Tag Archives: Richard Blade

World in My Eyes by Richard Blade

I haven’t given a book recommendation in a long time, but I’m about to offer up a good one!  As most know, I grew up in Southern California, probably about an hour from where I live now. If you really want to look it up on a map, the name of the town is Glendora. I lived in the far-less-than-wealthy, southerly section of the town.

At some point during the summer between fifth and sixthgrades for me (1981), I discovered KROQ 106.7. I don’t really remember much about how that happened, except that it might have been my friend Kristy who kind of led the way.

I had an old clock radio in my bedroom starting in fifth grade.  When I got it, I had no idea about radio stations – so I just turned the dial until I found one that came in clearly playing music. Nearly every morning I’d be woken up hearing “My Sharona” by the Knack. I still twitch funny when that song comes on the radio! Even so, I left the radio untouched because I had so much trouble finding a station that came in, let alone one with music I recognized.

During that summer between fifth and sixth grades though, I started becoming more interested in music.  I asked my friends, and Kristy piped up with “Listen to K-West!”  I didn’t know what K-West was, but I figured she’d know, and so when I went home, I fiddled with my clock radio, adjusting it to the 106-area. It was so hard to fix the dial to get something to actually come in, back then. Move the knob a teensy bit too much and it would be static or you’d not get the button exactly on the right station. It would appear to be on 106, for example, but it would actually be 105 or even 107-something. Annoying.

On that day, something did come in, and it was music I really liked. I had no idea what it was, but I stuck with it. I carefully placed the radio back on my dresser and didn’t touch it, assuming I was on K-West, and that Kristy was right. I never listened for that long, just when I was waking up in the morning. At that point, I wasn’t spending a lot of time in my room listening to music yet. I must have had that clock radio set to that station for a good year before I realized what channel it was. Richard started working at KROQ in 1982, and it is just about that time when I remember hearing his voice on the air. My memory might be a bit faded and mixed up (I’ll admit having to come back and edit this post well after I first wrote it!), but I can remember Richard giving out the call sign for the station like it was yesterday!

From that time on, Richard Blade was a constant part of my life. I listened to him nearly every morning, and he had everything to do with helping me shape my musical tastes. If radio weren’t enough, I watched him on MV3 which became Video One, and later on, once I was 18, if he guest DJ’ed at clubs in Los Angeles, I went. (The Palace in Hollywood, and Fashions on the Redondo Beach Pier to name a couple!)

Most readers might also know that I hold Richard Blade responsible for me meeting my husband. Richard was a near-constant figure at Fashions for years. On his fifth anniversary, I went to the club and met Walt. Sometimes I want to thank Richard for that, and other times—well, being married has its challenges, doesn’t it?! Even so, I have a beautiful family, and my children might not be here had it not been for Richard Blade, which is wild when I think about it! I don’t know that I would have ever known Duran Duran beyond being an obscure band from the UK, and I definitely wouldn’t have had my eyes opened to alternative music. Who knew a DJ could subtly influence the direction of my life?

Since those days, I guess I’ve followed Richard.  If he’s DJ’ing somewhere, Walt and I try to go whenever we’re able. He plays the music my husband and I listen to, and the weirdest thing happens when we are dancing (and yes, he and I LOVE to dance. It is what brought us together to begin with). I forget about the tough stuff, and we both get transported back to those beginning days downstairs at Fashions. It is like we remember what is really important, and get back to the basics if only for a few hours. Those hours have somehow saved our relationship over the nearly twenty-six years we’ve been together! We’ve had the opportunity to meet Richard a few times, have had a photo or two with him, and now my friend Steven works with him quite often, which is really cool to see.

When Richard announced his autobiography, World In My Eyes, I was excited to get my hands on it. Richard markets the book by saying that we’ll read about the bands we all know – including Duran Duran – but the truth is, at least for me, I wanted to read his story. It’s not his knowing Duran Duran or Depeche Mode that makes the book interesting – although for many, I understand it’s a true selling point. I haven’t even downloaded his interviews with some of the bands I know, I’ve been too busy reading! I’m not even halfway through it yet and I can honestly say – the man has LIVED. It is no wonder why he’s so successful, or why he’s been a constant source of inspiration and learning to me personally. He has had a life well-lived.

The book is outstanding so far, and I have just barely gotten to the point where he moves to California. It is easy to fangirl Richard Blade, and I don’t want to seem too gushy. To many in my generation, he is (in a very vague sense) our Dick Clark. We can leave American Top 40 to Ryan Seacrest—we don’t need him. But Richard Blade? He taught me nearly everything I know about New Wave and 80’s music. He’s open, honest, and cares about people and living things. He has no problem arguing his feelings and concerns, and while I might not always agree, I fully respect him.

Richard is the real deal, and I want to congratulate him on such a wonderfully written representation of his life. I know the diligence required with writing a manuscript, much less an autobiography. It isn’t enough to just want to do it, you have to want to do it more than anything. Richard wrote every single word, no ghost-writers involved, which is rare!

I have no problem highly recommending World in My Eyes. As I said, I haven’t even gotten halfway through it, and I would easily put this on the same shelf with Mad World. We are so lucky to have books about our music and the people who influenced us. I hope everyone grabs a copy. With the holidays coming, I think it would make a great present for anyone who loves music, Duran Duran and New Wave/80s alternative, or knows of Richard Blade! At over 500 pages, it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.

(And no, I wasn’t asked to write about his book, and I’m certainly not being paid to do so – this is all straight from me)

I can’t wait to get back to reading – so I’ve got to wrap this up for now.

-R

*edited because as I could have predicted this morning when I first wrote it – I got the dates all wrong. 🙂

Thud(s) Heard Around the World

Mysterious thudding noises can be heard all over the world today as Duranies get their first full views of the official video for Duran Duran’s latest single, “Pressure Off”.

Let me be clear: if seeing John Taylor mouth a delightfully colorful two-word phrase to someone off-screen doesn’t rock you, and seeing Roger twirl his stick doesn’t send your blood pressure soaring a bit; or if eyeballing Nick in more eyeliner than most of us have ever worn in our entire lives doesn’t stop you dead in your tracks, and seeing Simon’s sultry, all-knowing smirks and grins don’t make you fall over…SURELY seeing John Taylor slowly unzip the arm to his jacket will do the trick!

And, if none of that particularly fascinates you, the design elements most assuredly will – and I promise we’ll talk about all of that. Tomorrow.

Haven’t seen it yet? Allow me to link you up!

As I mentioned earlier on Facebook, the first five to ten seconds of the video made the wait all worthwhile (for me, anyway).  Having done the majority of my growing up in the video-MTV-age, I can remember the anticipation I would have when a new video would be announced for one of my favorite bands.

“Coming up, the ‘World-Premier’ of Duran Duran’s video for Wild Boys!”

…I’d go CRAZY to hear those words! I’d sit through HOURS of videos (so it would seem) just to watch one-three or four-minute video. Back then, I didn’t necessarily have a VHS machine ready to tape (I was just as unprepared back then as I am now) and so as soon as the video would be over, I’d be both elated, and really pissed off at the same time, because I’d want to see the video again. And again. And AGAIN!

Sound familiar?

Last night, while the rest of you were likely watching TV, or doing whatever it is that you do in the evenings, I had tweeted DDHQ (more than once, but who is really counting??) “innocently suggesting” that since the video for Jools Holland wasn’t working in the US at the time, they could make it “right” by throwing the video for Pressure Off up on YouTube. I didn’t realize at the time that the video would be making its debut today, and let’s face it… I was also being a major pain in the ass. (I consider it one of my “many” gifts. You’re welcome, DDHQ!) Of course I knew they weren’t going to put it up online, but I also knew they’d been tweeting teasers for the video all day, so why not bug them about it? I am certain this admission will send waves of shock and awe throughout the fan base, but my tweets to DDHQ last night went unanswered. So sad. (cue sad violin here)

In the 80’s, videos were a small vehicle for a fan to actually SEE bands they liked. Not everyone went to concerts, but nearly everyone I knew would spend hours watching videos, whether those were on MTV or some local video show.  I’d run home from school, bust through the front door, throw my books down on the couch and turn on the TV in time to see MV3 (which later became VideoOne) with Richard Blade. After that was over, I’d watch Mundo Music – which was obviously in Spanish no less, but I didn’t care. (I’d like to believe it helped me learn Spanish. However, I suspect my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Recio, would disagree. Vehemently.) Then I’d switch over to watch MTV, until my mom would come home and announce that I’d done “nothing” all afternoon. (Not true! I watched videos!!) Music videos, along with music in general, was my entire life outside of school. I knew the bands, I knew their music, and most of all – I knew their videos. To this day, when I hear a song from back then, I can often times picture the video before I can even remember the name of the band. I’m funny at parties when we play those 80’s music trivia games I guess…

Nowadays though, it’s different. The excitement has changed. Don’t get me wrong, when Duran Duran announces a new video I obviously take notice. Most fans do. But it’s different now. It’s not as though I’m watching on MTV, for one thing. It’s YouTube, it’s a little smaller of a screen, and I don’t have to sit through five videos I don’t necessarily care as much about in order to see the one video I’ve been waiting for. I can also play the videos over and over again without delay. (Do not think for one second I only watched Pressure Off once, for example!) In some ways, I wonder if that feeling of “It’ll always be there to watch however often I want” hasn’t hurt music in general. I mean, if it’s always gonna be there, the sense of urgency is sort of missing. The “special-ness” of being able to watch is really gone. I miss that.

Don’t get me wrong, tweeting about a Duran Duran video, seeing people’s comments on Facebook, and of course blogging here about it are all really fun. That part of it adds a dimension to fandom that didn’t exist in the same way for me back in the 80’s. The closest I’d get to chatting with a fellow fan over a video was when I’d call my friend Marsha while watching a Duran Duran video – and that would only happen if my mom wasn’t paying attention, because if she was, I’d hear, “Rhonda Lynn, why on earth are you sitting there talking on the phone when you’re watching TV? You can’t do both at the same time!” (cue loud, dejected teenage sigh) Nowadays, there’s a certain level of excitement that goes along with seeing GIFs tweeted or posted of JT unzipping his jacket arm, and those dizzying moments shouldn’t be denied!! It’s just different now. I think back in the day, there was an importance placed upon doing the best video, the most different video, even (especially) the sexiest video. But now? It’s kind of all been done, I suppose. So we’ve got a very stark, very bold video of the band playing Pressure Off, and yet fans are losing their minds and virtual thuds are happening all over the internet today. Can’t be all bad, right?!?

It’s just that sometimes, the “ease” of technology; maybe it’s really the “instant gratification” that technology fosters, seems to have done more damage than good when it comes to being a fan. Everything is always available: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, there’s so much of “everything”…it’s pretty damn gluttonous. As exciting as it still is to see a video, it’s just different.

When I think about it, maybe that’s the real reason behind the band not being on Twitter or Facebook like they once were…too much really can end up being too much. Sometimes it’s good to want things, or people and be made to be patient. The art of anticipation, no?

-R

 

I’ve Seen the Future, I can’t afford it

I began my training for the next tour last night. I went to go see ABC in a tiny venue out in Riverside, about 45 minutes from my house. To be fair, I really had no expectations of the show. While I liked ABC well enough, I wouldn’t say they were a favorite of mine, but instead one of many New Wave bands I love.  When the show was announced, I knew seeing Martin Fry in a venue of 200 people was definitely worth the drive on a Wednesday night.

It was a GA show in a tiny restaurant that has an area that doubles as a bar/small venue…with one of the best sound systems I’ve ever heard. My husband and I made no attempt to get to the venue early to be among the first in line, as we were coming directly from Back-To-School night for our youngest. We figured we’d secure places by the bar and just be happy to be there.  When we arrived, there was quite a line filled with 40 (and 50)-somethings ready to have a party. I couldn’t get over the amount of women who had absolutely no idea that they (and their bodies) were no longer in their twenties. I’ve seen some questionable attire at Duran shows before, but I have to say, this crowd topped whatever I’d seen prior.  We got in line, and before long were in the venue, hanging out in the bar with drinks in hand. Richard Blade was the DJ (and worth the price of admission on his own) pre and post show, and he was already onstage doing a few contests for tickets to the Depeche Mode convention here in So CA in November.

It wasn’t long before the opening act came on stage. This was Matt Backer, who is also the guitarist for ABC.  Matt plays rock & blues, in a similar vein to Dom’s solo music, or even some of the music he plays in Blue to Brown.  I heard a few 12-bar blues progression songs, but then he’d turn around play something that I can only characterize as a mixture of say, “pick your favorite Pearl Jam song and ‘I am The Walrus’ by The Beatles”.  His closing number (and I’m sorry but I never did catch the name) sounded like a direct rip-off of “Addicted to Love”.  I didn’t think it sucked, but on the same token I didn’t think his music was all that innovative or original either.

Once Matt Backer’s band left the stage, it was time for ABC. Martin Fry looked every bit the gentleman as he came out on stage in his suit and tie, and he seemed very pleased to be there. His hair is a little more reddish than I remember, but otherwise there was no mistaking him. His voice is as strong as it ever was, and it was a lot of fun singing along with him.  While his show isn’t quite as energetic as say, Duran Duran’s…it still fulfilled my New Wave fantasies.  I mean, who would have thought I’d ever have a chance to see Martin Fry live?!? I believe we heard all of the main ABC hits, such as “Poison Arrow”, “Millionaire” (I’d forgotten about that one and it was fantastic hearing it live!!), “Be Near”, “Look of Love”, “Smokey Sings”, and the list goes on.  It wasn’t the longest set ever, but it was a quality show in every way. Martin looked pretty spent when he was done, and I came away from the show thinking that I was pretty lucky to have had the chance to check THAT box on the bucket-list.

Truthfully though, the real fun of the night for me came AFTER the show.  Richard Blade came back out to DJ, and I went straight to New Wave heaven. I danced to everything from “Girls on Film” (that was before ABC came out) to TransX “Living on Video” (one of my secret, guilty favorites of the 80s).  Many of my friends know, but I met my husband at Fashions on the Redondo Beach Pier in March of 1992. Richard Blade used to guest DJ there for KROQ nights on Friday or Saturday, and that particular night was the 10th anniversary of KROQ being there. I stood in line outside with a friend of mine talking with one of his friends until we got in the club, and at that point I was introduced to my-now husband. Since that night, we’ve always attributed (or blamed, depending upon how we’re feeling at the time!) our meeting to Richard Blade, so last night was a chance for us to have fun and remember why it was that we actually got married and have three kids and a crazy, stressful life.  We left the club after 1am, came home…and now I’m paying for dancing and being out late, but it was worth it.

Silhouette of Richard Blade doing what he does best - spinning 80s music!
Silhouette of Richard Blade doing what he does best – spinning 80s music!

I think last night just reminded me how lucky I was to have grown up and become an adult in the 80s/90s. We had great music, fun clubs to go to, fantastic DJs….and our world felt a lot safer then than it does right now.  I guess I escaped the rigors of life a bit as I danced on that floor, and I have to say, I’m ready to do it again…just as soon as my medication kicks in and my knee forgets that it’s in it’s 40’s.

-R