The glitzy and not so glitzy nightlife of Westside and Birmingham’s wider city centre in the 1970s has been unveiled in a new book by rock impresario Jim Simpson.
The decade is chronicled as never before in Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Birmingham, researched and written by Jim and his brother Ron Simpson.
The brothers have been at the very heart of the city’s music scene since the late 1960s, with Jim helping to create success for Black Sabbath, one of the city’s biggest cultural exports of the era.
Jim was Black Sabbath’s first manager and took them to the top of the charts, going on to manage other successful bands. He now runs Henry's Blueshouse music club and the Big Bear record label, as well as organising the annual Birmingham, Sandwell and Westside Jazz Festival.
The book tells the stories behind former Westside clubs like the Rum Runner, which sat on Broad Street from 1964 to 1987, before closing to make way for the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Also featured in the book is the Opposite Lock nightclub on Gas Street, which went on to become Bobby Brown’s, and Barberella’s, which was once located at 41 Cumberland Street, off Broad Street.
The clubs were the breeding ground for many of the emerging city bands of the era, and as well as Black Sabbath the book reveals early stories about Duran Duran, UB40, Dexys Midnight Runners and many others.
Jim Simpson explained how the book is the latest in the Dirty Stop Out’s Guide series that has previously covered the likes of Coventry, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Chesterfield and other places. He described how the Birmingham edition is full of rare photos and memories from local figures as varied as Jasper Carrott and Tony Iommi.
He said: “Birmingham had a thriving live music and nightlife scene in the 1970s. It was an exciting place to be and this book is a true celebration of the decade.” Ron Simpson added: “It was the decade that gave us everything from disco to punk via heavy rock and reggae and Birmingham was at the centre of everything.”
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: "How wonderful to have a book that covers parts of Westside's nightlife back in the 1970s!
“I'll be buying this, and I bet many of the nightlife workers and customers of today will be interested in this history as well. We're lucky to still have Jim Simpson working in and around Westside with Henry's Blueshouse and the jazz festival. He really has become one of the music icons of the area."
The Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1970s Birmingham is published by Brewin Books and is available now from all good bookshops. It gets its official launch at 7pm on Sunday 18 October at 7pm at a session of Henry's Blueshouse at Velvet Music Rooms, 200 Broad Street, Birmingham.