The day John Taylor gave me heat stroke

In 1985, Duran Duran splintered into two side projects. John and Andy Taylor worked with
Robert Palmer and the guys from Chic to create Power Station, a down-to-earth rock band.
Simon le Bon and Nick Rhodes went to Paris and spent a million dollars on their side project,
Arcadia. Guess which one made huge pots of money? (Hint: not the pretentious, arty-farty
album that was recorded in Paris.)

To be honest, I enjoyed the Arcadia album more than the Power Station because I am not really that much of a rocker. Power Station was “rawk and roll” with actual guitar solos and stuff!
Poor Andy Taylor. He was so repressed in Duran Duran, and finally he could let it out and be himself.

The fans worried that the band was going to break up forever. I was especially worried, because I hadn’t seen them play in concert yet, and it was my life’s goal to see them in person. That
summer, my mind was set at ease a bit, because Power Station was coming to Phoenix!

My friends and I were extremely excited and immediately began drawing up battle plans. The concert was at an outdoor venue, with no reserved seating. Even though seats were not reserved, we all decided we needed to camp out at the box office in case the show sold out. We were absolutely positive that the tickets would be gone in a few minutes.

Buying a concert ticket in the pre-Internet era was a huge pain in the ass. The ticket box office closest to my house was inside a Diamond’s department store in Phoenix. Every Saturday at 10 a.m., the box office would open up to sell tickets. This was the on-sale date for every new show in town. We weren’t sure if there was another event we’d be competing against to get a ticket, so camping was the best alternative.

Lisa and I met up with a few other people there to sleep for the night. We told our mothers that we were sleeping over at each other’s houses because there was no way they would approve of us sleeping in the parking lot of a mall like hobos.

We brought blankets, snacks, boom box radios, packs of cards, and other things that would
amuse us while we were waiting. Of course, we weren’t the only fans who had thought of doing this. We weren’t even the first in line! There were probably about thirty people there altogether. The group formed a quick bond through Duran Duran singalongs. We also looked at photos of the band that the other girls had brought with them, and we screamed bloody murder when we saw one that we liked. I can only imagine how annoying that was to anyone who happened to pass by. I can’t remember if we actually slept or not. I am sure we did, eventually.

Finally, the magic hour of 10 a.m. rolled around. Lisa and I linked arms and started praying for a ticket. The line seemed to move so slowly. Five whole minutes had passed, and we were still in line. I worried that it was going to be sold out. My senses were highly attuned to any signs that the tickets were gone, but people were streaming out of the store with smiles on their faces. In what seemed like eternity, but was probably just a few minutes, it was our turn. We bought our tickets and ran out of the store shrieking with joy.

I knew how Charlie Bucket felt. I had a golden ticket.

Sometimes the best part of going to a show is the planning and anticipation that goes on
beforehand. Since it was July, and school was out, Lisa and I had plenty of time to plan things
out. The show was at Compton Terrace, a large outdoor venue that was about 30 miles out of
town, on the Indian Reservation. We knew our friend Christine had a driver’s license so we were going to ride with her. There were about six of us going to the event together. None of us had ever been to a general admission outdoor show, so we weren’t sure what it would be like. The decision was made to get to the venue at 10 a.m. and wait all day for the show to start, so that we could be right up front.

Being naive teenagers, we had no idea what was in store for us on a sunny July day in Phoenix, with the predicted high temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

The six of us piled into Christine’s car. None of us had brought any water or food along. There was no way we’d be able to eat – we were going to see John Taylor in the flesh! If you want to see God, you have to fast.

We were the first people to arrive at Compton Terrace for the show. I realize this was not a huge surprise to anyone but the six of us. We were overjoyed that we were the only people smart enough to plan ahead so well. We were goddamn geniuses!

The six of us walked triumphantly to the gate, which was closed. Doors didn’t open until that
evening. We had imagined that we’d be let in and then we could roam the grounds freely, and that they would have water and food for sale. This was reality check number one. At this point, a sane person would have left and perhaps gone to lunch, returning later that night.

We were not sane. We were Duranies. We had carried all the gifts we wanted to throw on stage at the band – teddy bears, letters, flowers, etc. etc. I don’t think any of us had panties to throw to them; we weren’t those types of girls. We sat down in the dirt in front of the gate and examined each other’s gifts approvingly. It was going to be mind-blowing to actually interact with John Taylor! (At this point you should realize that none of us really gave a hoot about Andy Taylor, although I was always one of his greatest defenders. He just wasn’t as cute as John.)

By the afternoon, we were hungry, thirsty, and hot. It was probably around 3 p.m. when I staggered over to a corner and vomited, then passed out from heat exhaustion. Luckily by then there were actually some employees around who gave me some water. In fact, the employees were really concerned about our group, most of whom were about to suffer my fate. By the time the gates opened, we had all either fainted or thrown up. That did not dampen our determination to see John Taylor up close and personal.

As soon as the gates opened, everyone rushed to the stage and staked out their territory. It was like Pa Ingalls staking his claim for the Little House on the Prairie. We had claimed our turf, and nothing was going to keep us away. I knew from seeing Power Station perform on TV that John would be standing at stage right, so we all huddled in that section. As the hours passed, we noticed a huge crowd assembling behind us, and we were smug in the knowledge that we had the perfect viewing spot.

The opening act was Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark (or OMD, as they were better known). I was fully prepared to hate them for making me wait for John Taylor. Instead, we all became huge fans of their music and I developed a crush on Paul. (It was just a minor distraction from Duran Duran, who held the lock and key on my heart.) Their sound was very loud, though, and I did get a huge headache.

If you’re keeping track, I had a headache, a stomachache, dehydration and heat exhaustion. I think I was starting to hallucinate at this point, but there was no way I was leaving my perfect viewing spot to go to the medical tent.

Approximately one hundred years later, Power Station took the stage. Robert Palmer wasn’t able to tour with the band, so the replacement singer was Michael Des Barres, who is better known for his role as Murdoc on MacGyver. I’m glad he decided to become an actor later in his career, because his voice sounded like the cries of a wounded cat after a bad Halloween. The songs sounded terrible, and I was deeply disappointed.

Despite the shitty sound, the crowd began pressing in closer and closer to the band. I could look up and almost touch John Taylor (at this point when you read his name you should imagine glitter and flying hearts, and hear angels singing) himself, as he loomed over me. I watched in fascination as his fingers played the bass, and imagined those fingers touching me. It almost made me forget how terrible the music was.

Soon enough the crush of the crowd was becoming very painful. I was having trouble breathing and my knees were buckling. John Taylor noticed the way everyone was pushing and asked the crowd to take “four steps back” so that the people up front could breathe. As soon as this happened, I suddenly felt myself being sucked into the crowd by some law of physics, and ended up much further back. I had also lost my friends.

Just then, the band launched into “The Reflex”. I burst into tears. How dare they play this song without any keyboards — it’s as if Nick Rhodes had never been born! I made my way to the back of the crowd and sat down in the grass, crying hysterically. This is how I spent the rest of the concert.

Eventually we all found each other in the parking lot and had a somber drive home. Each of us had our own personal nightmare: fainting and being carried to the medical tent and missing the show, losing everyone in the crowd and spending the night looking for them, getting stepped on by strangers, throwing up on the stage barrier, and so on.

Looking back, it was one of the best nights of my life. I had seen John Taylor (cue glitter, flying hearts, and angels) live and in person!

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