Gerry Marsden, leader of the Merseybeat quartet Gerry & the Pacemakers, has died at the age of 78. Marsden’s death was announced by Pete Price, a broadcaster based in Liverpool, who wrote: “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 formed the group, whose original lineup also included Gerry’s brother Fred Marsden on drums, Les Chadwick on bass, and Arthur Mack on piano, in the late 1950s. In 1961, Mack was replaced by Les McGuire, and a year later, the band was signed by Brian Epstein, who also managed fellow Liverpool band the Beatles. Their debut studio album, 1963’s How Do You Like It?, was recorded with George Martin, and scored them three No. 1 UK hits: ‘How Do You Do It?’, ‘I Like It’, and a cover of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which has remained the anthem for the Liverpool FC team. In 1965, Gerry and the Pacemakers starred in their own film, Ferry Cross the Mersey. Despite their initial success, however, the group broke up in 1966 as Beatlemania took hold.
Marsden went on to become a popular cabaret and children’s TV performer before reforming the Pacemakers in 1972, though this time without his brother Fred. The group went on a 30th Anniversary tour in 1993 and continued to tour occasionally up until the late 2010s, when Marsden announced his retirement from music. In addition to re-recording a number of his hits for charity, he also released a handful of solo singles as well as an album of John Lennon and Paul McCartney covers.
Following the news of his death, Paul McCartney, with whom Marsden collaborated on a charity version of ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ in aid of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster, paid tribute to the singer 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,” he wrote. “My sympathies go to his wife Pauline and family. See ya, Gerry. I’ll always remember you with a smile.”
Gerry’s voice accompanied our biggest nights. His anthem bonded players, staff and fans around the world, helping create something truly special ❤️
You’ll Never Walk Alone ❤️ pic.twitter.com/KE0tjClfqL
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 3, 2021
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