Paul McCartney has said he will always remember his long-time friend and fellow Merseyside singing star Gerry Marsden with a smile.
Marsden, whose band Gerry and the Pacemakers were behind hits like You’ll Never Walk Alone, Ferry Cross The Mersey, I’ll Be There, How Do You Do It? and I Like It, died hospital in the early hours of Sunday aged 78.
He worked the same Liverpool/Hamburg music club circuit as Sir Paul in the Beatles and many other groups in the early 1960s.
Paul tweeted: “Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool. He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene. His unforgettable performances of You’ll Never Walk Alone and Ferry Cross the Mersey remain in many people’s hearts as reminders of a joyful time in British music…
“My sympathies go to his wife Pauline and family. See ya, Gerry. I’ll always remember you with a smile. – Paul”
Ringo Starr also paid tribute to Marsden, and sent “peace and love” to all his family.
You’ll Never Walk Alone became a football anthem for Marsden’s home club of Liverpool.
Sir Kenny Dalglish, who was Liverpool’s manager at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, tweeted: “Saddened to hear the news of Gerry Marsden’s passing today. You’ll Never Walk Alone is an integral part of Liverpool Football Club, and never more so than now. RIP Gerry, our thoughts are with Pauline and his family.”
Marsden went into hospital on Boxing Day after tests showed he had a serious blood infection that had travelled to his heart.
It was a short illness but Marsden had suffered previous heart scare including triple bypass, an aortic valve replacement and ironically he also had a pacemaker.
His daughter Yvette Marbeck told the PA news agency: “My sister Vicky and myself have always been very, very proud of dad.
“He has always been a good man. He had his feet on the ground. He made us laugh every single day. He was our hero, wonderful.”
Singer Elvis Costello posted a link to the song Away From You, adding: “I was saddened by Gerry Marsden’s passing. His voice will always lead the way at Anfield, in times of celebration or lament. YNWA. He (and his brother, Freddie) wrote some great tunes.”
You’ll Never Walk Alone enjoyed a resurgence during the pandemic after a cover of the song, featuring Captain Sir Tom Moore, reached number one in the UK singles chart.
In April, Marsden recorded a new version of the band’s hit alongside a music video, which featured Marsden and a number of messages about the NHS.
Gerry and the Pacemakers enjoyed sell-out tours around the world.
In 1962, Beatles manager Brian Epstein signed up the band and their first three releases reached number one in 1963 – How Do You Do It, I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone.
The group split in 1967 and Marsden pursued a solo career before the band reformed in 1974 to tour the world – a tour they later repeated.
DJ Tony Blackburn was among those paying tribute.
“So sad to hear Gerry Marsden has passed away. I did a couple of gigs with him and he was great,” he wrote on Twitter.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood singer Holly Johnson, who is from Liverpool and covered Marsden’s song Ferry Cross The Mersey, said the singer was a “Liverpool legend”.“So sorry to hear about the passing of Gerry Marsden,” he wrote on Twitter.“What a Liverpool Legend. So glad I met him.”
Liverpool FC tweeted: “It is with such great sadness that we hear of Gerry Marsden’s passing.“Gerry’s words will live on forever with us. You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The Cavern Club, where Gerry and the Pacemakers played nearly 200 times, wrote: “Devastated to hear of the passing of Gerry Marsden earlier today.
“The word legend is often overused but Gerry was not only a legend, but also a very good friend of The Cavern.”
Marsden was awarded an MBE for his charity work in 2003.He married wife Pauline in 1965 and the couple had two daughters and two grandchildren.