Monday, September 29, 2008

Gerry And The Pacemakers - Voice Your Choice

Gerry and the Pacemakers were a pop-rock Merseybeat band from Liverpool. Apart from group leader Gerry Marsden on vocals, the Pacemakers were Leslie Maguire (piano), John Chadwick (bass), and brother Freddie Marsden (drums).

In late 1962, Gerry and the Pacemakers were the second band to be signed up by Brian Epstein - the Beatles were the first. When the Beatles rejected Mitch Murray's light-hearted "How Do You Do It", Epstein told the record producer George Martin that he had just the group to do it. On 22 January 1963, Gerry and the Pacemakers travelled from Liverpool to London to record the song, as Marsden recalled:

We were sat in the back of a freezing van for 10 hours in the worst weather you can imagine. The road manager slept through it all because he was shattered. We knew that the Beatles had turned down "How Do You Do It" and I thought they were silly to do that, as it was a much better song than "Love Me Do".

The single went to No l, as did its cheeky follow-up, "I Like It". Having seen Paul McCartney's success around the Liverpool clubs with "Over the Rainbow", Gerry and the Pacemakers wanted a similar, emotional show-stopper and they picked "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. With George Martin's arrangement, they became the first UK beat group to record with strings. They also became the first act to reach No l with their first three singles. "You'll Never Walk Alone" was subsequently adopted by Liverpool football club and became the Kop anthem.

After the three No 1 hits for Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1963, their fourth single, Gerry's own song "I'm the One", went to No 2 the following year. Freddie felt that they would have had a fourth chart-topper if they had picked their stage favourite, "Pretend". Freddie co-wrote "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin'", which became their biggest US hit, reaching No 4 in 1964. He was immensely proud when José Feliciano recorded the song. Freddie Marsden also co-wrote "Why Oh Why" and "You've Got What I Like", and sang the occasional vocal, joining Gerry on harmony for "A Shot of Rhythm and Blues".

The group were featured on scooters for the film Ferry Cross The Mersey (1965), which was written by the creator of Coronation Street, Tony Warren. Although the plot is trite, the film offers invaluable views of Merseyside sights and clubs of the Sixties. The title song, written by Gerry Marsden, charted for the group in 1965. "There were lots of songs about Chicago, Broadway and London," said Freddie, "but nobody had mentioned Liverpool until then."

This week on Treasure Island Oldies, Voice Your Choice presents Gerry And The Pacemakers with two of their big hit ballads: Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying and Ferry Cross The Mersey.

Which song would you like me to play? Come to the Voice Your Choice page at Treasure Island Oldies and cast your vote. We'll play the winner in Hour 3 of next week's show.