Stephanie Mackentyre meets musician and television personality Gerry Marsden
Gerry was born in Toxteth, the working class, Dingle area of Liverpool in 1942 two years later than his older brother Freddie. The boys’ father Fred, a railway clerk, regularly entertained their neighbours by playing his ukulele. His parents bought Gerry his first guitar when he was nine, and his father took the skin off one of his instruments and put it over a tin of Quality Street and gave it to Gerry’s brother Freddie to play as a snare drum. “We all played together. Dad definitely inspired me but so did my mum, who was always singing; ours was a happy family.”
In 1961 the brothers were joined by Les Maguire on piano and their line-up was complete. Gerry and the Pacemakers were the second band after The Beatles to be signed by legendary music entrepreneur Brian Epstein. They alternated at the Cavern club’s lunchtime sessions with the Beatles and, one famous night at Litherland Town Hall, they combined their talents to form the Beatmakers. “I met Paul McCartney and John Lennon originally at the local record shop.” Talking about the Beatles in those early years Gerry told me, “As teenagers we had our own skiffle bands and played the same clubs. We grew up together and were good mates. John (Lennon) was my best pal – he was always a bit mental like me.” His relationship with George Harrison was also at times tested. Gerry and wife Pauline have been married since 1965 but originally she was George’s girl.
“I was pestering her for a date but she told me that her boyfriend was George. He was in Hamburg at the time – I thought, well while the cat’s away…” Gerry met Pauline one day on the steps of Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club and asked her out to lunch. “She told me she was meeting George. So I rushed back into the club, found George. I said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I’m in love. The bad news is that it’s your girl.'”
This year the couple celebrate their 51st wedding anniversary. I wondered how they’ve kept their relationship alive when so many in the world of entertainment struggle. “I always say, Fellas keep your wife happy and you have a chance!”
In late 1962, Gerry and the Pacemakers was 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, altogether sitting in the back of a van, in zero temperatures for 10 hours together.
“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”.Buy Now