Frank Allen of The Searchers explains why the show goes on
From the snowy streets of London, Frank Allen from The Searchers sounds as if he's longing for his
forthcoming trip Down Under.
"What do you think?” he says. "We go every year and it’s great."The Searchers, which came to fame in the '60s, are not only still working but doing more than a hundred shows every year. For Frank, the secret to the group's success is manifold.
"We enjoy what we do, we love going on stage and getting the approval of the crowd, and it's also because we're from that '60s period; that era that is set forever in people's minds," he says.
Frank began his music career as the bass guitarist with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers but left in 1964 to join The Searchers, which he says was not too hard a decision to make.
"The Searchers were already rock gods, a fantastic band that were recording all the time," Frank explains. "It was a sniff of success and my chance to break into the big time."
Frank's favourite song of all the band's hits successes is When You Walk in the Room, and not just because it was his first recording with the band.
"It was the best pop song and had fantastic guitar and great lyrics," Frank says. "It has been covered by many people since."
Frank has enthralling memories of the band's early days, working in the Fox Theatre in Brooklyn, and sharing a fantastic bill with music icons such as Dusty Springfield, The Supremes, The Shangri-Las, The Temptations, and Frank's personal favourite, Marvin Gaye.
Frank's highlights of such a long career are doing the Royal Variety Show in 1981 and afterwards shaking the hand of the Queen, and in 1989, playing dates at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 people with Cliff Richard.
Many band members have come and gone – Frank, of course, arrived when the first bass player, Tony Jackson, left. He says he used to get upset when someone left but he became used to it over the years.
For Frank, however, leaving was never an option.
"We wanted to carry on for as long as possible," he says.
After a tour of Australia in 1966, Chris Curtis left the band as it went into its first stint on the cabaret circuit in England. For some in the band, it was a turn for the worst and they envisaged a downward spiral in their careers.
But Frank says he saw the bright side.
"I enjoyed that period," he says. "It was hard work, but it was like a university. We learned how to play to an adult audience, who sat and applauded."
It was a big change from singing six songs in front of screaming teenage girls and it marked a change that has ensured the band has continued to entertain their audience as their audience matured.
"It"s totally different now," Frank says. "Then, girls were screaming and we were at the top of the charts."
"Now with an adult audience, the show is very carefully put together."
The band soared once more in popularity in the '70s and '80s when people were interested in nostalgia and they have endured ever since. For the show in Australia celebrating 50 years, The Searchers will revisit all their original hits like Sweets for My Sweet, Sugar and Spice, Needles and Pins, Don’t Throw Your Love Away, and Someday We’re Gonna Love Again, as well as some famous B sides.
The show's numbers are interspersed with commentary from the band members on particular songs and anecdotes around them, and Frank says no two shows are ever really the same.
"We are a live band and we change the show in the middle of the show sometimes," he says.
There's even a new album due to be recorded soon with some original songs and an as-yet secret line-up.
"There is an album prospect with some very influential people," Frank says.
>>The Searchers are at Cairns Civic Theatre on February 22 at 7.30pm. Tickets from www.ticketlink.com.au or call Ph: 1300 855 835. Price $59.90 for adults, concessions apply.
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Sweet sound of success : Frank Allen in The Searchers still entertaining the fans