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Mid - Jan
2017
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Issue 125 written exclusively for The Searchers Official Web Site by Searchers front man Frank Allen

ŠThe Searchers Official Web Site. No unauthorised reproduction

Hi there,

Well, we are now firmly into 2017 and we hope it will be a prosperous one and a happier year to come for everybody. There have been so many lamentations that the past year has been horrendous with the passing of so many of our musical icons. I have already mentioned some of them in my earlier newslettesr, but can`t even attempt to list them all. It would be too depressing.

The one person I will mention though is Peter Sarstedt who we Searchers will miss greatly. We met first when he joined the very first Solid Silver Sixties Tour back in 1987 and he stayed a firm friend through the years.

A gentle soul with a caring nature and a quietly understated and modest personality, he and his partner Gill were guests at my home many times. We would sit down to dinner and afterwards pick up our guitars with the other musicians who were there and sing together just for the sheer love of it.

Naturally people remember Where Do You Go To My Lovely? but it is such a shame that so many of his other great songs bypassed the masses.  Love Among The Ruins. I Am A Cathedral. Boulevard. Hemingway. Peter was not a one trick pony by any means. It is so sad to hear of his passing.

There are so many great names that will now only be remembered by their work which, though it is a wonderful and a fitting legacy, is not really a satisfying substitute for witnessing their immense talents on a live stage or to hear those musical gems that were still locked inside their minds before fate intervened.

But I`m afraid that even discounting the elements of a possibly self-induced hazardous lifestyle, maybe a weaker genetic heritage or some other unfortunate accidental occurrence that can so cruelly cut short a life way too early, many of us are now part of an age group when the remainder of our existence is a little more than a throw of the dice. It`s a hard fact but a fact nonetheless. We have to be prepared for many more of the greats to leave us in the coming months and years. Let`s just be grateful that they were there at all.

So let`s get away from this morbid subject. Towards the end of last year an article was passed on to me that consisted of a list of the hardest working musical acts here in the UK. The piece was compiled by a company called Ents24.com, apparently a very well-known ticketing company according to our sound man Phil Hayes, although I had to admit I`d never heard of them.

I perused the item with great interest. It listed Showaddywaddy at number one, John Otway second and third on the list was The Searchers. Fascinating. I decided to investigate a little further.

The ‘Waddys’ are great guys, a superb act who always give terrific shows which revive and maintain the spirit of good old-fashioned Rock & Roll like no one else can. We have known them for years and constantly come across their flyers in the foyers of theatres around Britain. And I know they work hard, but harder than us? I wasn`t at all sure about that one but I was prepared to accept the evidence, if indeed there was any.

I found their website and fortunately the list of dates for 2016 included those gone and those still to come and I counted them with a total of 89. And then I tallied up our worksheet with the aid of my 2016 diary. It added up to 141 shows in what was a relatively quiet year for us. Our regular work rate is 150 to 200 shows per year. As you all know our schedule is a source of amazement to many including our chum Sir Cliff who, when I turn up at one of his shows, always jokes ‘How come you`re here? Surely The Searchers aren`t allowed to have days off”.

Maybe, I considered, they did not count foreign shows, although why working abroad would make us less industrious heaven knows. Nevertheless I subtracted the 27 Australian concerts and 7 other one nighters in Europe and that still left a U.K total of 108 shows. Separate venues was one of the criteria so I made sure to count repeat places as just one even when shows at places like Sinah Warren or Butlins were undertaken weeks or months apart.

With all this information at hand I wrote to the company, not complaining but rather intrigued at how the result could have been so wrong. As yet they have not replied. And I`m not holding my breath.

As we turned into the New Year I checked the eagerly awaited Honours List. Missed out again. No knighthood. No OBE. Not even a Blue Peter Badge. Not a sausage. So it would have been nice at least to add Hardest Working Band to our CV.

After all that talk of our packed worksheet December and January were a blessing. We gently ticked over concert-wise and enjoyed the relative rest amongst friends and families. It was necessary because once we hit the end of January it’s more or less non-stop for the rest of the year starting with our annual Australian tour. That marathon flight gets harder as the years go by so thank goodness that there is such a wonderful and warm welcome at the other end.

Not working on my December birthday this time round meant that I could celebrate my 73rd year in a quiet way with dinner at the famous Ivy restaurant in London`s West End with Tony Hatch and his wife Maggie. Tony as you no doubt know produced every one of our hits and also wrote Sugar & Spice (under the pseudonym of Fred Nightingale).  Also in the group was my friend Penny Horner who manages the tiny but marvellous Jermyn St Theatre just off London`s Piccadilly.

As you can imagine there was a great deal of reminiscing between Tony and myself. He is still a lovely man, still a great talent (remember his compositions Downtown, Don`t Sleep In The Subway, Call Me, Where Are You Now My Love, The Other Man`s Grass, Neighbours, I Couldn`t Live Without Your Love and so many others) and still has ambitions for future success with plans for a Downtown musical in the offing.

When time for desert came we declined, no doubt thinking of our figures. But, being aware of the occasion, a plate of chocolate truffles was brought over courtesy of the management, the rim of the plate bearing an inscription in chocolate: Happy Birthday Frank. A very nice touch. In fact on a similar occasion a few years back (I can`t remember the year) the plate was inscribed Happy Birthday Rock God. I fear I have been downgraded.

Well, I have to end this now. There are shows to do, flights to arrange and of course all those endless details one has to supply to the airlines before they will carry you away to exotic places. Air travel has certainly got a whole lot more problematic these days.

On top of that there are cabs to be arranged, baggage details to be supplied to our foreign contacts and visa forms to be completed. And no, it doesn`t all get done by managers and agents. There is always some part of the process that requires John or myself to take care of things if only to make sure that there are no mistakes.  Things have to be checked and double checked. And still Spencer James gets booked on a flight as James Spencer.

Here`s to a great New Year and a lot of good times to come for all of us.  

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:   Why don’t you include more of your later album tracks in your shows?

Answer:  I think we went on to make some good albums but sadly we had been out of favour for a long time by then and it is very difficult to get the press and the deejays on your side again.  Music is essentially for the young and there comes a time when you have to accept that audiences are mostly interested in the old songs which also bring back their memories.

Question 2:  You include quite a few “covers” in your stage shows, when you could spend the time doing more of your own stuff

Answer:  We do get complaints from diehard fans about including non Searchers tracks and in the last year or so we have deliberately delved into our old catalogue to select a few more rarities such as He`s Got No Love, Sea Of Heartbreak, Farmer John, Each Time and others. And there are more that we will soon have to find room for in an already packed two-hour set.

We only do covers these days if there is a very special reason behind them or they have a connection with ourselves. Running Scared is there partly because we can connect it with our days of touring with Roy Orbison and it also harks back to our first ever cabaret appearances when it was a showstopper for us. Powerful and emotional ballads serve us very well and along with the Orbison/Searchers connection we feel it has a legitimate place in the set. 

Runaway, in the same manner, has the connecting story of our first Australian tour with Del Shannon. On top of that it is a feel-good song that the audience gets involved with and so it serves two purposes.   Songs like Seven Nights To Rock and In This Life don`t have Searchers connections but the originals are so obscure that we have sort of made them our own and they create very special impacts in contrasting ways. There is no real reason to include The Rose, for example, except that it is a stunning song and pleases our audience in a very special way and lifts the mood in an exceptional manner. But we do have to limit such things.