The rail clerk’s son who became a Beatles buddy and Sixties icon: As veteran pop star Gerry Marsden dies at 78, a look back at his extraordinary life
Tributes poured in for the singer, who also had hits with Ferry Cross The Mersey and I Like It
He was one of the pioneers of the Merseybeat sound, friends with The Beatles and turned You’ll Never Walk Alone into both a singalong for football fans and an anthem of hope.
Gerry Marsden, the frontman of record-breaking Sixties chart-toppers Gerry and the Pacemakers, has died aged 78 after a short illness, it was announced last night.
Tributes poured in for the singer, who also had hits with Ferry Cross The Mersey and I Like It.
Sir Paul McCartney said: ‘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.’
Marsden’s radio presenter friend Pete Price wrote online: ‘It’s with a very heavy heart after speaking to the family that I have to tell you the legendary Gerry Marsden MBE after a short illness which was an infection in his heart has sadly passed away.’
Marsden married his wife Pauline – a former girlfriend of George Harrison – in 1965. They had two daughters, Yvette and Victoria.
Price added: ‘Sending all the love in the world to Pauline and his family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.’
Gerry Marsden is pictured above with The Beatles in 1962. Marsden once recalled: ‘I met Paul McCartney and John Lennon originally at the local record shop. ‘As teenagers we had our own skiffle bands and played the same clubs. We grew up together and were good mates’
The Pacemakers were the second band after The Beatles to be signed by manager Brian Epstein and their first hit How Do You Do It? was originally intended to be released by the Fab Four.
It scored the Pacemakers their first chart-topper in March 1963 – and was the first No 1 by an Epstein-managed Liverpool band.
I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone also hit No 1 that same year, securing them a place in pop history as the first band to top the charts with each of their first three singles.
Marsden married his wife Pauline – a former girlfriend of George Harrison – in 1965. They had two daughters, Yvette and Victoria
Ferry Cross The Mersey only reached No 8 in 1964, but a year later Marsden and his band appeared in a musical comedy film with the same name – which starred his friend Cilla Black and is seen as their version of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night.
Last night songwriter Mitch Murray, who wrote How Do You Do It?, told the Mail: ‘Gerry Marsden’s fabulous voice and technique, as well as his talent as an entertainer, was a gift to the British music industry. He’ll always be one of the rock greats.
‘He will always have a place in my heart – he was given my song which was all set to be The Beatles’ first single. They were delighted my song was not their first single, it cleared the way for their own great songs.
‘However, Gerry’s fabulous version went to No 1. So we started out together with two big hits, and those hits gave us both long and fruitful careers.’
The son of a railway clerk, Marsden was born in Toxteth, Liverpool, in 1942. His older brother Freddie, who was the drummer in the Pacemakers, died aged 66 in 2006.
With Gerry on vocals and guitar, the group formed in 1959 and alternated at the Cavern Club’s lunchtime sessions with The Beatles.
Marsden once recalled: ‘I met Paul McCartney and John Lennon originally at the local record shop.
‘As teenagers we had our own skiffle bands and played the same clubs. We grew up together and were good mates. John was my best pal – he was always a bit mental like me.’
Last night the Cavern Club posted on its Twitter account: ‘The word legend is often overused but Gerry was not only a legend, but also a very good friend of The Cavern.’
After You’ll Never Walk Alone – originally a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel – became a hit, fans of Liverpool FC adopted it to belt out in unison at Anfield. Last year it became an anthem sung in support for medical staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ferry Cross The Mersey only reached No 8 in 1964, but a year later Marsden and his band appeared in a musical comedy film with the same name – which starred his friend Cilla Black and is seen as their version of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. The pair are pictured together above
His family confirmed that his death was ‘in no way connected with Covid-19’, adding in a statement: ‘His wife, daughters and grandchildren are devastated.’
Marsden had a history of cardiac issues, undergoing a triple bypass in 2003 and later had to have a pacemaker fitted.
His group first disbanded in 1967 before he reformed it with a different line-up in the early 1970s.
Marsden continued touring with various line-ups of the band until his heart surgery, and later performed on the oldies circuit before announcing his retirement for good in 2018.
Ferry Cross The Mersey was remade in 1989 as a charity single after the Hillsborough football crowd disaster. Featuring Marsden with other Liverpudlian music stars such as Sir Paul McCartney and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Holly Johnson, it reached No 1 this time and raised millions of pounds. Marsden was made an MBE in 2003 for services to charity.
Liverpool FC tweeted: ‘It is with such great sadness that we hear of Gerry Marsden’s passing. Gerry’s words will live on for ever with us. You’ll Never Walk Alone.’
Sir Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool’s boss at the time of Hillsborough, tweeted: ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone is an integral part of Liverpool FC, and never more so than now.’
Source: Read Full Article