illuminated gratitude quote on board

Shock and gratitude

I wasn’t even planning to blog, much less sit down and write a follow-up to Saturday’s Hall of Fame ceremony. After all, I wasn’t even there! I sat here at home, tuned in to the red carpet bit on YouTube, then settled in for a night of television. I checked my phone a couple of times, figuring that there wouldn’t be much news, other than finding out which band members showed, and which did not. I’ll admit that I felt the chances of all fi…I mean six…band members showing up, together, to the induction and stand…yes, together… on stage were about zero, but never say never with this band, am I right?

Little did I know. Very little did I know.

It does not compute

In my head, there was no scenario playing out for what might happen if a band member sent some sort of a letter, as opposed to actually showing up. I didn’t see that coming. Hell, I didn’t even see Robert Downey Jr. being the person to induct them, but that happened too. (Yes, I know the relevance, but no, I didn’t even consider him as an option. I would have much rather seen Lori Majewski do it, but that’s just me.). So, when Simon stood at the microphone and indicated he would be reading excerpts from a letter that Andy sent, well, that did not fit my narrative whatsoever. Again, expectations. You’d think I’d know better.

The words Simon read did not compute. As I sit here typing away, I’m still completely blown away. He read the words “stage four metastatic prostate cancer” and I audibly said “Wait. Who? What???” The wind had been knocked right out of me. I still have that feeling like I must have misheard something.

I commented on a Duran Duran post later that night, saying I just can’t (deal with this news about Andy). There is no processing it. I’m coming around now that it’s been a few days, but part of me still feels at a complete loss. I like having a pathway forward, knowing what will happen. This is like having my happy little world disrupted. I don’t do well with it. I’m sure many of you feel similar. Andy and his family have been managing this together for four years, and we’ve had the news for not even a week. I’m scrambling to make it all right in my head, but it’s a struggle. I need to find a balance, because Andy is still here.

Silver linings

I remember how I felt the night my dad told me the lung disease that would ultimately take his life. He called and very matter of factly explained that he had pulmonary fibrosis. I had never even heard of the disease before, so I wrote down the words along with the address for a website my father wanted me to read. I sat down on our couch and immediately looked it up, reading the patient and family handbook from cover to cover. The news was not just bad, it was devastating. I sat there, completely numb. It wasn’t just that I didn’t move, it was that I was numb and just couldn’t. It wasn’t unlike how I felt on Saturday night. That’s the only way to explain it.

During the three and half years that followed, I’ll admit finding that natural balance between sadness and worry over the disease, and gratitude for every moment we had together wasn’t easy. It is mainly in hindsight where I can find the silver linings and see the little things that made us happy. Sometimes, I’d forget that he was even sick until he’d start coughing. He was still able to come and see my two oldest kids play soccer, he could go to the school plays, and he even built Heather a dollhouse. All the while, he’d remind me to stop focusing on the dying part, because as he put it, until he was in the ground, he was still alive, an active part of our family.

Andy, of course, is not at all part of my family. In some ways I feel like such an idiot for feeling so close to it all. I don’t have that right. I’m just some…fan. No one truly important to him the way the band, their management, his friends, family and wife must be. To me though, Andy was a hero and has been one since I was ten years old. Even though he’d left the band twice, and I’ve more than embraced the person who has taken his place on stage since, in my head, Andy Taylor is part of the Duran Duran I’ve known and loved all along. Maybe some of you feel the same.

Good beer in a local pub

I had the opportunity to write for a website Andy had going for a while. He called it Andy Taylor TV. The best thing about the site, besides the fact that Andy curated it as a way to maintain contact with fans, was that Andy truly believed – and still believes – that fans have a voice worthy of being heard. He really wanted to connect with us, and he wasn’t afraid of our questions or our exuberance. Yes, we were overwhelming at times, but he didn’t mind. He liked the sheer spirit and energy of what we had to offer. Andy wasn’t a perfect guy by any means. He’s got the same problems as anyone else. He laid what he was comfortable sharing out on the table, just as he did last night. It is what it is. Accept it, or not.

I can’t help but have respect for that. Andy seemed uncomfortable being placed on a pedestal as an idol or someone’s hero. I appreciated his rocker persona, the way he was sort of the opposite to Nick. Nick is vintage wine and intellectual conversations. Andy is a good beer in the local pub. I like both, depending upon my mood. It never bothered me knowing that Andy wasn’t perfect or that he didn’t pretend to be something he wasn’t. In fact, I appreciated it.

I did some basic research on prostate cancer, just to understand what Andy has been up against. It is typically treatable if found early. Stage four, or advanced, along with the word metastatic, means it has moved beyond the original location. As I understand, prostate cancer is typically slow moving, although once it has become metastatic, the prognosis seems to change. As I told my dad the night he shared his own diagnosis with me, “You could step out into the street and be hit by a semi truck or a bus tomorrow. Live your life and don’t think about statistics. The only number that matters, is yours.”

Immortality rules

Truth be told, I’ve wondered what days like this would be like. For those of you who don’t know me well, I think in terms of worst case scenario as though it is a competitive sport. It isn’t my best trait, but one that I’ve literally grown up perfecting. I suppose it is a not-so-pleasant side effect from some childhood trauma. (No one escapes childhood unscathed, you know.) Off and on over the years, I’d wonder about what might happen when the time arrived that people close to me would inevitably pass on. Amanda and I would talk about it sometimes, each of sharing our fears. Would we be prepared?

The answer is no, of course not. I’d like to believe otherwise, but there’s just no preparing, no matter how long you have. Everyone dies at the end, but somehow, we pretend the people closest to us have some sort of immunity towards death. It seems like rock stars, idols, close friends and family… and heroes, should be immortal.

I know many of us hoped beyond reason that all six of the people who have made up the “official” personnel of Duran Duran would be on that stage Saturday night. It would seem that the time for having that happen has now passed indefinitely, although – again I remind myself to never say never when it comes to Duran Duran. Even so, I am one of the lucky ones who was able to make a dream come true by seeing all original five members on stage back during the reunion. While I know it was not a perfect period of time for the band, for me as a fan, it was the brightest of moments. I will never forget that magic.

Time is precious

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t comment on their current guitarist – the guy who saves the day when no one else shows up – Dom Brown. He has played with this band now for nearly 18 years. Call him whatever you will, the hired gun, a session musician, substitute player, touring member or even a DJ now – the fact is, he’s shown up. From my perspective, he might not be your favorite DD guitarist, but he’s outlasted both Andy and Warren. Seems to me that he’s worthy of some respect and gratitude. I certainly appreciate all he’s done for Duran Duran. I know he’s not an official member, but to me, he’s part of the family.

The good news is that Andy is still here. We’d look pretty silly doing Andy and his family a great disservice, by mourning him before his time. It is completely natural and part of the processing to make sure he knows we love and honor him, but I’d like to balance out my shock and sadness about his illness with some gratitude that he’s still around. I have no doubt that he was cheering on his brothers and celebrating the induction of Duran Duran into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m incredibly grateful and thrilled to hear that there is no bad blood between them. Life is too short, and time is too precious. For me, that was the best news of the entire night.




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One response to “Shock and gratitude”

  1. Larry Banks Avatar
    Larry Banks

    I’ll start by saying, like you, I appreciate Dom’s contribution and work with the band. He’s the perfect example of a team player. Whether he’s playing his ass off during Ordinary World or stepping out of his comfort zone and singing back up during Tonight United, he always gives well over 100 percent. As far as Andy is concerned, he’s one of the most important musical influences in my life. I didn’t grow up in a guitar rock household. The first guitar driven song that I remember liking was I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett but I learned to listen to the guitar players because of Andy. In the world of popular music, there were a lot of great guitarist around when I was growing up. The unique thing about Andy is, you’ll never hear Eddie Van Halen play like Nile Rodgers and you’ll never hear Nile Rodgers play like Angus Young but Andy Taylor could play like all of them and he did it well. He was the perfect fit for Duran Duran and as well as he could play, it seems like he never let his ego get in the way of the group writing a good song. At any point during the recording of the first three Duran Duran albums, he could have said, I’m the best musician in the group and we’re going to do things my way. When I think about songs like Careless Memories and Wild Boys where he doesn’t play a note until almost the second verse, it lets me know that he put the band before his ego. Those two songs are kicked into 5th gear when Andy comes in. His work outside of the band is nothing to sneeze at too. He’s had numerous features on other artists songs where he totally rocks out but my personal favorite is the solo he played in Rod Stewart’s My Heart Can’t Tell You No. He’s definitely left his DNA all over the popular music that I grew up on. As far as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction for Duran Duran is concerned, I think it’s well overdue but I’m still overjoyed that they’re in. I completely understand the choice of songs that they played during the ceremony but as a fan, I wish that they picked songs that defined their sound more than songs that defined their success. I understand that they had to entertain a global audience with their performance and the easiest way to do that is by playing songs that were international hits but I wish they could have thrown in a song with more depth like New Religion or The Chauffeur. Those songs are interesting enough that they’ll get your attention even if it’s your first time hearing them. To wrap this up and put a bow on it, this induction ceremony has me 100 percent sure about one thing. There is zero chance that I’ll be upset the morning that they announce the nominees for the 2023 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Congratulations to the greatest band in the world.

Hey there, thanks for joining the conversation. I’m happy to read your respectful comments and opinions, so type away! 🙂 -R

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