The Searchers News

Ask Frank Allen a question by clicking HERE

Issue 130a written exclusively for The Searchers Official Web Site by Searchers front man Frank Allen

ŠThe Searchers Official Web Site. No unauthorised reproduction

Hello again,

This newsletter comes much sooner than is normally the case but I just wanted to keep you all up to date with the dramas in Searcherland and to thank all of you on behalf of John McNally for all your good wishes during this period of temporary leave of absence due to his ill health. Your kind words will certainly be passed on along with the cards that have been handed to us. 

I`ve stayed in touch with John by email and by phone and he says he is coming along just fine and indeed he sounds it. We are trying to encourage him to take perhaps a little longer than he thinks it needs before he returns so that he doesn`t put himself in any danger and comes back fighting fit and more importantly safe. And, as you would expect from John, he says that being idle is driving him mad.

Meanwhile those of you who have attended a Sixties Gold concert will have witnessed the sterling job that Steve Thompson of The Pacemakers has done (Take a look at this temporary new line-up).  With barely a note out of place he came to our rescue, learnt the songs in an astonishingly short space of time and emerged with flying colours. And all without any proper rehearsal.

The only preparation has been a ‘talk through’ of the basic arrangements and chords etcetera at Spencer`s house in the Forest Of Dean while I was languishing in the sun at a chum`s villa in Quinta Do Lago, Portugal, worrying about the problem while enjoying my breakfast of muesli, mango and papayas served by the housekeeper on the patio next to the pool. (The things I sacrifice for this band!)

And after a flight back to Blighty (by BA not Ryanair) it was straight in at the deep end. And what a reception the packed audience at Weymouth gave us. It was wonderful and quite emotional. Show-wise we are covered up to the end of the tour if needs be and, apart from perhaps a couple of concerts which might prove a problem because of Steve`s own commitments, right through to the end of the year if necessary.

These tours always draw large crowds but this particular one has surpassed everything. Only three days into the run and we discovered that the whole venture was already sold out apart from perhaps a few not too satisfactory seats way up in the gods at some venues. In fact the only date you might have been able to obtain a reasonably good position due to the fact that it is a larger space was at The Indigo at the O2 in Greenwich on Sunday 22 October.

I`m not at all sure what has created this demand. Sure the line-up is excellent. The Tremeloes have had a glorious career packed with hits and always deliver a terrific set. Steve Ellis is a truly nice guy who performs his successes superbly and as effortlessly as he did when he was a young mod fronting The Love Affair, and physically he has barely altered. Vanity Fare not only perform their incredibly catchy hits but they also have the onerous task of providing the backing for Steve and for The Trems and it`s a job they do very well indeed. But capacity houses at every show? Who`d have thought it?

It may be that much of the attraction is to catch Gerry Marsden one more time in the light of the news that this is to be his final tour. He is a genuine legend of that great decade and it will be a great loss when he no longer goes out on the road. In fact that reasoning could apply to any of us. We are all gentlemen of a certain age and there comes a time when the touring has to stop. I`m sure our bodies will tell us in no uncertain way. The next year or two will be very important for you to grab that chance of catching your favourite artistes. Don`t hesitate. You could be just that little bit too late.

Bearing in mind the amount of information Steve Thompson had to absorb in such a short space of time we decided to keep our part of the show slick and staying within the time allotted us. Usually overrunning is a given thing with all the artistes wanting to include as much as they can of their past successes so tour manager John Craig was grateful that for once his whip was not required to crack.

Outside of two non-Searchers titles (Runaway and Running Scared) we stuck to an almost wholly Searchers set list with the intent of replacing at least one of the covers with one of our own tracks as and when we could rehearse them with Steve to a satisfactory standard.
And to the delight of many patrons we had for the first time in a package tour, be it Solid Silver Sixties or Sixties Gold, delivered a very rare rendition of Goodbye My Love which, considering that it reached the very impressive position of number three in the U.K charts, has too often been omitted from our package shows although it has found a steady place in the last run of our all evening concerts..

Mick Clark, bassist of Sugar Baby Love group The Rubettes and occasionally part of a past Tremeloes line-up, came along to the St Albans show and was both shocked and thrilled that his favourite Searchers hit was at last in the set. It`s quite intriguing that we get so many requests from fellow musicians for Goodbye My Love.

Our backline John Semark was upgraded to tour manager for five of the shows while John Craig took care of prior commitments. His duties involved making sure all the artistes appear on time and that everything ran smoothly throughout the evening. He also had to take care of the backstage catering, log the start and finish times of every act, post the playing times and running order plus the details and post codes of the next show not to mention any other unforeseen dramas that might have occured. and indeed he took to the task like a duck to water earning high praise from both the cast and the crew.

As we were suffering health problems with John McNally the poor Tremeloes were having issues of their own.The first to miss a short run was Dave Munden weho caught an infection and when he returned flu struck the whole outfit and for two shows (The Indigo and Southampton) they were replaced by respectively The Fortunes and The Merseybeats. And as if that were not enough both Dave and Chip had to withdraw from some concerts to be replaced by their old aforementioned chum Mick Clark.

And that`s about it I`m afraid. It`s just a short one this time as nothing of any great interest has been happening (but please see the PS at the end) unless you are particularly fascinated by the fact that I rescued an old chair from a skip the other day and am about to restore and reupholster it.

In the main it has been a case of running through extra songs with Steve in the dressing room in order to cope with some shows outside the tour that are on the way and which he may or may not have to cover.  John McNally thinks he will be fit and strong enough by mid November but there`s no point in needlessly rushing things if we already have the alternate solution in place. We`ll just take it day by day and let you know in due course.

Meanwhile take good care of yourselves and we`ll see you at another show soon.

Frank Allen

PS:   As this is a fairly short newsletter I thought you might be interested in this link I was sent regarding our failed eighties single I Don`t Want To Be The One which was written by a talented songwriter from Middlesborough with, coincidentally the same name as our current temporary guitarist Steve Thompson. It`s quite fascinating and the link brings up several versions of the song from the original demo form right through to the two versions we cut in the old PYE studios which by that time had been renamed PRS.

It was a recording clouded in controversy with the original producer Peter Collins (Pass The Duchy and other hits) replacing my bass part and presenting to us a mix that we were not happy with. In fact I don`t think Collins, who I`m sure was a nice guy if you really got to know him, took to us at all, something I touched on in my book The Searchers And Me. We returned to the studio with his partner {Peter Waterman - he of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, producers of innumerable smash hits), reinstated my bass part and gave it a heavier mix. It was still unsuccessful but if you listen to the versions the final release which is the last one in the programme certainly stands out as having the most impact, at least in our opinion.
Steve Thompson also wrote another terrific song for us, Innocent Victim, which failed to get a release for some time until it was included on a CD compilation of tracks from throughout our history. 

I hope you enjoy it. And many thanks to Roy Clough who obviously had a big hand in bringing this fascinating tale to our notice.

SONG  STORY  SUNDAY by Steve Thompson:

This week it’s the Searchers. It was this song and a track sent me by Roy Clough that started me thinking about stories behind songs as this one has a interesting history. I was a big fan of the Searchers in the sixties so it was a pleasure to work with them in the early 80’s. Now not many people know this but the song they recorded was originally a “Cowboy Song”. Yes, the first demo demonstrates this both in the lyric and in a short intro by a guy called Ken Black. Ken was a retired policeman and used to come round the studio a lot. For some reason that escapes me now I had Ken record an intro to each song in the batch of demos. I explained the story behind the lyric as an imaginary western where a bad hombre was hiding away in a backwater one-horse town. The vocals on this track are by Phil Caffrey + Peter + Paul = The Caffreys.

My publisher of the time Brian Oliver Called me and suggested if I were to take a verse from another of my songs and the chorus from this one, re-write the lyrics then I’d have a hit on my hands. Always willing to oblige I did as he said and you can hear this version next on the audio collage. In the early 80’s I was signed to MCA music and my mentor was Pete Waterman. Pete got the song to The Searchers who decided to cut it as their next single and the producer was to be Peter Collins who Waterman managed. The next version you hear is the Searchers but this is not the mix that got released. This is the one that Roy sent me recently.

It’s possible that this mix was a bone of contention between Waterman and Collins and may have lead to the breakup of their partnership. Collins thought that the raw rocky mix was a good representation of the modern day Searchers. Waterman disagreed because, as always he had his sights on the charts. He wanted all the bells and whistles and Collins obliged. This is the next version you hear and the one that was released. The single entered the lower region of the UK charts but it charted and went gold on a K Tel compilation album. Later the Searchers recorded another of my songs “Innocent Victim” and both tracks feature on their 30th and 40th Anniversary albums as well as various other compilations.  
There is a YouTube of the band performing the song on the Leo Sayer TV show here:

The Searchers were performing at Castles in Catchgate (Co Durham UK) which is near where I was raised and where my old band Bullfrog used to rehearse so I arranged to go along (by now I was living in Whitley Bay) When I got to the gig I went into the dressing room and introduced myself to the band. It was a great show and it was quite a blast to hear my song in the midst of all those classic tracks. What made it even better was that John McNally (or was it Frank Allen) introduced the song and said “this song was written by a guy who used to go to school around here and he ‘s standing at the bar over there, Steve Thompson”. I got a round of applause and it felt great.

Hit Counter by Digits