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Duran Duran’s Turning Points

Historians, including history teachers, talk about turning points. These are moments that historians argue change the course of history. In some cases, maybe they lead to horrible results like a war or, perhaps, they stop something terrible from occurring. Why do I mention all of this is a blog about being a fan of a band? Well, like everyone else in Duranland, the band’s new song, Anniversary, has got me thinking. Clearly, the song celebrates the band’s longevity. We, obviously, cheer that, too. In thinking about this, I began to wonder if there were moments in which the band’s story could have turned out differently? If so, what were they? Here are just a few that I thought of.

Power Station and Arcadia

I think it is pretty well known that things got tense in the Duran camp during the Seven and the Ragged Tiger era. The most recent Behind the Music indicated that there was an undercurrent of competition over attention. On top of that, clearly, there were some musical arguments at play. The band decided to spend time apart doing these two, now famous, side projects. I remember, at the time, not getting it. Why would they do that? They were the biggest band in the world at the time. It seemed silly to me, or even stupid. Now, though, I wonder if that time and space actually allowed the band to continue. What would have happened if they tried to just go back into the studio to record a fourth album? Would it have been successful? Heck, would it have been made at all? Would the band have really broken up?

Roger’s Departure

We all know that Roger left the band and the music business in the mid-1980s. I have heard a variety of explanations for it. Some have called it exhaustion. Others have referred it more like a nervous breakdown. A few might have just called it a break. Personally, I won’t begin to think that I know enough to label it. I don’t know exactly what Roger was feeling and thinking at the time. What I do know is that he made a decision to walk away because that is what he felt that he needed to do. Much like the side projects, I also did not understand that move when I was a kid seeing it announced in real time. Now, though, I think I do. It is possible to love one’s job or love a lot of it and just need a break, a serious break. In some circumstances, a vacation will simply not do. In thinking about this, I have to wonder what would have happened if Roger had not walked away then. Would he have stayed throughout the band’s history like Simon or Nick? Would he have left at some other point, only to never return? What about his personal happiness? I do not have any answers but I’m willing to bet that he would say that decision was a personal turning point for him.

John’s Departure

John, obviously, walked away years after Roger did. He has been pretty open that he did it to get his life together, especially around addiction related issues. During John’s time away, unlike Roger (for most of the time away), he worked on some solo albums and another side project in Neurotic Outsiders. John didn’t walk away from music as much as he walked away from whatever he was finding in Duran. From what I have heard and read, it seems like he just needed time away to make his own decisions, to focus on himself. In John’s case, he also seemed to process a lot of his feelings in his solo work. Maybe he absolutely needed that to heal, to be okay. Like with Roger’s departure, what would have happened if he had not walked away then? Would he have left for good, eventually? How would that decision affect him, personally? As much as no one wanted him to go, maybe, it was the right decision, in order for him to be able to come back.

Reunion

This is a pretty significant turning point, in my opinion. Obviously, in this case, the original Fab Five decided to get back together. It certainly caught my attention and thousands of other Duranies around the world. For many, it was a dream to see them record another album and play live together. We didn’t think it would ever happen. From my experience, the fan base exploded as fans returned to the fold and new ones joined in. It was a big turning point, for sure. What would have happened if they hadn’t? Would Pop Trash be the last Duran album? I know, for me, my life now would be so dramatically different that I almost struggle to breathe. I would have not done so much if they hadn’t made this move.

Durantime

This is a weird thing to include in a list of possible turning points, I know. It seems to me that the band chooses to take what appears to be long breaks in between album cycles. Fans lovingly or not-so-lovingly refer to it as Durantime as it always seems like whatever the timeline for an album or project is, it always gets extended. It used to drive me nuts as I could not get enough of Duran so I didn’t want them to take breaks. I wanted them to make music and tour all the time. Yet, now, I have to wonder if those breaks aren’t also turning points. What if they didn’t have them? Would the music they create be as good? Would the shows? Would we all get so saturated that we lose interest?

So, what do the rest of you think? Were these big turning points? Did I miss some?

-A

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