DAVID A ELLIS writes ~A few years ago I spoke to sixties chart topper Gerry Marsden, who had numerous hits with his group The Pacemakers. Gerry is working as hard as ever. Gerry and his group performed at the long gone Royalty theatre with the Beatles on the 15th May 1963.
I asked Gerry why he decided to become a singer. He told me that every Friday night his dad would bring a few of his mates home for a singsong, his dad playing the ukulele. This got Gerry interested in music. He went on to say that when he was around five he sang Ragtime Cowboy Joe on top of an air raid shelter and everyone was shouting and cheering – it was at that point he decided he wanted to be a singer. He joined the school and church choir and the boy scouts band.
When he was eleven, his father bought him a guitar and he formed a skiffle group. Later, after listening to Elvis Presley he turned to rock and roll.
Before stepping into the limelight, Gerry had a number of jobs. He worked at Woolworth’s, brushing up, made tea chests for Kardomah and was a van lad on the railway. In 1959 he formed a group called The Mars Bars, which soon became The Pacemakers, his late brother Fred playing the drums. In 1960 they went to Hamburg, as did many others, including The Searchers and The Beatles.
I went on to ask how The Pacemakers got their name. He said he was watching television and on it there was a race, and a man said: ‘The pacemaker for this race is so and so.’ Gerry thought it was a great name for the band.
Gerry was asked to record by the late Brian Epstein in June 1962 and their first number one, released in early 1963 was ‘How Do You Do It’, recommended by George Martin, which was followed by ‘I Like It’, also 1963. Gerry and the band were the second group to be signed by Epstein, the first being The Beatles. Asked if his third big number ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ was suggested to him for recording, he said: ‘I chose it because I had heard it in the film ‘Carousel’ and liked it. Brian Epstein didn’t want me to record it, saying it was too slow.
I won the argument and it became our third consecutive number one, which no one had done before. The cop of course took it up to sing, which was fantastic.’
Gerry recorded for EMIs Columbia label and put down his early songs in the same studio as The Beatles, at Abbey Road
He tells me that he wrote a number of the B sides and sometimes the A, and that a song usually took four or five takes to get it in the can.
Gerry’s favorite recordings are ‘Ferry Cross The Mersey’, ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ Asked if he still made recordings, he said: “With touring commitments it’s finding the time to get into the recording studio.” (pictured~ Gerry & Cilla twisting)
David A Ellischestercinemas.co.uk