#212 – I Like It by Gerry & the Pacemakers
– This song is pure pop from 1963 (UK) and 1964 (U.S.) with a bouncy tempo that’s hard to ignore. If you were a boomer just into your early teens or within a few years of crossing that age line of no return, it should be almost impossible for you to hear without cracking a smile.
It’s one of the songs by a group other than The Beatles that brings back memories of the first wave of The British Invasion.
I have a picture in my mind of being about eleven years old and riding my bike. It was before I was gifted with a transistor radio small enough to hold in my hand with the “important” (and that is assumed from my parents’ point of view) single earplug that would allow only me to hear what I’d usually blast out of the small, tinny sounding speaker. I had a metal basket on the front handlebars of the bike and I’d take my dad’s larger portable radio (my point of view assumption was he didn’t really need it) and peddle around listening to the latest Top 40 tunes.
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Thinking back, I guess that would make me one of the pioneers of the boom box fad that annoyed everyone except the boom box owner a couple decades later. Also thinking back, I can assume our neighbors that lived on the street where I peddled my boom box equipped bike might have encouraged my parents to give me that small transistor radio with the earplug sooner rather than later.
Gerry and the Pacemakers were billed as rivals of The Beatles. But since Brian Epstein managed them both, it was seen as a friendly rival. On the other hand, The Dave Clark Five was considered an either / or option. I don’t understand why fans had this perception of a competition, but there were teen magazines with cover stories promoting “The Beatles vs. The DC5” and a lot of kids were convinced if you liked one you were not allowed to like the other.
I didn’t fall for that. But at the same time, as I’ve mentioned in past Classic Rocker’s about my earliest daze as a pop music fan during the 1964 British Invasion, I didn’t have enough funds to buy every record I wanted for my collection. My preference was (and still is) for The Beatles, so I only heard Gerry and the Pacemakers and The DC5 via radio or television appearances.
How did these bands get to be the BIG 3 in early ’64? It took a dynamic combo of prime time television exposure and catchy tunes on the radio.
It started for us (U.S.) when the Beatles played The Ed Sullivan Show for three consecutive Sunday evenings in February 1964. Ed’s point of view assumed (correctly) he could continue higher viewer ratings with more British acts. So in March he featured the DC5 singing Glad All Over – the competitive song that was promoted as knocking I Want To Hold Your Hand from the No. 1 position on the music charts.
DC5 fans could gloat while Fab Four fans would simmer with annoyance.
In May 1964 Ed and Brian treated us to two consecutive Sunday evening appearances by Gerry and the Pacemakers. Their first was on May 3rd and similar to The Beatles, they wore Brian’s mandated matching suits and sang I’m The One and Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying. The girls screamed, but I think that would’ve been the reaction to any band from England during this first wave. I thought they were good – but not The Beatles. They were missing the “mop top” look with a couple members looking a bit hair challenged. Also Gerry was distinctly the featured player while the four Beatles had appeared to be more of a group.
But here’s something interesting to think about.
What if Gerry and the Pacemakers had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show before The Beatles? Based on the circumstances, which included the Beatles having a No. 1 record and radio play in the U.S. before anyone on this side of the ocean knew of Gerry and the boys, there was no chance. At least that was true from our point of view…
But from the UK fans point of view, it might have seemingly been possible.
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Did you know Gerry and the Pacemakers – from the Brian Epstein and NEMS stable of talent – scored a No. 1 song in England before The Beatles? Hard to fathom decades later, but this is what happened…
“Officially” the Beatles first No. 1 song in England was From Me To You. In January 1963 they released Please Please Me and though it topped some of the local charts, it is only credited with rising to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. That’s why the song is not included on the mega-selling compilation #1 with all their “official” chart-topping songs. Their first release, Love Me Do is included because it went to the top spot more than a year after it was released, riding the coattails of Beatlemania in the U.S.
Please Please Me wasn’t as lucky.
From Me To You was released on April 11, 1963 and would be The Beatles first No. 1. But what was the top song on the UK Singles Chart that exact day? If you haven’t guessed, it was I Like It by Gerry and the Pacemakers.
They were the first group managed by Brian Epstein to have a No. 1 hit.
As the legend goes, Ed Sullivan discovered The Beatles (even though Sid Bernstein had already scheduled the group for two February 1964 shows at Carnegie Hall in New York) on Halloween 1963 when he witnessed hundreds of screaming fans at London’s Heathrow Airport welcoming the Fabs from a short Scandinavian tour. The Beatles also broke onto U.S. Top 40 radio in December and had their first U.S. No. 1 hit with I Want To Hold Your Hand in January 1964.
They would be the pioneers and in February they’d seal the deal by bringing Beatlemania to the U.S. But after bringing in the DC5 a month later, Ed would turn to Brian to keep the momentum going and he delivered Gerry and the Pacemakers.
During their second Ed Sullivan appearance a week later, they played I Like It. As mentioned, the song had already been No. 1 in England a full year earlier, but in the chronology of Gerry U.S. hits it came after Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying and How Do You Do It. It also didn’t fare as well by only rising as high as No. 17 on the U.S. charts.
The song leaped to the top of my mental chart on February 29th (get it?) and still brings a smile to my boomer face when it comes up on my digital playlist. Since I now own a copy and had just heard it the day before, it lands in the recent memory category on this Classic Rocker Dream Song List.
To experience this bouncy tempo song that is still an example of pure pop music from the early-to-mid 1960’s, check out this video of Gerry and the Pacemakers with a live performance of I Like It.
To purchase Gerry and the Pacemakers Greatest Hits with I Like It visit Amazon.com.
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