The Searchers (band)

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The Searchers
Origin Liverpool, England
Genres Merseybeat, pop, rock
Years active 1959present
Labels UK Pye, Philips, Liberty, RCA, Sire; US Mercury, Liberty, Kapp, RCA, Sire
Associated acts Mike Pender's Searchers
John McNally
Frank Allen
Spencer James
Scott Ottaway
Former members
Tony Jackson
Mike Pender
Chris Curtis
Billy Adamson
John Blunt
Eddie Rothe

The Searchers are an English rock band who emerged as part of the 1960s Merseybeat scene along with The Beatles, The Fourmost, The Merseybeats, The Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry & The Pacemakers.

The band's hits included 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

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, n Liverpool, Lancashire), their first lead singer. The genesis remains unresolved.

The band grew out of an earlier skiffle group formed by McNally, with his friends Brian Dolan (guitar) and Tony West (bass). 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, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire) with his home-made bass guitar and amplifier and styled themselves '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 (who later changed his name to 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 Wllam Beck, n 1941, Lverpool ded 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 sharing the vocal lead and billed simply as 'The Searchers'. 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 recording contract with Pye Records 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.

Hatch played piano on some recordings and wrote "Sugar and Spice"—the bands second number one 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 left the band and was replaced by Hamburg pal Frank Allen (born Francis Renaud McNeice, 14 December 1943, Hayes, Middlesex) from Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.

Chris Curtis left the band in 1966 and was replaced by the Keith Moon-influenced John Blunt (born John David Blunt, 20 March 1947, in Croydon, Surrey), who in turn was replaced by Billy Adamson in 1970. 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"[4] 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.

Soon after the PRT release, Mike Pender left the group amidst great acrimony and now tours as Mike Pender's Searchers. McNally and Allan recruited former First Class vocalist Spencer James to fill Pender's shoes.

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.


Release date Title Chart Positions
UK Singles Chart[5] US Charts VG-lista, Norway[6] Kvällstoppen ("The Evening Top"), Swedish Sales Chart[7]
1963 "Sweets for My Sweet" (original; The Drifters) 1 - 8 5
"Sweet Nothins" (original; Brenda Lee) 48 - - -
"Sugar and Spice" (original song written by Tony Hatch under the name Fred Nightingale) 2 44 - -
1964 "Needles and Pins" (original; Jackie DeShannon) 1 13 8 6
"Ain't That Just Like Me" (original; The Coasters) - 61 - -
"Don't Throw Your Love Away" (original; The Orlons) 1 16 - 3
"Some Day We're Gonna Love Again" (original; Barbara Lewis) 11 34 - -
"When You Walk in the Room" (original; Jackie DeShannon) 3 35 - 20
"Love Potion No. 9" (original; The Clovers) - 3 - -
"What Have They Done to the Rain" (original; Malvina Reynolds) 13 29 - 13
1965 "Bumble Bee" (original; LaVern Baker) - 21 - 20
"Goodbye My Love" (original; Jimmy Hughes) 4 52 - -
"He's Got No Love" (original; written by Curtis & Pender) 12 79 - -
"When I Get Home" (original: Bobby Darin) 35 - - -
"Take Me For What I'm Worth" (original; P.F. Sloan) 20 76 - 14
1966 "Everybody Come Clap Your Hands" (original; Moody and The Deltas) - - - 18
"Take It Or Leave It" (original; The Rolling Stones) 31 - - 16
"Have You Ever Loved Somebody?" (original; The Hollies) 48 94 - -
1967 "Popcorn Double Feature"(original: Tim Wilde) - - - -
"Western Union" (original; The Five Americans) - 115 - -
"Second Hand Dealer" (self penned Allan, Pender) - - - -
1968 "Umbrella Man" - - - -
1969 "Somebody Shot The Lollipop Man" as Pasha - - - -
"Shoot 'Em Up Baby" (original Mac Davis) - - - -
"Kinky Kathy Abernathy" - - - -
1970 "For What It's Worth" CANCELLED (original; Buffalo Springfield) - - - -
"Don't Shut Me Out" CANCELLED (original; Bread) - - - -
1971 "Desdemona" - 94 - -
"Love Is Everywhere" - - - -
1972 "Sing Singer Sing" (Self penned McNally, Allen, Pender) - - - -
"Needles And Pins" (New Recording) - - - -
1973 "Vahevala" (original; Loggins & Messina) - - - -
"Solitaire" (original; Neil Sedaka) - - - -
1979 "Hearts In Her Eyes" (original; The Records) - - - -
"It's Too Late" - - - -
1981 "Love's Melody" (Original : Ducks De Luxe) - - - -
"Another Night" (self penned McNally Allen Pender) - - - -
1982 "I Don't Want To Be The One" - - - -

The Searchers in recording

Other than The Beatles, The Searchers was the only British group of its era that had most records issued in stereo. Producer Tony Hatch had mixed Searchers tracks in stereo to sound exactly like mono, and although a number of Searchers UK Pye albums were issued in mono only, the US Kapp label issued all Searchers albums in almost true stereo. Later UK Castle and Santuary CD album reissues used stereo masters.

Cover versions of songs by The Searchers

  • "Needles and Pins" (written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono, first recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1963) was also covered by:
    • Smokie as a single in 1977
    • The Ramones, as a single and on their 1978 album Road to Ruin.
    • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their 1986 album Pack up the Plantation: Live!.
    • Megadeth used a sample of the song in "Use the Man" on their 1997 album Cryptic Writings. This was removed on the remastered version.
    • Crack The Sky on their World in Motion 1 album.
  • "Popcorn Double Feature" was released as a single by The Fall in 1990, and is also included on their album Extricate.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins performed the song "Everybody Come Clap Your Hands" (which in turn The Searchers covered the Moody and The Deltas original) live at the end of 2008.
  • Dr. John performs a cover of "Something You Got" on his LP Tango Palace

The Searchers timeline


  • Ron Woodbridge: Vocals
  • John McNally: Rhythm Guitar
  • Brian Dolan: Lead Guitar
  • Tony West: Bass
  • Joe Kennedy: Drums

1960-Feb 1962

  • Johnny Sandon: Lead Vocals
  • John McNally: Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • Mike Pender: Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Tony Jackson: Bass, Vocals
  • Chris Curtis: Drums, Vocals

Feb 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 2010present

  • Spencer James: Rhythm Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer, Lead Vocals
  • John McNally: Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Frank Allen: Bass, Vocals
  • Scott Ottaway: Drums, Vocals


  2. 2.0 2.1 The Searchers Official Site
  3. Fabgear, 'Tommy Quickly and The Remo Four', The British Beat Boom
  4. "I Don't Want To Be The One" single
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
  6. "">Searchers at VG-lista
  7. Hallberg, Eric (1993). Kvällstoppen i P3, 1th, Sweden: Drift Musik.
  • 'The Searchers Story—The 60s and 70s—Peaks and Troughs' <>
  • McCormack, Peter. 'The Searchers History', Needles & Pins (2005). Retrieved 18 June 2005
  • Fabgear, 'Tommy Quickly & The Remo Four', The British Beat Boom
  • Mike Pratt "The System"

External links

  • Official Website
  • Mike Pender's Searchers Official Site
  • The Searchers at
  • Articles about The Searchers by Roy Clough
  • The Searchers Records by M. Denger (fansite)
This page was last modified 08.09.2010 01:42:31

This article uses material from the article The Searchers (band) from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.