Gerry and the Pacemakers' Gerry Marsden

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Gerry Marsden led his group Gerry and

the Pacemakers to chart-topping success in the 1960s as one of the most

popular acts in the British Invasion.

Like the Beatles, the leaders of the invasion, the Pacemakers were managed

by Brian Epstein, produced by George Martin and starred in their own movie.

Gerard Marsden was born 57 years ago today in Liverpool, England. He was

working as a tea-chest maker when he formed the Pacemakers (originally

called the Mars Bars until the candy maker objected) with his drummer

brother Fred, bassist Les Chadwick and pianist Arthur Mack (later replaced

by Les Maguire).

The Pacemakers played the same Liverpool clubs as the Beatles and even

rivaled the Fab Four in popularity at one point. They also traveled to

Germany to play for the pop-loving Hamburg crowds.

Marsden said of Hamburg: "It was a great training ground and really hard

work, we went on about 7 in the evening and played right through to the

small hours with a 15 minute break every hour."

Epstein signed the Pacemakers in 1962, right after he inked a deal with

the Beatles. In 1963 the Pacemakers also worked in the studio with Martin,

who gave them a song the Beatles had turned down to record.

The song, "How Do You Do It?" (RealAudio

excerpt), was released as a single and topped the UK chart, later

becoming a smash in the United States. The song was perfect for the

Pacemakers' peppy pop style and Marsden's warbling vocals.

The Pacemakers followed the record in Britain with two more consecutive

#1 hits: "I Like It" (written, as was its predecessor, by Mitch Murray)

and the pop standard from the musical "Carousel," "You'll Never Walk

Alone."

In 1965 the Pacemakers scored U.S. top-10 hits with the ballad "Don't

Let the Sun Catch You Crying" and their best-remembered tune, the

Marsden-penned "Ferry Cross the Mersey." The latter song was also the

title of the Pacemakers' film, which featured eight more Marsden numbers.

Marsden and company had their last U.S. top-40 hit in 1966 with "Girl on

a Swing." They disbanded that year when their popularity in Britain

plummeted.

Marsden spent the next several years as a cabaret singer and scored UK

hits such as "Gilbert Green." He even hosted a children's TV show.

In 1973 Marsden re-formed the Pacemakers for the first of several nostalgia

tours, which he still spearheads today. In the '80s Marsden sang on

remakes of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Ferry Cross the Mersey."

Six years ago Marsden published his autobiography, "I'll Never Walk

Alone," (Bloomsbury) with Ray Coleman. It served as the basis for a

musical production of Marsden's Merseybeat heyday titled "Ferry Cross

the Mersey." The show toured the UK, Australia and Canada.

Other birthdays: Barbara Allbut (Angels), 59; Phyllis Allbut (Angels),

57; Jerry Donahue (Fairport Convention), 53; Cedric Dent (Take 6), 37;

Sean McNabb (Quiet Riot), 34; M.C. Miker G, 32; and Linda McCartney,

1942-1998.