A blast from the past: D.J. Long and the band Growing Up Different
Most islanders know David Long as the mild-mannered politician who served four terms on the Jamestown Town Council. He was elected to the office in 1999 and served as the council president.
But Long, who is now a work-at-home father of twin girls, had a former life that was starkly different — that of a singer-writer, keyboard-playin’ rock ’n roller.
Yup. In those days he was known as “D.J.” Long and was one of three members of the successful band Growing Up Different.
Long was raised in Cranston and summered in Jamestown on the island’s north end at his grandmother’s home that had been in the family since the 1920s. He started playing in a rock band after attending just a few classes as a freshman at the University of Rhode Island.
He never looked back.
Long and fellow musicians soon “migrated to the Washington, D.C. – Baltimore area” where they launched the band “Face Dancer.” Long said he played with Face Dancer off and on over the years, but had left the band due to health reasons just before the group landed two major record contracts.
Long and several musicians from Face Dancer later formed the band Growing Up Different. The group was fairly successful by any standards, playing concerts “all over the Eastern Seaboard” from Massachusetts to Florida.
“We had quite a following,” Long says, describing the group as “techno-pop, new wave.”
Because the band was small and did not require much stage equipment, the group also became popular as the opening act for several other bands, including the Eurythmics, Berlin, Level 42 and Todd Rundgren.
“That was my job and my life,” Long recalls. “We toured and played concerts. We had the equipment and the roadies.”
There was a time when Long did not have any concerts to play, so he and a fellow band member became singing comedians at a Washington, D.C., comedy nightclub. “We were sort of the new wave Smothers Brothers. Instead of doing stand-up comedy, we were sitting in chairs on stage,” he says.
The comedy gig lasted about six months, he says.
In 1985, a film student did a short video of the band Growing Up Different, which was submitted to MTV and the USA network. The song was titled, "Watching in the Moonlight." Long wrote the music and the lyrics. Long said he recently joined the Internet group Facebook and discovered that the film student, who had moved on to Hollywood, had posted the video to YouTube last month.
“It’s a real blast from the past,” Long says of the video. He was 32 years old when the video was made. “I had a lot more hair back then.”
Long says he has had fun re-connecting with fellow band members through the Internet. He says Face Dancer’s music is enjoying new popularity. You can read more about the group at FaceDancer.net.
Growing Up Different never did hit the big, big league, Long says, although the group did negotiate with a couple of different record companies over contracts that “never happened.”
Long says today he still plays the keyboard and has written a few children’s songs. He occasionally sings at Trattoria Simpatico on Thursday evenings. Long and his wife, Dana, live on the north end of the island with their twin daughters, Sophie and Jesse.
And that’s his real full-time job these days: taking care of the twins.
— Jeff McDonough