the middle of the mountain creatively and commercially for 40 years since their 1978 formation.

(FOR THE RECORD: Duran Duran have never broken up… there has never “not been” a Duran Duran in existence since they dominated radio, MTV, poster and magazine sales, and sold out sports arenas in the 1980s.)

Billboard interviewed the band in the studio with producer Chris Kimsey in 1990 for the making of LIBERTY. Remarkably self-aware, singer Simon Le Bon stated defiantly: “We’re aware of the struggle we’re involved in. We will not be killed off.”

2019: A Space Coast Odyssey

In this spirit, I could hardly wait to be part of the 2019 Cultural Summit presented by the BCA (Brevard Cultural Alliance) in Melbourne, Florida. As a devout fan of Duran Duran since 1983 (at age 10!), I had seen many interviews with this band – in writing, on MTV and VH1, and later online. I have been fortunate to personally see Duran Duran live nearly 30 times since 1989, and met each founding member.

Was there anything left to “learn”? I wondered to myself.

I did know that I was delighted to be invited to this rare event. In 2000, while watching Duran Duran “Storytellers” on VH-1, I marvelled at the intimate British audience allowed into that “inner circle”… I observed how keenly these fans listened to the band members as they shared anecdotes of their culture-shifting history.

Nineteen years LATER… I was surprised to receive an e-mail from the BCA asking me if I had a question I would like considered for inclusion in the Q&A with Simon Le Bon. (My inner voice’s response: “WHOA….ME?”)

IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?

May 23rd, 2019. Award-winning Orlando/Melbourne journalist Greg Pallone (Spectrum News 13) was appointed to moderate the onstage exchange: “In Conversation With Simon Le Bon.”

“Hundreds of artists, creative professionals, business and political leaders from Brevard County and beyond” were welcomed by the arts and cultural nonprofit organization BCA in their event handbill. A full day conference of morning and evening workshops were scheduled for paying attendees in the business-related fields of arts, culture, and the music industry. Wendy Laister, CEO of Magus Entertainment (and long-time Duran Duran band manager), was one of many notable presenters who spoke during the day’s breakout sessions.

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM was reserved for the luncheon, prior to which hundreds of animated Duran Duran fans swelled the ample hallways of the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place. The Florida resort and the BCA Team were well-prepared for the “Sold Out” 420-seat capacity marquee event. Fans relished reliving key DD fan moments in the resort hallways. A table of BCA volunteers cheerfully logged in each guest, and handed the “Golden Ticket”-like wristband to each pre-paid attendee. And then the ballroom doors opened…

Is Anybody… HUNGRY?!

Doug and some of his tablemates!

Flank Steak.

Grilled Chicken.

The choice of entree was yours upon reserving your tickets online. My food was delicious – better than the catered hotel fare typically experienced at such events. The lunch I was served:

  • Flank Steak (with feta cheese, garden herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes)
  • Garden Vegetables (steamed green beans, carrots, broccoli)
  • Mashed Potatoes (whipped in butter)
  • Coffee / Water / Tea
  • Key Lime Pie (w/fresh whipped cream)

My good friend Mike McCoy drove across the state from Tampa Bay for this event. We grew up together in the 1980s listening to Duran Duran’s hits when they were NEW songs – so our history as friends just added to the fun of the luncheon for each of us. Summoning the spirit of “Hungry Like The Wolf”, Mike says during our proper meal: “Wouldn’t it be AWESOME when Simon comes out, if we just ‘THREW’ the table over…??!”

(…as Mike gestures his arms upward, in a slow ‘throwing’ motion…)

Mike clearly knew we would obviously NEVER misbehave in such a way. But oh, the laugh. I’ll never forget that line. It was one of MANY great “Duran moments” from this day.

MY line at lunch: When the server places the china before me, I look upon my juicy flank steak and say aloud to our tablemates: “Is anybody… HUNGRY?!”

We all laughed. Among this crowd – we all know the lines, the cues, the nuances, the looks – and there is never a need to explain ourselves. We’re about to have lunch with ‘SIMON LE BON’. Just a PERFECT DAY…

While we dined, Neil Levine (BCA Executive Director) lead a powerpoint presentation revealing the findings of the “2019 Economic Contribution of Arts & Culture to the Space Coast. Levine made the case of how the creative community made the area a desirable locale for residents and for tourism alike. Then, Greg Pallone of Spectrum News 13 was introduced and welcomed to the stage. The audience excitement was palpable – and to the sound of forks and knives clanging chinaware, Greg enthusiastically profiled our conference’s special luncheon guest…

All You Need Is NOW…

Entering from stage right: The singer of Duran Duran – SIMON LE BON. The applause and cheers evoke a Duran Duran concert. Simon looks calm and relaxed… to describe his look in 3 words? “MIAMI VICE. HAVANA.”

  • White, long-sleeved button-down collar casual dress shirt. A few buttons undone, he looks ready to sail into Florida’s cool coastal breezes…
  • White slacks
  • Off-white, low-top deck shoes. (No socks, that I could tell?)
  • A small gold, hoop earring in his left ear. (It’s BACK! LOL)
  • Fresh haircut: short on the sides, lightly spiky length on top. Sun-bleached brown. (Think: “Last Night In The City” video.)

…Greg notes that many WOMEN are here in today’s audience. As the crowd calls out to him, Simon relishes the moment – yet with good-nature, defers to his interviewer and bellows into his microphone: “Let’s hear it for GREG!!”

The light banter introductions segue into about 10 minutes of Greg asking Simon to share some of his music stories. Simon speaks of the early days starting out with Duran Duran in working class Birmingham, England. He speaks of how when the band toured in America early on, radio wouldn’t play their music – yet the risque music video for “Girls On Film” gained them airplay and underground credibility in American dance clubs. During this time in their young life (“Nick was only 19!”), they were very excited to play in New York City. Dancing in Studio 54, and meeting legendary artist Andy Warhol, were quite exciting bucket list moments for them.

After playing clubs around the world, the band finally got a mainstream break in America: MTV. Simon said that MTV brought the music of Duran Duran straight into people’s homes in America. He talked of the relationship they built with the fledgling music video network – especially “the VJ’s on MTV… when they actually PLAYED ‘music’!”

Greg asked Simon to highlight his childhood inspiration to make or perform music. Simon responded by singing: “She loves you / YEAH, yeah, yeah! / She loves you / YEAH, yeah, yeah!” as he namechecks “The Beatles… Stones… classical… T-Rex… David Bowie!”

As the crowd cheers and hangs on to every name cited, the interviewer cites the similar effect that Duran Duran had upon a generation of young people, particularly in the 1980s. Simon good naturedly interrupts, to a roar of laughing approval: “…***I’M*** stuck in the Eighties!!”

Simon talks about his relationship with his fans, stating how it is special “…to be a PART of their conscience – be a PART of their wallpaper.”

Shortly after, Greg announces that a few fans in attendance have been invited to submit questions for today’s event. As the host lifts a small stack of index cards, he announces that when your name is called, you will be invited to stand up and ask Simon your question… or Greg will read it for you, if preferred. Making eye contact with his fans in the eager audience, Simon grins widely: he knows it’s TIME to leave you…

…ANSWERED WITH A QUESTION MARK

  • Simon is asked how it feels to have recently become a grandfather. He notes that he recently turned 60 years old – and he loves family, and loves having a newborn child in his life again.
  • Simon talks about the effect of his fame upon his children. He namechecks the SING BLUE SILVER 1984 tour DVD (to enthusiastic audience cheers). “I recently showed it to my CHILDREN for the first time. They were VERY surprised……. (with a look of being awestruck, the audience laughs loudly with him).”
  • A fan says “You are a HEALER…” and tells Simon how his music has given hope to so many fans through the years, and asks how he feels about that. Simon thanks the fans, who have sent him so many letters detailing how his songs saved them. He says “Save A Prayer” may be the one that fans give him the most feedback on in helping them out of dark times…
  • A woman stands up and tells Simon that she was the person who introduced him to the modelling photos of (his now wife) YASMIN in the 80s, backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York. Simon is completely floored… “Do you have the pictures WITH you?” he asks. She says yes, and holds up the portfolio. Simon motions to her, to come join him onstage. Standing up, Simon and this young woman leaf purposefully through the book of glossy photos. Slowing down the present with his own eyes – Simon indulges his PAST, recalling how falling in love with the face of a girl forever changed his FUTURE.
  • Another fan asks if DD will be making any new music together again… Simon confirms that in the 40th year of the band, they have been. “We’re writing a new Duran Duran studio album in London with new dance producer Erol Alkan – and in L.A. with Mark Ronson. We’ll be celebrating (DD 40) all year… and for the NEXT 10 years…!”
  • “You know what your music has done for US…” the next fan is called upon to ask. “What has it done for YOU?” Simon answers: “It… has kept me OCCUPIED. It has given me the SCRIPT for my LIFE, really. Time FLIES, when you’re having FUN… It’s given me a reason to wake up in the morning, to wake up with these guys (his bandmates).”
  • Host Greg Pallone takes up the subject of sailing (close to the heart of Melbourne locals and many Floridians)… calling upon the fan who submitted that question. Simon waxes poetic, tying in his draw towards the ocean and being a member of a sailing crew, into his love of the give-and-take process of creating music in a band. “You learn to RELY on other people…”
  • Somebody asks Simon what music he enjoys today. He loses me personally with some names I am unfamiliar with. He mentions relishing the music of Fela Kuti, a frequent fallback for him. And Tame Impala is one of many new bands he thinks is great.
  • “We’ve heard from a lot of female fans today,” host Greg says, “now let’s hear from some of the MEN. Where’s Douglas Armstrong…” “RIGHT HERE! Hi!” I enthusiastically reply, standing up. I roll up my left sleeve, showing the skin of my upper arm, declaring, “I just want to represent – ‘MAN’ with a Duran Duran TATTOO!” Our spirited ballroom of Duran fans cheered my ‘ink reveal’ to the singer approvingly. What could feel better! Simon responds: “It’s quite a rare BREED, you know…!”
  • My question: “I just wanted to welcome you today to Melbourne, Florida. It is the birthplace of Jim Morrison. I know in 1995, The Doors’ ‘Crystal Ship’ was a song that Duran Duran covered. So I just want to ask: A lot of us know the ‘MUSIC’ – but part of what always captivated me about Duran Duran was a ‘POETIC’ aspect… it wasn’t just literal. It didn’t ‘TELL’ you where to go… it was open to interpretation. I get a lot of that listening to The Doors as well. So I just want you to go into that a little.”
  • “Yeah, I think it’s a very valid point,” Simon replied. “I think it’s something in works with a lot of lyrics – AND poetry as well. A lot of songs are not ‘specific’. And they leave a lot to the imagination. I think there’s a very good REASON for that. I know there is in my songwriting. And that is because I want to leave room for you, and you, and you, and YOU to insert your own experiences, and points-of-view, into the song – so you can make it your OWN. Because for whatever happens – the songs that come back, the way that people interpret them into their own way, are WAY more important than the ones that convey a ‘message’. Because it’s when you get that FEEDBACK from people… You say ‘I understand this song, I know what it’s all about’ – and its NOTHING that you intended. But it means SUCH a lot to THEM. And suddenly, it speaks to the audience about their OWN lives. And I think that’s a really wonderful thing.” (Crowd applauses… Simon breaks back in, to close.) “And I think – that’s a really IMPORTANT part – of what makes ‘poetry’, poetry.”
  • “In the Eighties, NOTHING was more important than music to people…” Today, Simon notes the most unifying passion across generational and cultural lines “seems to be sports.”
  • Host Greg asks aloud to know who is the “youngest” fan of Duran Duran in the audience (a mother speaks aloud for her daughter, named Rio(!) – aged 9! The mother of Rio asks: “Why did you name the song “Rio”? Simon replies, “I LOVE that name! I was just BLOWN AWAY by this beautiful country (America). I felt that ‘Rio’ could be about something much MORE than a girl. I wrote ‘Rio’ about your country. I wrote ‘Rio’ about the United States of America!!”
  • Greg turns back to ask the crowd who is the “oldest” person in the audience… “ME!” Simon cheekily says into the mic. The crowd loves it, rewarding him with hearty laughter at his self-effacing British humor. A young woman arises and introduces her elderly mother (I couldn’t discern her age), who smiles and waves back while remaining comfortably seated at her table. Her daughter then asks Simon who his biggest influence was in pursuing the arts? Immediately he answers: “My MOTHER, Anne Le Bon.” He goes into some detailed recollection about all the ways she encouraged him in his creative life. He was pursuing academics in university, only to find himself at an impasse after joining a local Birmingham, England band… “SHE said I should go for the band. I MISS her, everyday.”
  • He then adds “My choirmaster…” as a mentor who figured heavily into his musical development. Simon wraps up his answer by encouraging us to watch the recent BBC documentary “There’s Something You Should Know”, adding that the career retrospective “…really showed great footage when we were young.”
  • Will Simon ever write a published BIOGRAPHY about his life and career? The question came from an inquiring mind, pointing out that John Taylor has written his bio about Duran, and Andy Taylor has as well… the singer’s response? “I don’t have any particular ambition to write a book.”

“Did you read John or Andy’s book?”

“NO.”

Simon just let that one ‘hang’ out there… and the one-word response grew funnier to the laughing crowd, as he deliberately resisted elaboration. “I LIVED with them!” he finally pleads. “Why should I READ it?” (Again, the crowd laughter has not abated, as Simon holds his mic waiting for the next comic line to arrive from the ether like the 5:30 train…)

“You SHOULD read Andy Taylor’s book. You SHOULD read John’s book. I… ‘HIIIIGHLY recommend’, that you read them. Have ‘I’ read them? ‘NO’.”

  • Once the audience’s amused laughs tapered, Greg deferred to the next audience pre-screened question. How does Simon feel, about a possible induction to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame one day? He shared how honored he was to be asked by the organization (along with John) to present Roxy Music with their induction to the Class Of 2019 this year. Simon elaborated by saying how astonishing it felt to be considered for that honor – and what it was like to be backstage and onstage with Bryan Ferry and his heroes who he admired as a young lad growing up. He then stated in earnest that if there were NO Roxy Music in the world – there would be no Duran Duran. But yielding slightly to the nature of the original question, Simon said of a Duran Duran induction to the Rock Hall: “We would be grateful. We would WELCOME it, with open arms.”
  • Greg directed another audience member to ask Simon about his favorite “football club” (I.E. American soccer). As I personally follow American NFL football and NBA basketball – I honestly didn’t pay much attention to this answer. (Sorry, soccer fans! LOL)
  • A GREAT question emerged from the audience, asking: “How would you like Duran Duran to be ‘remembered’?”

Simon looked thoughtful. He elaborated that it didn’t matter what he thought or preferred – he just wanted the band’s life work to continue to be soundtracks to people’s lives. “I would like my ‘MUSIC’ to be remembered. I would like people to JUST, STILL, PLAY – DURAN DURAN music.”

  • The last question asked of Simon was for… his autograph. (Hey, who doesn’t want that, right?!) Simon smiled, but explained why it truly wasn’t practical due to the scale of audience in attendance here today. There were music industry workshops still scheduled for the afternoon session of BCA Cultural Summit, and he did not want to impede upon their times. Yet, as Simon talked himself OUT of autographs for 420 giddy Duran fans – he cracked open the window for ONE lucky fan… “If I do ONE, I’ll have to do it for all… (sigh) I’ll do ONE. Where is ‘RIO’…….?”
Simon and the youngest fan in the audience…who just happens to be named after one of their biggest songs!

The young girl of 9 was brought to the stage by her mother. Simon revealed his sweet, paternal instincts – lifting the joyous child into the air. It was near OLYMPIAN in pose… delivering on the promise of an icon who adorned school lockers, Trapper Keepers, bedroom walls, and even the daily TV or VCR rituals of the 1980s “MTV Generation.” The frontman of Duran Duran was a music video “god” to teenagers of a different era – yet today’s Simon Le Bon is a 60-year old grandfather. Simon lifting the living embodiment of his band’s legacy into the air onstage was the perfect ending for our private “Storytellers” Q&A luncheon today with this pleasant and engaged music legend. Our luncheon ended with a NEW iconic image for Simon Le Bon and Duran Duran fans.

“HER NAME IS ‘RIO’…….”

Douglas Armstrong is from The Palm Beaches, Florida. He has been an ardent Duran Duran fan since the days of MTV, Martha Quinn and Union of the Snake. He loves music, dreaming, and traveling with his wife and three children. You can reach him on Twitter: @TravelAgentA

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!