Bell Sheffield – The Memoirs Of A 1980’s Sheffield Mod
It’s always refreshing and informative to hear of other friend’s memories from the 80’s Mod days. Not to mention a lovely walk down memory lane for the visitors to the site. Additionally also hearing their own personal stories and happy memories from the old Mods of the 1980s, evokes a sense of warm nostalgia. To coincide with my Mod memories and guest interviews section for the site, I recently caught up with my friend Bell Sheffield. Bell an active and respected participant on the Mod Scene spanning over thirty five years, shares some of his memories. Here is Bell’s transcript. 🙂
What attracted you to the Mod Scene?
I wasn’t initially drawn to the Mod scene as I spent my time on the Soul scene. I was later to realise, the guys that were dressing sharp and had an appreciation for the same tunes as myself, were Mods. Therefore this is when I was to begin dressing similar myself. Before I knew it, I was considered a Mod. Even got myself an old scooter to trot around on.
I do remember you writing & selling your own Modzine Bell, back in the 80s. One of which I purchased back in 85 /86 from Pulse in Sheffield. Tell me a little about the Beyond All Limits Modzine pls & how you came to write it.
I picked up a fanzine from Pulse in Sheffield at the time. I thought it was rubbish and slated it to my girlfriend at the time, saying that I could do better. She said “Why don’t you then”? I got myself an old type writer and had a go. Started off with the name “First Impressions”, but soon realised there was another fanzine of the same name. I tried to think of something that would tie-in with the scooter club that I was in, which was called the City Limits. So, Beyond all Limits was born. I was sponsored by several businesses of interest to Mods, such as Pulse and Barney Goodman (tailor). It got to number 8 in the national top 10 conducted by The Merc, who also sold it.
How would you describe your atypical “Mod” dress back in the 1980s & of those items of clothing, were there any that were your favourites?
Ooohh. That’s a hard one. Early 80s, I was wearing mainly second hand clothes. We used to go to a shop in Sheffield on Saturday mornings run by a little old lady and look through all the suits and shirts she had. Then we’d take the suits and get them altered. It was rare to find a good one that fitted well. About ’84 I’d had enough. The supply of decent suits was drying up and everyone was looking too conservative for my liking, so I took the initiative to do it properly and get suits made from scratch. Barney Goodman was the obvious choice.
I was like a kid in a candy store. I got quite carried away with all the different stuff you could have made, so experimented a bit with colour, shape and texture. My favourite jacket was a bright red blazer. Loved that jacket, right up to the point where I was stood leaning against some railings at a Gorleston rally, listening to the James Taylor Quartet playing. At the time, I was later to realise that the railings had been oiled leaving a huge mark on my jacket.
I liked the extremes. The striped trousers or checks. The amazingly long collars on shirts. I liked that we had developed far beyond the “uniform”.
What were some of your favourite tracks in the 1980s?
I had loads. The 80s were a long time, so my taste in tunes were to change quite a lot from one end to the other. Ruth Brown and Astrud Gilberto were my favourite artists up to the mid 80s. Along with assorted blues artists. I think having decent clubs to dance in made a big difference.
Loved Hip City by Junior Walker and The Allstars, but it was common back then to play pt 1 & 2, back to back. It took a bit to see that through.
Junior Walker and The Allstars – Hip City Parts 1 & 2
SoulGalore ForYou, Jan 29, 2018
Like dancing to Listen Here by Brian Auger. Half way through you need a drink.
Brian Auger – Listen Here
Pete Griffin, Published on Aug 26, 2009
My favourite, has to be Champ by the Mohawks. Couldn’t sit through it. I just had to get up and dance
The Mohawks – The Champ
dhpidance, Jun 17, 2008
What Mod events from the 1980s remain prominent in your memory?
The Hip Citizens Polish club do’s were great. I enjoyed the Phoenix / CCI Mod rallies and events, but have never been a fan of the whole ’79 thing and that got on my nerves a bit. Blackpool, Scarborough and Great Yarmouth /Gorleston were my favourite rallies. Blackpool was good, mainly down to the venue, which was great. Loved to travel by scooter to the rallies. You got a sense of achievement when you made it there. The R&S set were good, but it all got a bit anal, and not in a good way.
What has kept you attracted to the Mod scene, 30 odd years on ?
The style, overall. The music and clothes have changed, but still clearly within the theme. Not sure I would know what else to do, if I’m honest. Friends within the scene are important too. They stick by you come what may.
What is your atypical dress now in 2019?
My style is more just eccentric now. I wear strange outfits like Lederhosen, sailors uniform and the Kriegsmarine uniform. I still wear what would be considered Mod, but I like to play with clothes somewhat. The more outrageous, the better.
Are there any particular events that you have attended in recent times that are memorable for you personally?
I loved the King Bee, and also dig the Pow Wow club. Unfortunately, I don’t get out as often as I’d like these days, due to my condition.
What are some of your favourite music listens that are played now?
I still like the same sort of things as I used to. Now, it’s become about listening to tunes that I hadn’t heard back in the 80s. I like jazzy flavoured Soul, and R&B. Memorable tunes are “It’s gonna rain” – Gentleman June Gardener, “Think it Over” – BB King and “Mojo Hannah” – Little Ester Phillips.
Gentleman June Gardner – It’s Gonna Rain
bricomaligno Published on May 13, 2012
BB King – Think It Over
Lee Miller Published on Jul 23, 2012
Little Esther Phillips – MoJo Hannah
TimidTomas Published on Jan 25, 2012
Bell continues his Mod journey today from those hazy days in the 1980s to here and now in 2019 and may his long & pleasant Mod journey continue. He is also admin for the groups on Facebook Modernistas as well as Mod Films+.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bell personally for his time recollecting and his chats regarding his Mod memories. It’s been a real pleasure as always not only for myself, but hope for you, the readers, too.
© 2019, Jayne Thomas. All rights reserved.