1957 to 1959

    Skiffle group - named after the John Wayne western epic which was currently on UK release. 

    While John McNally led this group at one end of St Johns Road - which runs from Kirkdale to Bootle - Mike Pender led rival groups, such as THE WRECKERS and THE CONFEDERATES, at the other. Both had fallen under the spell of Lonnie Donegan. On leaving school, they endured such transitory jobs as office boy, floor layer, book packer, fitter and clerk. By 1959, they had teamed up as a guitar/vocal duo. 


    John McNally: guitar, vocal; 
    Big Ron: vocal (to ??); 
    Brian Dolan: guitar, vocal (now a school teacher); 
    Joe West: bass (agent for Bob Carolgees); 
    Joe Kennedy: drums (lives in Long Island). 

    By 1959, Tony Jackson's group had broken up and he was a saturday night regular at the cross keys pub (near the boxing stadium) where the resident modern jazz trio would back him singing Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley songs. One night, John McNally & Mike Pender came in, got chatting, and they decided to form a group together... initially as 3 guitarist/vocalists, plus a drummer - Norman McGarry, ex-The Martinis. This embryonic version of the Searchers lasted until Norman got a job in a bakery, working nights, and had to pack it in. John and Mike then roped in a lad they'd known from primary school days in Bootle - Chris Crummy. He'd been working as a clerk in a furniture shop since leaving St Mary's College at 16. (Since his surname was hardly suitable for a career in show-biz, he became Chris Tony Jackson's suggestion). Jackson, meanwhile, was constructing his own bass guitar (and, incidentally, also made a lead guitar for Brian Griffiths of the Senior) - and while he was learning to play it, found it difficult to pursue his role as the lead vocalist they brought in another mate, Johnny Sandon. 

    1960 to February 1962

    JOHNNY SANDON & THE SEARCHERS. Sandon specialised in C&W; the other sang current rock and pop. 

    Sandon had been singing since he was 12, encouraged by his dad, who accompanied him on accordian. His real name was Billy Beck: Tony thought of his stage name...Johnny, after Johnny Cash, and Sandon, after the Sandon pub near Liverpool F.C., where they used to gig. Soon became highly popular on the club/dance hall circuit, coming fifth in the first Merseybeat poll (December 1961). Then Sandon vamoosed!! 

    Chris Curtis: drums, vocal; 
    John McNally: guitar, vocal; 
    Mike Pender: guitar, vocal; 
    Tony Jackson: bass, vocal; 
    Johnny Sandon: vocal (joined the Remo Four). 

    Johnny Sandon left the Searchers to join the Remo Four, touring US Air Bases in France... a solid month in the enlisted men's club at each of six different bases - playing 3 hours a night! The contract also stipulated a girl singer, so they took a friend of Phil's - Ellen Bee, a well-built, blonde English Rose..."the servicemen loved her wherever we went." (Initially they'd asked a girl who used to sing with them - Cilla Black - but her boyfriend, Bobby, wasn't the Cuban Crisis - so the National Guard had all been called up and sent to France in case of Russian aggression. None of them wanted to be there, so they just got completely pissed from the day they got paid until they'd blown it! They where all from the South, mainly Alabama and Tennessee - and, of course, the whites were shit-kicking country fans and the blacks were soul crazy. That suited us perfectly, because Johnny Sandon could do perfect copies of Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash and Sanford Clark - and he was also great on Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Ben E King and the like. The GIs just let rip...rebel yells, dancing madness, extraordinary drinking contests each pay was six months of total and utter insanity!" 

    February 1962 to July 1964

    THE SEARCHERS. Tony Jackson reverted to lead vocals (what a great singer); stayed a quartet. 

    Quit their day jobs to go to Hamburg in September 1962. Came back; found a manager in Les Ackerley; cut some demos; got a deal with Pye; and in August 1963 their first single - 'Sweets for My Sweet' - was at number one! Again hit the top with 'Needles and Pins' and 'Don't Throw Your Love Away'. Now one of Britain's hottest groups! 


    Chris Curtis: drums, vocal; 
    Johnny McNally: guitar, vocal; 
    Mike Pender: guitar, vocal; 
    Tony Jackson: bass, vocal (joined Tony Jackson & the Vibrations). 

    July 1964 to April 1966

    Frank Allan joined from Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers - who they'd met at the Star Club in October 1962.
    Went top ten with 'When You walk In The Room' and 'Goodbye My Love'; scored their biggest American hit with an old album track, 'Love Potion #9'. Always innovative, they pioneered folk-rock, protest-rock, 12-string jangle. Chris Curtis quit - "physically and mentally exhausted after six years of strenuous touring." 


    Chris Curtis: drums, vocal (was later the instigator of Deep Purple!); 
    John McNally: guitar, vocal; 
    Mike Pender: guitar, vocal; 
    Frank Allan: bass, vocal. 

    John Blunt was recommended by their agency; he stayed until 1969, when he was replaced by Billy Adamson - Glaswegian with soul band background. 

    The group's 14th and last hit was 'Have You Ever Loved Somebody' in October 1966, since when they've been playing the cabaret and oldies circuits. Their records have never stopped being repackaged and reissued, and well over two dozen are now in existence - including a couple made for Sire at the turn of the 80s. After a partnership lasting almost 30 years, Mike Pender left the group and started a rival outfit ...just like the old days. Spencer James replaced him. Into the 90s...Still Searchin'. 


    Spencer James, Frank Allan, Billy Adamson, John McNally:Mike Pender: guitar, vocal (Now the leader of Mike Pender's Searchers); 
    John McNally: guitar, vocal; 
    Frank Allan: bass, vocal; 
    Billy Adamson: drums (replaced John Blunt). 

                                             (1963 - 1965)

'Sweets for My Sweet'/                PYE 7N 15533              6/63 
'It's All Been a Dream' 

'Sweer Nothin's'/'What'd I Say'    PHILIPS BF 1274          9/63 

'Sugar and Spice'/                        PYE 7N 15566             10/63 
'Saints and Searchers' 

'Needles and Pins'/                      PYE 7N 15594               1/64 
'Saturday Night Out' 

'Don't Throw Your Love Away'/ PYE 7N 15630               4/64 
'I Pretend I'm with You' 

'Someday We're Gonna Love Again'/PYE 7N 15670         7/64 
'Noone Else Could Love You' 

'When You Walk in the Room'/   PYE 7N 15694               9/64 
'I'll Be Missing You' 

'What Have They Done to the Rain'/  PYE 7N 15739      11/64 
'This Feeling Inside' 

'Goodbye My Love'/                   PYE 7N 15794               2/65 
'Till I Met You'

'He's Got No Love'/                    PYE 7N 15878               6/65 
'So Far Away' 

'When I Get Home'/                    PYE 7N 15850              10/65 
'I'm Never Coming Back' 

'Take Me for What I'm Worth'/   PYE 7N 15992              12/65 
'Too Many Miles' 


'Ain't Gonna Kiss Ya'                PYE NEP 24177             8/63 

'Sweets for My Sweet'              PYE NEP 24183              9/63 

'Hungry for Love'                      PYE NEP 24184              1/64 

'The System'                              PYE NEP 24201              7/64 

'When You Walk in the Room'  PYE NEP 24204            11/64 

'Bumble Bee'                             PYE NEP 24218             5/65 

'Searchers '65'                           PYE NEP 24222             9/65 


Meet the Searchers                    PYE NPL 18086              7/63 

Sugar and Spice                        PYE NPL 18089            11/63 

It's the Searchers                       PYE NPL 18092              5/64 

Sounds Like the Searchers        PYE NPL 18111              3/65 

Take Me for What I'm Worth    PYE NPL 18120            12/65 

The Searchers also have three tracks on the 1963 compilation Twist at the Star Club, Hamburg (Philips BL 7578), and they recorded German language versions of some of their hits, including 'Needles And Pins'.

Date of entry into UK charts  -  Title  -  Highest position

6/63   "Sweets for My Sweet"                      1
10/63  "Sugar and Spice"                              2
1/64   "Needles and Pins"                              1
4/66   "Don't Throw Your Love Away"           1
7/64   "Someday We're Gonna Love Again"  11
9/64   "When You Walk in the Room"            3
12/64 "What Have They Done to the Rain?"13
3/65   "Goodbye My Love"                            4
7/65   "He's Got No love"                            12
12/65  "Take Me for What I'm Worth"      20



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