There are mornings that I sit down to this laptop and don’t really know where to begin. I’m feeling that way right now. Beginnings are simply just a starting point. It is what happens after that decision to begin that matters most. Sometimes, those auspicious beginnings aren’t even noticed at the time. The notice comes much later.
Today, very much in hindsight, we celebrate one of those beginnings, although I’m not sure we should really call it a beginning. On this day in 1980, Duran Duran opened for a band named Fashion at the Rum Runner in Birmingham.
There does seem to be some confusion on social media about what this day actually represents. It was not the first gig Duran Duran played with the classic lineup, for example. That came a bit later, in July of 1980. (see the timeline on duranduran.com)
This was also not the first gig Duran Duran played. Their first show was nearly a year earlier, at Birmingham Polytechnic, on April 5, 1979. The band formed during the year prior – in 1978 – although as we all know, it was not yet with the lineup we all recognize.
What this day does represent, however; was the first Duran Duran gig at the Rum Runner, at least to the best knowledge of those who painstakingly compiled the full Duran Duran tour list on dd.com. We know that John, Nick and Roger were there that night, along with Jeff Thomas singing (Simon didn’t audition until May), and Alan Curtis on guitar (Andy didn’t answer the Melody Maker ad until April). They opened for Fashion, a band we don’t often hear about, who also rehearsed at the Rum Runner. It’s kind of wild to think that at one point, Duran Duran was opening for other club bands. Yet as time wore on, Duran Duran became the band to be remembered.
It is somewhat apropos that a picture of Roger visiting the site was posted and tweeted recently. It is difficult to think about that area of Birmingham and not smile. I’m sure that has got to be the same reaction that many of you have, and I’m thankful we can all share those kinds of “memories”, even if we weren’t all there in person. I think of the Rum Runner as a special place in my own history, yet I really didn’t know anything of it other than what I read until much later in life.
When I think about places I wished I’d experienced, the Rum Runner comes to mind every time. Yeah, I would have loved being in that club and part of that scene (although I think in reality we all know just from looking at me that I’d have never quite fit in). I would have loved every second of watching the band grow and come into their own. Of course, I write that full-well knowing that the appreciation of such things only comes with hindsight. Even so, I find myself wishing I could have been there to have been a part of it all from the start.
Was this show really a beginning? I’m not really sure. As I’m writing this, I can certainly see why the band hasn’t announced an exact date of anniversary to celebrate DD40. Do they celebrate the moment John and Nick decided to start a band? What about the first gig – and if they do, is it really the “beginning” when more than half of the members weren’t even a part of it yet? What about the first gig at the Rum Runner? How about the first gig that the classic lineup we all know and recognize played together? It is all very vague, yet—at least in my opinion—all worthy of celebration.
Then again, maybe I’m just in the mood for a party.
To me, this date marks the beginning of the Rum Runner era for Duran Duran, and provides a perfectly good reason to post this video of Planet Earth filmed at the Rum Runner. I love this video because up until the DVD for Greatest was released, I’d never seen it – so it was a complete surprise (and an Easter Egg on the DVD)! I don’t think I had seen many pictures of what the Rum Runner looked like on the inside before I saw this, so when I watch the video, I really try to absorb the vibe. In a weird way, it is a little reminiscent of the club I used to go to on the Redondo Beach pier while I was in college, called Fashions. I love it!
I’m sure most Duranies have seen this video by now, but it’s still one of my favorites. I love the idea of watching the video, imagining what it was like in the club on any given night while the band played. I don’t know very many fans who were Rum Runner regulars back in the day, but can you imagine being one of them, watching Duran Duran skyrocket to fame? If you haven’t seen the video, what better day to watch?!?