The Searchers have always deserved more credit for their contributions to rock'n'roll; too often they have been viewed as a Merseyside band merely riding on the coattails of Fab Four. Their chiming, jangling guitar sound and their perfect harmonies influenced numerous bands who emerged after them, including the legendary Byrds. But what went wrong? What contributed to them becoming mere footnotes in pop music history?
The first setback occurred when vocalist/bassist Tony Jackson left the band in 1964 due to personality clashes with drummer and de facto leader, Chris Curtis. Jackson stated he would have stayed in a band with the other guys, but that he had never liked Curtis; Curtis claims Jackson threatened to blackmail him by revealing personal information if Jackson didn't get to sing lead on "Needles and Pins." (He didn't; the vocal duties went to lead guitarist Mike Pender, or as he was originally known, Pendergast.) Later, in 1966, Curtis suffered a nervous breakdown and left the band for a gig as a producer for Pye records. Soon thereafter, he left the music industry entirely (but not before being the impetus in creating the band that eventually became Deep Purple) and worked as a public servant and Liverpool, just as his friend Pete Best had done earlier after abandoning a career in music.
John McNally and Frank Allen, Jackson's replacement, continue to perform under the Searchers' name. Their official site can be accessed here: http://www.the-searchers.co.uk/
Sadly, both Jackson and Curtis are now deceased.
Above are scans from various issues of Beat Monthly magazine, including one that has been autographed by Tony Jackson. Janet Lee, the original owner of my set of these mags, met some of the bands featured and obtained their autographs.