Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gerry Marsden's Book

I'm waist deep in a used book find, "I'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry Marsden.  His band, Gerry and the Pacemakers, were among the best competition the Beatles had 50 years ago.  Ten years ago, Gerry wrote a book and as you might imagine, it has lots of stories about growing up in Liverpool and the 1960s music scene there.

"Twist and Shout" was one of the Beatles wildest numbers and would always bring the house down.  They'd often save it for last because after screaming it, John Lennon would usually not be able to sing any more until he had some time to recover his voice.  The song was a cover version of an original by the Isley Brothers.  This is the song from which the Beatles picked up their woooo's, a device that, along with "Yeah, yeah, yeah", became a trademark.  (Really goes to show how deeply they were influenced by American soul music.)

At first they were afraid that singing the woooo's made them sound a bit "light in the loafers", but every time they did it, it would elicit waves of screaming from the girl fans, so they left it in. After all, the customer is always right.

Anyhow, Gerry tells how at this time there was something of a gentleman's agreement among the bands to avoid having too much overlap in the set lists, so bands could share an event without it becoming a parade of the same songs in different cover versions.  Naturally, bands became pretty protective of the songs they had "discovered" and added to their show.  Gerry writes, "When the Beatles released the record 'Twist and Shout', which went on to become one of their favorites, a lot of Scousers were angry.  They reckoned John and Paul had nicked it from King Size Taylor, who had found it from the original Isley Brothers version."  Oh, well.  All's fair in love and show biz, I guess.

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