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Gerry & The Pacemakers

As unfathomable as it seems from the distance of over 40 years, for a few months, Gerry & the Pacemakers were the Beatles' nearest competitors in Britain. Managed (like the Beatles) by Brian Epstein, Gerry Marsden and his band burst out of the gate with three consecutive number one U.K. hits in 1963, "How Do You Do It," "I Like It," and "You'll Never Walk Alone." If the Beatles defined Merseybeat at its best in early 1963, Gerry & the Pacemakers defined the form at its most innocuous, performing bouncy, catchy, and utterly lightweight tunes driven by rhythm guitar and Marsden's chipper vocals. Compared to the Beatles and other British Invasion heavies, they sound quaint indeed. That's not to say the group was trivial; its hits were certainly likable and energetic and are fondly remembered today, even if the musicians lacked the acumen (or earthy image) to develop their style from its relentlessly upbeat and poppy base.

Marsden formed the group in the late '50s featuring himself on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Fred on drums, Les Chadwick on bass, and Arthur Mack on piano (to be replaced in 1961 by Les Maguire). They worked the same Liverpool/Hamburg circuit as the Beatles, and ran neck and neck with their rivals in local popularity. They were signed by Epstein in mid-1962 (the first band to do so besides the Beatles), and began recording for the EMI/Columbia label in early 1963, under the direction of producer George Martin. Their first single was a Mitch Murray tune that Martin had wanted the Beatles to record for their debut, "How Do You Do It?" The Beatles did record a version (found on the Anthology 1 release), but objected to its release, finding it too sappy, and in any case were more interested in recording their own, gutsier original compositions. It suited Marsden's grinning, peppy style well, though, and went to number one before it was displaced from the top spot by the Beatles' third 45, "From Me to You."

The Pacemakers would never vary much from the clattering guitar-dominated pop of their first singles, turning again to Mitch Murray for the follow-up, "I Like It," and remaking an old pop standard for their next effort, "You'll Never Walk Alone." It's not universally known that Gerry Marsden actually wrote much of the band's material, and he penned most of their subsequent hits, including "It's All Right" (their gutsiest and best performance) and "I'm the One." He also wrote "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" (sharing credits with the rest of the group) and "Ferry Cross the Mersey," ballads that Martin embellished with light string arrangements, which may (or may not) have helped prepare the producer for deploying strings on Beatles tracks starting in 1965.

Like the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers got to star in their own film, Ferry Cross the Mersey, although this wasn't nearly as successful as A Hard Day's Night. By 1965, in fact, their popularity in Britain was seriously declining, although they held on a bit longer in the States, where (in common with several other groups) some of their back catalog belatedly made the hit parade many months after it was first issued in the U.K. Like virtually all of the other Liverpool groups, the Pacemakers proved unable to evolve on the same plane as the Beatles or the best other British bands. Never the hippest of acts image-wise, with their conservative suits and short hair, they were rapidly becoming outdated, sticking to the same basic feel-good formula that had seemed fresh in 1963, but was utterly passé by 1966. That's the year they had their last American Top 40 hit, "Girl on a Swing"; they disbanded in October. Gerry Marsden became a popular cabaret and children's TV entertainer, sometimes performing with the Pacemakers on the oldies circuit. He also contributed vocals to British chart-topping revivals (not with the Pacemakers) of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Ferry Cross the Mersey" in the 1980s. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: You'll Never Walk Alone (The Emi Years 1963 -1966)

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4

Comments

Gerry Marsden great vocal great song!
Saw them live in the UK-great memory
love this song
pat29379
Greatest songs raised up listening born 1946
mfisher1249
Oh why not some silliness from such a light time!
I love the house of the rising sun
1185649676
I always thought it was Gerry Rafferty head of the Pacemakers.
ccaltevogt
I LOVE Gerry and the Pacemakers, and I'm 11!!
Gerry and Pacemaker were better vocal group that the Beatles they just not gain popularity in Britain or the world
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE!
lsicklertock
The author is pretty dismissive in their bio, but they were a major force in pop music and a big part of the British Invasion. So didn't Gerry get a bunch of royalties when 'Ferry 'Cross the Mersey' was the B side of Frankid Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax'?
zydecomark
Well done Gerry...!
Smart guy - Gerry Marsden held onto the publishing rights. Dave Clark did the same and they both very wealthy as a result.
tstanton618
Well, did he stay at the Ferry?
awilliamson2 6
don't let the sun catch you crying,one of best songs ever.
I just Luv this group\, Gary Mardsen has a great voice, and this is a great Luv making song!!!!
They were right up there with all of the other BRITISH GROUPS!
kkatlake
They will always be one of the great 60's groups; I love their easy listening music!
They don't make 'em like this anymore
mlstax
They''ll never be outdated to me. I still enjoy them.
kpalmer64
A classic and classy group!
iluvmccartne y
The best song by Gerry and the Pacemakers is Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'.
Ahhhh.....sw e e t memories.
gypsyinlb
Still love them after all these years.
rwitman21
Fun music and a great reminder that The Beatles didn't spring fully formed into the pop charts, or that they were the whole of Liverpool's music scene. In fact, my boss is a Yorkshirewom a n who was working as a nurse in the Dingle(the slum where Ringo grew up) back then, and we still give her grief for admitting that, at the time, she and her friends thought The Pacemakers would be the big breakout band, not The Fab Four.
Wow, Gerry and the Pacemakers.. . . . w h a t a sound. My fav, "You'll Never Walk Alone"....wh a t a wonderful cover of that song! Gerry will be sorely missed, but his sound will live on forever. Wow!
stevef1112
well, who'da thunk it?
I will always love Gerry and the Pacemakers for the great fun sound that they had.True, they were not in the same league as the Beatles,Ston e s , A n i m a l s , W h o and etc. but they were fun anyway and deserve recognition.
ksears85
I love this group! This era presented good songs and the groups that could SING them - this is talent! I would never give up those days!!
I love this song. I appreciate this band more now than 40 years ago!
As we old rockers age, the name Gerry and the Pacemakers takes on a whole new meaning.
Their ballads are hauntingly beautiful!
jmercier1
SONGS MAKE ME WANT TO CRY THEY REMIND ME OF HOME ONE OF THE BEST BRITISH BANDS
herecomes2mo r r o w
not that impressive, i think.
A good version of AT The End Of Rainbow, but not nearly as good as the original version sung by Earl Grant.
don1983
Great early British Pop, puts a smile on your face.
williek56
When it comes to British groups, they are as good as it gets.
What year did Magic Moments get released?
Remember as a youngster, 10-11 years old, watching them in a movie, believe it was Ferry across the Mercy (?), anyway, do like their music, just don't listen to it enough, but when I hear it, why, why am I not listening to it more?
similar artists woud be early british bands hermans hermits, peter and gordon, etc not any you picked.
if anyone ever gets the chance to see the jersy boys go and see it. if you like frankie valli you will love it
n
"Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" was one of the great ballads of the sixties! Still played frequently on the radio.
Lead singer had a really great voice.
Their songs were really great.
A fine group and the record was beautifully produced in analog.

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