Gerry and Freddy, the Marsden brothers, formed the band in 1959 with Arthur McMahon and Les Chadwick. The groups original name was ‘Gerry Marsden and the Mars Bars’ but when the Mars chocolate Company complained they were forced to change this name.
The band played in Liverpool and Hamburg in Germany in many of the same areas as The Beatles early in their careers. They also shared the same manager, Brian Epstein, who later signed them to Columbia Records under EMI.
In 1961 McMahon, also known as ‘Arthur Mack’, was replaced on piano by Les Maguire and later in 1963 the band began recording.
The song, ‘How Do You Do It?’ written by Mitch Murray and recorded earlier by The Beatles but not released, became their first number one hit in the UK and was produced by George Martin.
As fate would have it The Beatles had chosen to release one of their own songs ‘Please Please Me’ instead. The song had also been turned down earlier by the young Adam Faith.
Gerry and The Pacemakers are best remembered for being the first band to reach number one in the UK singles chart in 1963 with their first three releases “How Do You Do It”, “I like It” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. This record was never equaled for 20 years and made them the second most successful group from Liverpool after The Beatles.
The single “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was recorded instead of The Beatles “Hello Little Girl” ( This went on to become a first hit for another Liverpool band, The Foremost) and was a favorite song of Gerry Marsden since hearing it in the Rogers & Hammerstein film “Carousel”. It also went on to become the famous anthem of Liverpool Football club and is still heartily sung at the Kop to this day.
US Billboard Success
During 1963, the band were signed by a small independent New York record label, Laurie, with whom they released three singles but without success. However when The Beatles successfully burst onto the US scene in January 1964 the American label released “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” (written by Marsden) in May which became a hit that year climbing to number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Previously, in April 1964 ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’ got to number 6 in the UK singles chart. (The song was originally given to Decca recording artist Louise Cordet in 1963 but had no commercial success). This was followed by the release of ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ (again written by Marsden) in December 1964 and reached number 8 in the UK singles chart and number 6 in May 1965 in the US.
The Hillsborough disaster
In 1989, ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ was revived as a charity single in aid of The Hillsborough disaster and featured many other Liverpool stars. This provided Marsden with another No 1 UK hit. However, by the end of 1965 the popularity of the band had decreased and they later disbanded in October 1966. An album “The Best of Gerry & The Pacemakers” was released in July 1979. Gerry Marsden continues to be a popular figure in his home town of Liverpool.
Gerry & The Pacemakers official website – www.gerryandthepacemakers.co.uk.