I Went from Being a Rock Star with My Brother Gerry to a Pounds 14-A- Week Phone Operator; Everyone Knew the Frontman, but There Was Another Marsden in the Pacemakers. David Charters Speaks to the Drummer Freddie

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), April 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

I Went from Being a Rock Star with My Brother Gerry to a Pounds 14-A- Week Phone Operator; Everyone Knew the Frontman, but There Was Another Marsden in the Pacemakers. David Charters Speaks to the Drummer Freddie


Byline: David Charters

THE father was a railway clerk who entertained his friends in the parlour of their terraced house by playing the ukulele in the style of George Formby.

The elder boy, who had his eyes set on a coveted place in grammar school, fancied that one day he might he a bit of a drummer, keeping up the rhythm for the dancers under the shimmering lights of the local halls.

So the father took the skin off one of his ukuleles and stretched it over a Quality Street chocolate tin. ``There son,''he said. ``This is your first snare drum.''

The younger son, though, who sang well and played the guitar,had higher ambitions beating in his heart. Music made stars,he said to anyone who would listen. You only had to look at Lonnie Donegan and Elvis Presley. They were fine examples for the new generation. And so the young Gerry Marsden became the leader of the Pacemakers, while the older Freddie took his place on the drums at the bac

of the stage.

The demands of show biz meant that Freddie was to neglect his studies at St Francis Xavier school, which he was to leave with just a maths O-level. Gerry, who was at Our Lady of Mount Carmel secondary modern school,never belie ved that his lessons would open the way to fame and fortune.

Well, that was all a long time ago. Now Freddie, 62, is recovering from a heart attack at his luxury bung a low in Formby, which he bought in the days of screams and big cheques.

He smiles now as he remembers the early years of the group,bef ore they were international superstars, who notched three successive number ones in the British charts, a feat which even the Beatles, their great buddies and rivals, couldn't equal.

You have the feeling, talking at length to Freddie Marsden, that he had been much happier playing skiffle numbers in the small local venues in those innocent days,leading up to the crazy years of fame, which turned Gerry into a household name. Then his photograph, with a smile as broad as a cob of corn, was clasped in the lockets of thousands of pubescent girls.

Freddie had his share of admirers, too,but he says that his forehead was too high to carry the fashion for long hair. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a noble brow. But it must have been hard to live in the shadow of a young brother, who is still synonymous with the success of Liverpool in the 1960s.

Whene ver the football anthem, You'll Never Wa lk Alone, or the yearning Ferry Cross the Mersey,are played on the radio,people think of Gerry,forgetting the big brother who played the drums with such dedication. On the surface, Freddie doesn't seem to mind. But beneath his calm and charming manner, you sense a little resentment which he is too nice, too dignified, to express.

After the Pacemakers split up in 1968,freeing Gerry to star in the successful West End show Charlie Girl, Freddie became a telephone operator on pounds 14a week. That was a difficult time. But Freddie was a local boy, who still played right-half for the Royal Standard pub football team,Bootle. …

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