I was watching a show about pop stars going on kids’ tv the other night, and I remembered something that had been shut away in the back of my mind for years.
I remember Duran Duran on Top Of The Pops. So do most people who can remember the Eighties, of course, but I remember one specific moment. They weren’t even background noise to my life as a child. I didn’t hear them on the radio or on TV that I knew of – my parents didn’t listen to radio stations or watch TV shows that Duran Duran would be anywhere near. Ours was not a house that vibrated to the latest fantastical sounds of Electro.
I do remember, though, one moment I saw them on Top Of The Pops, and it might even have been on the special End of the Eighties edition that they had around Christmas 1989 or New Year 1990. I would’ve been watching it for Jason Donovan then.
No, I remember Duran Duran for one moment that either shaped or just commented upon who I had become even by then and who I would continue to develop into.
I remember SImon Le Bon. I should be able to claim a memory of John Taylor’s hair, but I don’t. I remember Simon Le Bon and I remember his clothes – he was in a suit (I think it was grey and I even think the sleeves were rolled up to his elbows like he was Don Fucking Johnson). I’m reasonably sure it was Duran Duran, but I accept the possibility of it being misremembered. Still, I wouldn’t have made up a memory like this, not with Duran Duran.
It wasn’t, I’d like to point out, that I liked what I saw. On the contrary, the reason it stayed with me all this years, burned into my memory, is this:
I couldn’t understand why he was wearing a suit. Rock stars do not wear suits. Rock stars do not wear grey suits with the sleeves rolled up. Grey suits are for normal people. Rock stars are not normal people!
Of course, the irony is that in a lot of their videos, they’re dressed up like New Romantic muppets, with acres of lace and faux-piratical jeackets and ridiculous trousers and so much hair lacquer that they need to be earthed.
No, I didn’t understand at the time, because I knew what rock stars were supposed to be like. Rock stars wore leather jackets. Rock stars wore jeans and had guitars. Rock stars didn’t look like ‘The Man From The Pru’. Rock stars didn’t use electronic machines to make music, they used guitars and drums. Leather jackets, long hair and guitars, that’s what rock stars did. Like Elvis, you know.
Even Jason Donovan, though his music was generic, full of drum machines and ultimately bollocks, wore a leather jacket. Sure, didn’t he even have guitar? It wasn’t plugged in, but he had a guitar.
No, Duran Duran helped me earn a very valuable lesson that day in 1989: what a rock star is, and what he most certainly is not.
STOP PRESS: I think I’ve found the one. Note that it’s black and not rolled-sleeves but… tell me that’s not a chartered accountant from 1988.