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Feb
2018
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Issue 132 written exclusively for The Searchers Official Web Site by Searchers front man Frank Allen

ŠThe Searchers Official Web Site. No unauthorised reproduction


Greetings once again from a very cold England.

The days are bright but the temperatures, especially as the evening comes, are extremely low. I am not a fan of the worst parts of winter and now look forward to the milder spring days ahead. It can`t come quick enough for me and thankfully time tends to pass more speedily with the onset of age.

Fortunately it has not so far hindered our travelling to and from shows. There has only been one serious snowfall which occurred on the day of John McNally`s return to the fold for a show at Stratford on Avon after his enforced absence. The treacherous roads may have defeated some of our audience but it never defeated The Searchers.

I have at least found one pleasurable moment in these frosty days. Ten o`clock on a Tuesday night tucked up in warm bed listening to Bill Kenwright`s Golden Years on BBC Radio 2 is the nearest I will ever get to those heavenly days as a kid tuning in to Radio Luxembourg and trying to hear the latest rock & roll sounds that were just emanating from America through the inconsistency of airwaves that tantalisingly faded in and out. The uncertainty only made it more exciting as many of you who were teenagers in the fifties will know. You value all the more those things that don`t come easy.

Speaking of John, I know many of you are still concerned about the state of his health and I have to say he has bounced back remarkably from a situation which could have had a tragic outcome. They do breed `em tough in Liverpool.  But I hope he isn`t taking on too much. Things have to be carefully monitored and if at any point he realises himself that it is wiser to stop then that is what he should do. But knowing him I doubt that option is in his psyche.

We have just enjoyed a few days in Denmark which included a third visit to the Flugsocentert in Knebel as well as a new venue for us, the Kulturhuset in Blokhus up in the north of the country. I have to say Denmark is a land I am very fond of and I know from talking to the others that we all miss the days when we would base ourselves in Randers and undertake a ten day tour around the place.

It was an early start for the trip and meant leaving my home at silly o`clock (4.45 a.m) for the short ride to Terminal 5 at Heathrow.  And after landing at Billund there was still a two hour road trip to Knebel but the time seemed to pass quickly. The roads are quieter there and the scenery beautiful.

I recall that the first time we visited we arrived very late in the evening and the whole complex where the room and the concert hall were situated was covered in a blanket of thick snow. The sky was dark and the silence was deafening. This time it was all green lawns although the air was still biting our ears.  The people there are so friendly and we were looked after with a service that is second to none. Although lunch had not been arranged, on hearing that we were hungry they quickly fixed up some excellent snacks for us before we dispersed to rest in our chalets for the afternoon. After a superb dinner a free evening followed.

Normally we would hit the local town and relax in a bar but alas the downside of the Flugsocentret  is that it is in the middle of nowhere and on nights where there is no concert it is like an eerily atmospheric but very empty ghost village. The upside is that it forced us to rest, something we all needed. Of course on a show night the centre is populated to bursting point.
Both concerts I think went well. Blokhus, another two hour drive from where we were staying, was a smaller venue but the Kulturhuset was beautifully laid out with flickering candles, sparkling glassware and shiny cutlery. It had been sold out since November. And we were fed and watered (and wined) royally before our show.  We performed to a dancing audience which is maybe not ideal for grabbing the attention we need for the kind of show we might want to present but in the end all we care about is that the people have had a great time and I think we achieved that.

Strangely enough the much larger room in Knebel turned out to be a much more listening crowd and we were able to intersperse the music with the kind of banter and interaction that forms such an important part of our regular concerts. Again the fact that they received us so rapturously was all that mattered. We thank those folk for coming to see us and the promoters and staff at both venues for taking such good care of us.

I mentioned the banter. Do you know, shock horror, there are people who think I talk too much on stage!  And justifiably so. I can hold my hands up and admit that at times I do ramble on a bit and the only excuse I can offer is that, as perfect as I`d like things to be, I am not clever or quick enough to assemble my thoughts as rapidly as I would wish and the sentences tend to wander down little side roads that often seem to have no discernable destination. But believe me I do try. And I will keep trying.

Something that might amuse you on the subject is that in early 1964 while on tour in Ireland with Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers we went to see the famous Blarney Stone. The legend is that anyone who kisses the rock, a feat which entails lying on one`s back to deliver the said smacker,shall be endowed with the gift of the gab. And in the spirit of the moment I did just that. The accompanying picture is the proof. You may well think that this is where my wayward introductions were created. As for me? I am the least superstitious person you could ever wish to meet. You`ll just have to make up your own minds.

At the time of writing we are about to complete the last couple of shows that had to be rescheduled in the wake of John`s health scare. Haverhill Arts Centre on Feb 16th, a terrific little place that we have visited so many times and of a size that guarantees it is always a sell-out, and the Richmond Theatre on Feb 25th, a venue that is a first for us and there can`t be many of those left.

Richmond these days seems to be the place that stars retreat to and its inhabitants include a couple of old chums, Pete Townshend and Bruce Welch. Mick Jagger of course also lived there with Jerry Hall but since the break up I think he has departed to one of his other palatial homes scattered around the world. I think Jerry still has the old Richmond pad but with Rupert Murdoch as her new husband I think she also has a few other modest shacks to choose from.

I`m not sure if Bruce is attending the show which is a mere hop skip and jump from his home. He has been to so many of our concerts at The Beck, The Palladium, The Albert Hall and others that he has understandably become a bit Searcher-weary (can you imagine that happening to someone? Surely not?).  I never push him on it. I just leave him to his own decisions, although he does get a lot of pressure from his lady, Penelope, who loves our shows. Anyway, we`ll see. He knows he is always welcome.

It seems very forward thinking that having only just completed our hugely successful Sixties Gold Tour a couple of months ago the next one is already being advertised with tickets already on sale at some theatres. It runs from October 2nd right through to December 2nd covering some venues missing from 2017 and repeating others that were so popular that a return was inevitable.

I`m not sure if any more dates are to be added but those that we have are listed on our dates list and any changes will be inserted as and when necessary. The line-up is similar to last year with Steve Ellis and Vanity Fare joining us while The Fortunes and The Merseybeats who stood in when Gerry was forced to pull out on a couple of occasions last time are now completing the entire run.

A special treat as far as John McNally and I are concerned is the inclusion of our dear chum P J Proby who we once again lobbied for.  P J may be unpredictable and at times he may cause consternation and concern from time to time but in the end he is a great talent and one that we are unlikely to see again once he is gone. He still has that rich full voice that took the country by storm in the late sixties and his recording of “Somewhere” never fails to send a shiver down my spine.

I just hope he decides this time to give everyone the rare treat of maybe “Maria” or even the incredible “I Apologise” in his set for this tour. We seldom hear him perform these gems. He says that he doesn`t have enough time having been given such a short space for his set but I don`t altogether buy that. We are all struggling for time on these star packed presentations but have to vary things the best we can.  I would comfortably forego “Three Steps To Heaven”, as good as it may be, for one of the aforementioned and oh-so -memorable Proby successes. Jim, if you read this, do give it serious thought. You`ll make an old man very happy. And thanks for your unique Christmas cards. I have kept them all.

And with that I`ve run out of things to say. With good luck and a stiff wind I hope to see you at a show soon.

Cheers
Frank Allen.


HERE ARE SOME MORE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS SENT TO FRANK
VIA THIS WEBPAGE:   If you would like to ask him a question, which will be answered by e-mail, and might even appear at the end of a future issue of this newsletter, please e-mail it to:  wendy.burton@the-searchers.co.uk

Question 1:    I am assuming there is a back story to “Have You Ever Loved Somebody” as The Searchers and Paul & Barry Ryan released this record at the same time. I know Chris Curtis had departed and he produced the Ryan version, but why would both artists compete with this song at the same time?  What does Frank recall about the circumstances surrounding this record release?

Answer: Chris had departed the band but still wanted to have some control over it, which we were not keen on. A break was a break as far as we were concerned and although we had no ill feelings we wanted to steer our own course.
 
He came to us suggesting he recorded the song with us. We liked it but did not want the association. Then we discovered that there was no control over who had any rights to record it and so we just decided to go ahead on our own. Meanwhile Chris had been put in charge of Paul & Barry Ryan and decided to go ahead with them as well on the same song.
 
Obviously this split the attention and the sales, particularly as the Ryans had the very important agent Harold Davison (their stepfather) behind them and could get them on any TV show he wanted. We had much less exposure but still managed to come one place ahead of them in the charts. Without the competition I think we might well have made the lower regions of the top twenty. We often play the song on stage these days and it comes over well. Not the greatest but a good track.

Question 2:  Have you or any of the band members suffered any hearing loss from decades of performing?

Answer:  I'm the only one to suffer any hearing loss but it's not to the point of deafness. I have TVs on too loud and it's a problem at the theatre but on the whole workable. I think part of it stemmed from roadie John Semark setting off the confetti cannon by accident when I was bending down next to it. One ear went virtually deaf for a couple of days. Maybe I should have an aid or even two for natural hearing but I'm holding off.  I don't think the volume of The Searchers has much effect on our hearing. We're not a loud band. It's mainly old age.



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