Tag Archives: Live Aid 1985

Throw Your Arms Around the World: Band-Aid, Duran Duran and Influences

I have been spending a lot of time with my eldest niece on this holiday weekend.  While she is from North Carolina, she chose to come to college in Wisconsin, near her grandparents and me.  (For the record, the kid loves snow, which amuses me to no end!)  All day yesterday she begged and pleaded to listen to Christmas music.  Normally, my parents would not have gone for that, believing it is way too early to start thinking about that holiday, but they indulged her request by listening to hours of Christmas music while we played games.

Of course, I could not let the opportunity go by to educate her on Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which led to more discussion about Live Aid.  As the conversation continued, it reminded me of something I have heard John Taylor speak of before, which is how Live Aid divided the decade.  Before Band-Aid and Live Aid, artists were basically out there, having fun without worrying too much about the world’s problems.  Afterwards, it wasn’t cool not to care anymore as many artists who were more socially conscious began to find themselves in the spotlight more and more.  I have always agreed with John Taylor on this point and then moved on.  Now, though, based on the conversation with my niece and this idea, I wonder how much it not only changed the music world of the 80s but me.

Like many of you, I was a die-hard Duranie in 1984 and simply couldn’t get enough.  I lived, breathed and slept Duran Duran (as much as my parents would let me, anyway).  I remember Band-Aid coming out and how cool I thought the song was and found myself in love with the idea that it was to help people.  I was 9 at the time.  I thought it was so great, in fact, that I distinctly remember trying to tell kids at school about it during lunch time with little luck.  Even as I type that, I feel myself getting frustrated just as I did then.  Why didn’t they get it, I wondered.  Didn’t they see that it was super important to do something to help the starving people in Ethiopia?  I should have known right then that I was different.  Now, I understand that the kids at my lunch table weren’t jerks but they were kids with more fun things on their minds.

Now, Band-Aid and Live Aid didn’t immediately push me into action.  (Again, I was around the age of 10.)  Yet, I believe it stuck with me.  I saw this band I loved having fun in the 1980s and I witnessed them do something to help others.  What an awesome way to live, I thought!  I wanted to be just like them in really every respect I could think of, whether that was to be smart, articulate, well-dressed and more.  It also meant that I should try to have this combination of compassion and fun.

Looking at my life now, with Band-Aid and Live Aid more than 30 years ago, I think I do try to live my life that exact way.  I went into teaching, a service profession.  I spend my “free” time working on causes that I believe will help people.  That said, I still love to have fun.  Funny enough, that fun usually surrounds time on tour, seeing Duran Duran perform live.  I like to think that I apply what I learned from Duran Duran in 1984 and 1985.  Now, on that note, let’s watch a little Band-Aid ourselves to get us in the giving spirit of the season:

-A

A Night at the Movies with Bohemian Rhapsody

Since she barely began talking, my youngest has been singing. If she didn’t know the words, she would make up her own, or hum her way through the song. It (music) comes so naturally to her that she knows no other way. I don’t know when it became a “thing” for her to sing along with the radio, but she has been belting “Bohemian Rhapsody” since she was a tiny little thing in her car seat.

From “Bohemian Rhapsody”, to “Radio Ga-ga”, “We Are the Champions”, “We Will Rock You”, and plenty of the rest of the Queen catalog – she sings it all. The music and words just seem to resonate with her. I didn’t think much of it until we heard that there would be a movie based on the career of Freddie Mercury and Queen. My husband and I agreed that we’d take her to see it. We didn’t know if the story would be over her head, but we knew she’d love the soundtrack!

Both Walt and I are fans of Queen – we have their albums and love their music. Neither of us saw them in concert when Freddie was alive, though. We did go to see We Will Rock You in London while we were visiting, and even got to see both Roger Taylor (no, not OUR Roger Taylor…) and Brian May on stage for the curtain call.  We were thrilled the movie was being released and couldn’t wait to go.

The movie opened this past week, and on Sunday night, we went to see it. I tend to talk about my daughter as though she is still five, but the fact is—she’s emotionally mature for a ten-year old. She is very sensitive to other people (as if all of the empathy missing from the rest of us was packed into her little body!), and I find that she even explains things to me. There is this saying about how having a child means you’re OK with your heart being outside of your own body and walking around forever. Well, this heart of hers is FAR bigger than anything I could have grown on my own.

Freddie’s story of learning how to really love the person he was, and embracing his own bravado and talent really touched her. She openly sobbed as the story of “Bohemian Rhapsody” came to light, and talked a lot with me about his struggle of learning to love himself even when he knew he was different from what his parents expected. She was completely devastated at the end of the movie as she realized just how short Freddie Mercury’s life really was, and what the AIDS epidemic meant during the 1980s. The movie is one that I suspect will stay with her forever. I would have never thought so much of the movie would reach her so deeply. After all, she’s only ten, right?

I think back to being ten myself. Although my memory is fuzzy – I was around that same age when I first heard Duran Duran. It is fair to say they not only resonated—they helped form me into the person I am. Many fans feel that way about their own experience with them, too. I don’t believe I was ever the deep thinker that my youngest is. In spite of my own lack of emotional maturity at the time, Duran Duran worked their way into my head and heart, just as Queen has done with her. It is one of those parenting moments I treasure witnessing.

As I sat watching Bohemian Rhapsody in the theater, I thought about Duran Duran. It was impossible not to, really. Today I’ve seen so many people posting about Bohemian Rhapsody, and following up by saying they want their Duran Duran movie next – I just have to wonder what that might look like. I don’t think their story is over just yet.

Duran Duran continues to inspire me in a way few other things ever have. A good example is the video for “The Edge of America”. Who knew that thirty years after its release there would be a video made that even Rolling Stone and Billboard would comment on?

I think the best is yet to come.

-R

 

Duran Duran without a drummer?! Roger Taylor leaves the band in 1986.

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.

-R

Happy Fourth of July!

Today is the 4th of July, and for those of us in the US…and maybe even those in the UK who are (or should be by now anyway) quite thankful they are no longer responsible for the crazy people across the pond…we are celebrating Independence Day.

For my family, that consists of a parade in the morning, pool time in the afternoon followed by a barbecue and fireworks in the evening.  There isn’t much time leftover for video viewing. However, I suspect I will more than make up for my lack of Duranie-activity today in the coming days ahead. I leave for Chicago tomorrow!

So, while I am cheering on my youngest as she performs in her first parade, or as I’m lounging by the pool—I picked a few videos that reminded me of the fourth of July, or of summer in general because let’s face it—how many Duran Duran videos really have fireworks in them??

New Moon on Monday

This one is obvious, and I’ll be honest: I will use ANY and ALL excuses to play this one. 

 

What Happens Tomorrow

I’m reaching here, and I’ll admit it. I gotta say—I love the stars. 🙂

 

Rio

The sun, the sand, the yacht, the ocean.  Summer.  🙂

 

Save a Prayer

So, a few things with this one. First of all, anything from Live Aid reminds me of summer purely because it took place on July 13th, and I remember it being incredibly hot in LA that day.  Secondly, I have noticed that t-shirt of Simon’s being worn by some Italian fans during their tour there, and didn’t realize he wore it for Live Aid. (No, I am not quite that detail oriented, and no, my memory is not that great. Sorry.)  Lastly,  I think the sentiment of this song and Simon’s words at the beginning are still perfect, even today.  We still have much to learn…

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans and Happy Monday to everyone!!

-R