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Gerry & the Pacemakers was a British rock and roll group during the 1960s, and one of the few groups to initially challenge The Beatles in popularity. Like the Beatles, they came from Liverpool and were also managed by Brian Epstein.
Despite this early success, Gerry & the Pacemakers never had another number one single in the UK. Gerry Marsden began writing most of their own songs, including "It's All Right", "I'm the One", and "Ferry Cross the Mersey", as well as their first and biggest US hit, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying". All of these represented the band's light, poppy, enjoyable sound well. The band also starred in a moderately successful early 1965 film called Ferry Cross the Mersey, for which Marsden wrote much of the soundtrack.
Gerry Marsden (guitar, lead vocals) formed the group in the late 1950s with Fred Marsden (his brother, drums), Les Chadwick (bass), and Arthur Mack (piano). They rivalled the Beatles early in their career, playing in the same areas of Hamburg, Germany and Liverpool, England. Mack was replaced on piano by Leslie Maguire around 1961.
They began recording in early 1963 with "How Do You Do It?", a Mitch Murray-written song that both Adam Faith and The Beatles had turned down (in the latter case because they wanted to record their own material, specifically "Please Please Me"). The song became a no. 1 hit, until being replaced at the top by the Beatles' third single, "From Me to You".
Gerry & the Pacemakers next two singles, Murray's "I Like It" and Rogers and Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone", both reached no. 1 in the UK. Never before had the first three singles by a performer all reached the top spot (the feat would not be duplicated until Frankie Goes To Hollywood did it in the 1980s). "You'll Never Walk Alone" had been a favourite of Gerry Marsden's since seeing Carousel growing up (he turned down the Beatles' "Hello Little Girl" for this slot, which then became the first hit for The Fourmost), and in subsequent years it would became an anthem for the Liverpool F.C. football club and supporters. The song has also been adopted as an anthem for the fans of Celtic FC as well. When the clubs met in the UEFA Cup quarter final in season 2002/3 the rendition at Celtic Park and in the reverse at Anfield were incredibly vocal.
By later in 1965, though, their popularity was rapidly declining on both sides of the Atlantic. They lacked the innovativeness of the Beatles and did not have the rawer musical and visual edge of some of the other British Invasion groups, and thus they soon seemed un-hip. They disbanded in October 1966 (see 1966 in music), with much of their last recorded material never released in the UK.
After the break up, Gerry Marsden maintained a career as a television personality, and starred in the West End musical, Charlie Girl. With a new set of Pacemakers, he has made over twice as many albums than he did in the 1960s, including one of Beatles songs. In the 1980s he returned to top the charts as part of The Crowd. In 2001 he recorded a John Lennon tribute called "Much Missed Man", written 20 years earlier by musician Joe Flannery.
Fred Marsden went to work for British Telecom. He put his drum kit in his garage and never touched it again. Les Maguire joined the Royal Navy, and is occasionally recognised playing piano in the Wallasey on Mersey area. Les Chadwick moved to Australia, where he formed a successful employment agency.
∙ Mar 1963 "How Do You Do It?" #1
∙ May 1963 "I Like It" #1
∙ Oct 1963 "You'll Never Walk Alone" #1
∙ Jan 1964 "I'm the One" #2
∙ Apr 1964 "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" #6
∙ Sep 1964 "It's Gonna Be Alright" #24
∙ Dec 1964 "Ferry Cross the Mersey" #8
∙ Mar 1965 "I'll Be There" #15
∙ Nov 1965 "Walk Hand in Hand" #29
∙ Feb 1966 "La La La" -
∙ Sep 1966 "Girl on a Swing" -
∙ How Do You Like It? (October 1963)
∙ Ferry Cross the Mersey [soundtrack, includes other artists] (March? 1965)
In America, a different series of Gerry & the Pacemakers singles was issued, as their Laurie Records label created more albums, and at least two singles which were never issued in England. This was a standard practice at the time. It also happened with The Beatles and the Dave Clark 5. Peak chart positions are from the Billboard Hot 100.
∙ 1964 "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" #4
∙ 1964 "How Do You Do It?" #6
∙ 1964 "I Like It" #17
∙ 1965 "I'll Be There" #14
∙ 1965 "Ferry Cross the Mersey" #6
∙ 1965 "It's Gonna Be Alright" #23
∙ 1966 "Girl on a Swing" #28
∙ Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying (July 1964)
∙ Gerry & the Pacemakers' Second Album (November 1964)
∙ Ferry Cross the Mersey [soundtrack] (February 1965)
∙ I'll Be There! (February 1965)
∙ Gerry and the Pacemakers Greatest Hits (May 1965)
∙ Girl on a Swing (December 1966)
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