Gerry Marsden, best known as frontman of legendary group Gerry and the Pacemakers, passed away yesterday, closing an important chapter in 20th century musical history.


If you were born in Liverpool, you know about Gerry and the Pacemakers. If you were born in the 20th century, you probably know about Gerry and the Pacemakers. And if you don’t, luckily, we’re here to help… Gerry Marsden‘s Pacemakers were one of two major bands to emerge from the Liverpool musical scene in the late 1950’s — the other being a little known outfit going by the name of the Beatles. And the two crossed paths several times, all the way to America, but more on that later.

Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Beatles and a few other bands formed a movement coined “Merseybeat” to describe the specific style they had developed, which was based on a very tight sound and energetic rhythms. Named after the river Mersey which flows by the city of Liverpool, the trend quickly soared nationwide, then into what was soon to become the British invasion, with the Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers flying stateside and sparking riots there. Well, at least the Beatles did: it took longer for the Pacemakers to make their mark in North America, although they eventually found some recognition, albeit never with the sheer magnitude McCartney, Lennon and co did. Then again, who would?

While the band’s early success rivalled that of their fellow Liverpudlians, they unfortunately showed incapable of maintaining such a level of artistry. Gerry and the Pacemakers disbanded in the late 1960’s, with Gerry going on a solo career and occasionally reforming the outfit for special occasions. While the Pacemakers never could outpace the Beatles, they were nevertheless responsible for true classics, including “How do you do it“, their first #1 single in 1963, “Ferry cross the Mersey” which came with its own movie (again, in a fashion similar to neighbouring musicians) and their take on “You’ll never walk alone“, which eventually became an anthem, most notably associated with Liverpool’s football (soccer) team.

With the death of Gerry Marsden, one of the brightest musical lights of the previous century goes away, leaving Paul and Ringo increasingly alone. Them, Mick and Keith, that is…