The World in My Eyes (2017)
Though the Los Angeles radio station KROQ bills itself as “world famous”, this autobiography will probably be most enjoyed by locals who listened to the station in the 1980s when Richard Blade was in his heyday (he still has an 80s show on Sirius XM, so listen to it while you’re reading the book for the ultimate flashback experience). Although I had an older brother who gifted me with some essential music over the years (thanks for KISS’s Destroyer, Steve!), KROQ was truly the generator of my musical tastes. Richard Blade’s presence on the station was inextricable from the music he played. With his English accent, he sounded just like the guys in all of those bands my friends and I were so obsessed with … and we were obsessed because we listened to KROQ. I distinctly remember being disappointed when I realized a band I liked wasn’t from the UK. Blade not only had a radio show but also a TV show, MV3, that played videos and had a group of real New Wave kids dancing to them in the studio. He presence, then, was part of the New Wave scene in L.A., and he was like a rock star to me and my friends. I wanted to be on MV3 with excruciating fervor but I worried my clothes weren’t cool enough to be on TV. I also knew that being in close proximity to Richard Blade would be overwhelming.
I was a Duranie and KROQ really fed my mania for them. Duran Duran was the first band I was devoted to and devotion meant not only listening to KROQ to chart how many times Duran Duran was playing during a day (I had an actual chart!) but also collecting posters, magazines (particularly Japanese ones), and every album and 12 inch ever released. I still wear my original 7 and the Ragged Tiger tour shirt and I proudly display the Duran Duran board game in my office! I looked forward to all of the Duran Duran stories in Blade’s book as he was a close friend of theirs, and Spandau Ballet’s, too.
This was a surprisingly interesting read, though it takes Blade a long time to get to the 1980s. But Blade is good storyteller and all of the years he spent scrounging around Europe for radio jobs large and small are just as involving as his stories about being a DJ at a station, despite being relatively “underground”, which had the power to introduce L.A. listeners to a wide array of new wave, postpunk, and other alternative bands. Having grown up in the San Fernando Valley in the 80s, I was really fascinated by all the goings on behind the scenes and it was fun to recognize the names of other KROQ djs like Jed the Fish and Swedish Egil. As for gossip, Blade is relatively circumspect but he does write about being romantically involved with Berlin’s Teri Nunn, and story of him asking her to marry him is really a doozy. Highly recommended just for that!
In terms of research, this book wasn’t enormously helpful but it could assist in rounding out an understanding of how bands were played and promoted in the 80s. Maybe I could interview Blade if I can get a 33 1/3 book on Duran Duran or Spandau off the ground? My 13 year old self is already squealing at the thought!