Gerry Marsden, the singer-songwriter who fronted the popular English group the Pacemakers during the 1950s and ‘60s, died, his friend Pete Price confirmed on Twitter. Marsden was 78, and died due to a heart infection. Marsden first formed the band the Mars Bars in 1959, before they changed their name to the Pacemakers. They were the second signing by famed manager Brian Epstein, after the Beatles. Their debut single, “How Do You Like It?” reached No. 1 in the U.K., and stayed at the top for three weeks. Followup single “I Like It” reached No. 1 a few months later, and stayed for four weeks. Gerry Marsden and the Pacemakers’ third single was a cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, which also peaked at No. 1 in the U.K. for four weeks. Also in England, it became the anthem for the Liverpool Football Club. After that, the band never had another U.K. No. 1, but their music did begin to catch on in the U.S., with 1964 single “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” peaking at No. 4 in the U.S. The band broke up in the late 1960s, but reformed in 1973. Marsden continued performing through his retirement in 2018.
Paul McCartney remembered Marsden on Instagram. “Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool. He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene,” McCartney wrote. “His unforgettable performances of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ remain in many people’s hearts as reminders of a joyful time in British music.” Liverpool F.C. tweeted, “Gerry’s voice accompanied our biggest nights. His anthem bonded players, staff and fans around the world, helping create something truly special.”