Gerry & The Pacemakers

Gerry & The Pacemakers

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Gerry & the Pacemakers weren't the most famous band to come out of Liverpool in the '60s. But they did have one of the most famous songs about Liverpool in "Ferry Cross the Mersey," a warm and sentimental tune written by lead singer Gerry Marsden. He first formed the band in 1959; originally a skiffle group, they plugged into the emerging Merseybeat sound. Following the Beatles' lead they gained Brian Epstein as a manager and George Martin as a producer. The Pacemakers owed their first success to the Beatles as well: George Martin had originally pitched the song "How Do You Do It" to the Beatles as their first single, promising it would be a Number One; the Beatles didn't much like it and said they could write something better. Both parties were proven correct: The Beatles did write something better, and "How Do You Do It" became a UK Number One when Martin cut it with the Pacemakers in spring 1963. They had four more Top Ten hits in the UK that year, but their American breakthrough had to wait until spring 1964, by which time the Beatles had invaded. Another warm Marsden ballad, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," was their fifth Top Ten in the UK and their first in America. The run of hits lasted for the next year, with "Ferry Cross the Mersey" appearing in January 1965 as the title song of the group's only movie. Another ballad, "I'll Be There" (originally cut by Bobby Darin) was their last major hit on either side of the Atlantic, though they made a brief return to the US charts in mid-1966 with the lightly psychedelic "Girl on a Swing." The group however had an afterlife of popularity. UK punks the Rezillos covered their hit "I Like It," and the Ramones borrowed heavily from "It's Gonna Be Alight" in their song "She's the One." The Pacemakers version of "You'll Never Walk Alone:" became a UK football anthem, and in 1989 an all-star remake of "Ferry Cross the Mersey" (featuring Paul McCartney) was released as a benefit after the Hillsborough disaster, in which fans were fatally crushed at a football game. The song was also covered live by Elvis Costello, whose family roots were in Liverpool. Marsden went onto a career as a West End actor and TV personality, between performing with latter-day groups of Pacemakers. However he was beset by health problems in later years, and in March 2017 he collapsed onstage in Newport, South Wales. He formally retired in November 2018. Gerry Marsden died of a heart infection on January 3, 2021 in his beloved Liverpool at the age of 78.

Filmography

Movies

Credit
No Score Yet 93% The T.A.M.I. Show Themselves (Character) - 1964