South Yorkshire author and music fanatic Tony Beesley has been touched by the hand of Mod.
So much so that his latest book attempts to cover a scene which has existed in various permutations and strengths for more than half a century. And although this could be seen as an act of madness, the result is just full of the facts about modness.
It was seen as one of the first attempts by British teenagers to break away from the lives they were supposed to have and create their own styles and music and although there are several books available on various aspects of mod, Tony felt that there wasn’t a comprehensive look at the history and various branches of the movement, and he thought, to quote late Seventies revivalists Secret Affair, this is the time for action...
So after a year’s hard work - all done in his leisure time as he has a full-time job in retail - comes Sawdust Caesars: Original Mod Voices, a compelling 450-page odyssey which takes a look at... well just about everything.
It’s his first hardback and contains his most thorough research to date, as he has managed to trace some of those who were creating and shaping the scene before he was even born, through the glory days of the Sixties and on to and beyond the point where he came in, the late Seventies mod revival, where his love of The Jam led him not only to seek out some of the new acts influenced by them but also those who Weller and co had been influenced by themselves. Tony manages to cover all bases, showing that even when mod-influenced acts weren’t making it big in the mainstream there has always been a bubbling underground scene and even today teenagers are getting into it.
It’s his most accomplished work to date and unlike his last two works, autobiographical tomes Kid On A Red Chopper Bike and Away From The Numbers: To Be Someone in the 1980s, where he took a personal look at what he’d lived through, this time there is very little of the man himself as he lets his interviewees do the talking. And boy, can some of them talk.
And whereas his first books, The Our Generation trilogy, viewed the South Yorkshire punk and mod revival scenes, this takes a look at the long-running scene and various offshoots in the nation as a whole but with chapters on and mentions of provincial scenes such as Lincoln, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham... and of course Sheffield.
Over to Tony himself: “Of interest to local people will be the stories of the Mojo club and other clubs in the city in the Sixties while further along in the story, Sheffield Mods of the ’70s and the following decades are included.
“Sheffield’s premier Rhythm and Blues club, The King Bee, is featured as is its founder, Lee Radforth, who relives his early Mod days along with his ventures with Richard Hawley at the Leadmill and its Acid Jazz club nights.”
You should be able to get Sawdust Caesars from bookshops and the usual mail order places, but if you want to get in touch with and buy it from the man himself, his website is http://www.tonybeesleymodworld.co.uk
As he says: “Feedback for the book has been extremely positive so far, sales are fast and the book is being described as up there in the top three Mod books of all time.
“Now, that will do me for a compliment any day. In all honesty I have been humbled by the response to the book… in essence though, the acclaim should go to the Mods themselves. It’s their story, their legacy and heritage.
“I just wanted to do them proud… hopefully I have?”