The Searchers

Mike Pender (Mike Pendergast) lead guitarThe Searchers Photo
John McNally rhythm guitar
Tony Jackson bass guitar
Chris Curtis (Chris Crummey) drums

The Searchers were arguably the second most popular group to emerge from Merseyside. Their vocal harmonies were faultless and they were instrumentally extremely tight; their treble-dominated sound was a strong influence on the Byrds, who ironically were in the vanguard of the new wave of American groups whose impact was to spell the end of British Beat's golden age. In 1964, when the Searchers. toured Australasia and the USA as well as Britain, they were named by the Beatles as their favourite Liverpool group, but their popularity waned after the end of 1965 and they have not been in the charts since April 1966. They are, nevertheless, alive and well and still working regularly.

John McNally formed the group in 1960, taking the name from the John Ford Western. He had been at school with Curtis and Pender; the latter had played in several local groups including the Wreckers and the Confederates. The Searchers made their debut at the Iron Door Club, which remained their favourite haunt, and for a while they became the backing group for Johnny Sandon, a popular singer on Merseyside. Experience at the Star Club in Hamburg followed, and when they returned they came to the attention of Pye recording manager Tony Hatch, who like most pop entrepreneurs in the country was looking for Liverpool talent after the sudden success of the Beatles.

With the success of their first single, the Drifters' 'Sweets for my Sweet', they became the fourth Liverpool group to become major stars (and the first to come from outside the Brian Epstein Stable: they were managed by Tito Burns). The record rose rapidly to number one; and shortly afterwards the degree of the Searchers' nationwide acceptance was demonstrated in two ways. An old recording they had made while in Germany was released, and an E. P., 'Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya' sold enough copies to get into the singles charts.

Their first album confirmed the group's original approach to R Er B standards, and a second single, very similar to their first but written by Tony Hatch under the name Fred Nightingale, sold very well. Their third single, however, was their biggest success and gave them their only million seller. The song was 'Needles and Pins' originally recorded by Jackie de Shannon and written by two Americans, Jack Nitzche, already a well known session musician, and Sonny Bono, who a year later was to make a big impression in Britain with his wife Cher.

At the height of their success the Searchers' lead singer Tony Jackson, a fiery character who had been known in Liverpool as 'Black Jake', left to form his own group the Vibrations. Their first single was a small hit. Mike Pender took over as lead vocalist and Frank Allen (Francis McNiece) who had been with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, became the bass player. The split with Jackson had not been entirely amicable and it alienated some fans, but the group nonetheless achieved a third number one with 'Don't throw you love away' an old Shirelles number.

Chris Curtis was a fair song-writer, but mostly the group adapted other artists' material for their singles: another song recorded by Jackie de Shannon, this time her own composition 'When you walk in the room' reached number three, and a Rolling Stones song 'Goodbye my Love', number four. From 1965 on, however, Searchers singles, although of consistently high standard musically, began to
lose some of their magic and met with decreasing enthusiasm. Curtis, who had generally been regarded as the group's leader, left, and after putting out one single on his own - 'Aggravation' (June 1966) - became a producer for Pye. He was replaced by John Blunt
.

SINGLES

  • June  1963   Sweets for my Sweet/ It's all been a dream      1
  • Sept  1963   Sweet Nothin's/ What'd I say?
  • Oct   1963   Sugar and Spice/ Saints and Searchers     2
  • Jan   1964   Needles and Pins/ Saturday night out      1
  • April  1964   Don't throw your love away/ I pretend I'm with you    1
  • July  1964   Someday we're gonna love again/ No-one else could love you     11
  • Sept 1964   When you walk in the room/(I'll be) missing you     3
  • Dec  1964   What have they done to the Rain?/This feeling inside 13
  • Feb  1965   Goodbye my love / Till l met you    4
  • July  1965   He's got no love/ So far away    12
  • Oct  1965   When I get home/ I'm never coming back 
  • Nov  1965   Take me for what I'm worth/ Too many miles    20
  • Apr   1966   Take it or leave it/ Don't hide it away  25
  • Sept 1966   Have you ever loved somebody?/ It's just the way  
  • Jan   1967   Popcorn, Double feature/ Lovers
  • Apr   1967   Western Union/ I'll cry tomorrow
  • Nov  1967   Secondhand dealer/ Crazy dreams

EPs

  • July  1963   Sweets for my Sweet
    It's all been a dream/Since you broke my heart/ Money
  • Aug  1963   Ain't gonna kiss ya/ FarmerJohn/
    Love Potion Number Nine/Alright
  • Jan  1964    Hungry for love/Don' cha know?/
    Oh my lover/ (Ain't that) just like me?
  • May  1964   Bumble Bee/ Everything you do/
    Magic Potion/If I could find someone/
  • July  1964   The Searchers play the system
    The System/This empty place/
    Sea of heartbreak/ Can't help forgiving you
  • Nov  1964   When you walk in the room/ (I'll be) missing you/
    Someday we're gonna love again/No-one else
  • Sept  1965   Searchers'65
    What have they done to the rain?/ This feeling inside/
    Goodbye my love/ Till I met you
  • Jan  1966   Four by Four
    Till you say you'll be mine/ I don't want to go on without you/
    Everybody clap your hands/You wanna make her happy
  • Oct  1966   Take me for what I'm worth/Too many miles/
    Take it or leave it/ Don't hide it away

LPs

  • July  1963 Meet the Searchers
    Sweets for my Sweet/Al right/ Love Potion Number Nine/
    FarmerJohn/ Stand by Me/ Money/Da doo ron ron/
    Ain't gonna kiss ya/Since you broke my heart/Tricky Dicky/
    Where have all the flowers gone?/Twist and Shout/
  • Dec  1963   Sugar and Spice
    Don't cha know?/Some other guy/One of these days/ Listen to me/
    (Ain't that) just like me?/ Oh my lover/Saints and Searchers/
    Sugar and Spice/All my Sorrows/Hungry for love
  • Apr  1964   It's the Searchers
    It's in her kiss/Glad all over/Sea of Heartbreaks/ Livin', lovin wreck/
    Where have you been?/Shimmy shimmy/ Needles and Pins/
    This empty place/Gonna send you back to Georgia/ I count the tears/
    Hi-heel sneakers/ Can't help forgiving you/Sho' know a lot about love/
    Don't throw your love away
  • Mar  1965    Sounds like Searchers
    Everybody come clap your hands/ Everything you do/Let the good times roll/
    Find someone/ Magic Potion/ Bumble Bee/ Something you got/
    Say you'll be mine/ Make her happy/Goodnight baby/
    I don't want to go on without you/ A tear fell/ Pye
  • Dec  1965    Take me for what I'm worth
    I'rn ready/ I'll be dogone/Does she really care for me?/ It's time/
    Too Many miles/You can't lie to a liar/ Don't you know why?/ I'm your loving man/
    Each time/ Be my baby/ Four strong winds/Take me for_w_hat I!m worth
  • Dec  1966   Smash Hits
    Needles and Pins/Farmer John/Sugar and Spice/What have they done to the rain?/
    Take me forwhat I'm worth/ Love Potion Number Nine/TillImetyou/
    He's got no love/ Someday we're gonna love again/Sweets for my Sweet
  • May  1967   Smash Hits Volume II
    Have you ever loved somebody?/ You wanna make her happy/Hungry for love/
    If I could find someone/ When you walk in the room/ Don't throw your love away/
    This feeling inside/Goodbye my love/Take it or leave it/Saturday Night out

SINGLES TonyJackson

  • Sept  1964 (with the Vibrations)   Bye bye baby/Watch your step    25
  • Dec   1964 (with the Vibrations)   You beat me to the punch/ This little girl of mine
  • Feb   1965 (with the Vibrations)   Love Potion Number Nine/ Fortune Teller
  • July  1965    Stage Door/That's what I want
  • Jan   1966   You're my number one/ Let me know
  • May   1966   Never leave your baby's side/ I'm the one she really thinks a lot of
  • Sept  1966   Follow me/Walk that walk
  • Nov  1966    Anything else you want?/ Come on and stop/CBS

Links