Tony Jackson

By Bill Harry  

Tony JacksonAnthony Paul Jackson was born in Liverpool on July 16, 1940. After leaving school he attended Walton Technical College where he trained to be an electrician.

He began singing and playing lead guitar with a skiffle group the Martinis in 1959 and the following year he married Margaret Parry (in 1964 Tony was to say, "We have seen each other only about twice in the last four years". He was to marry three times).

Mike Pender and John McNally spotted him at the Cross Keys pub with the Martinis, now a trio, and offered him the job as bass guitarist with a group they were forming named after the John Wayne movie 'The Searchers'. he began building a bass guitar and learning to play. They had originally recruited Norman McGarry as drummer but he had to take on the night shift at the bakery where he worked and was replaced by Chris Curtis.

The group were then joined by Johnny Sandon as lead vocalist in 1960 and he remained with them until February 1962.

Sandon, real name Bill Beck, re-named himself after the Sandon pub. He left the group after deciding to tour U.S. bases in France fronting the Remo Four.

The group opted to remain a quartet and lead vocal honours were then shared between Tony and Mike.

Tony had a reputation as a hard drinker and even earned himself the nickname 'Black Jake.' It was said that Brian Epstein came to watch the group at the Cavern with a view to managing them, but Tony had too many drinks at the Grapes pub and fell off the stage! Epstein was later to say that he regretted not signing the Searchers.

As a member of the Searchers, Tony was lead vocalist on their initial hits 'Sweets For My Sweet' and 'Sugar And Spice.' He was unhappy when he wasn't chosen to sing on the singles 'Needles And Pins' and 'Don't Throw Your Love Away', but contributed as bass guitarist.

Tensions caused him to leave the group in July 1964. There have been various reasons put forward for him leaving one of the most successful Liverpool groups at the time. One is the conflict between himself and drummer Chris Curtis, which it is alleged, led to him not being chosen as lead singer on a number of their releases. It was also rumoured that he told their agent Tito Burns that he had some scandal regarding Curtis which he would reveal if he wasn't made lead singer on their records again, resulting in Burns agreeing to him being sacked. He was replaced in the Searchers by Frank Allen of Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers.

Following his split with the group he spent £200 on plastic surgery on his nose. Tony commented, "I've had a lifelong complex about my nose. I couldn't mix socially. In fact, I was under psychiatric treatment for it. Now I feel a lot better." Some would argue that the operation had a detrimental effect on his voice.

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