Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meeting Duran Duran ~ "My 13th Birthday Present"

I have been a fan of Duran Duran for a looooong time – since 1983, in fact. I was 12 years old the first time I saw the video for Hungry Like the Wolf on MTV. I thought that John Taylor was the most beautiful man I had ever seen in my life. Seeing that video marked the beginning of a love for the band and their music that has continued to this day. 

Opening my "Union of the Snake" 12" Single
on my 13th Birthday
In the early years, my adoration of Duran Duran (and especially John) was, I have to admit, an obsession. I would buy every magazine, button, photo, book, record, poster, etc. that I could get my hands on (and my parents would be willing to give me the money to buy). I even bought imported Japanese magazines from Specs and ordered them from overseas. Remember…this was all before the days of the Internet, Amazon and eBay. Never mind that I couldn’t read the Japanese characters, those magazines consistently had the greatest photos of the band! I even bought their "Video Album" (on VHS, thank the Lord, as it was also available on Beta AND LaserDisc), which included many more videos than were commercially played on MTV.


My first Duran Duran concert  the highlight of my teenage life (at least until I met Rob at 18). It was 1984 and Duran Duran was coming to town to support their “Seven and the Ragged Tiger” album (No CDs, no iTunes, no downloading music young’uns!) I had seen (taped and watched over and over and over again) Duran Duran Live at the Hammersmith Odeon on MTV and an even older live performance on Nickelodeon where most of the band sported red lipstick (not one of my favorite phases), and now I would finally get the chance to see them IN PERSON! My brother-in-law, had a friend who knew a guy who owned a record store in Delray. He’d ask his friend to try and get me tickets. Record store guy pulled the first tickets he could when they went on sale. The seats were FRONT ROW, RIGHT IN FRONT OF JOHN TAYLOR! Oh, was my 13-year-old JT-loving-self ecstatic!

I still remember what I wore to that first concert on March 27, 1984 – black parachute pants, a white top with different colored squares all over it (so 80s!), a white vest with my DD buttons on it, and white Capezios (of course!). I still remember how excited I was when the first drumbeats of “Is There Something I Should Know” echoed throughout the Hollywood Sportatorium and then the deafening teenage screams began…I’m sure I was part of it, but I also sang and danced my heart out (even though I don’t do either well) and took lots of pictures (no digital photography back then…rolls of film baby that you had to wait DAYS to be developed, though I think I might have taken it to the “New” one-hour photo in the mall). It was an amazing show and memorable experience for me.

After “Seven and the Ragged Tiger,” the band members split to work on side projects – Simon, Nick and Roger went on to form Arcadia and John and Andy formed Power Station. I saw Power Station at the Hollywood Sportatorium on July 9, 1985. The band reunited onstage at Live Aid a few days later, and that marked the last time they played together until reuniting in 2003.

Over the course of the next 18 years, Duran Duran released seven records (many of which I bought, some I didn't) and I grew up, met Rob, got married, had children, started a career as an editor, etc. I saw the band live twice during that time period - once in 1989 at the Miami Arena during the Big Thing tour and once in 1992 at Sunrise Musical Theater during the Wedding Album tour (just a few months, in fact, after Rob and I got married!) John Taylor went solo shortly after the Wedding Album and I didn’t know about it until years later, when I discovered Meltdown radio on Live 365 online. I ended up buying two of his solo CDs off of Half.com – "Feelings Are Good and Other Lies" and "Retreat Into Art." I actually really enjoyed both of these – especially songs like Immortal and Hey Day. I never knew he could sing!

The Original Duran Duran
Reunited
Then, in 2003, it was announced that the original five members of Duran Duran were reuniting for a tour and a new album. I think I bought "Astronaut" the day it came out and fell in love with the CD – the band that I loved was BACK! I missed the Astronaut tour (and the opportunity to hear the original lineup play live again), but kept up with news on DuranDuran.com.

"Red Carpet Massacre" was released on November 13, 2007 – my 37th Birthday. I bought it the day it came out. I loved the CD and made up my mind that I wanted to see them if they came to town. They announced a show on May 17, 2008 at Mizner Park Amphitheatre in Boca Raton with my 9-year-old son, Chase. We really enjoyed the concert. I thought the band sounded better than they had in years.

I downloaded (a first for me) their latest record (is that right?), "All You Need is Now," when it was released on iTunes in 2010. Once again, I fell in love with the songs -- they sounded like classic Duran Duran. I knew that I wanted to see them, but was shocked to see the ticket prices ($68-$125+ each). I decided to try and get tickets when they went on sale. I knew there was a presale the day before, which I didn’t qualify for, but I hoped that there would be good seats left anyway. I logged on to Ticketmaster the second tickets went on sale to the general public. The best seats available were floor seats in the back for more than $90 each. I couldn't justify paying that much to sit in the very back of the theater. I later looked on eBay and found third row seats in front of John Taylor – a pack of four tickets for over $3,000! At that point, I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to see them live this time around.

The week before the concert, I mentioned on Facebook how I’d love to see Duran Duran in concert, but couldn't afford to pay such high prices for seats way in the back of the theater. My friend, Tonya told me about a Facebook contest that WRMF radio was having. Every day that week, they would post a Duran Duran trivia question on their Facebook page, and the first correct answer commented would win Meet & Greet passes and tickets to the concert! Now, I know my Duran Duran trivia! I figured I might have a shot at this. Each of us agreed that if one of us won, she’d take the other.

The first day I tried the contest (Tuesday), they posted the question,”How are the three Taylors  in Duran Duran related?” Oooooh! I know this! “They aren’t!,” I commented. Now, I typed it quickly, but in the millisecond it took my anal editor brain to make sure that I had properly punctuated my answer, another person commented. When I refreshed the screen, the first three responses (mine the second) were all posted “12 seconds ago.” Damn! Soooooo close!

The next day, Tracy St. George announced that the trivia question would be posted at 4:00 p.m. sharp. I left work at my usual 3:30 and went by PBMS to pick up Chase. At 3:45, the bell rang…no Chase. 3:50…no Chase. The clock was a-tickin’! At 3:52, Chase casually appears, drinking a Mountain Dew (he stopped at the vending machine?!!!). I open the car door and yell, “Hurry! We gotta GO!” He runs to the car and I get home as quickly as my car would take us. I screeched into my driveway at 3:58, left everything in my car (I did turn off the ignition), ran upstairs, logged on to WRMF’s Facebook page and hit the refresh button until the trivia question appeared. 


Refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh…”It’s that time! MEET Duran Duran by being the first correct response to this question – Since the beginning of the band, which member has had the most hair colors?” I knew the answer without thinking (Nick Rhodes!). With no concern for capitalization or other conventions, I typed “nick” and hit Enter as quickly as my fingers would allow. Ooooooh…it looked like I was the first to comment. I hit F5 – I WAS the first to comment…was I right? Surely it must be Nick! A lot of people guessed Nick. Did I win? No comments from Tracy St. George. So I streamed the radio station live through their WRMF's website. 



After the song finished, Tracy St. George announced on air, “Well, it looks like Nancy Nickerson from Pompano Beach will be meeting Duran Duran!” I screamed like a girl, jumped up and down and smiled uncontrollably for hours. The woman who was born on Friday the 13th had WON! After 28 years, I was finally going to meet Duran Duran. I was beyond excited!

Part of my Duran Duran
Memorabilia collection
That weekend, I got out all of my Duran Duran memorabilia that I had collected (and my parents stored) over the years - the books, the albums, the posters, the calendars, the buttons. I spent Saturday and Sunday reminiscing and trying to decide what I wanted to bring for the guys to autograph. I finally decided on a small version of one of my favorite posters of the band.

In the days leading up to October 11, I was as excited as a little kid right before Christmas (or as a teenage girl about to meet her teen idol!). The day of the concert, I was positively giddy! I'm almost embarrassed to admit that my heart was racing all day. Even my boss commented that I was glowing and that we should try to bottle my enthusiasm and sell it.

All ready to meet
Duran Duran!
I got home from work, showered, put on my black halter dress, tried to beautify as much as I possibly could before my “big night.” Tonya picked me up and it was so great to see her! We chatted excitedly the whole way to the Hard Rock and made it to the WRMF tent early. They showed us where the Meet & Greet was set to take place at 7:00 (the restaurant across from the venue) and checked our name off the list. Tonya and I met some of the other winners and I was really surprised to discover that most of them had already met the band (some several times!). Right before 7:00, we were all told that the Meet & Greet had been moved to the backstage area. We were told to line up, single file. They said that the guys were not going to sign anything and that we couldn't use our own cameras.  They would let us in two to four people at a time and we could pose for a photo (that the radio station would take and post on their website) with the guys. That was it. I was pretty disappointed, but still excited to meet the band.

We stood in line near the backstage area and through the curtain, I could see Nick, Simon, Roger and John standing there posing with the fans in line ahead of me. In my mind, I sang, “Now the time has come…the music’s between us…” (from Sunrise). Then, it was our turn. Walking through the curtain was a completely surreal experience. I remember thinking, “Duran Duran is standing right in front of me! I’m FINALLY going to meet them!” SO much went through my mind in those few seconds. As we walked toward them, Simon looked at me with what looked like recognition (?) and started to say, “Oh, it’s…” but never finished his sentence (or I missed it, as I was completely starstruck at this point). 


Then, it was our turn to meet the band. As I was walking up to the guys, I blurted out, “I am SO excited! You are like my 13th birthday present!” Simon looked at me and said excitedly, “You’re 13 today?! Happy Birthday!” and the others laughed. I thought “What the hell did I just say?” and quickly said (as my mind searched frantically for the RIGHT word)…”No...I mean, you’re my 13th birthday WISH!” I stood between Roger and John, with my arm around Roger (thinking, “Oh my Lord, I have my arm around Roger Taylor and it feels like standing next to Rob (they’re about the same size)…John Taylor is standing right next to/behind me (and he’s really tall!) I'm getting my picture taken with Duran Duran!”) Big smile for photo and we were told to move on. That’s IT???! 


Then, I had a total Ralphie moment. You know in “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie is petrified of the scary Santa and he’s hanging on to the top of the slide, about to get pushed down when he realizes that he never told Santa what he wants? That was me! I thought, “Wait! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… SAY SOMETHING, WOMAN!” So I turned to John and said, “It is such an honor to finally meet you!” He smiled and nodded (OK, I’m sure he was thinking “You’re only the millionth person who has said that to me.” But, at least he was nice.) and that was it. The whole experience lasted (I’m pretty sure) less than one minute. So much for the “special” Meet & Greet. As Tonya and I walked out, a couple of older women who were working at the concession stand said, “That was the fastest Meet & Greet, we’ve ever seen!” We just stood there wondering if there was more...but sadly, there wasn’t. BUT, after 28 years as a Duranie, I had finally met John, Roger, Simon and Nick!


Tonya and I then made our way up to our “nosebleed” seats in Row M of the back corner of the balcony. We could see the stage really well, though. Precisely at 9:00, the lights went down and the beginning notes of "Before the Rain" echoed throughout the venue. Then, Duran Duran took the stage and played an absolutely phenomenal show that lasted over 90 minutes. They sounded great – playing a mixture of their new songs and old hits and Tonya and I had an awesome time!

I still listen to Duran Duran just about every day. The first Duran Duran record I ever bought, "Rio" remains my favorite album of all time. Save a Prayer and Lonely in Your Nightmare (both songs on "Rio") are my phone ringtones and my favorite videos of all time. All of the memorabilia has been put away, though. I’ve gone back to being a 40-year-old woman (though it really was exhilarating to relive the exuberance of a 13-year-old girl) and living my “real life” – a life that I love with people I cherish and I feel incredibly blessed.




With love and aloha <3 

2 comments:

  1. I LOVED reading your Duran Duran Story!! (I am still grateful that I was your "concert buddy" that night!!)

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  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Tonya! :) Aloha and mahalo for subscribing to my blog! :)

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