It’s a little matter of 61 years ago that Mike Pender started out in the music business.
The great thing is that all these years later, the joy is just the same for the original voice of The Searchers.
“People come along now with their grandchildren and say that their grandchildren have got something they want to ask me,” Mike says. “And they want to know about getting into the business. And I always say you have just got to play for the joy of it.”
That’s what Mike did in 1957 – and it is what he is still doing now, on the road with The Sensational 60s Experience, a show which sees him share the bill with Chris Farlowe, Herman’s Hermits, The Swinging Blue Jeans, New Amen Corner and The Fourmost. They play Worthing’s Pavilion Theatre on Saturday, October 20.
“You go through different phases in your life, different periods, and those early days were fun, but I can’t even remember having dreams,” Mike says. “I just wanted to play the guitar and stand in front of the mirror and look at myself with the guitar! That was before I could even play it, and it was a great feeling. And then I remember trying to learn to play it, shutting myself away night after night, thinking I was never going to do it.
“And then suddenly you can play one chord and then you get the second and then suddenly you are playing three chords. So just shutting myself in night after night started to pay off. But really it is the joy of playing that counts.”
Mike famously found the name for The Searchers, borrowing it from the John Wayne film: “I can remember John McNally and I just playing for ourselves, and then when we wanted to go out as a trio, we found Tony Jackson. It was tough in those days, and then I found Chris Curtis. He was the last piece in the jigsaw.
“We always had the name The Searchers because I went to see the movie, and every time I see that it is on television, I think ‘Oh! A documentary about The Searchers!’ but no, it is always John Wayne!
“And then we went to the Star Club in Hamburg and came back to Liverpool. Tony Hatch found out that The Beatles had recorded Love Me Do and went and looked for other talents. I think The Beatles opened it up for everybody.
"They came back from Hamburg and Brian Epstein got hold of them and told them what they needed to do, and that opened the floodgates for everybody. We did very well. We had three years at the top, 63-66. And then it started to fade away a bit, maybe over-exposure, maybe not writing songs, maybe not changing with the times.
"I remember groups like The Eagles came along and I was thinking ‘Oh yes, we would like to be like that’. But we were always looking for songwriters to come up with the songs, though we did find some great songs… And I think I have always been very lucky, very blessed.”