Mike Pender from The Searchers plays Crawley’s Hawth with other ’60s stars

Mike Pender
Mike Pender

As Mike Pender, founder of The Searchers, says, the faces might come and go, but the songs will always remain.

Proving his point, the dates stretch ahead up and down the country for The Sensational 60s Experience. Everywhere they go, people are lapping up the memories.

The show brings together Mike Pender, Chris Farlowe, Mike d’Abo, Herman’s Hermits, The Fortunes and New Amen Corner for a night of classics including Needles and Pins, Out Of Time, Mighty Quinn, I’m Into Something Good, Here It Comes Again and Bend Me Shape Me.

As Mike says, even if people don’t remember certain names, they will always remember the songs: “They will always be there in people’s memories.”

The tour takes in The Hawth, Crawley on Wednesday, November 15; White Rock Theatre, Hastings on Thursday, November 16; and the Ferneham Hall, Fareham on Friday, November 17.

“I have done quite a few of these shows over the past ten years,” says Mike, “and what does it tell you? People just love these nostalgia shows. The groups change and sadly people pass away. That’s the truth. That’s the nature of it. But I am doing OK. I can still get up and sing, and people just love it.”

The Searchers go back to 1957, a group of lads from Liverpool: “We all went to see the great western The Searchers, and I said ‘What a great name for a band!’”

In its first incarnation, however, the band wasn’t to last low. They didn’t survive the tragic blow of having their only amplifier nicked. It belonged to the bass player who was from what Mike calls a “well-to-do family”. When the amplifier was stolen, the lad’s mum said ‘I don’t like that’ and he withdrew from the band. The band folded.

However, the next spur to The Searchers came when Mike went to see Buddy Holly and the Crickets. He can even tell you the date, March 20, 1957. He was there without his mates, effectively sitting alone. And it struck him: this is what he had to do. He needed to get the band going again. He gathered new members around him, and this time it worked.

When they got back from The Star Club in Hamburg, record producer Tony Hatch was waiting for them. Very quickly, they had their first number one.

It was an exciting time, lots of groups breaking through: “After people saw Buddy Holly, groups started appearing on Merseyside. You had The Searchers, The Beatles, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Billy J Kramer…”

But The Beatles were in a class of their own.

“The first time I ever saw The Beatles, I came home from work and got washed and got my guitar and went to the local venue we were playing. Our name was at the top. Just underneath was The Silver Beatles. I thought who are they! I had never heard of them. And there were five guys lounging on the floor, in leather jackets, leather trousers, looking really cool (the fifth was Stuart Sutcliffe).

“And then we were going on after them, and we just couldn’t follow them. They just blew us away. And the girls were all falling for them. They were fantastic, just like a breath of fresh air. They really had something!”

Call 01293 553636.

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