The Searchers Story:
The Group With The Drummer With The Long Hair
By Tony Jackson
Following the period in the Cross Keys we appeared at Everton Supporters Club. Our uniform at that time consisted of red sweaters and white shirts (Johnny Sandon wore a blue shirt) and the avid Evertonians booed us off!
We used to play the Casbah, Lowlands, Holyoake and every place going in those days. Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and the Remo Four were very big on Merseyside then, and the Beatles weren't even known. Incidentally, when the Beatles came back from Hamburg as the Silver Beatles, we played their first bookings with them at Litherland Town Hall and Aintree Institute.
A Bit Of A Skirmish
There was a fight one night at Fazakerley Hall, a bit of a skirmish. Twenty Teds decided to attack us - and we won, strangely enough, and there were only five of us.
We'd just bought some new stage suits and Johnny Sandon's got ripped. He got a kick in the mouth and couldn't sing for three days (we lost some bookings as a result) but he certainly sorted a few out - it was a real rough-house.
But it was a good fight, though.
I can't stand those fellows who think that if you're in show business you're easy. You get a lot of it, now.
We played the Jive Hive, the Orrell Park Ballroom, the odd dates for Sam Leach at the Tower - and suddenly we had a gimmick, a drummer who had long hair and leather pants. Chris had let his hair grow very long and everybody started referring to us as 'the group with the drummer with the long hair.' So, in fact, we were the first Liverpool group ever to create a stir with an unusual hairstyle.
Yes, that was the big thing, and when we went to Hambleton Hall and Chris sang the Del Shannon number 'Runaway' it went down great - we got a lot of bookings after that.
We never had any transport in those days, we used to go to bookings on a bus. We had difficulty catching the same bus as they were always crowded, and we used to pack our drums and amps under the stairs. With getting different buses we sometimes turned up late and lost bookings.
After a while we decided to get a driver and managed to get Gordon Braid (brother of Les Braid of the Swinging Bluejeans) to drive us around.
As a result of Chris's spectacular (!) vocal debut at Hambleton Hall, we were booked at the Cavern. We went down well, mainly because all the jazz and country and western fans came to see Johnny Sandon.
Around this period our uniforms were black polo-neck sweaters, dark brown suede waistcoats and tight black corduroy trousers.
Only 'Mersey Beat' took any interest in the group - and in the very first year we were voted Number 5 in the Poll.