Gerry Marsden, frontman for Gerry and the Pacemakers, has died after suffering an infection of the heart. He was 78.
“It’s with a very heavy heart after speaking to the family that I have to tell you the Legendary Gerry Marsden MBE after a short illness which was an infection in his heart has sadly passed away. Sending all the love in the world to Pauline and his family. You’ll Never Walk Alone,” British broadcaster Pete Price wrote, breaking the news in a tweet.
Marsden was best known for the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which became Liverpool Football Club’s anthem and has remained a staple for the team since it was released in 1963.
The Merseybeat pop band was a big part of the British Invasion into American music and was for a short time one of The Beatles’ biggest rivals across the pond. Like the Fab Four, Gerry and the Pacemakers formed in Liverpool and was signed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Their first single was “How Do You Do It,” a song that was originally recommended for The Beatles and was eventually recorded by George Martin at Abbey Road Studios.
Gerry and the Pacemakers’ first three singles released all hit No. 1 on the UK singles charts, becoming the first band to accomplish that feat. The others were “I Like It” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” For the latter, Marsden had to convince his bandmates that recording a cover of a 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein song would make for a good third single, and it wound up becoming their biggest hit. They nearly had a fourth No. 1 single with the song “I’m the One” in 1964.
The band declined rapidly in popularity by 1965, even after releasing the film “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” which was the Pacemakers’ answer to the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.” The original makeup of the band disbanded by 1967.
Marsden continued as a TV personality, singer and songwriter, and in the ’70s recorded for the “John Peele Show” on BBC Radio. In 2003, he was made an MBE for his contributions to charities that supported victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, in which dozens of fans were killed as part of a stampede following a Liverpool F.C. match. Marsden would team with Paul McCartney on a new version of “Ferry Cross the Mersey” in response to the tragedy.
Marsden’s brother and bandmate, Freddie Marsden, died in 2006, and the band’s original bassist died in December 2019. Marsden also published an autobiography in 1993 called “I’ll Never Walk Alone” and retired from music in 2018 shortly after an accident on stage at a concert in 2017.