Nearly every Duran Duran fan I know has a favorite. It is one of the first questions we asked one another when we met, as though it’s some sort of way to identify one another. “Oh, that’s Suzie—she’s a Simon-girl.”
Well, my favorite original band member is Roger. My friend Lori believes it’s like imprinting, once you pick a favorite – that is it, he’s your favorite for life and it isn’t as though you really have a choice. It just happens. I can’t really say for certain that is the case, but I can tell you that my “favorite” came about in exactly that way. I saw him in a picture or on a video, and that was that. I really liked that within my group of friends, I was the only Roger-girl, and I didn’t have to “share” him, even if that meant I was only having to share pinups or posters out of the magazines we’d look through during breaks and lunch at school!
It was a happy existence, right up to when the Sing Blue Silver tour finished and I stopped really hearing much about Duran Duran for a while. I stopped seeing as many articles about them in the teen magazines, and instead heard little blurbs about how there was Arcadia, and Power Station…and then I saw Live Aid, and then nothing. By then, rumors were really circulating that Duran Duran was done or that some of the members were quitting. I didn’t really know what to believe, but I knew I didn’t like what I was hearing.
The one thing most Duran Duran fans will tell you is that throughout our history with this band – fans find out the news first, and then the band will finally come out with a statement. It does seem to be a pattern, even if I have more understanding now of why it all happens that way. I think most fans knew something wasn’t right with Duran Duran way before they ever announced Roger wasn’t coming back, but hearing the words – reading the words, made it real.
I can remember hearing about Roger leaving the band on the radio. I couldn’t tell you what station I was listening to, or even who said the words, but my heart sank that day in 1986. I don’t think it was really a surprise to me when I heard the news, it just felt real. I knew things wouldn’t be the same after that. I still followed Duran Duran for decades (obviously!), but from that day up until 2001, there was always a little hope that he’d return. I remember hearing rumors of a breakdown, and wondering what really happened. I never collapsed into a fit of tears or anything quite that dramatic, but the magic of Duran Duran just didn’t feel the same after that. Silly me – every time I’d see them in concert, I’d hope Roger would make a return. Hope springs eternal, right?
For me, the worst part was not Roger’s absence, but the questions of why he left—which have all been answered. Sometimes, I don’t think the band necessarily understands THAT piece of it – that for fans, it isn’t the fact of whether or not someone left, it’s the why.
I wouldn’t say (necessarily) that it’s because we want to intrude on their personal lives—although I can understand why some would assume that we’re just nosey, but the reasons are much more complicated. In order to understand, I think you have to recognize that to a fan like me—I’ve “known” the band for many years now. (Seriously, I have known and loved Duran Duran longer than any other person in my life, other than my parents and sister. Think about it.) For example, Duran Duran have been in my life for so long now that I assume I know them. How can we not be family?? As family, we all feel like we have the right to know what’s going on….except to the BAND….they don’t know us at all. I mean, there’s only a handful of fans that they generally know. This goes back to general math: five of them, thousands of us, you get the idea. Even so, our relationship (as fans) with them, is really intense. It’s personal. We feel like they’ve saved us, or we’ve cried over life with them in the most intimate of moments. That isn’t crazy behavior, it’s just being a fan. Many of us have been fans since we were very young. On some basic level, It is unconscionable to us that the band (or their representatives) wouldn’t explain full reasonings to us when things happen.
Sure, as an adult, I get it. I don’t NEED to know why Nick left the tour last year, for example. It’s none of my business. I understand privacy and I respect his. But back when Roger left the band, I would have given anything to have been told why – and not just a pat answer some PR genius wordsmiths together – but a real reason. Yeah, I wasn’t even quite 16 at the time. I still lived in fantasy land and loved it.
I quietly shut the book on fairy tales until some point in 2001, when I read something about a reunion and nearly fell off of my chair. I can remember saying as much to Roger a few years later at a signing for the Astronaut album, as I told him he had always been my favorite and thanked him for coming back to the band. Thankfully, he didn’t make me feel like a complete imbecile that day, and instead said it was sweet of me to say. I swooned all the way home.