1960s musicians 'better than ever'

ANGELA CROMPTON
Last updated 10:32 15/07/2014
Crystal Clear
LP BAND: Musicians from left, John McNally, Scott Ottaway, and Frank Allen in The Searchers still play their 1960s pop favourites.

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Don't Throw Your Love Away sang the British pop band The Searchers in 1963. It became one of their many hit singles and people can relive their youth - or get a taste of what their parents were grooving to - when the band performs live in Blenheim on July 27.

Bass player Frank Allen joined the band a year after Don't Throw Your Love Away went to the top of the charts. Speaking from London last week, he said the New Zealand stage shows would celebrate the band's long, glorious history.

He was 20 when he joined The Searchers, a group formed seven years earlier by guitarist-vocalist John McNally. Allen remembered being "obsessed" with music and how he hoped to stay in the band for a long time, maybe five years.

Fifty years was a few more than expected, he said.

Asked about band changes over the years, he reckoned members were all playing better than they did when everyone was buying their singles. And members still loved what they were doing, he said.

"But music will never be as important to me as it was in the mid to late '50s, '60s.

"I was obsessed [then]."

Rock ‘n' roll had developed in his youth and, inspired by the likes of Elvis Presley and the Everleigh Brothers, he needed to play it. Nothing could have stopped me getting on stage."

The Beatles grabbled the world's attention to the Liverpool sound but by 1966 the fascination had started to fade. The Searchers continued touring, however, playing at English clubs and cabarets, regularly touring Europe and continuing to write new songs.

"We create new songs when we have a new album to record," Allen said, but added the band had a responsibility to play music people wanted to hear.

"You have to know your place and be realistic about life. We are a nostalgic band. Virtually everyone becomes a nostalgia act in the end - you only have to look at the [Rolling] Stones."

"As much as people buy their new albums . . . the reason people come to the show is they want to hear (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, and Get Off of My Cloud."

The Searchers came to New Zealand last year and toured with Gerry and The Pacemakers. Great audience turnouts prompted this year's return. Allen recalled touring with the band the year he joined in 1964. "New Zealand is a fantastic country and it's got more beautiful over the years."

The Searchers play at the Floor Pride Civic Theatre, Blenheim, at 7.30pm on Sunday, July 27. Tickets $69.90.

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- The Marlborough Express

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