On Tour With Duran: That’ll Be The Day.

Scan 11

We boarded a light aircraft and took to the sky. This was an unscheduled flight that came about as a last-minute decision or at least I was the last to know about it. There was only room for a handful of us in the Cessna airplane and I’m sure that in fair weather conditions this light aircraft would be just the ticket for scooting about the airwaves with the minimum of fuss or anxiety, however on this particular day that was just not the case.

It was December and we were up in Scotland, in Edinburgh to be precise. This was the British winter tour of 1981. The weather was foul, we had record-breaking temperatures and unprecedented snow fall that winter. A press promo had been scheduled for that afternoon in Liverpool but it became clear that the roads would be impossible to manoeuvre at any decent speed and so therefore we wouldn’t make it in time. Hence the light aircraft option.

Of course the weather conditions were no different up there! It was a nightmare! We were tossed to the wind in a vehicle that had as much stability as a paper bag. It was obvious to me that we were all going to die! This was going to be one of those great Rock ‘n’ Roll flight tragedies. We would be joining Otis Reading, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Buddy Holly, all that talent tragically lost flying around in silly private planes like this one!

We would be breaking news.

Newsreader.

“A light aircraft crashed into Blackpool Tower today killing all five members of pop group Duran Duran” (they probably wouldn’t bother mentioning the additional death of tour manager, wardrobe mistress, security guard and pilot).

So tragic. The world would be in shock. No Rio! A real disaster.

As you might guess Master Le Bon was undeterred by the adventure, I suppose it was kind of like being at sea in a storm only we were in the sky, which is somehow much worse than being at sea. I’ve been at sea in a storm, I was backpacking and needed to hitch a lift from Australia to New Zealand so I jumped on board the maxi yacht NZI Enterprise because it turns out I’m rather partial to a maxi ocean racing yacht and what better way to cross the Southern Ocean I thought, that was until the wind got up and we were riding some ridiculously huge waves at a great rate of knots in the dark of the night with only the odd crack of lightning to add illumination and additional drama.

“All hands on deck” came the cry. I launched myself out of my bunk and at rapid speed slipped into my foul weather gear and shot up and out of the hatch. I was strapped into a safety harness and told to ‘man’ the winch, essentially take up the slack whilst other crew members went to the bow of the boat and risked their lives to wrestle down the headsail. We should have furled the mainsail earlier but it was too late now. We were pushing the boundaries of safe sailing it is true but that said, I was much more disturbed to be in that light aircraft. You see I don’t fly, but I can swim, do you get my drift?

Back on planet paper bag I felt the blood drain from my face and thought there was good chance I might throw up. Andy was very amused by the general anxiety brewing on board the plane and he decided to ramp up the tension by entering the cockpit and positioning himself as the co-pilot. We protested, he laughed.

The light aircraft dipped and dived in the general direction of Liverpool. We swung past Blackpool Tower for a closer look. Was that really necessary! I clutched onto my sick bag and got a supportive nudge from Nobel. We went through a phase of calling each other by our names spoken backwards, Le Bon worked particularly well. My name Worreb was not so catchy, but I do remember JT used to call me Mazza for a while. Anyway we landed in Liverpool and I learnt that small planes were not my thing.

We completed our year of touring with a three night run at the Birmingham Odeon. On December 23rd, our final gig, the roadies felt it fit and entirely appropriate to hire a stripper to mark the moment, so they created a special space for her under the stage, a sort of bed upon which she could writhe. They replaced the floor where Simon usually stood with a sheet of transparent perspex, a window if you will into the strippers world. The band knew nothing of this until they launched themselves onto the stage with their usual gusto and there she was, a sexy scantily clad woman writhing about beneath them in her tacky makeshift boudoir. Surprise! The band being ever professional cracked on with the job at hand, knocking out their tunes to their ever adoring fans.

The road crew, clearly in a frisky mood, stormed onto the stage that night for the last song. We took our moment and it felt good. We were a team, a family, we had grown close. The Duran success was our success, we had all played our part gladly. It certainly had been an amazing year of globe-trotting. 1982 was just around the corner and another year of intense touring was planned.

The album Rio was recorded in the early part of 1982 at Air Studios on Oxford Street. The boys rented a block of apartments in Bayswater and I was enlisted to cook for them. An evening meal, a spot of home cooking for them when they got back from the studio, a lasagna, a shepherd’s pie and so forth.  I’m not a master chef and there was no money for Michelin Star back then but they were grateful and hungry.

I would whip up a pudding in the morning at my flat in Kensington, I had moved from Birmingham to London earlier that year after the Spring tour. I would trot over to the boys’ pad in the afternoon to serve them dinner that evening and of course I was happy to adapt my job within the general field of nurturing since I happened to have one of the most fun jobs on the planet at that time.

Sometimes I would take a walk up Oxford street and visit the boys in the studio, on one occasion when I was there Paul McCartney popped in, there was a flurry of excitement as everyone rushed to greet him, rightly so. Hero at the door! I was sitting across the room, generally my default position in these situations was to hang back, I figured he hadn’t popped in to see me! So when he bothered to make the journey across the room to introduce himself to me I was mightily impressed. With upbeat enthusiasm he shook my hand. “Hi I’m Paul” he said. Made my day. Big respect to Macca for keeping it real and soulful.

On Tour With Duran: Jealous Guy

There is a code, what goes on tour stays on tour, that is until John writes about it in his book.

“We all remember things differently” John pointed out when he called for my approval.

He said he was very keen not to upset anyone with his book so he wanted to check that it was okay with me and okay with my husband that he retold our snog story.

John said “Do you remember when we had a bit of thing in the back of the tour bus? We were on our way to Munich…”

Really! He was going to tell that story! I would have thought ours was a bit of a non event in his list of great seductions. I was surprised and wondered what he could possibly of written that my husband would take offence to! I feel I should point out that 1982 my lovely young husband was just a babe in his mothers arms. I know, so young. What can I tell you? It just works. We like to view my past as some sort of previous incarnation, a past-life if you will. When I met my man/boy I was born again in the spirit of youthful endeavour and for the record I recommend it.

Anyway, let’s get back to the story, John said, “I’ll read it to you shall I?”

As he recounted his version of events I was all ears. “Coffin sex!….bra and pants!”  Hold on just a minute, I had John Taylor on the phone talking to me about my bra and pants for gods sake! This was too surreal to be real, but it was real, he was going to print this in his book, so how did I feel about it?

“Sounds a lot more racy than I remember” I said.

“Does it?”. Then with his characteristic cheeky boy charm he said, “I may have taken some artistic license”.

It was all a bit weird, it’s not often you get the opportunity to debate the finer points of a half cocked seduction attempt you shared with someone thirty years ago.

The episode was more silly than sexy. It was just a bit of fun, one of those snog a friend moments you have when you are a teenager.  My memory is that we had quite a giggle squashed into a tour bus crib made for one. The bus was jam-packed with band, crew and management. It wasn’t a great tour bus as tour buses go, a bit low-end. It was early days, we were touring Europe on the cheap. On reflection I think it’s highly likely that there were not enough sleepers on the bus to accommodate everyone which is how John came to be with me in my bunk. Someone had to do it, I was happy to help.

I decided not to be precious about the finer detail and I said he could go ahead and print his racier than I remembered story. As friend of mine said “If not one of the world’s most fanciable men embellishing over you then who?

John felt he had to tell our story because of its relevance to the night that lay ahead. It had never occurred me that our innocent little flirtation had impacted so dramatically on what turned out to be a motherfucker of a night out.

When we arrived in Munich we checked into the hotel and then a handful of the hardcore party animals went back out. We went to see Kool and the Gang and then off to a club. We were never ones to waste a night off!

At the club we’re grooving, all happy until some geezer steps up in front of Roger and whacks him with a beer bottle over the head. It seemed to come out of nowhere with none of the usual pre-battle wrangling over beer spillage. It was nasty, Roger was spinning out. Band security, Simon Cook, made his move on the bottle swinger. Then a couple of bouncers arrived and started to man-handle Cookie out of the club.  The bouncer who was not dissimilar to Shrek in his proportions had Cookie in a stranglehold.

“Hold on we didn’t start this!” I protested loudly.

I can’t stand injustice, it really pushes all my buttons. So I decided it would be a really good idea to pounce onto the back of the bouncer and whilst I was up there piggybacking the Ogre I took the opportunity to thump him relentlessly and shout in his ear.

“Let go of him”. I liked Simon, Simon was my friend.

Shrek was unresponsive to my plea. I thought I was being clear, perhaps he didn’t speak English. He shrugged his shoulders and shook me off as he pushed Simon down the stairs and out the door.

Roger needed medical attention, there was a gaping bloody gash on top of his head. He left the club with the other crew members and I went to find John.

John was sitting in another part of the club deeply engaged in conversation with Brian Ferry. Kind of cool, you could see that John thought so and Brian seemed quite enamoured of John. Neither of them welcomed the interruption, I already knew my request was not going to be well received.

“Hi. Sorry John, Roger has just been hit with a beer bottle on the head and he is bleeding, so we’re all leaving. Cookie has already been thrown out of the club, it’s not really safe for you to be here on your own, you should come with us”.

“No, I’m staying, I’ll be alright” John said firmly.

Brian was looking at me, waiting patiently for me to bugger off. I smile.

“Ok then”. Realising that there was no way JT was going to change his mind, he was sitting next to Brian Ferry, a major musical influence. So I leave.

We got back to the hotel and sent for a doctor. The doctor came to Roger’s room, bathed his wound and put him to bed. Roger was really disoriented, obviously shaken by the experience. I sat quietly with him in his room.

The door to Roger’s room was lodged open, a few of the crew who had been out with us were wandering in and out. We were all a bit wired by the event and nobody felt like sleeping.

When John eventually came back, he stepped out of the lift and seeing the open door he walked straight ahead into Roger’s room. He saw Roger and I hanging out together and he marched straight back out again without a word.

Crash, the sound of breaking glass. I ran to see what was going on and found John, standing in front of me like a wounded puppy dog, his hand cut and bleeding, shattered glass lay all around him. He had punched one of the glass wall lights that were illuminating the hotel corridor. Other doors opened in response to the noise. A crew member came to the rescue and rushed John to hospital.

It was an attention seeking act of grand proportions. It wasn’t until I spoke to John recently that I realised it was an act of jealousy on his part, he told me he felt overcome with jealousy when he saw me caring for Roger. That was really new news, it had never occurred to me that his motivation for having a jab at the light was jealousy. I had always assumed he had felt bad about not being there for Roger. It was quite a shock to learn the truth and for half a second I felt some responsibility but it passed. The idea was right out there in the world of ridiculous. We were good friends, there was really nothing more than that between any of us.

John returned from hospital with his wound all bandaged up and his arm in a sling. He had totally screwed his hand and definitely wouldn’t be playing bass any time soon. He was feeling very sorry for himself and asked me to come to his room to keep him company. We slept together in his bed for what was left of the rest of the night.

We few, we band of brothers came very sheepishly down into the hotel reception the next morning. The air was thick and quiet, the tour had been cancelled, we were all going home. We had been through something that was hard to put into words for those that were not there, you could sense a certain incredulity amongst those who had opted for the early night. How had we managed to let the evening spiral so majorly out of control?

Amanda

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On Tour With Duran: We Can Be Heroes

Roger emailed the other day to say that whilst he was in San Francisco recently he had found himself on a familiar street where some years earlier an incredibly dramatic event had taken place whilst we were out and about together. He was reminded of that day and rather sweetly wanted to let me know he had remembered witnessing my random act of heroism.

I don’t know what drove me into action but as soon as I realised there was a problem I was compelled to act. Before I knew it I was running down the middle of the street chasing a car. The car was being driven by a three-year old boy. The boy was standing up on the seat having the time of his life! The engine wasn’t running but we were on one of those steep hills that you get in San Francisco and the car was gathering pace. Luckily the little boy was swerving from side to side which cut his speed a little and also the street was quite wide so he had some room to manoeuvre.

I have always been a fan of Wonder Woman, the capable female heroine who saves the day. The idea resonates with me. In fact, I had once dressed up as Wonder Woman for a ‘Little As You Dare Party’ at The Rum Runner Club and I guess it was some sort of Wonder Woman impulse that pulled me into action that day because I am by nature quite cautious. None of us know what we are really capable of until we are challenged.

So there we were, Roger, myself and roadie Rox having a potter around the shops. The three of us had just purchased an ice cream and we stood on the sidewalk at the top of the street looking down the hill sucking on our ice creams with no plan to go anywhere in particular.

Then out of the corner of my eye the car glides by and I spot the little boy. Without a second thought I handed my ice cream to Rox and legged it down the street after the car. I love the fact that even though I was in the process of diverting a tragedy I had the clarity of mind to save my ice cream! I like ice cream.

So off I charged, shouting and waving my arms at the oblivious pedestrians ambling about on the pavement who at any point could find themselves the victim of a hit and run.

“Watch out!  Get out of the way!  Move!”. Instructions to the passive onlookers were pouring from my mouth. Actually the little boy was doing an amazing job of staying on the road. There soon developed a wave of awareness that swept through the crowd and other people started shouting and gasping in shock when they realised that the car was being steered by a little boy and that there was no adult in attendance.

I’m moving down the street, I’m bionic, getting close up behind the car and waiting for an opening so that I could get to the driver’s door and also avoid getting my legs crushed.

My chance came and I flung open the door, thank God it wasn’t locked. I was ready to grab the boy but then I noticed there was another child in the back, lying down, fast asleep. Still running alongside the car I looked for the hand brake. An American car! Where was the hand brake? The little boy smiled at me with a smile that said I’m having a great day. At which point I grabbed him out of the car and into my arms.

The car free wheeled a little further and crashed into a fire hydrant. I ran up to car to check on the sleeping child who had woken up, he seemed a little dazed but okay. Neither of the children were crying which was a relief.

So there am I, stood on the sidewalk with someone’s lovely little boy in arms. Looking about for a parent or someone who might have an idea of what to do next. The pedestrians on both sides of the street had come to a standstill, quite a crowd had gathered. They were all staring at me and there was a fair amount of disapproving head movement, so it dawned on me they thought I was the incompetent mother of these children. I started calling out to the people around me.

“They are not my children. Find their parents!”

Then a man, the father, came running down the street. He was in a proper pickle as you would imagine. He had parked the car at the top of the road to quickly dash into a shop and he obviously had not put the hand brake on sufficiently well enough.

I handed him his child and walked back up the road to find Roger and Rox and I was more than ready for my ice cream. As I walked away the truth of the situation dawned on the crowd of bystanders who had been witness to the event and they all cheered and clapped as I hiked back up the hill. It is quite something to have a large crowd of complete strangers clap and cheer you, it is unlikely to happen unless you take to the stage in some way. I could see in that moment how one could develop quite a taste for it. It sure feels good to be appreciated.

Amanda

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On Tour With Duran: Fantastic Day

The day started badly. In an early morning daze I drifted through some hotel lobby somewhere in America, my suitcase lagging behind me. I was expecting to see my entourage gathered and ready to move onto our next destination.

The lobby was very quiet. Too quiet. I approached the reception desk.

“Hi, I’m part of the Duran Duran booking”.

“I’m sorry. They’ve already left” she said.

They had already left for the airport without me! Not one member of the band or crew had realised I was missing!  That’s what you get for being ‘one of the boys’.

I hadn’t been given a tour itinerary so I had absolutely no idea where I was supposed to be going. No idea which flight or on what airline. No idea at all about anything.

Also the tour manager had my passport. I couldn’t move from the hotel as it was our only point of contact. At some point they would realise I wasn’t there, wouldn’t they?

I waited by the reception desk for the phone to ring. It was the weirdest experience, I found myself alone in the USA with no passport and very little money. Life sort of stopped. My purpose had left me and was on its way to the airport. I was just waiting, in limbo, seemingly not in control of my own destiny.

Time passed and eventually, after nearly an hour, a call came through. I think they only realised I wasn’t there when the girl at the check-in, with my passport in her hand, had asked where I was!

Everyone else was already on their way through to passport control, I was going to miss the flight.

I was booked onto the following flight and my passport was left at the check-in together with money to pay for a cab when I got to LAX. I now had a destination and I got my sense of purpose back. I scribbled down the details and jumped a cab to the airport.

The flight was uneventful which is how I like a flight to be.

When I eventually arrived at the Hyatt Hotel in Los Angeles I was glad to join a few of the band and crew in the bar. It was a day off so everyone was in high spirits.

I would like to stress at this point that I am in no way approving of destructive behaviour.  Why would someone throw a perfectly good TV out of a hotel window? I just don’t get it, I’m much to practical for that. It is of course your cliché Rock ‘n’ Roll response to drugs and alcohol.

Andy was on a mission to exercise his rock star right to misbehave in a hotel that had some history, but ours was more Pop ‘n’ Roll than Rock ‘n’ Roll. Nothing was broken and no one was hurt.

However a teenage rampage was on the agenda and we were pretty creative pranksters and by the end of the day we succeeded in getting everyone thrown out of the hotel.

It was Andy, myself and another crew member who took off around the hotel to cause a cheeky bit of mischief. First of all we took the lift from floor to floor, creeping up and down the hallways unscrewing the  bulbs from the wall lights sending entire corridors into darkness. If we came across an unmanned housekeeping trolley we collected supplies, shampoo was our main weapon, we managed to dodge a maid and sneak into a bedroom or two to squirt shampoo inside a ready made bed and then there was the effect the shampoo had on the fountain! I thought the bubbles were a good addition.

Then when we arrived on the roof top and found a bucket next to the swimming pool our final grand gesture became clear. It was definitely Andy’s idea but I did everything to encourage him. It was only water. What was that bucket doing there anyway? All those lovely people at street level, basking in the LA sunshine, having a spot of lunch, relaxed and then quite shocked I imagine when a bucket of pool water landed on them. They would dry!

We ran from the crime scene.  It had been a silly afternoon of misadventure but the Police didn’t see it that way, we were notified that due to the unruly behaviour of some of the Duran Duran party the Hyatt had asked us all to leave.

So we checked out and checked into The Sunset Marquee Hotel where the band Haircut 100 were hanging by the pool. I was teased because I had said at some point that I thought Nick Hayward was quite cute, I soon realised I didn’t think he was cute at all I was just a fan of his album and I wasn’t the only one. On some of the longer tour bus trips Andy and I would plug into a shared Sony Walkman cassette player and bop our way through the Pelican West album with its strong  guitar led grooves, not the ‘coolest’ band on the planet but you can hear why they made a connection with him and as for me I just love to dance.

Amanda

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On Tour With Duran: Thank You

August 10th is Duran Duran appreciation day.

I don’t know who started it but I know it wasn’t Andy!

On August 10th 1985 Drum capsized during the Fastnet yacht race, Simon and my brothers Paul and Michael were on board. It was a tense moment in all our lives but thankfully everyone survived thanks to the heroic skills of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. I wonder if they have an appreciation day?

Paul had conceived a master plan to find a boat and sail her in the Whitbread Round The World Yacht Race. A long time dream of his. So using all of his immaculate and persuasive power he pitched the idea to Simon and Michael. They were both excited by the prospect.

This Olympian style challenge was exactly what was required as a counterpoint to the day job. Simon took time out to gain perspective, this was a no frills experience with some very hairy men, a leveler.

I think it would be reasonable of me to say that the rest of the band were not 100% impressed with the idea. Certainly Nick and Andy thought it was a ridiculous notion and a case of gross mismanagement on the part of the Berrow brothers.

Nick wasn’t the sporty type, he didn’t get it, and Andy was campaigning for a change of management not a big cosy up in a small boat. I’m sure they became even less impressed after the Fastnet drama, lets face it nobody wants to lose their lead singer. Then looking ahead to a potentially hazardous Whitbread Race when Drum would be rounding Cape Horn and dodging icebergs in the Southern Ocean, well, it really put the proverbial wind up them. This was not a feat for the faint hearted.

Simon didn’t need any persuading though, this was a life affirming quest, he had a passion for sailing and living life to the full and he was going to do this, so there. Simon knew his own mind and he bounced back after his near death experience with his usual gung-ho attitude and he threw himself into the adventure.

They were the only British Maxi to sail in the Whitbread that year. They came in 3rd overall and I think we can all be very proud of their achievement especially given the obstacles they had to surmount.

As Duran Duran appreciation day is upon us I felt it was only right that I should consider what it is that I appreciate about them. Why should I be grateful to them?

I guess we are all grateful to have a job we enjoy, but beyond that, what else? Much more than you might think. Weirdly it is only in the past few years that I have come to realise the full extent of their impression upon me.

The main thing is that I now find myself creating music. Decades later I discovered my own talent by pure chance and in so doing put real meaning into the phrase ‘late developer’.

I sort of fell into it. My husband is a singer songwriter and is currently recording his debut album. I programme sound and create a musical world for his songs to live in. The way I understand musical arrangement is largely due to the education I received at the Duran Duran university of relentless touring. So for that I am grateful.

When you listen to the same set of songs night after night you come to understand a lot about structure and arrangement, about what works and why. Not that I was applying my mind to this back then. I was receiving this information at a subliminal level so much so that my understanding feels cellular, there is an instinct that is in part my creative spirit but also I have to acknowledge I was probably most brilliantly brain washed with a really useful insight and I am grateful for the apprenticeship.

The original line up in Duran was an extraordinary union of talent each with their own unique and dynamic vibe which when brought together worked in gorgeous harmony, musically at least if not personally. With so many strong personalities working so closely you are bound to get friction but I think that friction is exactly what gave them the edge over the other young bands that were around back then. Take Nick and Andy, two boys who would not naturally seek each other out as friends however musically the dynamic worked like a dream.

Simon once told me he thought I had a good voice, I was singing to myself in the dressing room and he caught me and chose to offer up some praise. I was shocked into silence. I was definitely a singer but I sang in private because it felt good to do it not because I thought I was any good at it. I sang my way through my childhood with Radio 1, I sang along to everything. My father said if I was as good at school work as remembering the lyrics to all those songs I would be a genius! I wasn’t a genius, I just loved music. The Industrial Revolution looked pretty dull to me by comparison.

Singing live on stage was absolutely the last thing on earth I could ever see myself doing back then, the idea would have terrified me. Then I started singing harmonies with my husband and I discovered that I love to perform live and when I get up on stage to perform it feels like I’ve come home.

Touring with Duran Duran taught me how important it is to deliver a high energy performance and have full commitment to every show. The energy Simon brought was truly amazing, to bounce about like that and hold a tune is not as easy as he made it look and I have to acknowledge Roger, he worked those drums like a Trojan. John had his cool and groovy swagger and Andy, well his ‘kerrang’ energy is missed by many. Nick had less to do physically, but like I said, not generally inclined toward physical exertion.

Amanda

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On Tour With Duran: Love Is The Drug

Security at Tokyo airport was the most intense airport baggage check experience I’ve ever had. I always carried with me a plastic tool box which was my ‘be prepared for any eventuality’ box of tricks. So if the boys ever had a headache, cough, cold, sore throat, bad hair moment, cut finger, ripped seam, lost button, I would be ready. They not only needed to look good they needed to feel good. Right?

The box also served as a stage makeup kit, Kanebo pressed foundation was a firm favourite and I also carried all the usual makeup necessities that you would find in any decent makeup bag.

To the Japanese airport officials I obviously looked like a drug smuggler. This was the perfect vessel in which to disguise and transport illegal drugs. They looked at every item, picked it up, unscrewed the lids, took a sniff.

“What’s this?” he said.

“Those are headache tablets”.

The label itself was obviously not convincing enough.

“What’s this?”

“Cough syrup”

“What’s this?”

“Glue”

Yes I was prepared for any event and so it went on until they got through my entire collection and finally let me go after much sniffing and tasting and scrutinising of my face, searching for the tell-tale signs of a drug dealer under pressure. If I was at all twitchy it was because everyone else had already cleared customs and they were waiting for me on the other side.

The Japanese had a very strict code of behaviour that they expected the fans to follow. The concerts were seated and under no circumstances were the fans allowed stand up let alone storm the aisles. The venue security stood firm and those were the rules. The fans held it together but looked like they were ready to explode. Which is exactly what they did after the show when they gathered in numbers outside the venue waiting for a glimpse of their heart-throbs.

It was decided that I should leave in a decoy limo so that the band could sneak out through another exit. One of the roadies joined me in the back of the limousine and as we exited the venue we were mobbed. The limo had little Japanese girls stuck all over it, shrieking in the highest pitched scream you’ll ever hear. Think vampires, think horror. We couldn’t move for bodies and faces squashed over every inch of the vehicle. Really dangerous for them and I didn’t exactly feel 100% safe either, it was really claustrophobic. They just couldn’t contain themselves any longer, they wanted Duran flesh. They were out of control, all their Japanese dignity had left them and hysteria reigned.

Eating out in Japan was a favourite pastime. There was a restaurant in Tokyo that had bench style seating around a couple of chefs who were knocking out wok food at breakneck speed. You had to be attentive because when your order was ready Chef took hold of his wooden shovel, not dissimilar in appearance to a snow shovel with an extra long handle, and he sent the food flying across the room towards you with a kamikaze shout, which meant you had to grab the food quick. I guess he was saying the name of the dish but he said it with such passion and Japanese being so foreign to me it made for very high drama.  Not the most relaxing dinning experience but loads of fun.

Shopping was another favourite pastime. Nick in particular embraced the opportunity to buy electrical goods and gadgets at cut prices, the clothes were colourful and well cut, we all found a top or two to love and the silk kimonos made gorgeous presents to take back home. Yes we loved the shopping. Whilst I was shopping with Nick in Tokyo we bumped into David Sylvian, lead singer with the band Japan, there in Japan. We must assume he really loved the place.  We did too.

Amanda.

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On Tour With Duran: Push Your Luck

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My father was a gambling man, as was his father and grandfather before him. So when my brother Michael mortgaged his home to the tune of twenty grand in order to finance a support slot for Duran on the Hazel O’Conner tour it seemed like a perfectly right and reasonable thing to do. It was a gamble, no question about it, there was no record deal on the table, there were no guarantees.

My brothers Paul and Michael had been running a successful nightclub in Birmingham called The Rum Runner. My father had originally opened the club and casino in the early sixties. Then in the late seventies when disco was hot the club once again became the place to be.

At first I didn’t pay much attention to the fact that my brothers were managing a band. I saw the boys in the club, we sort of skirted around each other. We were from different worlds. I’d never met a band before! They might as well have been aliens.

The O’Connor tour turned out to be a risk worth taking, the exposure secured a recording contract with EMI. Their debut album got to # 3 in the UK charts and Girls on Film went to  # 5. Everyone was a winner.

My brothers offered me a job on the British tour which I readily accepted. I was employed as part of a merchandising team, when I say team there were two of us and for £70 a week I was also expected to, as Paul said, “Keep the chaps looking presentable”. I had great fun for a few weeks and I even got to drive a truck.

Duran mania had begun. With girls screaming and sobbing everywhere we went you couldn’t help but equate Duran with the Beatles. The Duran boys sold themselves with all their inherent wit and charm just like the fab four and it worked on the fans like a dream.

At the end of the tour the band took off to god knows where and I moved to London, got myself a flat share and a job waiting tables in Covent Garden. The weeks went by and then one evening a call came through to the restaurant. It was Paul, “Can you be ready to fly to the USA in three days? It’s chaos on the wardrobe front. We need you to sort it out”.

So I packed in my job at the restaurant right there and then. EMI vouched for me as an employee in order to get a swift visa organized and a few days later I took a taxi to Heathrow airport to meet up with the band and crew. We boarded the plane and headed for New York.

Upon arrival we poured ourselves into the stretch limousines and drove into the city. I was thrilled to be embarking on this adventure and I remember hanging out of the window, looking up at the sky scrapers soaring up above us, waving at strangers and shouting hello as we drove by. The boys urged me to get back inside the limo and behave myself, which I reluctantly did but my free spirit wanted to shout out to the people of New York “Look at me, I love my job”.

That said, the day to day requirements of the job were pretty mundane. My job title was wardrobe mistress, wardrobe supervisor would be the politically correct term used these days. Essentially there was a lot of washing and ironing, I saw a lot of laundrettes, which was largely uneventful except for one time when we were in Detroit.

It was wash day and I needed to find a laundrette so the hotel ordered a cab for me and instructed the driver to take me there. We drove some distance to a district on the outskirts of the city and he dropped me and my two sacs of laundry on the sidewalk outside the laundrette. I think it would be fair to say that this laundrette was not usually frequented by Caucasians. I paused to consider my options but the cab had already gone. So I got on and loaded the machines. Checked the street once more, yep definitely the only white person on the block. I retreated back inside, laid low, it would be fair to say I felt completely out of my depth in this neighborhood.

You see, I was from Solihull. For those that do not know of Solihull, let me fill you in. It was an incredibly safe white middle class piece of England surrounded by green belt land in which to gad about. The only time I ever felt unsafe was on the Waltzer when the fair came to town!

Meanwhile back in Detroit I had finished and folded and stacked the clothes into five individual piles, think Snow White. I ventured back onto the street, not a cab in sight. Not a phone box and no mobile phone. I stood like a lemon at the side of the road, it was getting late. The band would be at the venue and I should have been there getting their stage clothes ready for the gig that night but I was stuck. Fuck!

We had come from New York where it had been impressed upon us that there was no way we should use the subway, day or night, we would be asking for trouble, we would not be safe at all. There was a good chance of being mugged and maybe stabbed or even shot.

Fuck! Was there danger in Detroit? Yes! Very probably! Fuck!

Then slinking out from a nearby side street, cruising the hood, came a police patrol car. I swiftly stepped off the curb and into the road, frantically waving my arms and there may have been some jumping. The police pulled over. I explained my dilemma to them and they graciously gave me a lift back to the venue. Was there ever anyone more relieved to be picked up by the police and transported in the back of a police car?

Sometimes socks would go missing, you know what commercial washing machines are like, they eat them. It was hinted at that I might be running a side line selling their socks and underwear to the fans. I could certainly have found the buyers. Of course it would also be reasonable to assume they had been leaving them under their hotel bed from time to time.

Amanda.

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