Gerry and the Pacemakers

Formed in 1959 during the tail end of the British Skiffle boom, the Liverpool born ‘Mars Bars’ evolved and prospered over the next five years to worldwide fame as Gerry and the Pacemakers. Standing shoulder to shoulder with their friends the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, led by lead guitarist and vocalist Gerry Marsden, put Liverpool on the map with classic songs like "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" and "Ferry Cross the Mersey".

The Mars Bars originally consisted of Gerry and his elder brother Freddie, but with the addition of bassist Les Chadwick they became a trio, and by 1960 they were using the name Gerry and The Pacemakers. After a late billing supporting Gene Vincent at a gig at the Liverpool Boxing Stadium in 1960, they found themselves thrust to the forefront of the new, emerging Merseybeat music scene. Like The Beatles, they did a residency at a Hamburg club (in this case The Top Ten Club in late 1960/early 1961) where they belted out a mixture of R&B standards and mainstream pop classics.

By May 1961, Les Maguire (formerly of The Undertakers ) had joined on piano (and saxophone) and the band had become a polished and respectable act fronted by a real Mr. Nice Guy. In October of that year they appeared with The Beatles at Litherland Town Hall in Merseyside as 'The Beatmakers' and both bands interchanged instruments and stage costumes on this occasion. The two bands were at the forefront of the Liverpool boom and frequently appeared together at The Cavern Club and other area venues during 1961 and 1962. It came as little surprise, then, when Brian Epstein, having already signed up The Beatles, became manager for Gerry and the Pacemakers in June 1962. A few months later, he persuaded EMI's George Martin to see them at Birkenhead's Empire Ballroom and this led to them getting a contract with EMI's Columbia label.

They entered the recording studio in January 1963 and the first session produced “Pretend” (which appeared on their debut album), a Gerry Marsden composition, “Away From You”, and a Mitch Murray song, “How Do You Do It?” This had become the showcase of the band's live act and was chosen as their first single, rocketing to No 1 in April 1963. In fact, George Martin had wanted The Beatles to record it but they'd rejected it, recording “Please Please Me” instead. They shot back to the top of the UK Charts again two months later with another Mitch Murray song, “I Like It”, and stayed there for four weeks.

Their next 45, a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's “You'll Never Walk Alone”, became their best selling UK single. Its adoption as a crowd anthem by Liverpool Football Club not long after it became a No 1 hit has given the song a timeless quality. It has been performed by Gerry Marsden on several occasions since then, most notably at the memorial service for Liverpool manager Bill Shankly. In June 1985, after the Bradford City Football Club fire disaster, he performed lead vocals on a multi-artists recording of the song organized by Graham Gouldman of 10cc. Proceeds from the sales went into a fund for the victims' families. When the record hit the top spot back in 1963, it gave the band the distinction of becoming the first act to achieve No 1 with their first three singles, a record they held unrivalled for 21 years.

“You'll Never Walk Alone” was from their tremendously successful debut album, How Do You Like It? which climbed to No 2 in the UK Album Charts - kept from number one only by the staggering success of the Beatles' Please Please Me LP. How Do You Like It contained a fair splattering of R&B as well as more orchestrated numbers. By now the group's appeal as all-around entertainers was so broad that they topped the bill on Sunday Night At The London Palladium on December 13, 1963, and also appeared in the pantomime Babes In The Wood.

For their fourth 45, they used a Gerry Marsden composition, “I'm The One”, and it continued their chart success as they embarked on an extensive series of tours first in the UK, then in Australia and New Zealand. In April 1964 they appeared on American TV for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show, performing their next 45, another Gerry Marsden song, this time a ballad. “Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying” became their first U.S. hit, peaking at No 4.

On the strength of their singles success in the US, a US-only album, Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying, was put together from a collection of album tracks and UK singles, and rose to No 29. They followed their Top Five US debut single with the Top Ten smash "How Do You Do it" in August 1964, and continued their 1964 US invasion with the year's final hit single, the Top 20 "I Like It".

Their second U.S. visit of 1964 featured one of rock's greatest ever concerts. Television director Steve Binder was given the task of staging the Teen-Age Music International Show, a concert event which would showcase some of the biggest rock and pop acts of the day. Binder and his camera crew captured the proceedings on video tape, and the results were transferred to kinescope film and released to theaters as The T.A.M.I. Show. The roster of performers reads like a who's who of early 60's rock -- original guitar hero Chuck Berry, three of Motown's biggest stars - Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and The Supremes; two leading British Invasion acts - our own Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas; not to forget The Barbarians, Leslie Gore, The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, James Brown, and The Rolling Stones. One of the show's highlights was Gerry and the Pacemakers and Chuck Berry performing together, including the song "Maybelline".

Gerry and the Pacemakers kicked off 1965 in style, hitting the upper reaches of the U.S Hot 100 with their cover of Bobby Darin's ballad "I'll Be There" in January and February.

Since June 1964, the band had been busy working on a feature film written by Tony Warren (the man who created Granada's Coronation Street). Gerry wrote many of the songs for it. Penned especially for the film, his “It's Gonna Be Alright” became one of their most dynamic releases, delighting the group's ecstatic fans as the film's big finish!

The motion picture Ferry Cross The Mersey was released in the UK at the beginning of 1965; the U.S. release was held until the summer. Setting up the film's release was the title track, which became a standard and perhaps Gerry's signature song in the USA, "Ferry Cross the Mersey". Released in February 1964, it became Gerry and the Pacemakers' fifth straight U.S. Top 20 hit, peaking at number 6. It gave the band a massive Top 10 success on both sides of the Atlantic as well as many other countries worldwide; it peaked at number 8 in the UK.

In April 1965 Gerry and the Pacemakers embarked on another US tour, which ended shortly before the movie Ferry Cross the Mersey saw US release. The band played themselves, winning a sort of Battle Of The Bands tournament. The Fourmost, Cilla Black and a number of acts from the era had cameos in the film; live concert footage was filmed in the now world famous cavern Club. The Soundtrack album hit 13 in the US Album Charts, and the group consolidated their US success by charting the singles "You'll Never Walk Alone", "Give All Your Love to Me", the aforementioned It's Gonna Be Alright" and the album Gerry and the Pacemakers' Greatest Hits all before the end of 1965.

As they moved into 1966, other callings beckoned, including Gerry's interests in theatre and television. Gerry and the Pacemakers were featured on Dick Clark's Where the Action Is in May 1966, with their first single of the year "La La La" having hit the US charts in April. With an offer to star in a West End musical, a dream fulfilled and simply too exciting to overlook, Gerry Marsden took over the lead role in Charlie Girl from Joe Brown in late 1966, and Gerry and the Pacemakers disbanded. Their final singles were the Top 30 hit "Girl on a Swing" in August 1966, and -recorded in September of 1966- January 1967's "Looking For My Life" b/w Paul Simon's "Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine".

By 1970 Gerry had become a prominent figure on UK television and offers poured in for live performances. In 1971 he reformed Gerry and the Pacemakers with a completely new lineup behind him. They have remained a huge attraction ever since.

Gerry's rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone", from the musical "Carousel", has been adopted as an anthem of several soccer clubs, most notably Liverpool F.C.. He sang the song at Wembley Stadium when Everton F.C. faced Liverpool, the team grew up rooting for.

Gerry Marsden returned to No. 1 in the charts twice during the 1980s with re-recordings of two of his hits, with all profits going to charity. In 1985, after the Bradford Football Club stadium tragedy where 56 were killed, he formed The Crowd, including other musicians, singers and radio disc jockeys, in a new version of "You'll Never Walk Alone". After the Hillsborough football ground tragedy of 1989 which left 96 dead, he joined forces with Paul McCartney, The Christians, Holly Johnson and production trio Stock, Aitken & Waterman on a new version of "Ferry Cross the Mersey".

In 1993 Gerry Marsden published his autobiography, I'll Never Walk Alone, co-written with former Melody Maker editor Ray Coleman. In 2001 he recorded a John Lennon tribute called "Much Missed Man", written twenty years earlier by the musician Joe Flannery. Gerry has been featured on three PBS TV specials over the last 3 years, including the new My Music: The British Beat that is currently airing.

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