Mike Pender

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Mike Pender
Mike Pender (first from left) as part of The Searchers in 1965
Mike Pender (first from left) as part of The Searchers in 1965
Background information
Birth nameMichael John Prendergast
Born (1941-03-03) 3 March 1941 (age 81)
Kirkdale, Liverpool, England, UK
GenresRock, pop
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
Years active1950s – Dec 2022
LabelsPye Records (among others)

Michael John Prendergast MBE (born 3 March 1941), known professionally as Mike Pender, is an English singer and musician. He was an original founding member of Merseybeat group the Searchers.[1] He is best known as the lead vocalist on many hit singles by the Searchers, including the song "Needles and Pins" and "What Have They Done to the Rain?".


Liverpool-native Pender pursued a solo career after leaving the Searchers and released one solo single before forming his current band, Mike Pender's Searchers who perform songs from his many years with the Searchers in addition to all-new material and a blend of popular rock standards by classic artists such as Buddy Holly, the Drifters and Roy Orbison.

In his early years, Pender worked at a printing company (Charles Birchall & Sons (Liverpool) Ltd.) as a day job in between playing nightly gigs with the Searchers. According to Pender, he is responsible for choosing the band name for the Searchers. "The band was founded by myself and John McNally. In 1957 John and I went to see the film The Searchers starring John Wayne. I was an ardent Western fan and so I dragged John along with me to see it. I take the credit for choosing the name 'the Searchers' and for co-founding the band in its original form". Some years ago, Mike Pender claimed to be a member of two fictitious groups he played in before his years with the Searchers.

Over the years, some of Pender's personal guitars have included his Gibson ES-345 with sunburst finish, the Burns Tri-Sonic in the colour of red with three pickups and the twelve-string Rickenbacker Rose Morris model 1993 coloured in a fireglo finish with deluxe features including the f-hole rather than the slash sound hole. Other guitars he has played include the Aria twelve-string guitar, his Danelectro Bellzouki twelve-string made from wood and hardboard, and the solid Rickenbacker 450/12 in an elegant mapleglo finish, which had a converter comb, which allowed it to be converted into either a 6-string or 12-string guitar. Pender's Rose Morris model 1993 was stolen several years ago; it had been used on many of the Searchers' studio recordings in addition to numerous live performances.

After the Searchers recorded the singles "Sweets for My Sweet" and "Sugar and Spice", Pender took over lead vocal duties from Tony Jackson. During the late 1970s, the Searchers were signed by Seymour Stein's Sire Records and recorded two modernised albums, including "The Searchers" and "Play for Today," which was retitled "Love's Melodies" outside the United Kingdom. The Searchers recorded what would become the final single with Pender, I Don't Want to Be the One. Pender left the Searchers in 1985 to pursue a solo career and in 1988 joined an all-star rock band known as the Corporation AKA the "Travelling Wrinklies", whose name was a parody of the popular rock group Traveling Wilburys. That band included Pender, Brian Poole, Clem Curtis, Tony Crane and Reg Presley, lead singer of the Troggs. With the Searchers continuing to perform, Pender was replaced by a new vocalist, Spencer James.

Selecting a group of talented musicians, Pender sought to re–create the unique sound that popularised the Searchers. Forming the band "Mike Pender's Searchers", they began touring in the late 1980s and re-recorded the Searchers' hits plus 4 new tracks. Various CDs, featuring these new tracks and the re-recordings have been released in various countries around the world. Mike Pender's Searchers continue to book new shows and tour, targeting Britain, Australia, the U.S., the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates. In 1994 Mike Pender's Searchers were the very first 1960s band to be invited to play on board the QE2 as part of the world famous liner's 25th anniversary celebrations.


Mike retired from performing on 2nd December 2022. His last show was at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham as part of the Sensational Sixties Experience which also happened to be his 59th wedding anniversary. Mike's wife of 59 years, May, was there watching the show.


Pender was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to music.[2][3]

Selected Discography[edit]

CD albums[edit]

  • That Was Then This is Now
  • Sweets for My Sweet
  • Mike Pender's Searchers Live!
  • Best of Mike Pender's Searchers
  • Needles & Pins
  • The Best of the Searchers (new versions of the Searchers' classic hits)
  • Fab '60s
  • Rock N' Roll Reunion: 1964


CD Compilations (various artists)[edit]

  • Rolling Back the Years: The '60s
  • Top Ten Hits of the Sixties: Your Favourite Sixties Supergroups
  • UK No. 1 Hits of the '60s CD
  • Merseybeat – Mike Pender's Searchers with Billy J. Kramer and the Fourmost (1CD)
  • The Greatest Hits of Tug Boat Records
  • The British '60s Volume 3
  • Rolling Back the Years the '60s
  • The Best of the Love Songs
  • Hits of the '60s
  • Dreamtime: Volume 2
  • Fab Sixties Boxed set
  • Hits of the '60s
  • Class of 64 (One Track Falling Apart at the Seams features Mike Pender)
  • Hits of the Searchers/Gerry & the Pacemakers – British '60s CD featuring 10 cuts from Mike Pender's Searchers and 10 cuts from Gerry Marsden
  • The Corporation – Ain't Nothing But a House Party 7" and 12" single with Mike Pender, (of the Searchers), Brian Poole (of Brian Poole & the Tremeloes), Clem Curtis (of the Foundations), Tony Crane (of the Merseybeats/the Merseys) and Reg Presley (of the Troggs)
  • Back To the Future – recordings of '90s songs by '60s artists Mike Pender performs Weather With You (Crowded House)


  • Mike Pender: The Search for Myself (Malpas: Genuine Article, 2014) ISBN 0993121306


  1. ^ "Tony Jackson", The Times, 20 August 2003
  2. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N21.
  3. ^ "Order of the British Empire, Michael John Prendergast". The Gazette. 27 December 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2019.

External links[edit]