WATCH: The Searchers play Eastbourne's Royal Hippodrome Theatre

Frank Allen was very happy to call it a day “and just be a retired old gentleman" when The Searchers finished their last tour at the end of March 2019.
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But he was approached, lunched and persuaded – and here they are again, launching out on their Thank You Tour with dates including Eastbourne’s Royal Hippodrome Theatre on Friday, June 9.

When John McNally formed The Searchers in 1957, aged just 16, he could never have imagined the phenomenal success that his band would enjoy: 50 million record sales, 13 UK chart hits including three number ones and a sound that inspired some of the greatest artists of all time, including The Byrds, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.

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It’s an astonishing catalogue that they will be bringing back to the concert platform with songs including When You Walk In The Room, Goodbye My Love, Sugar & Spice, What Have They Done To The Rain as well as their three UK chart-toppers Sweets for my Sweet (1963), Needles and Pins (1964) and Don’t Throw Your Love Away (1964). And all in a year in which Frank – as indeed do Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – turns 80.

The SearchersThe Searchers
The Searchers

“I never really think about age. It certainly doesn't bother me. I'm not sure I'm going to particularly celebrate it. I've stopped having big parties. I had big parties for 40 and 50 and 60 but you always seem to end up doing the work yourself. I will be very happy just to go out for a meal.”

And there is celebration enough just being back on the road: “I was thinking I was just going to be a retired old gentlemen. It is very stressful doing all the driving around when you are touring, you know, and we were doing 200 shows a year. But it's good to be back.

"This year it will be 59 years in the band for me. The band had been going for a year when I joined (Frank dates it from their first chart success). John started the band in 1957 as a little skiffle group and he got the name The Searchers in 1957 from the John Wayne film.

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"I met them in Hamburg in 1963 when I was with Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers. We were quite well known and we had more than six singles but I got to know The Searchers and they seemed like my kind of people, people that didn't drink too much and didn't go off debauching themselves, and I just liked the look of them.”

And it's that sensibleness perhaps which was sustained Frank over the decades: “I didn't drink anything at all until I was in my 30s. I was teetotal and even then I only did it moderately. In fact moderation is the only thing that I do to excess! I've always been modest drinker but I am cutting back on that even now. But it is incredible the way time flies by, and it flies by even faster as you get older. I look back on some things and yes it does seem a long time ago but I can look back on my photo albums and there are lovely memories there.”