Close behind the Beatles were two more Liverpool groups, The Searcher and The Swinging Blue Jeans both making their U.S. chart debut on March 7th, 1964.
The Searchers had been around from the start, originally as a skiffle group, then moving into the Beat stream under various monikers including “Tony & the Searchers”, and “Johnny Sandon and the Searchers”. It was very fashionable in the U.K. to name a group after a lead singer with group. Even the Beatles adhered to this for a short time as “Johnny & the Moondogs” from late 1959 until early 1960 before briefly being called “The Beatals” (yes that was the spelling).
The original Searchers included John McNally, Brian Dolan, Joe West & Joe Kennedy. Lots of personnel changes with all but John departing before the 1960’s. Then Chris Curtis (drums), Mike Pender (Guitar), and Tony Jackson (Bass) – would all join the group that first invaded with U.S. with “Needles and Pins”. This song climbed to number 13 and enjoyed a 10 week run in the Top 100. Shown above are two versions of a picture sleeve that were released during this period of time in the U.S. Although both versions of the record are on Kapp Records label number 577 you will notice that they contain two different “B” side songs. The issue most likely to land on the retail records shelves in 1964 was the one containing “Saturday Night Out”. The other version is difficult to find today and features “Ain’t That Just Like Me” on side two. And there it is, the boast “…the Group and Record that Knocked the Beatles…..”
Chris Curtis left the Searchers and eventually ended up with Roundabout. Tony Jackson went on to form Tony Jackson and the Vibrations.
The Swinging Blue Jeans
The Blue Jeans (orignal name) formed about 1958, and their first U.S. hit was “Hippy Hippy Shake”. The song ran for just 8 weeks and topped out at number 24. A long play would sneak into the U.S. charts down the road a bit in 1964.
Original members included Spud Ward, Ray Ennis, Norman Kuhlke (washboards), Bruce McCaskill and Tommy Hughes (banjo). As you can see from a few of the instruments being featured in 1958, they too were skifflers. Ray Ellis from the Ray Ellis Skiffle Group, Mike Gregory from the Escorts and Terry Sylvester – also from the Escorts and later with The Hollies, would pass through the group.
For the Week of March 7th – The Top Ten
(Visit Joel Whitburn’s Record Research based on the Billboard Charts)
Number 1 – I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
Number 2 – She Loves You – The Beatles
Number 3 – Dawn – The Four Seasons
Number 4 – Please Please Me – The Beatles
Number 5 – Java – Al Hirt
Number 6 – California Sun – The Rivieras
Number 7 – Navy Blue – Diane Renay
Number 8 – Stop & Think it Over – Dale & Grace
Number 9 – Fun Fun Fun – The Beach Boys
Number 10 – See the Funny Little Clown – Bobby Goldsboro
Just Entering the Top 100
Number 80 – Hippy Hippy Shake – The Swinging Blue Jeans
Number 75 – Needles & Pins – The Searchers
Visit the British Beat Boom Website – Great Site – Many Mersey Beat Groups
Visit The Searchers official U.K. Website
Visit The Searchers Blog “Joe Troiano’s Blog”
Visit The Swinging Blue Jeans official U.K. Website