Gerry Marsden from Gerry & the Pacemakers Lifeless at 78
Gerry Marsden, leader of the Merseybeat Quartet Gerry & the Pacemakers, has died. Marsden’s friend Pete Price – a Liverpool-based broadcaster – posted the news on social media today (Jan. 3rd) saying Marsden died after a brief illness caused by a heart infection. Marsden’s death was subsequently confirmed by the BBC. He was 78 years old.
Marsden founded Gerry & the Pacemakers in Liverpool in the late 1950s, although they first appeared as Mars bars. In addition to lead vocals and guitar, Marsden wrote a good deal of the Pacemakers’ material, including singles like “I’m the One” from 1963 and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” from 1964. The original line-up included Gerry’s brother Fred Marsden on drums, Les Chadwick on bass and Arthur Mack on piano. In 1961, Les McGuire replaced Mack.
In 1962, the Pacemakers were the second band after the Beatles to be signed by Brian Epstein. Her 1963 studio debut, How Do You Like It ?, was recorded under the direction of George Martin.
Despite their success in the UK charts and a number of singles on the Billboard Hot 100, the Pacemakers broke up in 1966.
Marsden reformed the pacemaker in the early 1970s, though his brother Fred was not back. The group went on tour in 1993 for the 30th anniversary. That same year, Marsden co-wrote his autobiography, “I’ll Never Walk Alone”, with Ray Coleman. Parts of the book were later incorporated into the musical Ferry Cross the Mersey.
Marsden released a handful of solo singles as well as an album of John Lennon and Paul McCartney covers after the early iteration of The Pacemakers. McCartney paid tribute to Marsden on social media following news of his death. “Gerry was a buddy from our early days in Liverpool. He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene, ”he wrote. “My condolences go to his wife Pauline and his family. I’ll see you, Gerry. I will always remember you with a smile. “
He later worked as a cabaret artist and children’s television entertainer. In 2003 Marsden was promoted to an MBE for charity. His brother and pacemaker colleague Fred died in 2006. The 1963 Pacemakers version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You Will Never Walk Alone” remains the football terrace anthem for Marsden’s home club in Liverpool, which posted a tribute to the late singer on Twitter. “It is with such great sadness that we hear of Gerry Marsden’s death,” wrote Liverpool FC. “Gerry’s words will live on with us forever.”