When the Caesars ruled in Shields

Johnny Caesar.
Johnny Caesar.

You may remember the wonderful photo of South Shields pop group The Caesars which appeared in Time Of Our Lives.

Well it prompted band member Johnny Caesar (formerly Jack Brownless) to get in touch, to tell us not only about the band, but also about his own career as a musician and an actor.

The picture we ran of The Caesars, which prompted Jack Brownless to get in touch.

The picture we ran of The Caesars, which prompted Jack Brownless to get in touch.

This is the first part of Johnny’s fascinating and often funny life story.

“It was good to see the old photo of the Caesars again, even though the memories of when it was taken have long faded,” says Johnny.

“The pit in the background was Boldon Colliery and the band, from left to right, were: Keith Mackenna (drummer), Jack Brownless (lead guitar – that’s me leaping in the air), Dennis Mackieth (bass) and Al Glenwright (lead vocals and rhythm guitar). We all called him Glenn and I consider him to be the finest pop singing voice to ever come out of canny Shields.

“Of course, we all sang, and musical harmony was the main strength of the group.

“Sadly Keith and Glenn have passed away and are no longer with us, but the three years I was with the group have left some great memories, from the TV shows, the recording sessions, touring Germany, the clubland command performance, in Blackpool, hosted by none other than Stanley Mortenson, the Blackpool and England centre forward, who is also from South Shields,

“I can still leap in the air, as in the photo, but the jump seems to get lost in my body somewhere and my feet stay on the ground!

“I was the songwriter in the group, and I wrote Runaround Girl, which became the B-side of the record, as Decca Records wanted Honey and Wine as the A side, as it was written by Goffin and King, famous American songwriters who had written a string of hits, such as Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and many others.

“The next single I wrote was the A-side called On The Outside Looking In, which was featured on TV, on Thank Your Lucky Stars, Juke Box Jury and others, and was our greatest success, getting to No 31 in the Top 40.

“The B-side was Can You Blame Me, which in itself was good enough to be an A-side.

“The keyboard player and arranger on the recording session was Les Reed, who went on to write It’s Not Unusual and Delilah for Tom Jones.

“The third record I recorded with the Caesars was Five In The Morning, the B side being It’s Superman, but I left the group before it was released, so I don’t have any information that.

“All I knew then was that the Caesars broke up some months later.”

* Find out what happened next to Johnny in tomorrow’s page.