Tag Archives: John Taylor

Spring Break and Songbook!

Happy Spring Break to anyone is lucky enough to have this week off, and that includes Amanda and I! I’ve decided to take some time for myself this week, in which case my posts are likely to be shorter than normal.

With that in mind, do you know what was aired on Sky Works on this date in 2009? Anyone?  Songbook!  I didn’t see this until well-after its airing…but since it has been seven years since it aired, so let’s watch again!

In full-disclosure, I did not have time to watch both of these clips before posting. They were uploaded by two different people but one seems to have more the interview and the other looks to be more of the performances. That said, I can’t be sure they don’t overlap. So, my apologies if they’re not perfect. I’m going to watch now, and you know – if I have to see Duran Duran perform with Dom twice, I suppose I’ll manage. Somehow.  😀

In any case, enjoy!!

-R

You Speak to the Crowd

When Rhonda and I started this blog, we promised ourselves that we would never shy away from topics that might create some sort of stir.  Today’s blog is one of those.  Consider this a warning to you (and to me!).

Yesterday, DDHQ posted a few pictures of John Taylor at the March for Our Lives Los Angeles, a march advocating gun control.  I’m certain that DDHQ knew that posting these pictures would get people excited.  Some people might love it and others…not so much.  Normally, I just look at the posts and move on as I rarely read the comments for a variety of reasons.  Yet, something possessed me to look at them yesterday.  On Twitter, the reaction to the photos and John’s participation in the march was generally positive.  Facebook, on the other hand, was a very different story.

Within an hour or so of being posted on Facebook, comments numbered in the hundreds.  Some loved that John demonstrated and others expressed negative reactions ranging from concern to disappointment to anger.  Instead of responding on the thread, I am opting to respond to some of what I saw here.  This way I can address the negative reactions as a whole rather than individual comments.

A number of fans responding to the photos commented on the fact that John Taylor is British and should not have a say.  Indeed, he is British, but, he is also an American citizen now after going through the process of naturalization.  He lives in the United States, pays taxes and votes.  In my opinion, this gives him every right to speak about what takes places in the U.S.

Others did not appreciate him speaking out because he is a celebrity.  Some expressed concern that by doing so, he was in danger of losing fans.  Let me dissect both of those ideas.  First, I don’t really get the idea that famous people should not express their opinions.  Why does having a certain career mean that they should stop having political opinions?  Is it just celebrities who should stop being political?  What other careers should not express political beliefs?  Should I be silent on politics outside of my classroom simply because I’m a teacher?  Should a lawyer because they might challenge or defend laws?  Should judges?  Now, obviously, in the last examples, there are times when politics should be put away.  For instance, I do not push my students to believe like I do.  I push them to be able to defend their opinions with facts and evidence only.  Likewise, judges need to be impartial when hearing cases.  Other than that, teachers, judges, etc. can have political beliefs outside of those specific cases.  John’s job is to write and perform music.  If we compare John’s job to a teacher, for instance, then some might argue he should keep politics out of his job, and thus his music.  What he did yesterday is not about the music.  It is something he did outside of his job.  He didn’t tell people that they had to agree with him, politically, to buy his music.

The other concern that I saw a lot of people express is that John’s political activity might alienate fans.  This idea makes me sad.  Is that really where we are?  Do we really have to agree completely to be a fan?  Do we apply this for our families and friends?  I don’t know about the rest of you but I definitely know people who disagree with me on various issues.  This doesn’t make me like them less.  Perhaps, the key with me is that I separate what someone thinks about this or that issue from that person’s behavior and treatment of others.  I also believe strongly that I’m not going to love everything done by Duran but that this does not diminish my love for the band either.  Goodness, my love ones do or think things that I don’t like and that doesn’t make me love them any less.  Let me give you an example from Duran’s history to explain what I mean.  Was I thrilled that they worked with Timbaland in order to reach a broader audience and get more commercial success?  I was not.  Does this mean that I shouldn’t be a fan anymore?  No.  It means I don’t like this one thing they did and disagreed with their approach.

Some reading this might say that this is easy for me to say.  After all, I was out marching yesterday, too.  I agree with John on this political issue.  While I’m sure that it does make it easier to me, I can think of other bands that I like, musically, that I’m not in alignment with, politically or otherwise.  Again, I can separate the two.

Beyond all of that, I believe strongly that everyone should be able to speak about what they think.  Therefore, I was totally fine with those fans who came on to say how they love John and the band but disagree with him.  What I was not okay with were some of the comments insulting John or bringing up things like his past drug use. Those kind of comments are never necessary.  There was nothing that John did yesterday that deserved mean or insulting comments.  All he did was express his opinion as an American and a human being.  That’s it.

-A

All You Need is Now, out on CD in 2011

On this date in 2011, All You Need is Now came out on CD…for those of us who still like actual, physical, music to have and hold.

I’m having a difficult time with the idea of that happening seven years ago today. Is that even possible?

I can remember driving down to Best Buy that day. Originally, I wasn’t going to get a copy. I’d already heard the album, I’d already reviewed it, and I didn’t see a point. But the night before, something stirred in me. I had to have that CD! So, I got up in the morning, took my kids to school and made a quick trip down to our local Best Buy.

I searched the shelves, hoping to find the treasure. It was the Best Buy “Exclusive” edition I wanted, and I looked to no avail. There was no way they could have already sold out, so I asked a sales associate to look it up. Sure enough, they’d gotten a whopping three copies in stock. Ok then, where were they, I wondered?  I had two sales people crawling on their hands and knees, going through shipment cases before finally one of them sat back triumphantly with a copy in hand.

I marched over to the cashier and walked out of the store with the last CD I ever purchased at a Best Buy. (I just order off of Amazon now and have it sent to my house if I really want a CD! Yes, I could truly come a hermit if I wanted.)

I know that a great deal has been said about All You Need is Now. Those who once proclaimed its greatness now talk about it as though it was “just” a Rio reboot. I have a tough time seeing it quite so simply. Regardless of what the band and others might say, I love the album. I like that they tried to provide an answer to what Rio or a follow-up might sound like in 2011 – in some sense. I still believe it was the perfect bridge between Red Carpet Massacre and Paper Gods.  And, since I’ve already spent some of my week being unabashedly biased – I like that Dom received writing credit for a lot of it.  So there.

I fell in love with All You Need is Now from the very first listen.  It is an easy album to like, and there are times when I miss that easiness. Sure, technically speaking, Paper Gods is probably a more superior album. I can admit that. However, when it comes to me and my moods – sometimes I just need a little All You Need is Now.

And by the way – there is NOTHING that makes me smile more than when I watch this video. That alone is worth its weight (and mine) in gold.

-R

40-year old anecdotes

The other day, Herald de Paris published an interview with Andy Wickett.  I had seen a great deal of headlines posted by Duranie friends about this piece of work, but I hadn’t read enough of the article to make comment until today.

As a simple introduction for those who may not recognize the name, Andy Wickett was one of the lead singers of Duran Duran prior to Simon. I know, I know, it is difficult to believe that such a time existed. Last year, Mr. Wickett released (the article calls it a “monumental” release. I’m not sure I’d characterize it quite so strongly, but whatever) demos of songs he recorded with Duran Duran prior to Simon.

Funny thing is, I’ve had those demos for probably at least ten years now. I bought them as a bootleg type of thing online, so last year’s monumental release wasn’t exactly new.

In any case, Andy explains that before Duran Duran, he was in a band called TV Eye. There is a little history between TV Eye and Duran Duran, as they shared the same Cheapside squat for a while – I believe one band was upstairs and the other downstairs (or something like that). At the time, Stephen Duffy was the lead singer for Duran Duran, and at some point, he and Stephen basically switched bands. Andy began singing for Duran Duran and Duffy for TV Eye.  According to Wickett, he brought a song with him from TV Eye called “Stevie’s Radio Station”. Duran Duran loved the song, and “Stevie” eventually became “Rio”.

Andy Wickett recalls writing the melody for “Girls on Film” one night, although the lyric that Andy had written it as “Girls IN Film”, which Nick suggested he change.  It was recorded as a demo, which Nick and John later touted to EMI and A&M. According to Andy, both companies loved his voice and wanted more songs like Girls on Film.

At this point though, Andy left the band for “personal reasons”. Upon leaving, he wanted payment for “Girls on Film” since he helped write it, and in turn he was offered £600 if he would sign a waiver, ultimately releasing the band from further payment to Mr. Wickett. He signed the document, and later found out from his attorney that he could not fight and/or win a case for royalties against EMI.

If any of this back history interests you, I would steer you towards John Taylor’s brilliant autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. He writes about the band’s entire history, since of course he, along with Nick Rhodes, were the founding members. Best to get the details straight from the person who was there the entire time, I’d say.

However, the point of the article that fascinates me this week, is the claim from Andy that Duran Duran’s managers offered him £10 to give Simon 20 minute lessons – having him sing “Girls on Film”.  He comments in the article that he believes he influenced Duran Duran’s vocal style, since the managers paid him to teach Simon how to sing like him. He says they used a lot of his lyric ideas and song titles such as “Sound of Thunder” and “To The Shore”, and that “they”  influenced the Durans and Stephen Duffy.

He goes on, citing that DD and their management came to see him perform with Xpertz, a reggae band he’d joined after leaving Duran Duran. The Xpertz had a song at the time named “All The President’s Men”, and on Duran Duran’s next album they had a song titled “El Presidente”.  Take that for what you will.

Personally, I hesitate to extol anything as fact from someone whose best memory of being in Duran Duran is “lots of fun white stuff”.  I mean, sure – there was a lot of cocaine during the 80s. John Taylor himself may have mentioned that a time or two. But that’s the best memory he could manage? Not the songs? Not even performing?

The truth is, I have a difficult time with Andy Wickett, not that I’ve ever met him. I know fans who have and swear he’s the sweetest. I’m sure that is true. For me, the dilemma is simple: Andy is someone who could have easily profited heavily from some of the band’s earliest songs. He has intimated in the past that he felt the band knowingly cheated him out of money (never mind that he was not coerced into signing his name on a legally binding waiver, but did so willingly). It is troublesome to attribute everything he shares as fact without considering that he just might have an axe to grind. Regardless of whether truth, nonsense or likely somewhere in between, I cannot forget the entanglements of history when I read some of the things he says in interviews.

There are several people who probably feel as though they’ve been screwed by Duran Duran over the years, for one reason or another. That’s the cost of being in a successful band, I suppose. It also means that many people want their share, and are willing to say whatever it may take to make someone think twice about them and their contributions, however distant or prominent they may have been. I’ve personally seen and heard things from various ex-band members over the years about albums as recent as Paper Gods and All You Need is Now that just seem petty, yet the band still maintains some level of professional decorum with those people. It is something that I don’t know that I could do half as well.

I was not around during the days of TV Eye, Cheapside, or even the Rum Runner. I have no idea if what Andy says about giving Simon vocal lessons is really true – but I suppose anything is possible. If I genuinely thought that Simon would answer me seriously, I might ask. The thing is, at this point—it doesn’t even matter. Simon is the lead singer of Duran Duran, while Andy Wickett is marketing his new album, Creatures of Love, by retelling 40-year old anecdotes.

-R

 

 

Denying the reunion of the original five, 2001.

I think I must be on the topic of rumor this week or something…

As I was looking at our Day in Duran History spreadsheet (yes, we actually have one!), I noticed that on this date in 2001 – there’s an entry that says “dd.com denied a tour with the original five on this date”.

I laughed.

The real story is that the day prior –  March 19, 2001 – allstarnews.net broke a story about the original five (Simon, Nick, John, Roger & Andy…in case you forgot!) touring together. DDHQ, or duranduran.com, was quick to announce on this date in 2001 that such rumors were completely untrue.

Except of course they weren’t.

Turns out, timing is everything. Now, I don’t know how allstarnews.net found out the news before DDHQ was ready to make the big announcement, but I suspect it went a little something like this:

Management calls a promoter, perhaps forgetting to have them sign a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before getting them under contract to put together a tour for Duran Duran.  It could have been that they actually did have them sign one, but as the promoter contacts venues who may be interested in contracting a gig with the original five members of Duran Duran, who haven’t performed together since the 80’s – the news was expertly leaked to a news site. After all, HELLO, this story was huge!

Hell, I’d have taken out a full-page ad in a newspaper at the time.  (note to DDHQ – I’m much better at keeping secrets now, I promise!)

Moving on…

Said news site does their job and broadcasts the news on the ‘net. Even without social media, it takes almost no time before this headline reaches Duranies around the planet, who begin to fall off of  chairs while typing the word thud on message boards and forums around the world. Meanwhile, DDHQ is found taking Advil, Tylenol and/or Paracetamol, while needing a lie down with a cool compress.

It is decided that, rather than admit to the Fab Five reuniting and losing full control of the narrative, and how it will be unfolded to the world, it is best to deny the story completely.  The words saying as much are posted on dd.com for all to see.

Meanwhile (most) Duranies skip the Tylenol, Advil and Paracetamol and go straight for shots of whatever hard liquor is available. Vodka shots, anyone??

Or maybe that’s just MY version of the story.

Of course, we all know how this turned out, don’t we?  It would be two years before the band actually started to do shows together, but yes – the original five DID reunite – and it was a bright and beautiful time to be a fan.

This story is also why, even when DDHQ denies, or even better, full-well ignores rumors and questions about rumors, fans don’t necessarily listen – in fact I’d argue that it just forces fans to do more sleuthing and investigating on their own. I suspect that this might where the “relationship” between DDHQ and fans started to go really wonky, although there were certainly signs of that prior to 2001.

While it is really neither side’s fault – DDHQ did need to protect their ownership of such a huge breaking story, and fans had the right to be excited by such a bombshell announcement – I think it makes it difficult to work together at times, and perhaps that alone is part of the problem.  Are we (fans) really just a problem that needs to be handled, or are we people who can be trusted to be there when it counts? I’m not quite sure. Regardless, the distrust is palatable, and pretty unfair, both ways.

-R

Two Hearts Beating

I wanted to write about the latest Katy Kafe with Simon for today.  Apparently, it features 20 questions from fans and Simon’s responses.  Unfortunately, I don’t and haven’t had the time to listen yet.  I promise, though, that I will as soon as I can in order to properly blog about it.

So, what have I been busy doing?  Well, if you read the blog last weekend, you know that my dad was pretty sick.  His illness continued throughout the beginning of the week until finally he was hospitalized on Wednesday where he still is.  In fact, as soon as I get done with this blog, I’ll be heading back there.  The good news is that they know what the problem is and he appears to be getting better.  While I’m obviously relieved, this kind of event has shaken me.  Here’s the deal.  I don’t just simply love my parents but I adore them. I look up to them.  While almost every person I know has some conflicted feelings about their parents, I do not.  I benefitted from having my mom and dad as my parents as they raised me and my siblings well.  They sacrificed so much for us and it is only right for me to return the favor now.

While I love my fandom and need it in my life, my parents will always come first.  They will come before anything–my job, my students, myself, everything.  In 1997, I moved to Madison, hoping that this city would fit me.  In 2003, my dad retired and my parents chose to come to Madison to enjoy their retirement.  This has benefitted me on every level.  They, for example, take care of my cat when I’m on tour.  There have been countless times that they have taken me to the airport when I have traveled to see Duran.  I could go on with this list forever.

All that said, I couldn’t help but to think about Simon and how he recently lost his mother.  Then, I think of other band members who have lost their parents.  John’s autobiography, for example, captured his feelings about losing both of his parents.  How do their jobs fit with family?  I just got done saying that, for me, my parents come first and always will.  Does the job of rock star, of musician allow them the same?  I sure the heck hope so.

At times, I have pushed the band to speed up their work when it comes to writing and recording albums.  While I didn’t mean any harm to that, at the time, now I look at it differently.  They need to have the time to spend with their families, too.  This doesn’t mean they ignore their jobs, but it does mean prioritizing.  Yesterday, at school, I pushed through my classes but spent any extra time calling to check in on Dad.  I fulfilled my duties, but my focus was still on him.  Does the band have the same chance?  Again, I sure the heck hope so as life is a pretty precious thing.

On that note, I’m off to see my dad.

-A

Quicksand featuring John Taylor, 2016

From the “Another Something I Didn’t Know ” file…

On this date in 2016, Jilann O’Neill released Not Alone, an album of Bowie-esque tunes with Mike Garson, and co-produced by John Taylor.

On this album is a little song called “Quicksand” that features John Taylor…and he’s singing, both as a duet AND alone.

Cue shocked face.

 

Yep, that’s the one.

Now, I’m not shocked that John Taylor can sing. It is just rare to hear him singing, generally speaking. I mean, I have his solo music, it isn’t as though he never does it…but in Duran Duran, it’s not all that often that we get to hear him, that’s all.  (this is code for: don’t send me hate mail)

Here’s a link to a YouTube audio of the song, in case like me, you haven’t heard it or don’t already own it.

The song is beautifully simple and organic, and vocals are intriguingly raw, which gives the song even more depth. I really liked it, particularly because it is 100% different from anything I’ve heard from John before. Huge thumbs up from me, and I feel kind of bad that I hadn’t listened to it before. (Although as I type that, I’m wondering if maybe I did hear it and just forgot. I’m going to have to take a walk back through our blogs in 2016!)

So your homework for today is to go check out the album Not Alone, by Jilann O’Neill. Google it and give it a good listen! If you haven’t heard it before, its new music for you!

-R

Duran Duran at the Rum Runner, 1980

There are mornings that I sit down to this laptop and don’t really know where to begin. I’m feeling that way right now. Beginnings are simply just a starting point. It is what happens after that decision to begin that matters most. Sometimes, those auspicious beginnings aren’t even noticed at the time. The notice comes much later.

Today, very much in hindsight, we celebrate one of those beginnings, although I’m not sure we should really call it a beginning.  On this day in 1980, Duran Duran opened for a band named Fashion at the Rum Runner in Birmingham.

There does seem to be some confusion on social media about what this day actually represents. It was not the first gig Duran Duran played with the classic lineup, for example.  That came a bit later, in July of 1980. (see the timeline on duranduran.com)

This was also not the first gig Duran Duran played. Their first show was nearly a year earlier, at Birmingham Polytechnic, on April 5, 1979. The band formed during the year prior – in 1978 – although as we all know, it was not yet with the lineup we all recognize.

What this day does represent, however; was the first Duran Duran gig at the Rum Runner, at least to the best knowledge of those who painstakingly compiled the full Duran Duran tour list on dd.com. We know that John, Nick and Roger were there that night, along with Jeff Thomas singing (Simon didn’t audition until May), and Alan Curtis on guitar (Andy didn’t answer the Melody Maker ad until April). They opened for Fashion, a band we don’t often hear about, who also rehearsed at the Rum Runner. It’s kind of wild to think that at one point, Duran Duran was opening for other club bands. Yet as time wore on, Duran Duran became the band to be remembered.

It is somewhat apropos that a picture of Roger visiting the site was posted and tweeted recently. It is difficult to think about that area of Birmingham and not smile. I’m sure that has got to be the same reaction that many of you have, and I’m thankful we can all share those kinds of “memories”, even if we weren’t all there in person. I think of the Rum Runner as a special place in my own history, yet I really didn’t know anything of it other than what I read until much later in life.

When I think about places I wished I’d experienced, the Rum Runner comes to mind every time. Yeah, I would have loved being in that club and part of that scene (although I think in reality we all know just from looking at me that I’d have never quite fit in). I would have loved every second of watching the band grow and come into their own. Of course, I write that full-well knowing that the appreciation of such things only comes with hindsight. Even so, I find myself wishing I could have been there to have been a part of it all from the start.

Was this show really a beginning? I’m not really sure. As I’m writing this, I can certainly see why the band hasn’t announced an exact date of anniversary to celebrate DD40. Do they celebrate the moment John and Nick decided to start a band? What about the first gig – and if they do, is it really the “beginning” when more than half of the members weren’t even a part of it yet? What about the first gig at the Rum Runner?  How about the first gig that the classic lineup we all know and recognize played together?  It is all very vague, yet—at least in my opinion—all worthy of celebration.

Then again, maybe I’m just in the mood for a party.

To me, this date marks the beginning of the Rum Runner era for Duran Duran, and provides a perfectly good reason to post this video of Planet Earth filmed at the Rum Runner. I love this video because up until the DVD for Greatest was released, I’d never seen it – so it was a complete surprise (and an Easter Egg on the DVD)! I don’t think I had seen many pictures of what the Rum Runner looked like on the inside before I saw this, so when I watch the video, I really try to absorb the vibe. In a weird way, it is a little reminiscent of the club I used to go to on the Redondo Beach pier while I was in college, called Fashions. I love it!

I’m sure most Duranies have seen this video by now, but it’s still one of my favorites. I love the idea of watching the video, imagining what it was like in the club on any given night while the band played. I don’t know very many fans who were Rum Runner regulars back in the day, but can you imagine being one of them, watching Duran Duran skyrocket to fame?  If you haven’t seen the video, what better day to watch?!?

-R

 

Time Machine…John Taylor Solo

On this date in 1986, John Taylor’s song, I Do What I Do, was released in the UK.  I like looking into Duran Duran history.  Maybe it is the history geek in me but I think that knowing what happened in Duran’s past makes now, the present day, more meaningful.  Plus, it creates a much needed personal perspective.

It is hard to believe that John Taylor’s first solo song was released 32 years ago.  32.  Looking back, this was the time that Duran was in that weird place.  After all, 1985 saw the two major side projects of Power Station and Arcadia.  It felt like there was a lot of guessing, speculation about whether or not Duran would really come back together to be a band again.  This solo song, I think, just fed that.  Interestingly enough, as a kid, I didn’t think about any of that.  I just thought that this was my chance, my moment to hear John Taylor!  As much as I loved the band and Simon’s singing, I was a John fan.  I soaked up each and every time I heard him or saw him in the spotlight.  I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen with the band.  I read and saw many interviews in which they said that everything was cool and that they were coming back together eventually.  The young me trusted that.

Of course, now, we all know that the band did get back together but things weren’t quite the same as Andy and Roger had left.  We also know that this song of John’s wasn’t his only one.  No, he would go on to write and record many more songs in various solo albums.  In fact, he has so many solo songs that I now am a little bit more discerning when it comes to his work.  I have songs that I love, love, love, others I like and some that don’t tend to get as much playtime.  I have the luxury of choosing among all of them.  In 1986, I didn’t.

You know what is funny.  On the surface in 1986, I was certain that Duran Duran would be fine.  I remember trying to convince others to hold on to their fandom a little while longer.  In thinking about that, I now recognize that part of it for me was the need to keep something consistent.  In 1985, my family moved.  While I only moved an hour or so away, it felt like I had moved to a different planet.  My old home had MTV and Top 40 radio along with a best friend whereas my new one did not.  Kids in the new town had no idea who Duran Duran was.  I desperately missed my best friend and the old life I had.  I guess I needed Duran Duran to be one of those consistent parts of life.  They were like the lifeline to the old world.

When I think about the song, I Do What I Do, I have strong memories of me listening to the song over and over again through newly acquired headphones.  I remember being bummed about this, that or the next thing, and turning up the volume to the maximum, hoping to shut out the world.  Looking back, I appreciate that John Taylor released this song then.  I didn’t know it then but I needed something to help me get through a challenging time in my childhood.

-A

Birmingham Music Awards

John Taylor fans, do not despair. I know it has been a tough year so far…given that it’s what….almost March and yet it feels like it should already be April at the very least! Winter will truly be over on May 2nd, when JT will appear at the Birmingham Music Awards to present the Rising Star Award.

The Birmingham Music Awards will celebrate young artists from the Midlands, according to expressandstar.com. Given that Birmingham was the birthplace of Duran Duran, having John present seems like a given.  We’ve all listened to Katy Kafes where John has mentioned a new artist or two that he’s listening to, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say that nine times out of ten, I will write down the name and go have a listen for myself.  Even Nick says he relies on John to keep him up to date (with musical preferences).

I’ve been to Birmingham a couple of times, and the city has a wonderful vibrance. Duran Duran is hugely representative of the importance that music brings to the culture of Birmingham and the Midlands area, something that I take pride in as a fan of both the band AND the city. If I could manage a trip there again, I would go in a heartbeat.

There are tickets available for the May 2nd event at the Glee Club, so those of you who are local and can go, definitely should! Send my best to Mr. Taylor, and take plenty of photos!

-R