The Searchers are an English beat group, which emerged as part of the 1960s Merseybeat scene along with the Beatlesthe Holliesthe Fourmostthe Merseybeatsthe Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The band's hits include a remake of the Drifters' 1961 hit, "Sweets for My Sweet"; remakes of Jackie DeShannon's "Needles and Pins" and "When You Walk In The Room"; an original song written for them, "Sugar and Spice"; the Orlons' "Don't Throw Your Love Away"; and a cover of the Clovers' "Love Potion No. 9". They were the second group from Liverpool, after the Beatles, to have a hit in the United States when "Needles and Pins" charted during the first week of March 1964.

Band history[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Originally founded as a skiffle group in Liverpool in 1959 by John McNally and Mike Pender, the band took their name from the classic 1956 John Wayne western The Searchers. Pender claims that the name was his idea,[1] but McNally ascribes it to 'Big Ron' Woodbridge (born Ronald Woodbridge, 1938, ın Liverpool, Lancashire), their first lead singer. The genesis remains unresolved.

The band grew out of an earlier skiffle group formed by McNally in 1957, with his friends Brian Dolan (guitar) and Tony West (bass - born Anthony West, in 1938, Waterloo, Liverpool, Lancashire died 11 November 2010, West Way, Hightown, Merseyside). When the other two members lost interest McNally was joined by his guitarist neighbour Mike Prendergast. They soon recruited Tony Jackson (born Anthony Paul Jackson, 16 July 1938, The Dingle, Liverpool, Lancashire — died 18 August 2003, NottinghamNottinghamshire) with his home-made bass guitar and amplifier, who was recruited as a lead singer, but took a back seat at first in order to learn the bass. The band styled themselves as 'Tony and the Searchers' with Joe Kelly on drums. Kelly soon left to be replaced by Norman McGarry (born 1 March 1942, Liverpool, Lancashire), and it is this line-up — McNally, Pender (as he soon became known), Jackson and McGarry — that is usually cited as the original foursome.

McGarry did not stay long, however, and in 1960 his place was taken by Chris Crummey (26 August 1941 – 28 February 2005), who later changed his name to Chris Curtis. Later that year Big Ron had a successful audition with Mecca and became a ballroom singer. He was replaced by Billy Beck, who changed his name to Johnny Sandon (born Wıllıam Beck, ın 1941, Lıverpool dıed 23 December 1996). The band had regular bookings at Liverpool's Iron Door Club as 'Johnny Sandon and the Searchers'.

Sandon left the band in late 1961[2] to join The Remo Four in February 1962.[3] The group settled into a quartet 'The Searchers' with Jackson becoming the main vocalist. They continued to play at the Iron Door, The Cavern, and other Liverpool clubs. Like many similar acts they would do as many as three shows at different venues in one night. They negotiated a contract with the Star-Club in the St. Pauli district Hamburg for 128 days, with three one-hour performances a night, starting in July 1962.[2]

The band returned to a residency at the Iron Door Club and it was there that they tape-recorded the sessions that led to a Pye Records recording contract with Tony Hatch as producer. Their first single was issued in US on Mercury, the second on Liberty without success and then a deal was arranged with U.S. based Kapp Records to distribute their records in America. Their first album, sung mostly by Jackson Meet the Searchers was released in August 1963, and reached number 2 on the British album charts by the next month.[4] A slightly changed version of it, including the song "Needles and Pins" hit #22 in the US album charts in June 1964.[5] 1964 also saw the Top 20 hit "What Have They Done To The Rain", a song written in 1962 by protest folk singer Malvina Reynolds as "The Rain Song" as part of the anti-nuclear movement.

Hatch played piano on some recordings and wrote "Sugar and Spice"—the band's UK number 2 hit record—under the pseudonym Fred Nightingale; a secret he kept from the band at the time.

After scoring with their hit "Needles and Pins", bassist Tony Jackson, who was only allowed one lead vocal on their second album, left the band and was replaced by Hamburg pal Frank Allen (born Francis Renaud McNeice, 14 December 1943, HayesMiddlesex) from Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.

Chris Curtis, who had song-writing ambitions, left the band in 1966 and was replaced by the Keith Moon-influenced John Blunt (born John David Blunt, 20 March 1947, in CroydonSurrey), who in turn was replaced by Billy Adamson in 1969. In 1967, Curtis formed a new band called Roundabout with keyboard player Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Although Curtis's involvement in the project was short-lived, Roundabout would eventually evolve into Deep Purple the following year.

As musical styles evolved, the Searchers could not keep up and as a result, the hits ran out. While they continued to record for Liberty Records and RCA Records, they ended up on the British "Chicken in a Basket" circuit, although they did score a minor US hit in 1971 with "Desdemona".

The group continued to tour through the 1970s and were rewarded in 1979 when Sire Records signed the band to a multi-record deal. Two albums were released: The Searchers and Play for Today (retitled Love's Melodies outside the UK). Both records garnered critical acclaim but did not break into the charts. They did, however, revive the group's career.

According to John McNally, the band were ready to head into the studio to record a third album for Sire when they were informed that due to label reorganization, their contract had been dropped. It was, in fact, because so few people bought the second album, although it was beloved by fans.

In 1981, the band signed to PRT Records (formerly Pye, their original label) and began recording an album. But only one single, "I Don't Want To Be The One"[6] backed with "Hollywood", ended up being released. The rest of the tracks, except one, would be included as part of 1992's 30th Anniversary collection.

In December 1985 Mike Pender left the group after a farewell performance in London to form a new band,[7] and now tours as Mike Pender's Searchers. McNally and Allan recruited former First Class vocalist Spencer James as Pender's replacement.[7]

In 1988, Coconut Records signed the Searchers and the album Hungry Hearts was the result. It featured updated remakes of "Needles and Pins" and "Sweets For My Sweet" plus live favorite "Somebody Told Me You Were Crying". While the album was not a major hit, it did keep the group in the public eye.

The band continued to tour with Eddie Rothe replacing Adamson on drums and is considered to be one of the most popular 1960s bands on the UK concert circuit. The Searchers incorporate full band electric performances with an acoustic set as well. In 2010 Eddie Rothe announced that he would be leaving The Searchers to spend more time with his fiancee Jane McDonald. On 26 February he was replaced by Scott Ottaway.

Creating ample amounts of confusion, former Searchers lead singer Mike Pender also tours, formerly with his own band under the name "Mike Pender's Searchers" but now with various pick-up groups with whom he tours but still using the name "Mike Pender's Searchers", as he performs hits of the Searchers and some new material of his own.

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Main article: The Searchers discography

Studio Vinyl Singles / 45 rpm.

  • 1963 - Sweets For My Sweet / It's All Been A Dream - Pye 7N-15533 UK
  • 1963 - Sweet Nuthins / What'd I Say - Phillips BF-1274 UK
  • 1963 - Sugar And Spice / Saints And Searchers - Pye 7N-15566 UK on Dark maroon label = 1st press / 2 press in light maroon label.
  • 1964 - Needles And Pins / Saturday Night Out - Pye 7N-15594 UK
  • 1964 - Don't Throw Your Love Away / I Pretend I'm With You - Pye 7N-15630 UK
  • 1964 - Someday We're Gone Love again / No One Else Could Love You - Pye 7N-15670 UK
  • 1964 - When You Walk In The Room / I'll Be Missing You - Pye 7N-15694 UK
  • 1964 - What Have They Done To The Rain / This Feeling Inside - Pye 7N-15739 UK on Dark msroon label = 1 press / 2 press in light maroon label.
  • 1965 - Goodbye My Love / Till I Met You - Pye 7N-15794 UK
  • 1965 - He's Got No Love / So Fare Away - Pye 7N-15878 UK
  • 1965 - When I Get Home / I'm Never Coming Back - Pye 7N-15950 UK
  • 1965 - Take Me For What I'm Worth / Too Many Miles - Pye 7N-15992 UK ( Export issue in pic. sleave )
  • 1966 - Take It Or Leave It / Don't Hide It Away - Pye 7N-17094 UK
  • 1966 - Have You Ever Loved Somebody / I'ts Just The Way - Pye 7N-17170 UK
  • 1967 - Popcorn, Double Feature / Lovers - Pye 7N-17225 UK
  • 1967 - Western Union / I'll Cry Tomorrow - Pye 7N-17308 UK
  • 1967 - Secondhand Dealer / Crazy Dreams - Pye 7N-17424 UK
  • 1968 - Umbrella Man / Over The Weekend - Liberty LBF-15159 UK
  • 1969 - Kinky Kathy Abernathy / Suzanna - Liberty LBF-15340 UK
  • 1971 - Desdemonia / The Worl Is Waiting For Tomorrow - RCA Rca-2057 UK
  • 1971 - Love Is Everywhere / And A Button - RCA Rca-2139 UK
  • 1972 - Sing Singer Sing / Come On Back To Me - RCA Rca-2231 UK
  • 1972 - Needles And Pins / When You Walk In The Room / Come On Back To Me - RCA Rca-2248 ( maxi-single )
  • 1972 - Vahevala / Madman - RCA Rca-2288 UK
  • 1973 - Solitaire / Spicks And Specks - RCA Rca-2330 UK
  • 1979 - Hearts In Her Eyes / Don't Hang On - Sire SIR-4029 UK ( Pic.sleeve )
  • 1980 - IT's Too Late / This Kind Of Love Affair - Sire SIR-4036 UK ( Pic.sleeve )
  • 1981 - Love's Melody / Changing - Sire SIR-4046 UK ( Pic.sleeve )
  • 1981 - Another Night / Back To The War - Sire SIR-4049 UK ( Pic.sleeve )

Studio Vinyl EP's

  • 1963 - Ain't Gona Kiss Ya - Pye NEP-24177 UK
  • 1963 - Sweets For My Sweet - Pye NEP-24183 UK ( Some copies in white/maroon label )
  • 1964 - Hungry For Love - Pye NEP-24184 UK
  • 1964 - The Searchers Play The System - Pye NEP-24201 UK
  • 1964 - When You Walk In The Room - Pye NEP-24204 UK
  • 1965 - Bumble Bee - Pye NEP-24218 UK
  • 1965 - Searchers'65 - Pye NEP-24222 UK
  • 1965 - Four By Four - Pye NEP-24228 UK
  • 1966 - Take Me For What I'm Worth - Pye NEP-24263 UK
  • 1971 - The Searchers - Mini Monster Pye - PMM 101 UK
  • 1978 - The Searchers - Pye - BD 113 UK
  • 1980 - Flashback When You Walk in the Room -PRT - FBEP 105 UK

Studio Vinyl Albums

  • 1963 - Meet The Searchers
  • 1963 - Sugar and Spice
  • 1964 - Hear Hear! (U.S.)
  • 1964 - It's The Searchers
  • 1964 - Sounds Like The Searchers
  • 1964 - This is Us (U.S.)
  • 1965 - Take Me for What I'm Worth
  • 1979 - The Searchers
  • 1981 - Love's Melodies
  • 1987 - Play the System
  • 1989 - Hungry Hearts

  • 1967 - Searchers -Smash Hits (C) Marble Arch MALS 640
  • 1967 - Searchers - Smash Hits Vol 2 ( C) Marble Arch MALS 673 in both mono/stereo
  • 1968 - Sugar & Spice (C) Marble Arch MALS 704
  • 1970 - It's the Searchers (C) Marble Arch MALS 798
  • 1979 - Searchers - Sire SRK-6082 UK
  • 1980 - The Searchers - Sire SRK-6086 UK

  •  ???? - The Searchers Hit Collection -double LP (C) Pye XBT 85904
  •  ???? - Needles & Pins (C) Hallmark HMA 203
  •  ???? - Second Take RCA SF8289
  •  ???? - Golden Hour of the Searchers (C) Pye GH 541
  •  ???? - Golden Hour of the Searchers Vol 2 (C) Pye GH 564
  •  ???? - The File Series - The Searchers - double LP (C) Pye FILD 002
  •  ???? - When you Walk in the Room (C) Pye NSPL 18617
  •  ???? - Play for Today Sire SEK 3523
  •  ???? - Spotlight on The Searchers - double LP (C) PRT SPOT 1014
  •  ???? - Love Lies Bleeding - 10" LP (C) PRT DOW 11
  •  ???? - Searchers Greatest Hits (C) Showcase SHLP 135
  •  ???? - Flashbacks - Sweets for My Sweet (C) PRT FBLP 8084
  •  ???? - Silver Searchers (25th anniversary double album) (C) PRT NRT 2
  •  ???? - The Searchers Hits Collection (C) PRT PYL 4002
  •  ???? - The Searchers Play the System -
  •  ???? - Rarities, Oddities & Flipsides PRT PYL 6019
  •  ???? - The Searchers Collection (C) Castle CCSLP 208
  •  ???? - The Searchers Ultimate Collection (C) Castle CTVLP 003
  • Year - The Searchers Hit Collection -double LP (C) Pye XBT 85904
  • 2002 - Back Door Sessions

The Searchers in stereo[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Other than the Beatles, the Searchers was the only British group of its era (1963–1967) to have most of their albums issued in stereo. (Most of the big UK bands like the Dave Clark Five, Gerry & the Pacemakers, and Freddie & the Dreamers had few albums issued in the UK and most of them were issued only in mono. Exceptions were the Kinks and the Hollies, who after their debut album, the next few albums were issued in mono only.) Producer Tony Hatch had mixed Searchers' tracks in stereo to sound exactly like mono. The US Kapp label issued all Searchers' albums in mono and stereo. Later UK Castle and Sanctuary CD album reissues used stereo and mono masters in a haphazard manner.

The Searchers timeline[edit source | editbeta]Edit


  • Ron Woodbridge: vocals
  • John McNally: rhythm guitar
  • Brian Dolan: lead guitar
  • Tony West: bass
  • Joe Kennedy: drums

1960–February 1962

  • Johnny Sandon: lead vocals
  • John McNally: rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Mike Pender: lead guitar, vocals
  • Tony Jackson: bass, vocals
  • Chris Curtis: drums, vocals

February 1962–July 1964

  • Tony Jackson: lead vocals, bass
  • John McNally: rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Mike Pender: lead guitar, vocals
  • Chris Curtis: drums, vocals

August 1964–April 1966

  • Frank Allen: lead vocals, bass
  • John McNally: guitar, vocals
  • Mike Pender: guitar, vocals
  • Chris Curtis: drums, lead vocals

May 1966–December 1969

  • Frank Allen: lead vocals, bass
  • John McNally: lead guitar, vocals
  • Mike Pender: rhythm guitar, vocals
  • John Blunt: drums

January 1970–December 1985

  • Frank Allen: bass, lead vocals
  • John McNally: lead guitar, vocals
  • Mike Pender: rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Billy Adamson: drums

January 1986–November 1998

  • Spencer James: rhythm guitar, guitar synthesizer, lead vocals
  • John McNally: lead guitar, vocals
  • Frank Allen: bass, vocals
  • Billy Adamson: drums

November 1998–February 2010

  • Spencer James: rhythm guitar, guitar synthesizer, lead vocals
  • John McNally: lead guitar, vocals
  • Frank Allen: bass, vocals
  • Eddie Roth: drums, vocals

February 2010–present

  • Spencer James: rhythm guitar, guitar synthesizer, lead vocals
  • John McNally: lead guitar, vocals
  • Frank Allen: bass, vocals
  • Scott Ottaway: drums, vocals
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