By Bill Harry
A month after leaving the Searchers he formed a new band, Tony Jackson & the Vibrations, with himself on lead vocals and bass guitar.
The other members of the Vibrations were Ian Buisel on lead guitar, Martin Raymond on organ and Paul Francis on drums. The group signed to Pye Records and their first release 'Bye Bye Baby' c/w 'Watch Your Step' was issued on Pye 7N 15685 in September 1964. Their other releases were 'You Beat Me To The Punch' c/w 'This Little Girl Of Mine' on Pye 7N 15745 in December 1964; 'Love Potion Number Nine' c/w 'Fortune Teller' on Pye 7N 15766 in February 1965 and, under the name The Tony Jackson Group, 'Stage Door' c/w 'That's What I Want' on Pye 7N 15876 in July 1965.
Following the lack of success with the recordings, he was dropped by Pye and signed by CBS. The releases were 'You're My Number One' c/w 'Let Me Know' in January 1966; 'Never Leave Your Baby's Side' c/w 'I'm The One She Really Thinks A Lot Of' in May 1966; 'Follow Me' c/w 'Walk That Walk' in September 1966; 'Anything Else You Want' c/w 'Come On And Stop' in November 1966. In 1967 there was an EP issued by E Studio with the tracks 'Just Like Me', 'Understand', 'He Was A Friend Of Mine', 'Shake.'
He finally disbanded the group after a live radio performance in Portugal in 1967.
Tony later ran a night club in Spain and then went on to manage a golf club in Kidderminster. In 1986 he was offered the opportunity of teaming up with his old friend Mike Pender again in Mike Pender's Searchers. Publicity photos of him with the group were taken, but he bowed out when he found that he'd only be receiving a wage and was not involved in a partnership deal with Mike. However, on four occasions, between the years 1992 and 1995, he appeared on stage with Mike Pender's Searchers.
Tony was encouraged to re-form the Vibrations in 1991, but they were unsuccessful.
He began to suffer from arthritis and had a heart condition, which made him steer away from the music scene for a number of years. In 1996 he was sentenced to be imprisoned for 18 months in Walton Jail after being convicted of threatening a Laura Boyd. Tony had been making a telephone call, had an argument with the woman and threatened her with an imitation pistol.
Crippled with arthritis, he could no longer play guitar and sold it at auction (the Hard Rock Cafe bought it for £6,000), but occasionally appeared as a singer on the Sixties nostalgia circuit.
He was taken to hospital in Nottingham suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and died on Monday August 18, 2003. He was 63 years old.
When John McNally heard of Tony's death, he commented, "Because the Searchers had a very clean image no one ever really knew that Tony was the wild man of the band in the Sixties. Growing up with the Beatles and with those times in Germany, all of us liked a drink, but sadly Tony didn't know when to stop.
"He couldn't perform any longer because he was an asthmatic, but he was a good lad. He rang me last week to say he didn't have long left, but he was still laughing and joking."
Editor's Note: Tony introduced me to his brother Gerry, who became a good friend. Virginia and I used to visit Gerry and his wife regularly at their house near the Pavilion Theatre and chat for hours over scotch and coke. As for Tony, I recall the excitement of hearing his voice on record when 'Sweets For My Sweet' was released and
realized that it was one of the best examples of the Liverpool Sound.