The Searchers continue to tour and delight audiences the world over as much today as they have done throughout a remarkable career now spanning five decades. They will be performing as part of a solo concert tour specially devised for the UK. This highly entertaining show will feature all the classic hits such as Sweets For My Sweet; Needles and Pins; Don’t Throw Your Love Away, Sugar and Spice and When You Walk In The Room.
Doncaster Civic Theatre, Wednesday, May 30, 7.30pm. Tickets £18.50/£17 concessions. Tel. (01302) 342349 Doncaster Civic Theatre
The Searchers were founded by John McNally in the late fifties as a skiffle/rock and roll group in the Kirkdale district of Liverpool. McNally is still with the group today.
In the early days they gained local fame as Johnny Sandon and The Searchers. Sandon left to join The Remo Four leaving John McNally, Chris Curtis, Tony Jackson and Mike Pender to carry on.
In 1962 they followed in the wake of The Beatles to gain experience at Hamburg`s Star Club
It was at The Star Club they met bassist Frank Allen, at that time a member of Cliff Bennet & The Rebel Rousers. Frank was to join The Searchers in 1964 and is still with the band today and is a co owner of the name
They were signed by PYE producer Tony Hatch after hearing a home made demo album. Sweets For My Sweet became their first release and, after a glowing endorsement from John Lennon as being ‘the best record out of Liverpool’ shot to the number one position
A run of hits followed (Sugar Spice, DNeedles & Pins, Don`t Throw Your Love Away, Someday We`re Gonna Love Again) before dissention set in and Tony Jackson was replaced by Frank Allen
The hits continued with When You Walk In The Room, What Have They Done To The Rain, Goodbye My Love, He`s Got No Love, Bumble Bee (America), When I Get Home, Take Me For What I`m Worth, Take t Or Leave It, Have You Ever Loved Somebody
An increasingly unstable Chris Curtis departed in March 1966 following a tour of Australia with The Rolling Stones. He was replaced by John Blunt, the first of a succession of drummers (Billy Adamson in 1969, Eddie Rothe in 2001 and, currently, Scott Ottaway in 2010)
When the hits stopped cabaret became the main line of work. T was unrewarding financially and very taxing but became an invaluable education in presenting a show that catered for a more mature and discerning audience.
1980 saw the start of a resurgence for The Searchers. SIRE records signed them and two critically acclaimed albums (The Searchers and Play For Today) were released along with accompanying singles.
In 1981 they performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 as a part of that year`s Royal Variety Show and of course were presented afterwards.
At the end of 1985 Mike Pender quit and was replaced by Spencer James, formerly of the hit recording group First Class (Beach Baby). The split was acrimonious and court cases over the use of the group`s name followed. McNally and Allen were successful and now rightfully own in law the title of The Searchers.
In June 1989 they performed before 160,000 people at Wembley stadium (80,000 on each of two days) as part of Cliff Richard`s 30th anniversary celebration. Cliff was to prove a great supporter and on top of recording a video tribute he included them into his charity shows at the famous Wentworth Golf Course where he took the stage with them for a couple of songs.
In 1999 Frank Allen published his first book Travelling Man, a humorous look at life on the road and which was followed in 2009 with The Searchers And Me, the definitive biography of The Searchers
John McNally has become a foremost exponent of the 12 string guitar, the iconic sound of The Searchers` backing and owns no less than even of the instruments
Frank Allen has been rightly credited for introducing the slapping technique on the bass guitar, a style almost unheard of in the early weeks of 1962. He is at pains to point out though that there was nothing clever about it. His use of fingers instead of a pick came about because he kept losing plectrums and the simple slapping method was employed purely to keep him in time.
When the hits were thought of as a distant memory the achieved brand new chart success in when a compilation CD The Best Of The Searchers reached number eleven in the best sellers earning them silver discs.
Their acclaimed ‘all evening’ solo concerts have become a ‘must’ for Searchers fans and fans of that great era in general where they enjoy an entire history of this iconic outfit. The hits, the B sides, the album tracks and a host of fascinating facts are contained in a complete evening of entertainment which has raised their status high above others in their field.
Retirement at the present time is not an issue. The Searchers in 2011 is John McNally, Frank Allen, Spencer James and Scott Ottaway. They have their health, they have the enthusiasm of their followers and they love what they do. What more could they ant?