Tag Archives: Tiger Beat

1980s Teen magazines and legitimizing Duran Duran

How many of us, back in the day, faithfully read any circa-1980s teen magazine with Duran Duran on the cover?  Each week, I’d accompany my mom to the grocery store. I’d go up and down the aisles with her until she’d reach the produce section. In our neighborhood grocery store, the magazine aisle served as a type of border to the apples and oranges. I’d vanish down the aisle, and take care to look at each magazine, reassuring myself that I hadn’t missed anything. Some weeks, I’d come up with a few magazines, having to choose (because there was no way my mom was paying for all of them), and others, I’d come out empty-handed. Many times, I’d have read the articles before I’d even left the store, but I still had those pin-ups to hang!

When I think back to that time period, I don’t remember the magazines mentioning much about the music. It was always the fashion, the lifestyle, the idea of being a celebrity, the idea of marrying a celebrity. Those magazines were selling a fantasy life (in many respects) to teens and preteens like me. Nothing ever went wrong for anyone, their lives were sunny and perfect in every way. Wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, happy, filthy rich, and way the heck out of my league. Even if a celebrity or band member had sadness in their lives, it was always written in a way that tied up the loose ends:  tears and despair, with a big red happy bow on the end. Then it was back to sunny, carefree days of champagne wishes and caviar dreams, right? Every article was written with a dreamy, “don’t you wish you could have him?” voice. I bought it all, hook, line, and sinker. But the music? The real reason for this band being in our record collection? Very little was ever really said.

I think about this today because one of my friends on Twitter (@guyfansofDuran, I’m talking to you, here) mentioned something today about Star Hits, a magazine that he characterized as being the kindest to the band, commenting that even that magazine never really reviewed the show, just included pictures of the guys. Not finding fault with fans, he was merely commenting on the state of the media itself back then, and he’s right.

What is sad is that I don’t think I ever really even thought about there being a problem with that during my trips to the grocery store. It never occurred to me as I was hanging up poster after poster of Roger on my wall, that someday, I would acknowledge that I was a part of the problem.

I suppose I was, in some sense.

I never demanded that those magazines review their shows. I never sent an angry letter, or muttered a cross word about their coverage, or lack thereof. I bought the magazines because they had pretty pictures and sometimes even had interviews. They didn’t talk about their music, they asked about John’s favorite car, the name of Nick’s cat, their moms, and their favorite vacation spots. I don’t think the magazines covered much of their musical career, so to speak, beyond asking whether or not they were working on a new album at the time.

I never even thought about reviews of their shows back then. I was on a relentless hunt for their posters, though. In 1983, 84 and most of 85, I didn’t think about going to their concerts beyond that first time when I asked my mom about going to see them at the LA Forum. That didn’t go over any better than a lead balloon in my house, so after that I didn’t even try. I did what I was able, which was collect their albums, buy my weight in teen magazines,  wallpaper my room with their posters, and wear whatever band t-shirts I could find and convince my parents to buy. It didn’t occur to me that I had any other choice, or that I should aspire to know more about their musical process.

It is difficult to sit here and write this blog, mostly because I want to be able to stand up and say that while sure, I noticed the band was good looking—I was in it purely for the music. It is somewhat embarrassing for me to admit that I wasn’t. I’d love to say I was “above all that silly teen stuff”.  Nope. Though it was their music that I couldn’t get out of my head after I first heard it on KROQ, I would be lying if I said that I never bothered with their appearance. You bet I did. I fawned over their posters, and sighed audibly when I would watch their videos.

Even more painful, here in retrospect, is the knowledge that the only reason those teen magazines didn’t go into a lot of detail about the music, or do reviews much beyond printing a limited number of performance pictures, is because their audience was primarily female. Young females, under 18. At the time though? I never thought twice about it.

I suppose I could say that it wasn’t my fault. I was a product of the times. I didn’t know I could be interested in the music (make no mistake, I was interested. My point here is that the magazines didn’t believe that girls could be) because magazines like Star Hits, Teen Beat and others taught me I needed to be more concerned with the fantasy-life, fairy-tale, starry-eyed dream aspect. I needed to worry more about how to find and marry one of those band members, and less about the artistry or technical merit of their music. I could say all of that. But is it true?

I am just not so sure it is that simple. Nor do I think it needs to be.

I wish that I’d known magazines other than Spin and Rolling Stone that would have covered more about the music back then. I have no doubt whatsoever that I would have read them and learned everything I could. That doesn’t mean though, that I’d have given away my Tiger Beat collection. As embarrassing as it might be to admit, I’m not sorry that I plastered my walls in Duran Duran. That was a legitimate part of my childhood (and honestly part of my adulthood). I have very happy memories of organizing those posters and giggling over the articles with my friends at school.

Part of fighting sexism is being proud of who you are as a person. I am as proud of being a female, teen Duranie as I am of being one-half of the Daily Duranie now that I am growing ever closer to the half-century mark. Consider that done.

I do have to wonder how it all might have been different had the band been taken seriously from the beginning. It took the David Kershenbaum mixes to get them any sort of regular radio play here in the US, and that happened in 1982. The pinups came a few months later here in the states. It was never only the music or only their looks that made them into the biggest band in the world. They had it all, combined with luck and timing.

Sure, the teen magazines never did much to legitimize them, musically speaking. I’m not sure that any critic would have taken the words to heart even if they had. However, those teen magazines opened up a whole new world to kids like me. I don’t know how long or how closely I would have followed Duran Duran had it not been for 16, Bop!, Teen Beat and many others I’ve since forgotten. They were my window into their world.

Yep I was definitely part of the problem.

I’ve decided that I’m not sorry.

-R

Do You Remember the day Planet Earth was released?

For this date in Duran history, we’re going back to nearly the beginning. For many of us, it might have actually been the beginning of our fandom, because on this date in 1981, Duran Duran released Planet Earth. No, I wasn’t there at the very beginning, since I was only about ten and the US didn’t quite catch on at first.  What about any of you from the UK? Are there any Rum Runner regulars amongst our readers?

Many readers probably know that Planet Earth is the favorite song of my counterpart, Amanda. It is also the first song I ever heard by Duran Duran (special thanks to KROQ’s own Rodney on the ROQ!).  It is strange to admit, but I remember a time when Duran Duran was so new that Planet Earth felt really out there and obscure. It was as much dark as it was light, which is what really hooked me, I think! I liked the edgy feel, but it wasn’t so weird that I couldn’t get into it. Even so, I remember those early days of occasionally hearing the band on the radio, before the times of Tiger Beat and Bop!, well before “Rio” made its way onto Top 40 radio, and certainly before the words “Sing Blue Silver” ever came across my lips.

That was the beginning, and it happened 36 years ago today.  (I think I counted wrong…because that seems impossible.)   Do you remember?

-R

Its a New Religion: Rio and the Self-Titled Debut

I’ve noticed that Amanda has been telling her own stories regarding each album lately, and so I’ve decided to join in.  Perhaps you’ll decide to share your own – and we certainly encourage that!

I’m going to start with the first album…and actually Rio… since that seems to be the best place to begin! This is going to require some memory on my part.  I cannot guarantee I’m going to get the chain of events completely accurate, but it is how I remember it!

As I’ve mentioned previously, the very first time I heard Duran Duran was on KROQ. What you don’t know, is that I stumbled onto the station by accident, really. I’d overheard girls—popular girls— talking about KROQ at school. I had no idea what it was, or why the station was cool, but I was desperate to fit in. If I remember right, I’d heard the call letters way before I knew what the number was. I never actually asked anyone at school because I was too shy to bother. It was just one of those things I kept in the back of my mind, and once I finally saw where the station was located, I ran home to find it.

I remember trying to find 106.7 on the radio dial. Back then, as I’m sure many will remember – the dials were touchy. I didn’t have a digital display telling me what station it was on, I had to go by this orange little hand that would move as I turned the dial on my radio, and it wasn’t completely accurate. So I’d fidget with it, get it to tune in, and then wait to see if I had the right station.  Finally I must have gotten it, because Rodney on the ROQ was on, and he was introducing this band that he swore we’d hear more from.  The band was Duran Duran and the song was Planet Earth.

I liked the song immediately, but at the time I was far more astounded that I was actually listening to the right station, the one everyone else – or at least everyone who I thought mattered – was talking about. I went back to school and reported it to my group of misfit friends. One of the girls in this group knew all about KROQ and Duran Duran. This is where my memory gets wonky, because I can’t remember how long it was between that time and when they really became popular. In my head it wasn’t that long, but I’m not sure.

What I can tell you though is that I didn’t buy a Duran Duran record right away. Instead, I heard them a lot on the radio – but it wasn’t the first album I was hearing. It was Rio, and it hit BIG here. By then, it wasn’t just KROQ playing them – it was every station. I want to say that Marsha – the girl in the group that had already known who Duran Duran was – invited me to go with her to buy their album at the record store.  This was a major thing for me because I didn’t really own much in the way of music beyond KTEL records: a few Shaun Cassidy albums and a copy of Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog.

We got to the store (Wherehouse records!), and I remember looking at the Duran Duran albums…but here is where my memory fades again. You see, my very first DD album wasn’t their self-titled one. It was Rio. I bought Rio first, only to find out later that there was an earlier album. (which I then bought, of course!) I can’t remember if the first album was there on the shelf with Rio and I just didn’t know what it was (obviously when I’d heard Planet Earth I didn’t know what album that was from or much else about the band). One might wonder why I wouldn’t have bought both if I saw them, and I can only guess:

  1. I must have only seen Rio?
  2. I only had money for one album and had to choose?
  3. (and this is the one I’m leaning towards because of my memory) The stores only HAD Rio at the time because that was the album that was huge on the radio, and it was later that we got the self-titled one with Is There Something I Should Know on it rather than To The Shore)

I know that it wasn’t long after I’d bought Rio that I then either bought the first one or it was given to me for a holiday or birthday or something. I also remember seeing Carnival in the stores around this same time, but…in my frugal thinking back then…I couldn’t understand buying an album that I already had all the songs from. Yes, I’ve spent time kicking myself (at least up until I actually bought Carnival myself).

At first, I can tell you that I liked Rio far more than I did the first album. To me, the first album was “weird”.  I liked some of the songs on it – like Planet Earth and ITSISK, but I wasn’t a big fan of GOF. What’s more, later on I discovered that one of my KTEL records had GOF on it. It was actually a song on the B side that I tended to skip!!  (Ha, that’s a true confession!)  Clearly, in the years since that initial purchase I’ve changed my mind! But yes, it was probably Rio (and HLTW if I’m being honest) that made me fall for Duran Duran.

My favorite song on Rio was New Religion, although Rio ran a close second along with yes, HLTW.  When I went back and got the self-titled album, I can remember being incredulous that it came out before Rio because it wasn’t until after Rio came out that we heard ITSISK. I just wasn’t aware of the chain of events, I guess.

So, my favorite song on the first album was – yes – ITSISK. I wasn’t aware until years later that the real first album didn’t even have that on it, it was just pressed that way for the US. Live and learn, I suppose.

Someday I’ll have to tell you about the first time I saw their videos with my friend Marsha.

-R