1964 Searchers – Don’t Throw Your Love Away
John McNally formed a skiffle group with two friends in England in 1957. They named their group the Searchers, a name they took from a recent Western movie. The friends left the group in 1959, and John recruited replacements: guitar-player Mike Prendergast and bass player and singer Tony Jackson. Several drummers came and went.
The group signed with Pye Records, who assigned Tony Hatch to produce their records (he later teamed up with Petula Clark to write and produce many of her hits). The group scored a chart-topping single in the UK in 1963 with their release of Sweets For My Sweets and reached #2 with their follow-up, Sugar And Spice.
The Searchers didn’t have any success at all in the US in 1963. Mercury Records released Sweets For My Sweets and Liberty Records released Sugar And Spice, but neither single reached the charts. After those two failures, the group signed a contract with Kapp Records for future single releases in the US.
Everything changed for British groups in January 1964, when the Beatles first reached the Hot 100 in the US. The British Invasion got underway and radio stations actively sought potential hit records from overseas.
The first two groups from Liverpool to reach the US Hot 100 after the Beatles both arrived on the chart on March 7, 1964. The Swinging Blue Jeans single Hippy Hippy Shake spent a few weeks working its way up to #24 and became their only entry into the top forty.
The Searchers were the other group to reach the chart that week. Mike took over lead vocals, and their newest cover was a song written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche, Needles And Pins. Jackie DeShannon’s original version of the song only reached #84 the year before, so most people thought it was a new song. The new recording by the Searchers reached #13 on the Hot 100 in April and gave the group another #1 record in the UK.
The Orlons had five top twenty singles between 1962 and 1963. Their string of hits ended with the release of Bon-Do-Wah, which only reached #55. The B-side of that record was Don’t Throw Your Love Away. Somebody convinced the Searchers to record the flip-side of the record, and by July their single had reached #16 on the US Hot 100. The record again took the group back to the top of the UK chart.
Seeing their sudden success in the US, Liberty Records re-released Sugar And Spice in the US, but the record stalled at #44.
The group had five more top forty singles in the US, with their biggest hit being their #3 remake of the 1959 Clovers hit, Love Potion No. 9. The group continued recording new music through the early seventies.
Mike left the group in 1985 and formed Mike Pender’s Searchers, performing the group’s oldies in concerts.
John continued to lead the Searchers until he suffered a stroke in 2017, and in 2018 the group announced their retirement. So far, no sign of another reunion.
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