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The Searchers founded as a skiffle group in Liverpool in 1959 by John McNally and Mike Pender, the band took their name from the classic 1956 John Ford western The Searchers. Pender claims that the name was his idea, but McNally ascribes it to Ron Woodbridge, their first lead singer. The genesis remains unresolved.

The band grew out of an earlier skiffle group formed by McNally in 1957, with his friends Brian Dolan (guitar) and Tony West. When the other two members lost interest McNally was joined by his guitarist neighbour Mike Prendergast. They soon recruited Tony Jackson with his home-made bass guitar and amplifier, who was recruited as a lead singer, but took a back seat at first in order to learn the bass.

The band styled themselves as 'Tony and the Searchers' with Joe Kennedy on drums. Kennedy soon left to be replaced by Norman McGarry (born 1 March 1942, Liverpool, Lancashire), and it is this line-up — McNally, Pender (as Prendergast soon became known), Jackson and McGarry — that is usually cited as the original foursome.

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