John's Duran Duran Background
John's Duran Duran Timeline in Pictures
Crazy Some Would Say
We all have our own stories to tell about how we arrived at our level of fandom – and I’m no different. Duran Duran fandom comes in all shapes and sizes. There are those who occasionally dip their toes in to check the temperature every once in a while and there are the ones who tread water, just happy to listen to the music and leave the big discussions and rants on social media to the crazy amongst us.
Where would you categorise yourself in the above three descriptions? I know where I stand. I’m widely known in ‘the circle’ as controversial.
To Whom it May Concern
I’m sure I would have been nicknamed Big Mouth if Morrisey hadn’t of beaten me to it. I’m often misled, or should that be misunderstood? It’s an inconvenience that social media has this wall. There is one person either side and they have no idea who the other is.
It would take years to understand their personality without meeting each other in person. So, what happens, is that if anybody should dare say anything negative about Duran Duran, then they’d be typecast, either as obstructive or an idiot.
A favourite reply from fans is ‘Why are you even here?’ On a personal level, what people fail to recognise about me is that my positivity far outweighs any negativity that I have about the band. They don’t know me so why would they even ask?
Bow to the Paper Gods?
Moving on, I recall in the fall of 2015, waiting in anticipation for the last Duran Duran album, Paper Gods, to drop. It had been 4 long years since its predecessor, the critically acclaimed All You Need Is Now had made its first impression known. At that point, Producer of the moment, Mark Ronson, had woven some magic, cast his spell and put the ‘D’ back into Duran Duran.
Goodness knows, they needed to relight the embers after the calamity of Red Carpet Massacre. You see? There’s the controversy trying to fight its way out. I understand that the band are reluctant to sit back. They enjoy moving forward, using new technology and being innovators at their craft – they strive to be leaders at what they do, forever setting the bar higher to achieve bigger goals. However, is that still the band’s motto?
Look at the Sound of The Voice
My initial response to Paper Gods was luke warm to say the least. Still is. But that’s my point with the varying levels of fandom. I’m very much a level 3. I like to stay level headed.
I don’t have a need to agree with every decision Duran Duran make. All I know, is where I belong and that’s what’s important and the same should apply to every single one of you. You have a voice so don’t be afraid to use it.
I grew up as a teen listening to Duran Duran during the early 80’s – I was into the New Romantic movement in a big way. I love my Rock music but a new sound had arrived, courtesy of Kraftwerk and the likes of Tubeway Army. It was the synthesiser. I was fascinated.
I was totally in awe of what this beast could produce – it could emulate anything. It meant that budding artists could experiment on their own, eliminating the need to form bands to make music. The early 80’s was such a diverse, dynamic and inspirational time to be creative. So, I embraced this new concept.
Artists who I admire and love who were came from that era include Ultravox, Soft Cell, Thompson Twins, Howard Jones, Yazoo, Sparks, Duran Duran – the list is exhaustive. Not only did I enjoy the music, I wore it. I enjoyed looking the part and would wear the bandana and frilly shirts – and yes, the eyeliner too!
It wouldn’t suit me these days though.
Party like it’s 1999
I think my biggest memory of Duran Duran early on was obviously the euphoria of 1984, The Sing Blue Silver Tour. Right time, right place and a lot of luck. After all you have to have an element of luck to get ahead in whichever career you’re pursuing.
I remember the year well. It was the peak of great music and Duran Duran surfed the wave perfectly. They were the band that the kids wanted to be associated with. They were the band they wanted to spend their pocket money on. Once a boy band (and they were a boy band) has that tag, that’s it. Let it flow – the money that is.
Then there was Live Aid. I recall having the biggest party at my home. My parents were away in Brazil and I was left home alone at the age of 17 – big mistake. There must have been 50 youngsters crammed into the lounge with beer flowing, boys and girls disappearing upstairs. I probably only knew half of the people there. I had rigged up the Hi Fi to the TV so it would be loud. Yes, it was loud.
In fact the occasion was reminiscent of the movie Risky Business , without the high class hookers, big house and of course the Porsche. Sufficed to say, the house was used and abused. Spilled drinks and cigarette burns on the sofa and carpets but it could have been a lot worse.
Damn, wasn’t it a great day though?!
However, it wasn’t until April 1989 that things kicked up a gear as far as my fandom goes. The previous year, Duran Duran had released their fifth, and very off-piste album, Big Thing. For some reason I had by-passed their 1986 album with Nile Rodgers, Notorious – I never knew it existed and I’d listened to Big Thing before I had Notorious. Strange behaviour?
Anyway, my jump into the world of Duran Duran collecting began with the beautiful Do You Believe in Shame? 3-pack 7” single set. The song itself had made a firm imprint into my head – the unforgettable, highly addictive ‘Coz I believe a little part of you inside of me will never die’. I just fell head over heals with it. The video, the guitar riffs, the meaning. It was so different to what else was happening in the charts at the time – which was probably why it bombed.
Are You Ready? ..(Yeah!)
It was a combination of that and of my first Duran Duran live experience which was Bournemouth in April 1989. I recall drummer Sterling Campbell grounding us in with his beat just prior to the band taking the stage and Simon growling the first verse of Big Thing. It just blew me away. Don’t forget this was the first time I’d seen Duran perform live – so the early stuff was fantastic to listen to, but Big Thing sealed it for me, hook line and sinker.
Warren Cuccurullo provided depth to their new sound. He’d previously worked on Notorious but was quiet in comparison to Big Thing. It just set the standard – this band were here to stay.
Simon Le Bon told me in an interview (listen here) a few years later that they had a hunger to be successful again.
My passion for Duran Duran began in earnest and from 1989 I co-edited a UK fanzine called Lake Shore Drive (later receiving a credit in the linear notes of The Wedding Album). I then took over complete editing control from Dave Stott the following year and eventually, after revamping it, I changed it’s name to The Notorious Duranzine as I felt I needed to give the fanzine a new identity.
In April 1991 I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Jerusalem For Reconciliation charity concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London, where Duran Duran performed three songs, one of which was the very first play of Ordinary World. It was to be 18 months later when it received an official worldwide release, in January 1993.
I find myself looking at similarities with The Cavern Club in Liverpool where The Beatles used to play as the house band before being discovered. I feel privileged that I witnessed Duran Duran playing a song that was to eventually pull them out of the abyss and back onto the world stage again.
I also had a cigarette with Nick Rhodes outside his box. Incredible. The performance I mean.
In early 1992 I was tipped off by the staff, at what was then DD Productions in Fulham, London that the guys were going to be taking part in in a charity event called Trading Places at HMV on the 11th of March.
They basically ‘swapped’ roles with the staff in-store and were serving customers and signing gear. I knew the band were working on a new album with producer John Jones but I hadn’t realised just how special it would turn out to be.
It all fell into place when Ordinary World got it’s release and it simply just ripped up the rule book, firing the band back up the charts around the World and subsequently shutting the mouths of the band’s fiercest critics. “We just let the music do the talking” Simon Le Bon said to me at the time.
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Then in October 1992 I was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident that had laid me up. I had no recollection of my family or children and the 10 years leading upto my accident. It was like they’d never existed. It was a scary time for my family.
I can’t remember the incident itself but I had apparently hit a curb and my bike helmet had slipped off before the back of my head hit the road. Fortunately, I regained my memory, but I did suffer from depression for a while and I was not my usual positive self.
Then a couple of months later on one cold December’s morning, I awoke to the radio playing the distinctive chords of Warren Cuccurullo,s guitar. It was of course one of the biggest songs Duran Duran have ever written – Ordinary World.
Four On The Floor
The fanzine helped me network with magazine editors and one of them, Charlottes Mag, got in touch and asked if I would write something on Duran Duran. So I did! Without question, The Wedding Album provided a sense of escapism and the benefit of assisting my recovery. However, it would be my wife Sharon, who receives the credit for nursing me back to health. If it was not for her, I’m not too sure how it would have turned out.
Too Much Information
My cheat of death provided me with an optimism for the future and I decided a change of career was necessary. I enrolled at my local college as a 27 year old student. I had a passion for English Literature and English Language and I really enjoyed writing, so I naturally studied Journalism and Radio Broadcasting.
It really was a reality check though as to leave a perfectly good job, earning a guaranteed wage then changing to a mature penniless student was so risky. I was a husband and father. My wife was a Godsend and she supported me with my endeavours.
She was the main wage earner and I DJ’d on the weekends to earn some extra money. So, naturally I have plenty to thank her for!
On My Radio
In early ’94, I needed some help with some course work. I was assigned by my Radio Techniques Tutor to interview somebody on audio, then bring the tape to the studio and edit it, old school with a blade. I had to edit it down to a 5 minute feature to include music.
So, I wrote to Simon Le Bon. I mean who else could I ask? While I was at college my wife received a call from him at home. Imagine her surprise! I would have dearly loved to have been a fly on the wall just to see her jaw dropping on the floor.
My meeting with Simon is a story for another day but my dilemma was where to start editing a half an hour interview with your idol down to just 5 minutes?
College was fantastic though. They let me use the editing suite to create a whole segment of the interview and mix it for my own personal use. A couple of days later a version was broadcast on my local radio station. It was an incredible moment for me.
Since then a lot has happened. We had children and Duran Duran’s career has been very much up and down and I took a step back for a long time. I did come back occasionally and dipped my toe in to check the temperature. I suppose not too dissimilar to checking the well being of an orphaned animal that had previously been released back into the wild.
I’ve seen too many wildlife documentaries!
Eventually, with the progression of technology, the internet became a staple in our lives and therefore dispensed with the need for the faithful typewriter, tipex and stencils.
The fanzine was subsequently (and reluctantly) closed. It wasn’t a profit orientated enterprise. The cover price barely paid for printing costs. However we got the best quality for the money and I have no regrets ever starting it. It wasn’t unusual to work through the nights to meet deadlines – I still hear the ‘clunk clunk’ of the typewriter ringing in my ears.
I’d just like to convey my thanks at this point to my wife Sharon for her commitment and unwavering support during editing – and to Richard and Linda Harvey for assisting.
Ready For Launch
I did make a small comeback for Astronaut and the reunion. I went to HMV, London in 2004, with my son Ryan, said hello to the guys and got some gear signed. That was special – he was 15 at the time. It was a good bonding experience and it was he who encouraged me to queue again to get some more stuff signed!
In fact we both feature on the DVD that was released at the time. I’ve been to every tour since except for Red Carpet Massacre – I did buy tickets for a show in Ireland but something got in the way and I couldn’t go.
These days I’m not much of a DD ‘animal’. My feet are firmly on the ground but do get in social networking clashes every now and again. I bear no ill-will or malice. I’m just very passionate about Duran Duran. I decided to create duranduranrocks.com because I feel the band are not represented well enough in the UK.
While it is most definitely an unofficial site, I wanted to wave the UK flag to say “Look, HQ may be based in the USA but this band is British. Don’t ever forget that.” That said, all is welcome!
I Hear You Knocking
Although I understand families are suffering and I am truly saddened by its relentless surge, the Coronavirus has been a blessing of sorts for me. I’ve now been off work for about 6 weeks which has given me the time to get stuck in with a project I’ve been meaning to do for the last two years. I had started but I couldn’t invest the time that I’ve got now. It looked and felt drab. It was awful to maintain.
This time I have taken the trouble to understand how the design process works and how to use the dashboard elements. I think that process took about a month – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and all that. However, I got through it, just like I’ve done with things before. Just keep knocking and the door will open eventually.
I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you and I thank you for visiting. I hope you’ll tell your friends about us and maybe you’d like to submit a story or something about Duran Duran? Building a website is all well and good but it needs the passionate fan to support us.
I want this site to be a success and I am even more determined that it will become and invaluable source and for somewhere for fans to come when Social Networking becomes too much. Please use the comments box on every feature. Talk to us and get involved.