Culture, Issues, Music
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That Time Simon LeBon Worked in My Office

Like many 13-year-old girls in 1984, I often dreamed that Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon would one day randomly show up at my door.

Unlike most of those girls, however, that actually ended up happening to me.

And the story is nuts.

In the early ‘00s, I worked at Rykodisc, an independent record label. If you are “of a certain age,” you may remember Ryko for its David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Frank Zappa CD reissues and/or its trademark green CD cases. The Business Affairs office, where I worked, was located outside of Philadelphia in Main Line suburban Bryn Mawr, PA, in a nondescript compound: Ryko had the building in the front (an old 1920s-era stone mansion), while RuffNation’s successor company occupied the two brick stable buildings in the back, which they had renovated and converted into offices and a state-of-the-art recording studio.

One day, our office manager (we’ll call him Eric) brought some payment approvals or something upstairs to my office for signature. Eric was about 6 years younger than me, in a pop punk band, upbeat, fun, absolutely laugh-until-you-cry hilarious, and kind of like everyone in the office’s little brother. He was also perpetually nervous, so while I signed the papers, he started talking to fill the silence. “Yeah, so… some guy… I think he said his name was Simon? Le Bon… or something? He came to the door asking me to print out a bunch of lyrics. I guess the studio’s printer is broken.”

Every once in a while in life there are those needle-scratch-across-the-record moments, and this was one.

… or it would have been, had I not in that moment lost all capacity for language, comprehension, geography, the space-time continuum, and my relation to and/or place in any of it.

I dropped my pen and stared at Eric.

“S-Simon? Le Bon?… Simon Le Bon? … Came to the door?” I choked out.

“Yeah,” Eric shrugged, as blasé as if he was telling me the day’s mail just arrived, “I’m pretty sure that’s what he said his name was.”  

I gaped at him, simultaneously trying to comprehend what was happening, how it was happening, and how he could possibly not understand all the happening.

“When?” I squeaked.

Noting my strangled reaction, he looked at me with a strange and confused side-eye and replied, “Uh… maybe twenty minutes ago?”

I gaped at him. I couldn’t breathe. And I’m pretty sure I was shaking.

“Eric,” I began as a whisper, my voice raising in volume with each subsequently uttered word, “the next time a member of Duran Duran comes to the door, you need to tell me immediately!”

(Reader, I put that in his end-of-year review, even.)

A light flicked on over Eric’s head, and, in his best Joey Tribbiani, he jumped back and began pointing “OOH!! OOH!! OOH!!”

I stood up and pointed right back at him, exclaiming, “THAT’S WHAT I’M SAYING!!”

Sitting back down, I threw up my hands in exasperation and yelled, “How do you not know who Simon Le Bon is?!”

Eric laughed and blushed. Eric was always laughing and blushing.

“I don’t know. I’m a dude?”

After several more minutes of me trying to pump Eric for information he didn’t have as to WHY. MY FAVORITE MEMBER OF DURAN DURAN. SIMON LE BON. WAS AT OUR DOOR. IN BRYN MAWR, PENNSYLVANIA. Eric took the signed paperwork back downstairs to his desk. I sent an emergency email to all of my female Durannie co-workers throughout the company’s various offices around the world, and, in those days before social media, we proceeded to shriek together via group email.

It turned out that Simon was working with a producer on a track for the upcoming Duran album and would be at the studio for a week. I was friends with the studio’s engineer, Matt, and I reached out to him to see if there was any way I could get to meet Simon. He said he’d try to make it happen and would be in touch.

In the meantime, the studio’s vocal booth was situated on the other side of the wall from our office’s conference room… and we could hear through the wall. At one point during the week, around lunchtime, someone noticed that Simon was working in the booth, so the entire office ordered lunch and ate together in the conference room while listening to him record his vocals.

Finally, after an agonizing wait,  the afternoon of the very last day of the week, Matt called me and told me to come over.

Carrying a black Sharpie, copies of several Rio-era 12” singles, and the 1985 Duran Duran “Arena” board game, I walked into the studio’s control room where Matt and Simon were standing behind the console. Simon saw me and was rather cold and stand-offish until I told him that I had been a huge fan since 1983, and then he warmed instantly. He signed all the records and the game, which he laughed at, remarking, “I don’t even have the board game!”

Then we posed together for this photograph, which was snapped by Matt…

Mere seconds after Simon exclaimed, “Say sex!”

Filed under: Culture, Issues, Music

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Michelle Arnold

Michelle Arnold (@a_mixtape_in_photographs) spends her days writing music agreements in her job as the Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs at The Orchard (a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment). She then sometimes comes home and spends more time writing about music (albeit from a fan's perspective and with a much more comedic voice). Over the years, her writing has appeared in Fright X Magazine and (under the pseudonym Molly B. Denham... you know, like the periodic element) on ForcesOfGeek.com. Her favorite bands are Pulp, the Smiths, and Belle & Sebastian, her favorite member of Duran Duran is Simon, and she has to tell you that the opinions expressed within her writing should not be construed to be the opinions of The Orchard or Sony Music Entertainment.

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