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April/May
2018
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Issue 133 written exclusively for The Searchers Official Web Site by Searchers front man Frank Allen

ŠThe Searchers Official Web Site. No unauthorised reproduction


Hi Everyone,

Well, I think this is the letter you have all been expecting. I think we owe you, in view of the rumours and fears and the eventual official declaration that 2019 will see the final concerts of The Searchers, an explanation of how we came to this momentous, if dreaded by many, happening.

To begin with I can sadly confirm that the Spring solo tour next year, the dates for which have just gone on line will to all intents and purposes be our last. We haven`t made the announcement earlier for a number of reasons. In fact the schedule has changed considerably since we first decided to wind down and we did not want to break it to everyone until we were as sure as we could be as to the final outcome. And even now there is no guarantee that things will remain exactly the same so if/when alterations are made we will of course amend the date sheet.

The first thing I have to do is lay the blame firmly at my own feet. Going on stage to perform is still the wonderful thrill it always has been. There is nothing quite like it. But for some time I have become increasingly weary of the travelling side of the life we have led for more than five decades. It reached the point where I no longer wanted to get in a car.

When I am at home I drive only if I have to. If I dine out in London I take the tube these days. A few paltry local miles a day when necessary is enough for my needs and if or when I eventually downsize to a new home it will be within walking distance of an underground station. It will be a place I can safely lock up and leave while I do a bit of personal globetrotting.

John of course would happily carry on till he drops and believe me I do feel bad about putting him in this position but there comes a time when you have to choose what you want to do with your life. I suggested that he should simply replace me and carry on. I would be behind him every step of the way and ready to help in any manner I could. But I don`t think he has the heart to take on such new responsibilities at this time of life. It`s a shame. I think he could have presented the band in a different way and make a great success of it.

Anyway, after discussing over a long period how we both felt, John and I more or less agreed that the end of 2018 would be a good point to stop. It would give everyone a suitable length of time to get used to the idea and to make plans for their future. The Searchers have been an enormous part of the lives of the band and crew. Spencer has been a Searcher for thirty-two years. Both sound engineer Phil Hayes and backline/lights tech John Semark have been with us a very long time - Phil well over thirty years and John for over twenty five.  And even Scott, still the new boy, has clocked up over eight years’ service, longer than most groups last these days.

On hearing about our plans Robert Pratt of Royal Chimes, the promotions company who operate the highly successful Sixties Gold Tours in conjunction with Alan Field and Mark Howes, set about putting together a run of dates far the last months of this.year. The last outing had done so well that its popularity would have justified setting up a re-run on its own merits but as a ‘farewell’ tour it promised an even greater significance and therefore attendance this time round.

John McNally and Alan Field however both thought the group should close such an illustrious career on a Searchers` solo tour and I was happy to go along with that and so the date sheet now was going to run into the following year. The finishing date was going to be March 31st 2019.

No sooner had we done that than our old New Zealand promoter Layton Lillas got in touch saying he was keen to take on a tour of Australia in the early part of next year, with vastly improved conditions;  an offer that had to be taken seriously. And whilst I had insisted that I wanted to stick to the March 31st date I couldn`t stop myself from saying a big yes to this latest change. I truly love Australia and with the much better conditions I was a happy bunny indeed.

Needless to say John`s unexpected health issues last autumn came as a huge shock and soon put a stop to all our plans. We had to rethink the whole scheme. There was no knowing if he would recover enough to do even the UK dates that were in the book for this year. And even after his recovery was it wise to risk putting himself through the strain that is a part of a constantly touring band?  Even now it worries me but you know John. He is unstoppable.

The possible, or maybe that should be probable, danger to his health not to mention problems with insurance had to be taken very seriously indeed. We had to tell Layton that alas the Australian trip was not going to happen after all.

So, March 31st next year it is then. The Last Hurrah.  My close chum Bruce Welch (the former Shadow came to our recent Richmond show and loved it by the way) says I won`t stop but I now think even he has started to believe me. Will I miss it?  Absolutely. Maybe too much.  But I have to give it a go.

One of the big questions asked is whether we would allow the name to be carried on by anyone else and the answer is a very firm no. This is not a dog-in-the-manger attitude. It`s just that we have learned from the experience of others – Ray Ennis of The Swinging Blue Jeans comes to mind – who, after deciding they never wanted to tour again and assigning the rights to others, finally gave in to the craving to resurrect former glories and take to the road once more, only to realise that they had sold their birthright and are no longer able to reclaim it. That will not happen to John and me.. We fully realise we just might want to do it again one day, even if only temporarily.

Nothing has changed. The legal rights, along with the High Court conditions and the protection of the name as given by the Intellectual Properties Office, are still in place and we will safeguard those rights and the name of this very special band the same as we have always done. So be warned any chancers out there (and there are quite a few) who suddenly think the name is up for grabs.

It`s been very touching to hear how upset our followers have become at the news and I apologise profusely for playing such a big part in their immense disappointment but we have also been mightily pleased at the show of understanding from them and we thank everyone for their loyalty and their support over the years. We know so many of our regulars by face and by name but I`m not going to mention any individual names for fear of offending those who we may not know quite so well but appreciate no less. It`s been a terrific rollercoaster ride and one we wouldn`t have missed for the world. Thank you all for being a great part of our lives.

We have deliberately decided not to take the final concerts into bigger venues. We really have never been that kind of band and we are going out in much the same way as we have become used to on our travels. Needless to say there are those who may not be able to get into the actual last concert due to logistics or capacity restrictions but if that is the case then we are sure we can still say the same goodbyes at alternative settings over those last three months, so do bear with us. As we go out the surroundings will be modest and familiar but the emotion will surely reach another level.

So let`s look on the bright side. We still have nearly a year to go during which we can all look back on some wonderful times and enjoy a few more evenings together. John and I, along with Spencer and Scott of course, hope to see you at another concert very soon. Let`s make this final year something special.

All the very best,

Frank Allen
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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: The Searchers feature on many sixties compilation CDs. Do any of The Searchers past or present receive any royalties for these inclusions?

Answer:  Yes we do. The Performing Rights Society and MCPS collect royalties on all recorded tracks and distribute regularly. Royalties of course are not huge because these compilations are budget items and the income has to be split with so many, not just the performers but the songwriters of course and others too.   But all gratefully received.

Question 2:   Where did you find that great song “Somebody Told Me You Were Crying”?  We’ve never heard it by anyone else, before you did it, or since.

Answer:  It was a song we picked up while on tour in the US in the eighties. We went into the studio with it and recorded the master but could never get any interest in a release. We owned the track ourselves and when we undertook the Hungry Hearts project in 1989 we allowed Coconut Records to use our master on the CD although it was never a part of their recordings and it is still owned by us.

Question 3:  We loved your recent show at New Brighton.  We noticed that your next performance was the following evening in York, I often wonder how you manage to sleep, travel and rehearse at the same time between shows during a very hectic schedule.  It must be very exhausting, but you all look well on it.

Answer:  Normally we get enough time to sleep but it`s the travelling that is exhausting. These days John & I try to get a nap in the dressing room in the afternoon before the show.. We don`t normally rehearse except when we need to introduce another song into the show or correct some bad habits. Our stage crew do the sound check and do it very well indeed.


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