Sunday, May 8, 2011
Bye-bye for a balladeer
By Al Tays
Our trusty "This Day in Music History" calendar tells us that on May 8, 1967, Gerry and the Pacemakers announced that they were splitting up, "recognising they could no longer keep pace with the rapidly changing UK rock scene."
Well, they were right, of course. The latter half of the Sixties was no place for a poppy, peppy outfit like GaTP. Popular music was headed straight for psychedelia, and the only way to survive and thrive was to adapt. The Beatles did, but their fellow Liverpudlians didn't.
In a way it was a shame, because Gerry Marsden had a great voice. Hmm, let me amend that: He had a great voice for ballads. He didn't have the soul of an Eric Burdon or the rawness of a Mick Jagger, but give him a standard like "You'll Never Walk Alone" (or let him sing his own compositions, like "Ferry Cross the Mersey" or "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" and he could hold his own with anyone. The latter two tunes still stand up quite well today.
Gerry and the Pacemakers are still performing, but Marsden, 68, is the only original member in the modern lineup.
Gerry and the Pacemakers are the answer to a great trivia question: What Liverpool band was the first act to reach No. 1 in the UK singles chart with their first three single releases? You'd think it would have been the Beatles, but it wasn't.
The funny thing about those No. 1 songs is that they aren't the ones GaTP are best remembered for, at least in the U.S. They're "How Do You Do It," "I Like It" and "You'll Never Walk Alone."
Their two biggest U.S. hits, "Ferry Cross the Mersey" and "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" got as high as No. 6 and No. 4, respectively.