Tag Archives: 1986

Signals in Smoke: Comparing DD History and Fan Support

Do you ever wonder if you are the only one to do something?  Sometimes, I think I’m way weird.  Am I the only one who thinks about the band’s history when pondering one’s life?  For example, when I have been a part of a winning campaign and feel like I’m on top of the world, my thoughts immediately turn to Duran’s history.  Is this what it felt like to play Madison Square Garden in 1984, I ask.  Am I the only one???  Maybe this is a sign that I have read too many histories of the band or watched too many documentaries that the band’s story is permanently etched into my brain.  Perhaps, it is the historian in me combined with my Duranieness.  Who knows?

So which part of Duran’s history have I been thinking about?  1986 is the year that I have been thinking about.  It was the time in which Roger and Andy left.  The band was in a transition period coming back from side projects and attempting to regain popularity and media attention.  They tried hard to get back to where they were in 1984 despite the changes.  Eventually, it seems to me that the band members had to find a new normal.  They had to accept that their careers might be very different from here on out.  (Some might argue that they haven’t really accepted that as they continue to push for commercial success that they once had.)  In thinking about this, I try to imagine what they must have felt like.  Was this change so huge that it was heartbreaking to them?  Was it frustrating?  Was there an underlying anxiety?  How did they know which aspects of the new Duran Duran to accept and which ones should they fight to maintain?  How did that acceptance come about?

I ask all these questions in the hopes of shedding light to my current situation.  I, too, feel like I’m in a transition despite having the same career (just like the band did).  There are parts of my life that are pretty significantly different than what they were two years ago.  In thinking about some of those changes, I’m left feeling lonely and a little heartbroken.  My natural tendency is to embrace whatever dark emotion I have and even wallow in it.  I’m trying hard not to do that.  Maybe the band members felt that way in 1986, too.  It is possible that they wanted to live in anger towards their former colleagues or the media or the fickle fans.  Yet, it seems to me that they did what I’m trying to do, which is to hold on to the elements that are at the core while accepting the new aspects to the best of their ability.

When I think of Duran in 1986, I don’t see people who were depressed or frustrated with many people and institutions.  Maybe they did and they just couldn’t or wouldn’t show it.  I can relate to that.  I suspect that I hide my feelings well or shield people from seeing the extent to my emotions.  The other theory is that even if people see that I’m not doing super well, I also seem unapproachable.  Yet, every once in awhile, someone pushes through, sees that things haven’t been great for me and reaches out.

I experienced this very thing this week when I arrived home to find a unexpected package in my mailbox.  What was in the package?  It was from Durandy who said that he heard that things have been rough for me so he wanted to send a little joy to me.  What did he send?  He sent a copy of his book, The Music Between Us:  Concert Ads of Duran Duran.  I cannot begin to express how much this touched me.  On top of being thrilled to have a copy of this book, it means the world to me to know that someone cares.  Of course, the gift in one that I look forward to really looking at.  I have already gone page by page once and cannot wait to really analyze each and every ad and story.  It is a gift that will keep on giving.

So, I guess, just this once, my signals in smoke were seen and received.  It definitely makes me feel a little stronger, a little more supported as I move through whatever weird transition period this is.  It also reminds me of the best of fandom, which is how fans can and do support one another.  That is another gift I will treasure.

-A

To be a Fly on the Wall

Imagine yourself, invisible to those around you, sitting in a studio. Or a hotel room. Or someone’s home. You can see and hear everything around you, but they can’t see you.

Now, imagine that scenario on this date in 1986,  as John Taylor and got together in London to discuss “the next Duran Duran album”.  Keep in mind, this is after Roger and Andy had left the band. Simon, Nick, and John were left to figure out the next step for what was arguably (at the time) the biggest band in the world. Where to go from there?

I don’t think I would have envied their positioning. After all, the higher you climb, the farther the potential fall. At this point in 1986, I was 15 years old. The idea of Duran Duran ceasing to exist, or the idea of “new” people ever being in that band were unfathomable to me as a fan. I am quite certain I wasn’t alone. What to do when two of the original members (as the fans knew) left?  Bring in new people? Continue as a threesome? How would Duran Duran look and sound?  Would the fans still respond?

Important questions, to be sure, and I’m not as certain that the answers were all that clear. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to consider moving forward? Sure, there was probably quite a bit of ego and bravado at the time, given their previous success. I’m also certain that at least in part, they wanted to prove to Andy and Roger that they really could go on without them – and that is likely what motivated and drove them to keep going. Even so, I have to wonder what that first meeting to discuss the next album was like.

We could likely debate all day about the outcome. Notorious, the band’s fourth FULL album (Arena was released in 1984 but was not a full-length studio album), and was their answer to how they would move forward. I can remember hearing the album for first time, just after I turned 16, and saying that they didn’t sound the same. It was just different without Andy and Roger, and to be honest – at the time I wasn’t sure I liked it. Their sound had matured more than my musical tastes at the time, I think. Like many of their albums since, it took me a long time to come to terms and have an appreciation. That’s not a critique of the album, but rather my more-ridiculous musical interests of the time.

Even so, I have often wondered what it would have been like during that initial planning, and certainly not just for Notorious!

-R

Roger leaves the band, 1986

Due to the nature of this about-to-be-written post, please put on the most melodramatic, schmaltzy, sad, music possible, and grab yourself some tissues.

On this date in 1986 – there was a statement released from Duran Duran. Roger Taylor, the white knight, prince of my dreams, my boyfriend-who-didn’t-get-the-memo (or meemo)…left the band.

gasp

And we wonder where and when my abandonment issues started. Hmm.

Ok, in all seriousness, it is true that on this date, a mere 32 years ago,  Duran Duran announced that Roger Taylor had quit the band. For those of us Roger-girls (and guys) out there, it was a dark day. Sometimes, I can hardly believe it happened, given where we are today.

Sometimes, as I read the continued debate over guitar players—who should return, who was the best….who wore blonde hair the best (Ok, maybe not that one)—I wonder why it is/was that I never see the same debate over the drummer.

Do we all agree that Roger is the best?  What about Sterling? What about Steve Ferrone? Joe Travers??

I’m not really trying to start an inferno, here. I am trying to make a point though. Why have we beaten the horse to death (and then some) over the guitarist and not the drummer? I’m sure some would say it doesn’t matter. Others might even say they’ve never thought about anyone else. I wouldn’t disagree with the latter – I can’t even picture another drummer in this band at this point. Maybe that’s just it, there’s no debate necessary here. Roger hasn’t left, and while we appreciate those who carried on in his absence, we know who belongs up on those risers, behind the drum set.

As much as I remember feeling lost and sad when I read about Roger leaving the band, I have a much better memory of the day I realized he had returned. I still smile and chuckle when I think about it, because DDHQ had a new splash page designed for DD.com with a digitalized image of each face of the five original band members. I didn’t immediately recognize Roger.

That’s teenage love for ya.

-R