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The Searchers

Founded in 1957 by John McNally (guitar/vocals), the Searchers were originally one of thousands of skiffle groups formed in the wake of Lonnie Donegan's success with "Rock Island Line." The Searchers' immediate competitors included bands such as the Wreckers and the Confederates, both led by Michael Pender (guitar, vocals), and the Martinis, led by Tony Jackson (guitar/vocals). By 1959, McNally and Pender were working together as a duet; later in the year, Jackson joined as the lead vocalist. After drummer Norman McGarry left the Searchers he was replaced by Chris Crummy, who quickly renamed himself Chris Curtis. Other changes were in the works as Jackson built and learned to play a customized bass guitar. Learning his new job on the four-stringed instrument proved too difficult to permit him to continue singing lead, and McNally and Pender brought in a fifth member, Johnny Sandon (born Billy Beck). Johnny Sandon & the Searchers lasted from 1960 through February of 1962, and were extremely popular on the dance hall and club circuit in Liverpool. Sandon cut out for a career on his own, with another band called the Remo Four in early 1962.

Meanwhile, the Searchers, now a quartet with Jackson once again lead singer, became one of the top acts on the Liverpool band scene, playing textured renditions of American R&B, rock & roll, country, soul, and rockabilly. The group was signed to Pye Records in mid-1963 and their first single, a cover of the Drifters' "Sweets for My Sweet," was released in August of 1963, hitting number one on the British charts. While the Beatles quickly outdistanced all comers, the Searchers did, indeed, go to the top of the charts with two of their next three singles, "Needles and Pins" and "Don't Throw Your Love Away." Another record, "Sugar and Spice," written by their producer Tony Hatch under the pseudonym Fred Nightingale, stalled at the number two spot. Over the next nine months, the band staked out a sound that was one of the most distinctive in a rock scene crawling with hundreds of bands. Their music was built around the sound of a crisply played 12-string guitar, coupled with strong lead vocals and carefully, sometimes exquisitely arranged harmonies, so that they could credibly cover American R&B standards like "Love Potion No. 9" or Phil Spector-based girl group pop like "Be My Baby." Their 1964 singles included a venture into folk-rock before the genre had been "invented" in the press, in the form of a cover of Malvina Reynolds' "What Have They Done to the Rain." Interestingly, their 12-string guitar sound would become a key ingredient in the success of the Byrds, who even took the riff from "Needles and Pins" and transformed it into the main riff of "Feel a Whole Lot Better."

In July of 1964, with the group riding the upper reaches of the British charts, and with their third album in nine months in release, it was announced that Tony Jackson was leaving the Searchers to form his own band, and would be replaced by Frank Allen, who had been playing bass with Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers. The turning point for the band came in 1965, as the British and international fascination with the Liverpool sound faded away. The Searchers began casting their net wider for material to cover, in addition to coming up with one original hit, the Curtis/Pender-authored "He's Got No Love." By the beginning of 1966, the group's string of chart hits seemed to have run out, and Chris Curtis exited in early 1966, claiming to have become exhausted from the group's constant touring. The Searchers, with Johnny Blunt on drums, continued working and had their last hit, "Have You Ever Loved Somebody," which barely cracked the Top 50 in October of 1966. The group continued working, however, playing clubs and cabarets in England and Europe. Blunt exited at the end of the '60s, but was replaced by Billy Adamson, and this lineup of the Searchers continued intact until the mid-'80s, working for 35 weeks a year throughout Europe with an occasional U.S. visit. Although they played as part of Richard Nader's "Rock 'n Roll Revival" shows, they never became an "oldies" act, always adding new material, including originals and covers of work by songwriters such as Neil Young to their sets, and in 1972, the band cut an album for British RCA.

At the end of the '70s, their recording fortunes were revived once again as Seymour Stein, the head of Sire Records, signed the Searchers for two albums. Those records, The Searchers and Love's Melodies, were the best work the group ever did, highlighted by achingly beautiful yet vibrant and forceful playing and singing, and an unerring array of memorable hooks and melodies. Those two albums were followed by a series of tracks recorded for their original label, Pye Records, in the early '80s. The group held their audience well into the '80s, playing before crowds of as large as 15,000 along one U.S. tour. In 1985, after playing together for 26 years, Pender and McNally split up, with McNally continuing to lead the Searchers (with Adamson and Allen, with Spencer James added on second guitar and vocals), while Pender formed Mike Pender's Searchers, consisting of Chris Black (guitar, vocals), Barry Cowell (bass, vocals), and Steve Carlyle (drums, vocals). Both groups have toured extensively, and the Searchers under McNally have recorded on occasion. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

awesome.dude _ 1 7
Oh I haven't heard this song in forever!
I was in 5th grade when this was out! LoL. I always liked thus song.
what if you don't have a love of your life???
nocllab
don't read this because it actually works on the nearest Friday u will be kissed by the love of ur life. now that uv started reading this don't stop. this is scary put this on at least five songs and in 143 minutes when ur done pressing f6 ur lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary because this actually works
Like
Just like the Beatles and other British Invasion bands this gays are good
searchers had a lot of good music not just a cover song dig deeper folks...
love the 60's
Omigosh - at first I thought the lead singer was Rick Bolz of Neighbr'hood Childr'n
kissing that cop on 34th and Vine might not have been such a good idea...now the one on 43rd and Main Street might have worked better...Cop s N Bobbers
Sweet sound. Love it! Another oldies but goodies. Yay! Takes my mind off grieving over lost dog recently
That's how it begins-ah, she gives me needles and pins-ah. Good stuff. Song was co-written by Sonny Bono !
This is my FAVORITE oldies song of all time.
tslavinl21
First record I ever bought! Still sounds great!
Wonderful group. one of my favs!
mbykerk
Gotta love those Rickenbacker 12-string guitars..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
nicknlorrain e r 5
this band is very talented!!!! ; )
SWEET!
I love the Searchers. I remember listening to their first album way back in 65 while I was in high school. I still love them.
They had so many great songs. "That Empty Space" is terrific, as is Needles and Pins, etc. etc.
needles and pins is one of my favorite songs. =p
the harmonies are amazing... harmony is lacking in a lot of music nowadays.
Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono wrote "Needles and Pins", not Jackie DeShannon.
t_heath
Another group that brings back great memories from my Jr. High days...
dave_rom6
never heard of this group but I believe I will be lisening to more of this group thanks to Pandora
Jackie DeShannon wrote Needles and Pins and When You Walk in the Room, both of which became hits for the Searchers. It is fun to compare their recordings: Jackie sounds like a rebel and is terrific, the pain in her voice is striking, while these guys make the songs into wonderful Beatlesque singles. DeShannon's version are really worth seeking out.
heavymetalpr i n c e s s
Hi-Heeled Sneekers SWEET!
Silver off of love's melodies is a bit of pop single heaven
The first time that I heard "Needles and Pins" on the radio in 1964, I thought I was hearing the Beatles. After the song was over, the disc jockey announced that it was the "Searchers" from England. The Searchers were the second British Group that I heard after the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five was the third.

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