Hope all okay and thanks for all your hard work for us fans…much appreciated!!!!!!!!
Please can you ask SLB if the lyrics book that he famously took to his initial meeting with DD still exists…and if there are any unused lyrics for songs in the book that could be used for future DD material?
Mr. Adrian King
In answer to your question, the book certainly does exist. And what’s more, I think I know where it is. The book, which is standard European size A4, is bound with now much distressed ice-blue cloth wrapped boards. The pages are lined feint, and it must have originally been designed for keeping a ledger or some similar purpose; the kind of thing you’d get from an office supplies shop, like Ryman’s. In 1983 the spine all but came apart, and I had to repair it with white gaffer tape, which it bears to this day. It has been a lyric book since 1977, when my good friend Pete Johns, fellow band-member in my pre-Duran Duran bands – Dog Days, then later Rov Ostrov, bought it. Subsequently, as I was main lyric writer in those outfits, he passed it into my keeping. However, it must be said that Pete also wrote some of the words down inside the very first pages; there is one called ‘Man With A Suitcase’. After those bands folded, I continued to write poems and lyrics for songs in the book. I carried the book around for some years, during which time I went to art school; I worked in a hospital; I lived on a kibbutz in the Negev Desert; I started a course in Drama at Birmingham University, and dropped out at the end of the year. Eventually, I became a member of Duran Duran. In all that time I decorated the cover with ink pen, biro, pencil and marker pens. So when you look at it, it appears to be embossed – with band names, with slogans, little drawings, big drawings etcetera… etcetera.
Something that sticks in my mind, is the now faded, but originally heavily scored in black ink message to myself which reads “singing lessons?”. The question mark betrays the sense of affront, frustration and protest I felt at the time. All because manager Paul Berrow was determined to make improvements to my natural voice and singing style. Accordingly, I was sent to twice weekly sessions with a white haired, bespectacled music teacher in Marylebone. The thoroughly pleasant but over optimistic fellow, spent hours trying to get me to sing like Sinatra. I thrashed at one bloody song, over and over again. What was it?… “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” that’s it! He had one leg shorter than the other, and wore a built up shoe.
Open the book, and inside there are lyrics for songs I’d sing and play on guitar. These songs pre-date my joining DD. I forget how many, but they include “The Sound of Thunder,” “Waiting For The Nightboat,” “Careless Memories” and “The Chauffeur”; as well as, the never recorded, Beverly Hills and Underneath The Clocktower. Significantly, as Nick has often stated, it was that existing body of work, which got me the gig, and made me such an valuable prospect to the largely lyric-less Duran Duran of 1980.
And of course, you will also find that the blue book contains the words for many, but not all, of the early period DD songs right up to about 1983. I remember that during the recording of Rio, it had become a bit of a ritual to copy in the final lyric of each song as it was recorded. This ritual later became a bit of a chore, at which point my interest in the book dwindled and it was, quite literally – shelved.
Later the book became the target for a sustained campaign by the acquisitionalist policies of the now infamous “Duran Duran Archive”. This consisted of Roger Bates’s, Nick’s – now sadly deceased – father’s collection of all things Duran. It contained among other things – clothing, vinyl discs, cassette tapes, CDs, 2 inch master tapes, of demos, interviews, finished recordings in all formats; imports from all over the world, stacks of magazines, merchandise, and generally all kinds of memorabilia. This ever expanding collection, which began in a spare bedroom then spilled out into a garage, and later, when the the Bates family relocated from a suburban semi-detached near Birmingham to a farm in the surrounding countryside, is reputed to have taken over the space of several outbuildings which were once used to house large pieces of agricultural equipment, domestic animals and their feed. At that time, even if I had wanted to, I was unable to locate the book which had, as I’ve said, become an object of desire.
Years later, in 1991 I was moving my family home. It happens that I came to be sorting through a trunk full of old stage and not-stage clothes, which had been put away under the romantic delusion that they’d one day come back into fashion, and that I could proudly wear them again. And I quite by accident came across the legendary blue book of lyrics. It all looked very ordinary to begin with. It looked like any battered and faded, self-vandalised, old exercise book from school days, full of lost ideals and lost meaning. But like some very particular old school exercise books, the kind we all come across from time to time, it held so much for me. As I looked at the cover and leafed through the pages of songs, I began to get a sense of the passion and commitment of my youth. And I experienced a re-playing of the loves the losses and the laughter; of the betrayals and the the victories; the good times and the bad. And above all that I was struck by the desire for adventure, and the determination, which would place my flesh, my blood and nobody else’s, front centre stage, along with Nick, John, Roger and Andy. We were doing something new; something different to that which had gone before. There we were, six feet above the crowd in a blaze of light. Together we were about tell an amazing story. We were poised to become one of our generation’s most exciting bands.