The Searchers

The Searchers was the name of a band from Liverpool that took its name from the 1956 John Wayne movie of the same name. A line spoken by Wayne in the movie also inspired Buddy Holly's only #1 song That'll Be The Day.

The group was originally composed of John McNally and Mike Pender on lead and rhythm guitar respectively, Tony Jackson on bass, and Chris Curtis on drums, with all of them doing the vocals at one time or another. Collectively they comprised one of the first great bands to come out of Liverpool in the 60's. Curtis was from Oldham, Lancashire, and the rest from Liverpool. The band was formed in 1960 and, like the Beatles, performed at the Cavern before going to Hamburg in 1961 and 1962. At that time they were a backup band for singer Johnny Sandon, but left him in 1962.

The Searchers had a distinctive sound emanating from their guitars and in 1963 and 1964 they topped the charts three times in the UK, with Sweets For My Sweet, Don't Throw Your Love Away, and Needles and Pins [a song that had been co-written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche]; the latter two reached the top twenty in the USA. Their 1963 album Meet The Searchers was excellent and included such tunes as Twist and Shout, Money, and Where Have All The Flowers Gone? -- songs that had been popular around the clubs in Liverpool. They continued to record popular songs with their dynamic sound: Goodbye My Love and Jackie DeShannon's When You Walk In The Room were both top five in the UK.

In late 1964 the Searchers released an old Leiber and Stoller song that had been a hit for a group from Washington, D.C. called the Clovers in 1959. Their unique arrangement of Love Potion Number Nine went top ten and was their biggest hit ever in the USA; the version released in the USA was one that had been recorded live in Hamburg.

In 1964 bass player Tony Jackson was replaced by Frank Allen and the following year new drummer Johnny Blunt was brought in to replace Chris Curtis. By 1966 tastes in music were beginning to change and other groups such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones changed with it. The Searchers, on the other hand, stayed with the sound that they had always had and as a result, their popularity began to decline.

By 1969 they had another drummer, Billy Adamson, and this lineup stayed intact well into the 80's. They continued to record songs, although their new recordings did not sell well, and to tour successfully. They cut some songs in the early 80's by such old stand-bys as John Fogarty and Chris Kenner, and Bruce Springsteen began to use their song When You Walk In The Room in his act, leading to a brief surge in popularity for the group once again. As time went on, there were further personnel changes; Mike Pender left and was replaced by Spencer James in 1986, and in 1998 Billy Adamson left and was replaced by new drummer Eddie Rothe. Former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis passed away in 2005.

Rhino released a Greatest Hits album by the Searchers in 1985 that contains a number of their good songs. The Searchers remain as one of the first, and best, groups to come out of Liverpool in the 1960's. Led by John McNally and Frank Allen, they are still going strong today.

Most Recent Update: March 29, 2005

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