SL: What about the songs on here – “I Can Tell”, “Sick And Tired”, “Mashed Potato”.
Chris Curtis: They were fillers. Lots of bands over there used to go, “We will do that one, and we can do it again later and then again later on”, but we never did that. We did different songs all night.
SL: What about “Sho Know A Lot About Love”?
Chris Curtis: Oh, that’s great. I loved obscure B-sides and loved finding really wonky songs. I used to go to a place in Rotunda where the chap knew me and would say, “Go upstairs where the boxes are and go through them for as long as you like.” I worked in Swift’s at the time, selling prams, but don’t ask me about that!
SL: So you never got any of your records from the Cunard Yanks?
Chris Curtis: No, you will find that all of the tracks recorded by the Searchers were available in NEMS or in the Rotunda shop. I found “Love Potion Number 9” in a back-street, second-hand shop in Hamburg. I saw this 45 with a triangle in the middle and I thought, “I’ve got to have it, it’s such a weird looking record.” I took my little portable electric record-player to Germany and I played “Love Potion Number 9” and I thought, “This is excellent.” For some unknown reason, I reckoned it would be a good single for the States as they like dopey stuff like that. We did it on “Shindig”. Brian Epstein used to introduce “Shindig”, dressed very British but just right for what he was doing – he was a Keith Fordyce for America.
SL: When you found these songs, did you have any difficulty in persuading the other Searchers to do them?
Chris Curtis: No, they knew I had picked the hits so I must know something. They went along with it.
SHO KNOW A LOT ABOUT LOVE – THE SEARCHERS
SL: Let’s move onto Dusty Springfield, whom you knew very well indeed.
Chris Curtis: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. She lived in Liverpool for a time and one night she drove me home to the Old Roan, to my mum’s old house. She had a huge silver-grey American car.
SL: I get the impression from Vicki Wickham’s book that she didn’t appreciate how good her voice was.
Chris Curtis: She never did. She was a very strange star. One night we were on the charbanc coming back from a one night stand and I could see that she was crying. I said, “What’s the matter, Mary?” She said, “We have just passed a primary school and a cemetary.” It made her aware of the transition of life. This song is pertinent to everything I thought about her, “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, “If You Go Away”. She was just wonderful.
IF YOU GO AWAY – DUSTY SPRINGFIELD
Chris Curtis: Genius. The French is spot-on.
SL: I saw Marty Wilde last night at Pontin’s and you could tell he absolutely loved performing. He couldn’t wait to get out there, but I presume Dusty Springfield was never like that.
Chris Curtis: Oh, she was, and she loved to do up tempo things. Vicki Wickham asked me to produce the sound for a “Ready, Steady, Go!”. Dusty and Otis Redding were on. She was doing a Northern Soul track called “Bring Him Back”. She was working with the Otis Redding band and I thought it wasn’t going to work because they didn’t seem loud enough. I don’t know what they did in the afternoon but when they did the show, it was Bam! Bam! Bam! and I thought, “This’ll do for me.” “”Bring Him Back” was excellent, she did a real good job on it.
SL: Did you like performing live yourself?
Chris Curtis: Well, I hated miming. I always lost track. I could do it, but it was only all right.
SL: Let’s move over to your Swedish sessions. Why did you do all these sessions for Swedish radio?
Chris Curtis: My best friend was in charge of the radio station. When I left the Searchers, I rang him and he told me to come over to Sweden to get myself straight. He sent his wife back to France, to her family, and he was a decent bloke.
SL: And he produced these sessions?
Chris Curtis: Well, it was whoever was there, but Klaus did quite well. “See See Rider” is Mike Pender’s forte. It was a good upbeat track that I nicked from Joey Dee and the Starliters. It really swings along.
SEE SEE RIDER – THE SEARCHERS
BRING HIM BACK – DUSTY SPRINGFIELD
SL: I was hoping to lead you into one of the famous incidents when I asked you about Dusty where she threw plates around. Did that happen?
Chris Curtis: Oh yes. She did that at the Liverpool Empire. She had a “Dusty mood”, as I call them, and she sent out to George Henry Lee’s for a box of plain white crockery. The dressing-rooms were in a corridor and she got the whole box and sent them crashing down there. It’s like a child, I suppose, but we all get our little tantrums.
SL: We’re going to close with the new Ringo Starr album, “Ringo Rama”, and his tribute to George Harrison, “Never Without You”.
Chris Curtis: George was one of the nicest, quietest people I have ever known. Both the Beatles and the Searchers, in that order, were playing the Litherland Town Hall. I didn’t go round with the other three Searchers that much, so I got the 28 bus from Stanley Road along to the Richmond sausage works and then I walked up the back-streets to the Town Hall. I had my long hair and I was ready to play in my leather jacket and corduroy trousers, I looked like something from “Bad Day At Black Rock”. I saw the Beatles, and I heard George say to the others, “It’s Mad Henry coming this way. What shall we do?” And John said, “It’s okay, he’s just mad.”
SL: Chris Curtis, thank you very much.
Chris Curtis: A pleasure to be here.
NEVER WITHOUT YOU – RINGO STARR