Obituary for Gerry Marsden


Merseybeat band leader Gerry and the Pacemakers of the 1960s, whose hits included You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Gerry Marsden, who died at the age of 78, was one of the most significant exponents of the Merseybeat sound of the early 1960s with his wide smile and cheeky way. Marsden’s band, Gerry and the Pacemakers, clashed with the Beatles for a period as the top pop group in Britain, all of whom were part of the Liverpool leadership of Brian Epstein. In 1963, with their first three hits, How Do You Do It?, the Pacemakers hit the top of the British charts. I Like It, and the composition You’ll Never Walk Alone by Rodgers & Hammerstein (which became the theme song for Liverpool FC).

The Pacemakers exceeded the Beatles in this respect, who only made it to No. 1 with their third single, From Me to You.

It was not until 1984 that, by coincidence, another Liverpool party, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, repeated the Pacemakers’ feat.

Fittingly, a version of Marsden’s composition Ferry Cross the Mersey, a 1965 Pacemakers smash, was the B-side of Frankie’s first major hit, Relax. Gerry and the Pacemakers couldn’t equal the remarkable career of the Beatles after their impressive first salvo of hits, however, as Epstein predicted, “Gerry will be with us for many years to come, because you can’t exhaust natural ability.” With Marsden’s song I’m the One, which reached #2 in 1964, the poignant ballad Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying (written by Marsdan), the group enjoyed more success. The subject of the movie of the same name was Ferry Cross the Mersey, whose script was written by Tony Warren, a writer from Coronation Street, and in which the group portrayed thinly fictionalized versions of themselves. The song brought the group a No. 6 hit in the U.S. in 1965, but it was their last Top 10 performance on either side of the Atlantic, and their last chart entry in the U.K. It was Walk Hand in Hand, which reached No. 29 in late 1965. The son of Mary (née McAlindin) and Frederick Marsden, Marsden was born in the Dingle neighborhood of Liverpool. He attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School at the Florence Institute Youth Club and learned to play both boxing and guitar.

At the age of 14, he formed the Red Mountain Boys skiffle group, with his two-year-old brother Freddie on drums, Les Chadwick on guitar, and Arthur Mack on piano (real name McMahon). Hoping to be sponsored by the Mars candy company, they called themselves Mars Bars.

Mars instead asked that their name be changed, and the party became the Pacemakers in 1959.

They performed for the first time with the Beatles (then called the Silver Beetles) in June 1960, and they were signed on for a four-month engagement in Hamburg, Germany, in December of that year, leading the group to leave their daily jobs and become professional musicians. “We went over with the Beatles and had a good laugh,”We went over with the Beatles and had a good laugh. We adopted that music, and they loved it.”All they had over there were oompah bands … We adopted that music, and they loved it.”All they had over there were oompah bands…

They were signed by Epstein in June 1962 as managers.

Beatles producer George Martin saw them perform at the Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead, in December of that year and signed them to the Columbia label (then part of EMI).

How Do You Do It? was reported by Martin. In 1962, with the Beatles, but they didn’t like the song and Martin gave it to Marsden and Co.

In April 1962, it became their first No. 1 hit and sold half a million copies. They announced they were calling it quits in May 1967, as the band was flagging in the charts, and Marsden decided to star in Joe Brown’s West End musical Charlie Girl. His first solo single, Please Let Them Be, which failed to chart, was released the following month.

He moved to the London stage in 1968 and released the single Liverpool, a duet with Derek Nimmo, his Charlie Girl co-star.

Marsden starred in another West End production, Pull Both Ends, after the show ended in 1971 (1972).

In 1970, he played a recurring role in The Sooty Show, a children’s program. He reassembled the Pacemakers in 1973 for the British Re-Invasion show at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where they played with other contemporaries of British music, such as the Searchers and Herman’s Hermits.

The Pacemakers proved in 1974 to be the


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