They formed in Liverpool in the late 1950s, were signed by Brian Epstein, played the club circuits of Liverpool and Hamburg, recorded under the EMI label and reached the top of the UK pop charts in 1963. It sounds just like the Beatles, and for a few years, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ evolution paralleled the Fab Four. In fact, for a time, the Pacemakers were the number-one challenger to the Beatles’ supremacy.
Gerry Marsden created the band as The Mars-Bars in 1959. Marsden played guitar and handled the vocals, his brother Fred played drums, supplemented by Les Chadwick on bass, and Arthur Mack on piano. They were the second group to sign on with Epstein and began recording for EMI’s Columbia label in early 1963, under the direction of Beatles producer George Martin. Gerry and the Pacemakers’ first single was “How Do You Do It?”, a song that Martin wanted the Beatles to record. The Beatles recorded the Mitch Murray song but rejected it as their first single, preferring to debut with their own songs. Martin gave the song to Marsden, whose version topped the British singles chart.
For their follow-up, Gerry and The Pacemakers picked another bouncy Mitch Murray tune, “I Like It.” The third single was a change of pace, Roger and
Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a slow, inspirational song that Marsden liked since childhood. The Pacemakers subsequently recorded several Marsden-written songs including “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” the title song of a 1965 movie featuring the band.
As 1966 approached, Gerry and the Pacemakers were losing popularity to more cutting-edge groups, and they parted company at the end of that year. Gerry Marsden began a career as a solo entertainer but re-formed The Pacemakers in 1974. They’ve been performing on the British oldies circuit and around the world, on and off, since then. Gerry’s brother, Fred, the group’s drummer, died in 2006 at the age of 66.
Gerry and the Pacemakers Video
“How do You Do It?”, 1964
Gerry and the Pacemakers Discography
Singles released in the US — Date and Billboard top chart position
* 1963 “How Do You Do It”/”Away From You”
* 1963 “I Like It”
* 1964 “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
* 1964 “I’m The One” (#82)
* 1964 “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” (#4)
* 1964 “How Do You Do It” (#9)
* 1964 “I Like It” (#17)
* 1965 “I’ll Be There” (#14)/
* 1965 “Ferry Cross the Mersey” (#6)
* 1965 “It’s Gonna Be Alright” (#23)
* 1965 “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (#48)
* 1965 “Give All Your Love To Me” (#68)
* 1965 “Walk Hand In Hand” (#103)
* 1966 “La La La” (#90)
* 1966 “Girl on a Swing” (#28)
* 1966 “The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine”
* 1970 “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” (#112)