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The Searchers are an Englishmarker rock band who emerged as part of the 1960s Merseybeat scene along with The Beatles, 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"; TheOrlons's"Don't Throw Your Love Away"; and a remake of The Clovers' "Love Potion No. 9". They were the second group from Liverpool, after the Beatles, to have a hit in the United Statesmarker when "Needles and Pins" charted during the first week of March 1964.

Band history

Originally founded as a skiffle group in Liverpoolmarker 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, 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, 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, Nottinghammarker, Nottinghamshiremarker) 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 Wıllıam Beck, ın 1941, Lıverpool dıed 23 December 1996). The band had regular bookings at Liverpool's Iron Door Clubmarker as 'Johnny Sandon and the Searchers'.

Sandon left the band in late 1961 to join The Remo Four in February 1962. 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 Cavernmarker, 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-Clubmarker in the St. Paulimarker district Hamburgmarker for 128 days, with three one-hour performances a night, starting in July 1962.

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 band’s 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 was fired from the band and was replaced by Hamburg pal Frank Allen (born Francis Renaud McNeice, 14 December 1943, Hayesmarker, Middlesexmarker) from Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers.

Chris Curtis left the band in 1966 and was replaced by the Keith Moon-influenced John Blunt, 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" backed with "Hollywood", ended up being released. The rest of the tracks would be included as part of 2004's 40th 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 continues 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. Creating ample amounts of confusion, former Searchers lead singer Mike Pender also tours, but with his new full band electric outfit Mike Pender's Searchers, as they perform hits of the Searchers and some new material of their own.

Hit singles

Release date Title Chart Positions
UK Singles Chart US Charts VG-lista, Norway Kvällstoppen ("The Evening Top"), Swedish Sales Chart
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; Pete Seeger) 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) 35 - - -
"Take Me For What I'm Worth" (original; probably Jackie DeShannon) 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" - - - -
"Western Union" (original; The Five Americans) - 115 - -
"Second Hand Dealer" - - - -
1968 "Umbrella Man" - - - -
1971 "Desdemona" - 94 - -

Cover versions of songs by The Searchers

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

Feb 1962-July 1964
  • Tony Jackson: Lead Vocals, Bass
  • John McNally: Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
  • Mike Pender: Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Chris Curtis: Drums

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: Guitar, Vocals
  • John Blunt: Drums

January 1970-December 1985
  • Frank Allen: Bass, Lead Vocals
  • John McNally: Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Mike Pender: Guitar, Vocals
  • Billy Adamson: Drums

January 1986-November 1998
  • Spencer James: Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
  • John McNally: Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Frank Allen: Bass, Vocals
  • Billy Adamson: Drums

November 1998-present
  • Spencer James: Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals
  • John McNally: Lead Guitar, Vocals
  • Frank Allen: Bass, Vocals
  • Eddie Roth: Drums, Vocals


Beside The Beatles, The Searchers were the only British group of the era who had most of the records issued in stereo at the time. Although a number of the UK Pye albums were issued in mono only, the US Kapp label issued all of their albums in stereo, and were almost completely in true stereo. Subsequent UK Castle and Santuary CD reissues have been very sloppy in using stereo masters. [Some people prefer the mono mixes, but The Searchers were one of the few UK bands of the era where their producer - Tony Hatch - mixed their tracks in stereo to sound almost exactly like the mono mixes, so there's little reason to prefer the mono mixes.]


  1. Band founder Mike Pender, "The Band was founded by myself and John McNally. In 1957 John and I went to see the movie "The Searchers" starring John Wayne. I was an ardent Western Fan and so I dragged John along with me to see it. I take the credit for choosing the name 'The Searchers' and for co-founding the Band in its original form." Quoted in
  2. 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. "">Searchers at VG-lista

External links

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