Duran Duran was my gateway drug, of music, anyways. I fell in love with Duran Duran at the tender age of 8 in 1984. As any gateway, it was the first step to a much larger, much more significant addiction. While Duran is still my musical drug of choice, it lead me to my musical pusher–Smash Hits/Star Hits magazine (The magazine had a slightly different name in the US vs. the UK). I became a Duran fan when living in the Chicago suburbs where I had access to radio and to MTV. At the age of 10, my family moved to a small town, 90 miles away from the city. More significantly than that, it was 90 miles away from radio and MTV. I needed some means to get my drug–music. There were record stores nearby but how did I know what to get?! I couldn’t ask the other kids in the neighborhood. They had no idea who I was talking about when I mentioned Duran! The horror! Thankfully, I found my pusher, Smash/Star Hits magazine, at a local store there in town.
Smash/Star Hits magazine was sold in a store called “Value City”. This store was similar, in ways, to stores like TJ Maxx or Big Lots. It sold items at a significant discount and often sold more name brand items that didn’t sell at department stores or whatnot. Thankfully for me, they sold magazines, which provided me with something to do as my mom wandered around the store. I can’t recall the first copy I saw. I do not think it had Duran Duran as a feature but what I do remember, initially, were the pen pal letters in the back of the magazines. The people who wanted pen pals listed bands that they loved. Over time, I started to notice certain bands listed together. For example, I saw a lot of Duran Duran fans also list Depeche Mode. Hmmm…who was this Depeche Mode? Could I like them, too? I had a vague recollection of hearing the song, “People Are People”. So, at a whim, I bought the People Are People album on cassette. I made it to the song, “Pipeline,” before I declared that it was really weird and vowed to never listen to that band again. Yet, I found myself thinking about the songs I had heard, which, of course, led to further listens. Soon, I really liked it!
Soon enough, I started to buy other artists featured in the magazine and featured in those pen pal requests. I wonder how much money I spent on bands and albums that I never even heard a single note from before actually owning the album. I suspect quite a bit. Now, of course, I bought things that I never fell in love with. Overall, though, I fell in love with most things I bought. It was clear to me that Smash/Star Hits magazine and its readers had some pretty good taste and that I could trust them to lead me to good music.
Now, I just wish that I had those copies of Smash Hits still. Can you imagine all of the cool albums, bands, etc. that was discussed? Recently, I discovered that there is a page for Star Hits/Smash Hits on Facebook. I recommend checking it out! I know that I enjoy each and every post I see, especially the ones that are actual copies of the magazine. Those bring back a lot of memories and remind me of a time when music seemed exciting. It was a time in my life in which the amount of cool music coming out seemed endless. I miss that feeling.