Gerry Marsden, frontman of the British rock band Gerry and the Pacemakers, passed on January 3, 2021 at the age of 78. Gerry and the Pacemakers have many parallels with The Beatles. Both groups were from Liverpool and got their start at the fabled Cavern Club. Both were managed by Brian Epstein, signed to EMI, and produced by George Martin.
Paul McCartney paid tribute to Marsden on Sunday, tweeting a 1963 photo of the Fab Four with the Pacemakers and Roy Orbison. “Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool,” he wrote. “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.”
Gerry and the Pacemakers had an impressive, albeit short, run in the early to mid-’60s. Their first three singles – “How Do You Do It,” “I Like It,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – all went to No. 1 on the UK charts, which was then unprecedented. In this Threefer, I discuss three of their standout songs. Odds are if you love the Beatles’ early Merseybeat stuff, you’ll love Gerry and the Pacemakers.
“I Like It”
Writer: Mitch Murray
Released: May 1963
Charts: #1 UK, #17 US
This catchy tune is pretty similar to the debut single, “How Do You Do It,” which was also written by Murray.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Writer: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Released: October 1963
Charts: #1 UK, #48 US
This timeless Rodgers and Hammerstein anthem from the 1945 musical Carousel was chosen by Marsden after he saw the 1956 film version in a theater one day on a whim. The Pacemakers’ beat take on the classic went on to become one of their signature recordings, and their rendition is the official song of Liverpool Football Club.
“Ferry Cross the Mersey”
Writer: Gerry Marsden
Released: December 1964
Charts: #8 UK, #6 US
Marsden wrote a number of the group’s hits, and this gorgeous ballad about the River Mersey, which flows by Liverpool, is one of his best.