Relive the golden age of music

THE Sixties was indeed a golden decade for music, so much so that even today many artists who made it big back then – and some who even personified the decade – still tour and play to adoring audiences.

The 60s Gold Tour boasts a quartet of Sixties legends - Chip Hawkes, PJ Proby, The Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Hawkes was brought into The Tremeloes after the departure of original singer Brian Poole and with him as frontman and songwriter, they became a bigger hit act than they had ever been.

Hits like Here Comes My Baby, Silence Is Golden - which topped the charts in 1967 - Me And My Life and Call Me Number One cemented their place in musical history.

Hawkes eventually went solo, but has on occasion teamed up with his old colleagues for shows.

Proby came to the UK from America and stormed the charts with a clutch of top ten hits such as Maria, Somewhere and Hold Me.

It was he who caused controversy when his trousers split on stage and his larger than life persona and amazing voice has delighted audiences everywhere.

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What can you say about The Searchers that hasn’t been said before?

Formed in 1959, and named after the John Wayne film, the band were among the premiership of Sixties music - scoring three number ones with Needles And Pins, Don’t Throw Your Love Away and Sweets For My Sweet.

The band has never stopped touring and still boasts a founder member in John McNally and his trademark Rickenbacker guitar.

Also in the line-up are Frank Allen, who joined from Cliff Bennett’s Rebel Rousers in 1964; Spencer James, who sang the 70s hit Beach Baby as part of First Class; and Eddie Rothe, who as part of Liquid Gold got to number two in the charts in 1980 with Dance Yourself Dizzy.

Topping the bill is another legend of the music scene and a band who hit number one with their first three singles, celebrating their first chart-topper before The Beatles managed it - none other than Gerry and The Pacemakers.

Gerry Marsden is one of music’s great characters; he steered the band to chart success with the hits How Do You Do It, I Like It and You’ll Never Walk Alone, all of which got to the top of the charts in 1963, and the sublime Ferry Cross The Mersey.

Speaking from his home in Liverpool, he explained why he still had an infectious enthusiasm for performing.

“I love what I do,” he said simply.

“I love to sing and entertain. Every night I go on stage I get a great buzz and it’s the best feeling I can have apart from being with my family. I fish, play golf and jet-ski, but nothing compares with performing on stage.”

The show’s bill is pretty awesome and Marsden has played with all the artists numerous times.

“I’ve toured with the Searchers many times over the years in Sixties package shows and Chip Hawkes is a great singer and a lovely bloke to be with.

“Of course Jim [PJ Proby – real name James Marcus Smith] has got a fantastic voice. About three years ago I took him to Australia with me and he loved it and the nice thing is we’re still great mates.”

For some reason, the music of the 1960s has remained popular; arguably more popular than any other decade, and Gerry reckons he knows why.

“The music was very simple. We were just having a good time and never expected to make records and I think the people picked up on the freshness and fun we were giving out. And it still shows,” he adds with a laugh.

The Pacemakers line-up today consists of Marsden, Stevie Thompson on lead guitar, Mitch Oldham on drums, two keyboard players in Andy Wilde and Tony Young - “He’s our leader” says Marsden - and Garth Watt-Roy on bass, who joined after a number of years in the Barron Knights.

The Pacemakers will also back Hawkes and Proby in the show.

As to what we can expect in the show itself, well according to Marsden that’s simplicity itself.

“All the hits,” he says. “Think of all those artists and there are so many hits.”

In fact, there are eight number ones to begin with and a total of more than 20 top tens between them.

“We want the audience to leave the theatre having had a good time for two and a half hours,” he adds.

After the tour Marsden is having a break.

“I’ll go to my home in Spain for a bit of a break and then I’m off to Australia in February. After that, I’llbe touring around the UK again with the Gerry Across The Mersey show which is basically the story of my life.”

Going back to the 60s Gold Tour, Marsden cannot pick out a particular favourite venue.

“I love them all,” he says with his trademark enthusiasm. “It’s great to be doing something I love – and getting paid for it!”

The 60s Gold Tour, featuring Gerry and The Pacemakers, The Searchers, PJ Proby and Chip Hawkes, will be gracing the stage of Ipswich’s Regent Theatre on Saturday, November 20th.