Gerry Marsden, the frontman of Gerry and The Pacemakers, Liverpool's biggest band of the '60s after The Beatles, died Sunday (Jan. 3, 2021) in England after a short illness. He was 78.
Alongside his brother Freddie on drums, bassist Les Chadwick and pianist Les McGuire, Marsden helped fashion a new sort of beat-based pop/rock style that took British pop by storm in the early '60s before capturing the hearts of young people around the world. While The Beatles were arguably the pinnacle of the "British Invasion," The Pacemakers - who, like The Fab Four, were produced by George Martin and managed by Brian Epstein - earned their place in the cultural firmament in the same time.
It was Gerry and The Pacemakers who achieved one of England's most notable chart feats: their first three singles - "How Do You Do It?" "I Like It" and "You'll Never Walk Alone," all released in 1963 - all reached the top of the charts in their home country. This feat was not equaled until 1984, when another Liverpudlian group, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, achieved the same. Other hit singles included "I'm the One," "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," and "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey." The latter two, along with a reissue of "How Do You Do It?" became the band's biggest hits in America between 1964 and 1965.
After the Pacemakers disbanded in the middle of the decade, Marsden continued performing on television. In the '80s, he led two charity re-recordings of the group's hits back to the top of the charts. A new rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone," credited to The Crowd and featuring members of The Who, Yes, Motorhead and Thin Lizzy, raised money for families of the victims of a fire at a Bradford City football match. In 1989, after a stampede claimed 95 lives during a match at Hillborough Stadium - including many Liverpool supporters - Marsden teamed with a trio of Liverpool acts (Paul McCartney, Frankie frontman Holly Johnston and The Christians) for a chart-topping rendition of "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey."
Marsden's charitable work earned him an MBE from his home country in 2003. In 2020, "You'll Never Walk Alone" - already the anthem for Liverpool's football club - became a rallying tribute song in England to support medical professionals aiding in treatment of COVID-19.
He is survived by his wife, Pauline, and their daughters, Yvette and Victoria.