This is a story that I never get tired of telling. Back in April of 1995, Duran Duran was having an in-store CD signing event to promote their newly released album, Thank You. At the time, I was selling advertising for a South Beach fashion magazine named, Season. I was also doing some marketing for an independent record label that was trying to get their music played on the local radio stations. When I heard that one of the radio stations that I built a relationship with was sponsoring the event, I started begging my contacts for some press passes. My contact was in the program director’s office, so there wasn’t a lot that he could do. I asked him if he would mind if I just showed up and dropped his name. He didn’t think it would help but he gave me the OK anyway.
I had one friend who wanted to go with me. I thought it was a good idea for him to come because I thought that he had some professional looking camera equipment. When he picked me up, he had another friend with him and he didn’t have time to go home after work to pick up his expensive camera. He told me not to worry because he always carried a camera with him because of his job. When we arrived at the record store, he pulled out this 35mm camera from his center console that was barely a step above a disposable camera.
At the time, I was known for having a golden tongue but I wasn’t 100% confident that I could work my magic this time. When we got inside, the store was packed with fans. It took me a few minutes but I found out who the point man was. In all honesty, I have no idea what I said to that man but by the time I talked his ear off, he was pointing me to the direction of the press pit that they had roped off. I do remember him trying to brush me off but I wasn’t taking no for an answer. As soon as we got the OK to go to the press pit, a back room door opened and the band walked out. For about two minutes, I was completely frozen. My friend had to snap me out of the daze I was in. As the bad sat down, we made our way to the press pit. Here we were jockeying for space in the middle of the pit with real professional photographers. If my memory serves me right, one of the photographers actually asked me, “Who are you with?” I think I handed him one of my business cards.
After that, we just copied whatever we saw the professionals do. I spent the next hour or so yelling out the band member’s names. I was directly in front of Simon so I yelled his name the most. This has to annoy the hell out of him, I was thinking. Later, I found out that it did. After signing countless autographs, a representative for the band made an announcement. “The band appreciates you coming but they will not be signing anymore autographs. When you get to the stage, they’ll be happy to shake your hand.”
At that point, I took a look around to see how many people were left in the store. Apparently, at some point earlier, they stopped letting people in and the line wasn’t very long. I turned to my friends and asked, do you think they’ll let us on stage to shake the guy’s hands? Both of them said, no. All I heard was, maybe. I walked over to the police officer who was standing by the steps that led to the platform/stage where the band was seated. Before I could open my mouth to ask him a question, he was telling me, NO! Then the guy who authorized us to go to the press pit was walking by and he asked if everything was ok? I told him, I just wanted to shake hands with the band. I name dropped the famous people who were associated with Season Magazine again and promised that the writers would show their appreciation for his hospitality towards me. He gave the officer the OK to let me and my friends on stage.
The first hand that I shook was John’s. He had moved from his seat behind the table and was sitting on top of the table. I mumbled something stupid about touching the calluses that played my favorite bass lines. I don’t think he heard me or he was being extremely polite because he just smiled, shook my hand and said, “Thank you.” Nick and Warren were still sitting down behind the table. As I shook Warren’s hand, he said, “You’ve been here all day. How did you pull that off?” I don’t remember what I said but I do remember telling him that he had an uncle who lived in Miami that shares his name. A year earlier, I stumbled across this man’s name while looking for someone in the white pages. When I got to Nick, I told him about how my mother was horrified when I told her that I wanted to look like him after we finished watching the Election Day video. He let out a hearty laugh and shook my hand. Then I got to Simon. He, like John, was sitting on the table at this point. I extended my hand to shake his and he let out this grunt that basically said, here’s the pain in the ass who has been yelling my name for the last few hours. Then he playfully punched me in the chest several times. Part of me was shocked that my idol was touching me. Another part of me said, you’re from Brooklyn. You better hit him back. So I playfully punched him back. Both of us laughed but the girls who were still inside the store started screaming. I said, “Wow! Is it like that all the time?” He sighed, “Yes.”
I ended chatting with Nick a little more and taking a few more pictures. Needless to say, this was one of the best days of my life. On a side note, for the next few years, if I was ever in a bad mood, my friends would come up to me and punch me in the chest like Simon did and that always put a smile on my face.