The Searchers Story:
The Group With The Drummer With The Long Hair
By Tony Jackson
In February, 1962, we received a big surprise. One evening whilst we were rehearsing, Johnny Sandon came and told us he'd received an offer to join the Remo 4 and wanted to go to France with them. He said he'd stay with us until we got off enough numbers to enable us to continue without him, but he left after only one more booking. There were no hard feelings on either side.
Our first booking without Johnny was at Aintree Institute and it was a bit of a joke because we weren't used to playing without him and we wrecked a few numbers.
We got the few odd bookings, the work wasn't so good - and we got two bookings a week instead of three. But things soon began to get better because Chris's hair was attracting a lot of attention.
The first major turning point in our career occurred in June '62, when we were on the bill with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates at the Cavern. Johnny Fanning brought along Horst Fascher of the Star Club - and he booked us to appear in Germany in October of that year.
We all had to borrow money to go over there and Chris and I had to give up our jobs. We arrived there with about ten bob between us and had to borrow off Horst to live for the first week.
We had a fantastic time! There were six Liverpool groups playing at the Star - the Bluejeans, the Undertakers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes, ourselves, and the Beatles arrived shortly before we were due back, building the number to seven. Bill Haley and the Comets were the only non-Liverpool outfit there - and we all threw Bill Haley into a well!
One night, on his way back to the hotel, Mike saw a bloke beating a woman and rushed over to help. For the next three days he sang on stage with a thick lip.
Tony Jackson discusses their latest release.
The number 'Sugar and Spice' was specially written for us by Tony Hatch. Tony told us we must keep in the trend and we're pleased that 'Sugar' went so high in the charts. We thought it was a good number, but not the type we really liked playing.
When we heard 'Needles and Pins' three months ago, we liked it and wanted to record it. We had four or five numbers lined up, but this was the one we really wanted to do.
We didn't know whether people would accept a number of this type but we had to make the break sooner or later and do the type of material we wanted to do, that's why we recorded it.
We'd rehearsed four or five numbers for two days, and at the recording session I lost my voice.
We also recorded our next 'A' side at the session and it had a faster tempo than 'Needles.' It's in the same tempo as 'Sweets' but nothing like the tune or arrangement.
Mike and Chris took over on vocals, so if this one clicks, they will also be on the next one.
As far as we're concerned 'Needles' is the best disc we've ever made. It's not really commercial, but if it makes it it will give groups a lot more encouragement to try new ideas.
Even if it doesn't get in the charts, we're not ashamed of it.
Editor's Note: The reason the avid Evertonians booed the Searchers off stage had nothing to do with their music and all to do with the group's red sweaters and white shirts. There was fierce rivalry between the two Liverpool football teams, Liverpool (the reds) and Everton (the blues).
When the Beatles returned from Germany they were called the Beatles and not the Silver Beatles, a name they'd truncated shortly before leaving for Hamburg for the first