The Searchers Story

By Bill Harry  

December 5 1963

The Searchers receiving a silver disc for 'Sugar and Spice'The Searchers - Tony Jackson, John McNally, Mike Pender and Chris Curtis - have achieved fantastic success in the recording field. Within a period of months they have seen the release of two singles, two LP's and two EP's, all of which have entered the charts. They are now firmly established as one of Britain's leading Beat groups.

Although thousands of fans throughout the country are interested in the group's career, their full story has never been published until now.

During the skiffle days Mike Prendergast used to stand on the corner of St. John's Road, Kirkdale, with a group of friends. On the other corner of the street John McNally stood with a number of his friends, and both groups used to hum and sing the current pop numbers.

John and Mike got together and they decided to meet at Mike's house and play skiffle music. John bought an amplifier and they learned to play 'Guitar Boogie.'

Following several rehearsals, Mike suggested they play in a pub for a laugh. "It was a little pub in the back street of Kirkdale and we called it 'The Lousy House', said Mike. "It was just near the border of Liverpool, so you might say we had Kirkdale Beat. When we went we plugged in and fused the lights. Someone we called Big Ron sang with us for a couple of weeks, and a number of the locals enjoyed our playing. "You want to go into Town", they said.

So Mike and John went into town on Saturday nights and played in the Cross Keys where they had free ale and a fiver each time they appeared.

At first, there weren't many people in the pub, but after a few weeks more customers came along to listen to the music.

A regular patron at the Cross Keys was Tony Jackson. Before Mike and John had appeared at the pub, there had been a resident trio there and Tony had regularly stood in with them to sing a few numbers.

Civic reception held in the Searchers' honour by the Lord & Lady Mayoress of Birkenhead at the Tower Ballroom, New BrightonAfter the group had been there a few weeks Tony stood in with them to sing numbers such as 'Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?' 'Mean Streak' and 'Jailhouse Rock.' The drummer with the group at this time was a boy called Joe Kennedy.

Tony and the boys got on so well that he became a regular member of the group - and they were also joined by Johnny Sandon.

"By this time the pub began to be very crowded on Saturday nights", said Tony, "and a number of fights began to occur, so we had to leave the pub. By this time we had bookings at Holyoake Hall.

Editors Note: Both Mike and John had been influenced by Lonnie Donegan who was the first major influence of the entire Mersey music scene. While they were at each end of St. John's Road, Mike's groups had been called the wreckers and the Confederates, the personnel in John's group comprised John on guitar/vocals, Big Ron on vocals, Brian Dolan on guitar, Joe West on bass and Joe Kennedy on drums. Mike then joined and following the Cross Keys gigs they found themselves with new member Tony Jackson and added a lead singer, Johnny Sandon. Their line-up in 1960 comprised John on guita/vocals, Mike on guitar/vocals, Tony on bass/vocals, Chris Curtis on drums/vocals and Johnny Sandon on vocals. Their line-up was reduced to a quartet at the beginning of 1962 when Johnny Sandon teamed up with the Remo Four.

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