Star Interview: The Searchers’ Mike Pender

Mike Pender's Searchers
Mike Pender's Searchers

Screaming girls, flower power, the first man on the moon... the 1960s had a lot to offer in terms of ‘best moments’.

It also boasted one of the most exciting eras in pop music.

And there will be plenty of people flocking to hear Mike Pender, the original voice of Sixties’ band The Searchers, when he appears as part of the line-up in The Solid Silver ’60s Show, which goes to the Royal & Derngate in Northampton on March 14 and to Milton Keynes Theatre on March 17.

The Searchers were famous for hits including Sweets For My Sweet, Sugar And Spice and Needles And Pins.

Mike said: “It is 2013 and I still remember our first hit record in 1963. It is amazing to think about it, but we have to think young all the time. No one in this tour thinks about age.”

Looking back to his teenage years, Mike recalls: “It did not occur to me what I wanted to do until I saw Buddy Holly. He was my inspiration. I was 16 and I got my ticket to see him in 1958. Until then I had been working in various jobs and saving money, I had a girlfriend. In the late ‘50s you thought about meeting a nice girl and saving up money to buy a house. I never got the dream until I saw Buddy Holly.

“I think it was my destiny to be part of The Searchers. We did lots of gigs with The Beatles. We never wanted to be the best, once we saw The Beatles we realised we were always going to be second best.”

The first time Mike remembers seeing The Beatles, The Searchers were higher on the bill. He also recalls that the band were then called the Silver Beatles and played with a fifth member, named Stuart Sutcliffe (who died of a brain haemorrhage, aged 21). Mike said: “The first time I saw them I thought ‘yes, that is how you have to be’.

“Each group at that time had lots of fans who would follow them around. Whenever we did a stage performance there were screaming girls.

“We had our first success in 1963 and spent three years at the top, until 1966. We had 13 records in the top 10 or 20. In three years so much was packed in. By 1966 we sat back and thought, ‘wow, what have we done with those three years?’

“I did marry my girlfriend secretly at the end of 1963, and we are still married today. I thought I really love this girl and I did not want to lose her when I went on a world tour.”

With Tony Jackson leaving the band in 1964 and Chris Curtis in 1966, soon Mike and John 
McNally became the only original members remaining. It was 1985 when Mike too decided to leave The Searchers to form his own group, Mike Pender’s Searchers.

Mike said: “It was just John and I left of the original members and in the ‘60s I hoped that we would have more record successes, but it never really happened again. We never really had that big record success again. Come 1985, I felt it would be worth from now on singing on stage and performing. I thought ‘I still look ok, I can still sing, I will get a new band and make as much of it as I can’.”