It was the summer of 1963 and a cultural earthquake was resetting the foundations of British popular music. And from being a place usually more associated with breeding comedians, the city of Liverpool had overnight become the capital of pop.
The Beatles had started it with No.1 hits From Me To You and She Loves You, but then right behind them came Gerry and the Pacemakers’ How Do You Do It? and I Like It — followed by Billy J Kramer’s Do You Want To Know A Secret? and Bad To Me.
1 John Lennon 2 Ringo Starr 3 George Harrison 4 Paul McCartney 5 Gerry Marsden 6 Freddie Marsden 7 John ‘Les’ Chadwick 8 Les Maguire 9 Robin MacDonald 10 Mike Maxfield 11 Billy J. Kramer 12 Ray Jones 13 Tony Mansfield 14 Brian Epstein
Something was happening right across the country in those early Sixties days. Not only in music and not only in Liverpool.
Brian Samuel Epstein (19 September 1934 – 27 August 1967), was an English music entrepreneur, best known for being the manager of The Beatles
Brian made the Sixties swing by discovering the best of Mersyside from the Beatles to Gerry and the Pacemakers. Just four years later he would die from a drugs overdose.
What happened to them?
1 John Lennon, murdered in Manhattan, New York, aged 40, December 1980.
2 Ringo Starr, 77, has just played Las Vegas after releasing his latest album, Give More Love, last month.
3 George Harrison, died aged 58 from lung cancer in Beverly Hills, California, in November 2001.
4 Paul McCartney, 75, played Brazil last night during his current world tour.
5 Gerry Marsden, 75, lead singer/guitarist with Gerry and the Pacemakers, is currently on a farewell UK tour.
He had No. 1 hits (all 1963) with How Do You Do It?, I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Ferry Cross The Mersey reached No. 8 in 1964.
Marsden made a brief return to No.1 in 1985 with a superstar recording of You’ll Never Walk Alone to benefit victims of the Bradford City stadium fire. The Pacemakers disbanded in 1966 but reformed in 1974 with a new line-up.
He was awarded the MBE in 2003 (the same year he underwent a triple heart by-pass), and has since been given the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. Describes Lennon as his ‘best pal’ and regretted they never wrote together.
Marsden is a lifelong fan of Liverpool Football Club and You’ll Never Walk Alone has been sung at almost every home game since being adopted by the Kop in 1963. He performed it at Wembley at the 1989 FA Cup final in honour of fans who had died at Hillsborough the previous month.
He has been married to wife Pauline for 27 years and has two daughters and a grandson. Lives on The Wirral in Merseyside.
6 Freddie Marsden, died aged 66 in 2006 in Southport, Lancashire. He was the brother of Gerry Marsden and played drums for Gerry and the Pacemakers.
He was touted as a possible replacement for the Fab Four’s first drummer, Pete Best, who was sacked in 1962, but Freddie countered: ‘That’s rubbish. Look at my high forehead. I could never have had a Beatle haircut for a start.’
After the group broke up, he became a telephone operator on £14 a week, then joined the Civil Service. He later opened a driving school (called Pacemakers). Once asked if he still had his drums, he said: ‘No, I got rid of them. They took up too much space in the garage.’ He was married to Margaret, with a son and daughter.
7 John ‘Les’ Chadwick, 74, Pacemakers’ bassist. He stayed with the group until their break-up in 1966, then set up a garage business with fellow Pacemaker Les Maguire and moved to Australia, where he opened an employment agency in Sydney.
8 Les Maguire, 75, Pacemakers’ keyboard player. After the group broke up, he briefly fronted the Mississippi blues band, Hog Owl in 1970, and teamed up with the Pacemakers for occasional reunion performances. He lives in Formby, Merseyside.
9 Robin MacDonald, died in 2015, aged 72. He was founder, guitarist and bassist of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. Originally from Manchester, the band began as The Dakotas before becoming Liverpudlian singer Billy J. Kramer’s backing band, at manager Brian Epstein’s request.
Hits with Billy J. Kramer include Do You Want To Know A Secret, Bad To Me, I’ll Keep You Satisfied and From A Window — all penned by Lennon and McCartney.
The band broke up in 1967 but reformed 20 years later. When the original Dakotas split, MacDonald joined Engelbert Humperdinck’s backing band and supported Frank Sinatra. Although no longer involved in music, his daughter Sarah Mac is a singer/songwriter.
10 Mike Maxfield, 73, songwriter/guitarist with Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. He left the band in 1965 but rejoined 20 years later. Despite suffering a stroke in 2004, Maxfield worked on TV shows in America, where he still lives.
11 Billy J. Kramer (William Ashton), 74, lead singer of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. Still making music and performing across the world. In 2013 he released the CD I Won The Fight. He says: ‘I’m not planning on retiring.’ He lives with his second wife in America.
12 Ray Jones, bassist with Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, died in 2000, aged 60, of a heart attack. He left the band after a row over money with Epstein. He joined other bands before quitting music to work as a psychiatric nurse and then as a computer instructor for the handicapped.
13 Tony Mansfield (Anthony Bookbinder), 74, drummer with Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. Brother of singer Elkie Brooks, he left music in 1999 for a career in finance and lives in Manchester.
14 Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. He died of an accidental drugs overdose aged 32 in 1967. After his death, Paul McCartney said: ‘If anyone was the fifth Beatle, it was Brian.’