Frank Allen may not be quite as well-known as Liverpool's two most famous rock bassists, Paul McCartney and John Gustafson, but he's in class by himself for sheer longevity, in a field in which success is usually defined by youth -- as a member of the Searchers, he's in his fifth decade as a rock & roll musician, fronting one of the longest-lived bands on the original 1960s Merseybeat scene (and he wasn't even there for the founding of the band). Born in 1943 in London, Allen reached his teens just as skiffle music was sweeping England and rock & roll was making its first serious inroads. His entry into professional music took place at age 16 when he joined the original lineup of the Rebel Rousers, the band put together by Cliff Bennett in 1960, as their bassist. He was there for their unsuccessful linkup with legendary producer Joe Meek, and their subsequent jump into the club scene in Hamburg, which led to their being signed by Brian Epstein. Although working a lot, they saw no hits during the first half of the 1960s.
During the summer of 1964, opportunity seemed to beckon for Allen when the Searchers -- then the number two group in Liverpool (tied for that spot with Gerry & the Pacemakers) after the Beatles -- suddenly lost their bassist, Tony Jackson, who had elected to start his own band. Allen filled the spot and has been with the band ever since. And as group founder John McNally is quick to point out, Allen took the lead vocal on "When You Walk in the Room" (one of the group's biggest and most enduring hits) as well as playing and singing on the hit singles "What Have They Done to the Rain?," "Goodbye My Love," "He`s Got No Love," "Bumble Bee," and "Take Me for What I`m Worth," which comprise a much longer list than the hits that Jackson worked on. He has been one of the constants with the group along with McNally, and has fronted the band ever since the departure of co-founder Mike Pender in 1985. And thanks to a steady stream of reissues, plus some new recordings at key moments -- most notably a pair of albums for Sire Records in the early '80s -- Allen and the group were still working full-time at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi