Fan Stories #1 Lulu
Fan Stories #1 – Lulu Kyriacou
The all new fan stories series talks to fans of the band and gets their story about their favourite times in the band history. For pt1, we hear from Lulu Kyriacou, a fan who was there at the start. This is a guest post so all the writing is from Lulu, no editing at all. Over to Lulu:
Back in the early 80’s, it was tough being a Duranie, after all there were dozens of us and how often did you get the chance to see them? None of the buggers would have known me from Adam anyway! So to be honest, even sitting in the lobby of the Royal Gardens Hotel was losing its attraction as my friends and I waited for Duran to return after the last of their Hammersmith gigs. I was much more interested in clubbing anyway to be honest! However my time as a fan was about to get an extension that November evening when Nick Rhodes appeared accompanied by a rather striking individual with black and white hair.
Nick was usually the most chatty member of Duran Duran and he stopped to introduce his companion. “This is Limahl, he is the lead singer of a group I am producing called Kajagoogoo” he said. I remember that I knew I had heard the name before and then recalled that this was the band who had supported Fashion a short while before (I had massive love for Fashion) who I had thought were not so bad as support acts went. As I was a rather extravagant dressing clubber at the time, a disciple of Steve Strange, Bowie and Spandau Ballet, I often got invites to various show case evenings at clubs where the promoter wanted a good show of the young and fashionable in the audience and I seemed to recall a somewhat drunken evening at the Embassy club where the same band had been playing. I had decided that no one with a name like Kajagoogoo was going to be taken seriously anyway!!
However on the way home in the company of my friend Linda, it occurred to me that it shouldn’t be too hard to find out where this new band were recording (and where Nick would therefore be!). It did not take me long actually, a phone and a copy of central London yellow pages was all that I needed…… and of course an unsuspecting drummer who took a call put through to the studio!! Jez never did lose the habit of telling us stuff we were not supposed to know (according to then manager Paul Ryan anyway)!!
Having established the band were at a place called Utopia, off I trotted and that was that. At first it was just myself and Linda and it wasn’t long before the band and the manager got used to us sitting outside. As they hadn’t actually had a record released from the forthcoming album, I think they were a bit bemused by the attention. We had decided that we would hang about until the first single because of seeing Nick Rhodes (sorry lads!) but also because it occurred to us that if this record was a hit, we would be the first, the original fans, something we could never hope to claim with Duran. I have to say I can think of better ways to spend December and January now, certainly warmer ways!
But none of us were expecting Too Shy to make quite the impact it did. I remember though that the band did a gig at the Venue in Victoria just as the record got big and there was a bit of screaming and we got an inkling! We wanted to do all the stuff the hard core Durannies did, like seeing the band off at airports (and welcoming them back) turning up at TV centres and going on the entire tour (when one was announced of course). The manager at the time was a guy called Paul Ryan and he didn’t care for us at all. There were about half a dozen of us by then and it seemed to be his mission to thwart our attendance as much as possible. But he failed miserably. Mostly, it must be said, because Steve and Limahl were RUBBISH at not telling us what they were next doing if were asked. Once Limahl gave us his printed itinerary for the week which made Paul absolutely incandescent! We would climb over the back wall at TV centre when the lads were on TOTP’s, wait at airports, turn up at personal appearances and spend hours sitting outside studios. By the time Ooh To Be Ah was released we were getting invited inside the studio to hear the new remixes and were on first name terms with all five of the band.
But the Tour was approaching and that was going to be our best moment. They guys were going to start by doing a warm up gig at a place called Gold-diggers in Chippenham, Wiltshire and then move on the the first gig proper in Margate (I think!) the next day. None of us drove so Chippenham was a fair old trek for us. In those days the band still walked from their hotels on occasion so they were a bit surprised to see us sitting on the wall outside when they turned up for the sound check, although we had said we would come. A few days before we had broken one of our unwritten fan rules which was never to go to the homes (although we knew where they all live) to deliver a huge bear we had bought to be Tour mascot and we had told Jez when we had given it to him but I don’t think he believed we would really trail over half the country.
Anyway we enjoyed the gig but we had made an error of judgement. The venue was a night club and so the band were on very late and we missed the last bus back to London. We figured we would just have to wait it out to the morning so we sat round the back and talked to the crew who were dismantling. They were very kind to us actually and brought us tea and biscuits. When they were done, the guy who looked after Steve’s guitars, Lionel, asked what we were going to do for the next few hours. We said sit and wait for a bus. Lionel suggested we jump in the crew bus and come to Margate instead! We thought this was a much better idea of course and so we did! We slept on the beach when we got there (it was May so not too cold) and then Lionel let us into the sound check. You should have seen the guys faces! But once they had got over it they put us on the guest list (we didnt usually ask to be fair) and enjoyed another great gig.
The White Feathers Tour was great fun. We did not go to every gig, but did most of them. I particularly remember Birmingham where we didnt have tickets and the band not only provided some but then Limahl dedicated a song to us which was amazing. Liverpool was really good and so was Glasgow. We were pretty friendly with the support band H2O by then and that was their home town and they really looked after us up there. We managed to go to all these gigs because at that time National Express coaches ran a night service which would leave Liverpool for example about 11.30 at night. Aylesbury was the funniest one though. Obviously the ‘home’ venue for the band it was no distance from London either and it was a really good gig. However by the time we had watched it and waited for the band afterwards, once again, the last train had been and gone (you would have thought we would have learnt by then). When we got to the station it was deserted but a train was parked on the platform. In those days trains did not have electric doors and couldn’t really be locked so we climbed in and crashed out. The guard who came to open the station in the morning must have got such a shock as he walked along the platform to the front of the train and suddenly spied a half dozen kaja fans asleep on the seats through the window! He wasn’t impressed either when he woke us up to explain ourselves! For the London gig we sat outside Hammersmith all night so we could be sure of front row tickets and you can see us all in the tour video (not that anyone else would recognise us!).
Looking back we were a bit mad, all that sitting round outside studios and travelling about in the middle of the night, its a wonder we didn’t all get pneumonia or worse! But White Feathers was a great experience for us as well as the band. Although there were other gigs including a residency at a club in Watford which was a mammoth daily trek I can tell you, it was not quite the same. I owe some of the best times of my life to Kajagoogoo and it has been great being back in touch with them all and meeting all the new fans as well as reconnecting with the old!
Thanks so much to Lulu for that story, those must have been really exciting times and it’s fantastic to get a little insight into how those times were for the fans. I do hope Lulu will write for us again, I can imagine she’d have a thousand tales to tell!! I met Lulu after the Stables 2009 gig and had no idea that she had so much history with the band. To be there in 1983 and still there in 2009 shows true dedication and loyalty and that’s something any band would be truly lucky to have.