From The Desk Of The Lilac Time’s Stephen Duffy: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg And The Beats

Stephen Duffy was the first singer in a little band called Duran Duran. He left them in 1979 and began a series of other musical projects before settling into the Lilac Time almost three decades ago with brother Nick. The band’s latest album is No Sad Songs. Stephen Duffy will be guest editing all week.


Duffy: I lived in a tent in my parents garden just off the Bromford Road in Birmingham after reading On The Road. I joined the David Bowie fan club when Ziggy Stardust came out, and they sent me some badly mimeographed bits of paper. In a chronology, it said that Dave had re-read On The Road. I was impressed that someone had read a book twice and asked my brother why was this book worth re-reading? Some time later we were in a bookshop in Lyme Regis. It was the Easter holiday, and it was snowing. My brother came over and gave me a book. “This is On The Road,” he said perspicuously. I bought it and The Rolling Stones Story by George Tremlett, which I obviously read first. I found On The Road a little harder, but at that time you persevered with things. How else would Trout Mask Replica become intelligible? We bought stuff and listened to it even if we didn’t get it instantly. Some records you only liked years later. With Jack, however, help was at hand when his wonderful biography written by Anne Charters was published in 1973. I remember realising towards the end that Kerouac was no longer a lonesome traveller and was in fact dead. By this point in my life only Auntie Ethel had died. But Charters opened up all of these other guys to me, Ginsberg and Burroughs and Corso. Burroughs was tough when you’d only just stopped reading The Swallows And The Amazons. But I persevered, like you did and like now no one does. And it all started to make sense. Planet News/Planet Waves, we were on our way to punk my friend. Patti Smith was just around the corner. As were the golden summers of ’75 and ’76 when I lived in a tent just off the Bromford Road in Birmingham, dreaming of Big Sur.

Video after the jump.