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Friday on my Mind 198: Ferry Cross the Mersey. RIP Gerry Marsden

2021 is carrying on from where 2020 left off. Last Sunday Gerry Marsden died.

He is of course best known as lead singer and guitarist of Gerry and the Pacemakers, a group which had the distinction of their first three hits reaching no 1 in the UK charts, something his contemporaries The Beatles did not achieve. (To be fair they had many more hits in total.)

It was the third of these number 1 songs, a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical Carousel, which will be Gerry’s lasting legacy, a song adopted as a theme tune by the supporters of both Liverpool FC and Celtic FC, but because of Marsden’s Liverpudlian upbringing will now forever be associated with the city.

It was the following song though that was the first single I ever bought. The clip is from Top of the Pops but is either mimed or the record has been dubbed over the video.

Gerry and the Pacemakers: Ferry Cross the Mersey

Ferry Cross the Mersey was also the title song from the film the group made in 1965, a film I went to see but of which I can only remember this one scene, shot on one of the eponymous ferries with the group on its deck – complete with drum kit! – and an exchange with some woman saying, “Hello, Gerry.”

Gerard (Gerry) Marsden: 24/12/1942 – 3/1/2021. So it goes.

Some Good News (and Reelin’ in the Years 183: Here Comes the Sun)

Something cheerful this week. In celebration.

One day last week we were woken up by a phone call where my and the good lady’s very happy eldest son told us of the birth, a little earlier than expected, of his baby daughter, our first grandchild, Isobel Skye, 6 lb, 6 oz. (All those years, over 50, of nothing but the metric system being taught in Scottish schools and we still announce birth weights in Imperial units!) Mother and child are both doing well.

A welcome good thing arriving in what has been a dismal year. Sadly due to Covid restrictions we have not met Isobel in person. Soon, we hope.

This song was a hit for Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel in 1976 (Richie Havens had also recorded it in 1971) but it was first heard on The Beatles album Abbey Road in 1969.

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel: Here Comes the Sun

And the original:-

The Beatles: Here Comes the Sun

Friday on my Mind 194: A Whiter Shade of Pale

I suppose this track really ought to have been much higher up this list. However, I didn’t want the category to contain any obvious songs from the 60s (hence no Beatles, no Rolling Stones) nor – certainly after a few weeks – repeats of the same artist. When I posted the band’s Shine on Brightly I thought I had already featured Homburg here. (I had, but before I started the Friday on my Mind category.)

A Whiter Shade of Pale is so quintessentially 60s that it’s a bit clichéd as an exemplar from the decade.

But this still sounds so fresh, possibly because of its source material, Bach’s Air on the G String.

The original video/film was surely in black and white. That’s certainly how I remember it. This one must have been colourised.

Anyway here’s where Prog Rock might be said to have begun – at least in the public’s mind.

Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale

Friday on my Mind 186: Let’s Be Natural – RIP Neil Innes

2019 kept taking away till the very end. Not content with removing Alasdair Gray from us it managed to take Neil Innes on the same day.

It was only four months ago I featured his big hit with The Bonzo DogDoo-Dah Band, I’m the Urban Spaceman.

That was the least of the band’s eccentricities. Innes contributed the most bizarre guitar solo to the utterly indescribable Canyons of Your Mind. Try out this video from the BBC’s Colour Me Pop for size.

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: Canyons of Your Mind

Innes’s Beatles parodies for Rutland Weekend Television and subsequent recordings as The Rutles were sublime. The haunting Let’s Be Natural is the perfect example.

The Rutles: Let’s Be Natural

Neil James Innes: 9/12/1944 – 29/12/2019. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 185: You Can Never Stop Me Loving You – RIP Kenny Lynch

One of the few black British entertainers – one of the few black faces – to appear on British television in the early 1960s, belonged to Kenny Lynch, who has died this week.

There were US acts of course, such as Sammy Davis Jr, Nat King Cole and Harry Belafonte and Blues and Motown artistes would feature on shows such as Ready, Steady Go! and Top of the Pops but as for British performers Lynch was just about it.

There were quite a few strings to Lynch’s bow, singing on variety shows, popping up on game shows – always with a cheerful demeanour – and he also had a career as an actor but among other songs Lynch wrote Sha La La La La Lee which became a hit for the Small Faces. He was also the first singer to cover a Beatles song (Misery.)

This is his joint biggest UK hit. On it Lynch sounds a bit like Sam Cooke. No small praise.

Kenny Lynch: You Can Never Stop Me Loving You

Kenneth Lynch: 18/3/1938 – 18/12/2019. So it goes.

Not Friday on my Mind 53: I See the Rain. RIP Dean Ford

I was sad to hear the news of the death of Dean Ford, lead singer of (The) Marmalade (once known as Dean Ford and the Gaylords,) the first Scottish group to have a no 1 in the UK. To make it, of course, they had to leave Scotland and move to London where their initial efforts under their original name didn’t meet with much joy. Calling themselves The Marmalade also didn’t bring instant success. It was only when they adopted a more pop profile – and with songs written by others – that they achieved a measure of success, peaking with that no. 1, a cover of The Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

Ford was no mean song writer though. Along with fellow band member Junior Campbell he wrote Reflections of My Life, Rainbow, and My Little One, hits between 1969 and 1971.

Plus this pre-success psychedelia-tinged song, said to be Jimi Hendrix’s favourite of 1967.

The Marmalade: I See the Rain

Thomas McAleese (Dean Ford): 5/9/1946 – 31/12/2018. So it goes.

Let Me Take You Down ….

…. because I’ve been to Strawberry Fields. (Or more correctly it seems Strawberry Field.):-

Strawberry Fields, Liverpool

Behind these gates was apparently a children’s home and though Wikipedia has John Lennon climbing into the place to play with them the guide on the bus tour our friends had booked said he would play truant from his own school hoping to catch a glimpse of girls beyond the trees behind the gates.

The present gates are replicas:-

Strawberry Fields

When Lennon’s parents’ marriage fell apart he was taken in by his Aunt Mimi.

This is her house. They had a reasonably comfortable existence here you’d think:-

John Lennon's Aunt Mimi's House Liverpool

Note the notice on the gate post and the blue plaque on the house:-

Aunt Mimi's house

In Liverpool reminders of the Beatles are never far away. Sgt Pepper flower bed:-

Sergeant Pepper Flower Bed, Liverpool

Memorial plaque:-

Beatles Memorial Plaque

The Beatles: Strawberry Fields Forever

The Cavern Club, Liverpool

Opposite the Cavern Club, Liverpool, is a Wall of Fame:-

The Cavern Wall of Fame

The statue of a Beatle (John Lennon from the looks) lounges by the Wall of Fame, here accompanied by two tourists:-

Beatle Statue and Fans, Liverpool

Each brick has inscribed on it the name of an act which has performed at the Cavern Club. Wall of Fame plaque:-

Cavern Club Wall of Fame Plaque

Some of the commemorative bricks:-

Commemorative Bricks Oppsite Cavern Club, Liverpool

The internal walls of the club are covered by memorabilia. Not only of the Beatles:-

The Cavern

Beatles Memorabilia

Beatles Memorabilia

but also other rock and rollers:-

Chuck Berry Memorabilia

Four Liverpool Lads

In my last “Art Deco in Liverpool” post I mentioned John Lennon.

He was of course one of the four Liverpool lads who were probably the town’s most famous export. (Export in the sense that their music went all over the world.)

I refer to The Beatles. A (larger than life size) statue of the four stands near the Liverpool waterfront:-

Four Liverpool Lads

It is difficult to move in Liverpool without stumbling over something to do with the four. This is the entrance to Matthew Street wherein lies the Cavern Club where they had a residency back in the day. (Note the establishment known as Sgt Pepper’s to the right):-

Matthew Street, Liverpool

The club is not the same as the one The Beatles used to play in. Part of the original no longer exists and the entrance has been moved. Below is the old Entrance to Cavern Club. The Cilla Black statue to the front commemorates her stint as a cloakroom attendant at the establishment:-

Old Entrance to Cavern Club, Liverpool

New entrance:-

The Cavern new entrance

Entering the venue proper requires going down a fairly steep set of stairs:-

The Cavern stairs

The arched interior is a little claustrophobic:-

Interior Arches, Cavern Club, Liverpool

I have more photos of the Cavern Club but this is enough to be going on with.

More Architecture in Blackpool

The Imperial Hotel, an imposing building on Blackpool sea-front now possibly a bit down from its height. The inside walls are covered with photographs of various luminaries who stayed there in its heyday, including the Beatles:-

Imperial Hotel Blackpool

Blackpool Town Hall. Victorian high style:-

Blackpool Town Hall

Stained glass windows in Blackpool’s Town Hall:-

Stained Glass, Blackpool Town Hall

Norbreck Castle Hotel. A modern castellated fantasy. From south:-

Norbreck Castle Hotel

From southwest:-

Suide View, Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool

Northern part of Norbreck Castle Hotel complex:-

Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool

From north:-

Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpoo, From Northl

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