[04 Jan 2021]
It was with great sadness that we learned this weekend of the death of Gerry Marsden, one of the driving forces of Merseybeat and a respected member of the wider Jacaranda family.
As the face of Gerry and the Pacemakers, Marsden was a regular feature at The Jacaranda, performing multiple times on the basement stage that played a central role in the small network of Liverpool venues that provided Merseybeat not only with its first audience, but also the platform from which it sprang to become a global phenomenon.
It was Jacaranda founder Allan Williams who arranged – alongside The Beatles and Rory Storm & The Hurricanes – to send the band to Hamburg in 1961, opening the doors to global success during what Marsden himself described as “our apprenticeship in music.”
Paying their dues from the febrile cellar of our Liverpool headquarters to the riotous cafe bars of Hamburg’s rough and tumble Top Ten Club, Gerry and the Pacemakers’ rise was meteoric, becoming the first act ever to reach number one in the UK singles charts with their first three releases between 1963-1964.
He was the face of an upstart generation of young musicians on whom Liverpool’s global status as a modern music city is founded, providing the groundswell that enabled so many of the town’s institutions from its colleges to the Cavern join an industry that survives to this day. An artist, an entertainer, and a lifelong ambassador for Merseyside and its people, very few can claim to personify the era and the ethos better than Gerry Marsden.
While the news of his death in hospital this weekend at the age of 76 is deeply saddening, Jacaranda Records is proud – 60 years on – to still honour the legacy that gave Gerry his chance, remaining steadfastly committed to providing a stage for young and developing Liverpool artists to find audiences and hone their craft. While live gigs may have been impossible in 2020, throughout the lockdown we have continued to work with developing artists like SHARDS and Aimée Steven, as well as contributing to online festivals across the world.
Capomaestro Ray Mia commented: “Gerry and the Pacemakers created a sound and an energy that has not only become a fixture of Liverpool’s soundtrack for generations, but also – even today – has for the wider world become synonymous with the city. What can be added to what has already been said about a certain Ferry and not Walking alone?
“Six decades after he first appeared on our stage we are still very proud of the role we played in giving him the start he deserved, and remain deeply respectful of his achievements. It is stories like his that provide the inspiration to keep doing what we’re doing – opening pathways and opportunities for local artists to find their big break, without that – there would be no Merseybeat…”