How a birthday guitar landed entertainer gig performing with Daniel Craig on Our Friends in the North

Johnny Caesar.
Johnny Caesar.

Today entertainer and actor Johnny Caesar concludes the story of his colourful career.

“I hadn’t sang on TV since I was with the Caesars, so I agreed to the part of Eric Burden of Animals fame in the BBC2 series Our Friends In The North which won several BAFTA awards.

“I got to sing House Of The Rising Sun and We Gotta Get Out Of This Place in scenes with Daniel Craig, who is now the latest James Bond.

“My last TV show as an actor was Heartbeat with Bill Maynard (great guy). Then the agent who got me the acting parts decided to retire so I didn’t bother getting another one.

“During my time in Emmerdale I also did a lot of after-dinner speaking and spoke on the same platform as Tommy Docherty, Geoff Hurst, Henry Cooper, Gordon Banks, Norman Hunter, Alan Smith, Jim Watt and many more.

“The most memorable was when I was to speak at a sportsman’s dinner in Peterlee. The main speaker was Dennis Law, of Scotland and Manchester United fame.

“When he was announced he got a standing ovation, then he started to do his speech, and he was very good, so much so that when he finished he got a two-minute standing ovation.

“I was panicking as I had to follow him, so when I was announced I started by saying ‘gentlemen wasn’t Dennis’s speech wonderful? Give him another round of applause’ which they did. I continued by saying ‘I’ll let you into a secret, when I met Dennis in the back room he and I decided to swap each others speeches, so now that you have heard mine I will deliver Dennis’

“Well this got a roar of laughter and I was up and running, and the night went very well.”

Johnny goes on to say that he wrote and recorded a country music CD for Best of British Music, based in Phoenix Arizona.

“As I had been asked to write another song about coal mining, I decided to write a full CD coal mining songs.

“So I recorded 12 songs all about coal mining, even one about The Marsden Rattler which I used to watch, as a boy, clattering down the coast road line with coal from Whitburn pit.

“The title of the CD is The Price Of Coal, and it has been a huge success, with many of the songs being covered by other artists.

“One of the songs is called Senghenydd, the scene of the UK’s worst mining disasters.”

On October 14, 1913,in an explosion at the Universal mine, in Senghenydd, South Wales, killed 439 men and boys and one rescuer.

“On the 100th anniversary of the disaster I was invited to Senghenydd as guest of honour at the opening of the memorial gardens due to the fact that the Aber Valley Male Voice Choir were to sing my song Senghenydd at the remembrance ceremony.

“Afterwards I was made an honorary member of the choir. It was a fantastic day, attended by thousands.

“As I walked among the crowd, I saw a miners banner that read Durham Miners’ Association.

“There were about 10 people around the banner, so I walked over and introduced myself, and they were tickled pink that it was a Durham-born lad who had written the featured song at the ceremony.”

In 2015 Johnny was asked to write a song to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Cambrian mine disaster which occurred on May 17, 1965, in the Rhondda when 31 men died.

“I was given all the information by Bill Richards, a retired miner who was working at the mine that day,” explains Johnny. “And a line he said was ‘it was such a shock because it was an ordinary morning’.

“I thought an ordinary morning became no ordinary day, so I wrote An Ordinary Morning which I recorded it in my studio with my daughter Lesley, who sang the song.

“On May 17, 2015, I drove down to the Rhondda for the commemoration and sang If I Could See The Rhonda One More Time and another song I wrote called The Rhonda Of Yesterday.

“I am still doing two to three venues a week on the Lincolnshire coast and in South Wales, and in 2013 I received the life-time achievement award from east midlands’ clubland. In December and January I will be doing pantomime for Stage Door productions, something I have done for the last 26 years.

“Who would have thought that from joining The Caesars I have gone on to travel the world as an entertainer, writing a song for a world superstar and appearing on television hundreds of times – all because my parents bought me a guitar for my 17th birthday.”