Gerry Marsden, namesake singer for the 1960s British Invasion band Gerry and the Pacemakers, has died at age 78.
Friend Pete Price announced his death, tweeting that the musician had been suffering “a short illness which was an infection in his heart.”
Marsden’s band broke out in the United States in 1964 with the Top 5 hit “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.” Another hit a few months later, “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” referred to the River Mersey, which flowed through Marsden’s hometown of Liverpool, England.
The Pacemakers’ cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel,” was only a modest U.S. hit but became a standard in the world of soccer. Fans of the Liverpool club sing it with spine-tingling passion before each home game of the 19-time English champion.
Marsden recalled in 2018 that he was struck by the melody while watching the movie version of the musical.
“I thought, ‘What a beautiful song. I’m going to tell my band we’re going to play that song,’ ” Marsden told The Associated Press. “So I went back and told my buddies we’re doing a ballad called ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ “
Its lyrics, showcasing unity and perseverance through adversity — including “When you walk through a storm, Hold your head up high, And don’t be afraid of the dark” — have been a rallying cry for the Liverpool faithful and the song’s title is on the Liverpool club crest.
Liverpool tweeted alongside a video of the fans in full voice that Marsden’s voice “accompanied our biggest nights” and that his “anthem bonded players, staff and fans around the world, helping create something truly special.”
The song was embraced during the outset of the coronavirus pandemic last spring when a cover, which featured World War II veteran Tom Moore, reached No. 1 in England. Moore had captivated the British public by walking 100 laps of his garden in England in the run-up to his 100th birthday in April to raise some $40 million for the National Health Service.
Contributing: Associated Press