British Invasion legend, Gerry Marsden, of Liverpool's Gerry & The Pacemakers, died on January 3rd at age 78 following a heart infection, according to the BBC. Marsden is survived by his wife of 55 years, Pauline, and their daughters, Yvette and Victoria.
Liverpool, England's Gerry & The Pacemakers are best remembered for their string of British and American hits in the 1960's including "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying," "I Like It," "Ferry Across The Mersey," and "How Do You Do It?," which the Beatles recorded early on.
Gerry, along with his brother, drummer Freddie Marsden, bassist Les Chadwick, and pianist Les Maguire, were close friends with the Beatles, having served their live apprenticeships on the same stages in their native Liverpool and shortly after in Hamburg, Germany.
Gerry & The Pacemakers, who often were neck-in-neck with the "Fab Four" in Liverpool fan polls, were the second pop act to be signed by the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein and produced by George Martin.
The two bands first shared a bill together on June 6th, 1960. On October 19th, 1961, for a legendary show in Beatles history, the two bands performed together as the Beatmakers at Liverpool's Litherland Town Hall.
Paul McCartney penned a tribute to Gerry — his friend of over 60 years — posting on social media:
Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool. He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene. His unforgettable performances of 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' and 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' remain in many people’s hearts as reminders of a joyful time in British music. My sympathies go to his wife Pauline and family. See ya, Gerry. I’ll always remember you with a smile. – Paul
Gerry & The Pacemakers broke up in 1967, yet reformed in 1973 without Freddie, who by that time had given up the music business and was working as a telephone operator. Freddie Marsden died in 2006 at the age of 66, with Led Chadwick passing in December 2019 at 76. Co-founder Les Maguire, now 79, stands as the original Pacemakers' sole surviving member.
Gerry Marsden's legendary cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel went on to become the anthem for one of his two his hometown football (soccer) teams, Liverpool FC. In 1993, Marsden published his memoir, I’ll Never Walk Alone, which was soon adapted into the stage musical, titled Ferry Cross the Mersey. He was saluted in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth with the prestigious MBE (Member Of the British Empire) honor.
Not too long ago, Gerry Marsden recalled how Beatles manager Brian Epstein stepped in and spearheaded one of Britain's longest entertainment careers for him: ["I came back from Hamburg, and he said, 'I just signed the Beatles. Would you like to join me, because I think I can get the boys a record deal — and get you one.' So I said, 'What? Yes, please!' 'Cause, we never thought of records or nothin'. We were just trying to make us a few quid. Brian got us a record deal with EMI, the Beatles got theirs, and the rest is basically history on that side of it. Then we were into the recording business; I thought, 'Maybe I can make a few quid in this and maybe I can keep my family through music.'"] SOUNDCUE (:24 OC: . . . family through music)
Paul McCartney's younger brother, Mike McCartney, was a lifelong friend of Gerry Marsden, and recently told us that coming from Liverpool in itself is an important attribute when traveling the globe: ["They know I'm not London, they know I'm not high city, and Liverpudlians are a unique race. Even the majority of people, like you took my brother and his chums into your hearts when they first came — and still are. Liverpudlians are a unique race. So wherever we go, people know that we're not like these city slickers, we're not gonna kill 'em, and so they know instinctively."] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC: . . . they know instinctively)
Mike McCartney On Being From Liverpool :
Gerry Marsden On Signing With Brian Epstein :