Gerry Marsden, frontman of the popular 1960s Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers, has died, his friend and U.K. radio broadcaster Pete Price announced Sunday in a Twitter post.
Price reported that Marsden died “after a short illness which was an infection in his heart.” He was 78.
Gerry and the Pacemakers emerged from the same Liverpool, England, music scene as The Beatles and in 1963, the group became the first act to have its first three singles go to #1 on the U.K. chart. The tunes were “How Do You Do It?” and “I Like It,” both penned by hit songwriter Mitch Murray, and a cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel.
In the wake of The Beatles’ success in the U.S., Gerry and the Pacemakers scored a series of top-40 hits in the States from 1964 to 1966, most notably “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” which peaked at #4 and #6, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100. Marsden co-wrote “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” with his band mates and composed “Ferry Cross the Mersey” himself.
The band’s final U.S. hit, “Girl on a Swing,” reached #28 on the Hot 100 in 1966.
Marsden continued to tour on and off with Gerry and the Pacemakers until announcing his retirement from performing in 2018. In 2003, Gerry was honored in the U.K. with an MBE medal, or Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for his charity work.
The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr both paid tribute to Marsden in posts on their social media pages.
“Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool. He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene,” McCartney wrote. “My sympathies go to his wife Pauline and family. See ya, Gerry. I’ll always remember you with a smile.”
Starr, meanwhile, tweeted, “God bless [G]erry Marsden peace and love to all his family.”
By Matt Friedlander
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