Gerry Scores A Hat Trick!
By Bill Harry
When the song was released, it was reviewed in Melody Maker by fellow Liverpool singer Frankie Vaughan, who commented that it was "absolutely
marvelous. You wouldn't expect the song from Gerry, but he makes a great job of it. Imagine it - the beat world doing a ballad. But his diction is unmistakably Liverpudlian. His personality still comes across. I like this enormously. It has lots of charm and I'd say it stands a good chance."
The number became Gerry's fastest selling single, immediately entering the charts at No. 18 on October 12 1963, reaching No. 7 the following week and then leap-frogging the Beatles' 'She Loves You' to the top of the charts on November 2, where it remained for two weeks before giving way to 'She Loves You.'
The number was No. 1 in the British charts on November 22, the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
A few weeks after 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was released, the crowd at Liverpool Football Club sang it at their ground in Anfield. It soon became the Liverpool FC football anthem, sung at the Kop end of the ground. Eventually, football clubs throughout the country adopted it.
Gerry then received a phone call from Liverpool FC's legendary manager Bill Shankly, who told him, "You're an inspiration for Liverpool football, my son."
When Shankly died, the special 'Shankly Gates' were installed at the entrance to the club in his memory. Gerry was asked if he'd mind if the words 'You'll Never Walk Alone', were put on the gates. He said he felt honoured.
At the memorial service for Shankly, which took place at Liverpool Cathedral, Bill Shankly's wife Nessie asked Gerry if he would sing the song. Gerry went to the altar with his guitar and sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone', joined by the congregation and the 5,000 people gathered outside the Cathedral.
May 11 1985 saw the shocking tragedy at Valley Parade Ground in Bradford when the stand caught fire and 57 people were killed.
Gerry decided to make a charity record to aid the families of the victims. Initially he had thought of recording 'You'll Never Walk Alone' with members of the Bradford football team, but the tragedy was too close for them to bear, so Gerry set out to record it with a celebrity line-up, which he called the Crowd.
They included Tony Christie, Rick Wakeman, John Conteh, the Barron Knights, Jess Conrad, Kiki Dee, Bruce Forsyth, the Foxes, Rolf Harris, Graham Gouldman, Kenny Lynch, Keith Chegwin, Tony Hicks, Colin Blunstone, Tim Hinckley, Johnny Logan, Zak Starkey, Girls School, Black Lace, John Otway, Gary Holton, Peter Cook, the Nolans, John Entwistle, Motorhead, Karen Clark, Dave Lee Travis, Graham Dene, Ed Stewart, Phil Lynott, Smokie, Joe Fagin, Eddie Harding, Gerard Kenny, Chris Robinson, Tim Healey, Kim Kelly, John Verity, Rose Marie, David Shilling, Chris Norman, Pete Spencer and Bernie Winters.
Paul McCartney contributed some words on the B-side of the record.
'You'll Never Walk Alone' by the Crowd entered the charts at No. 4 and then leapt to No. 1 on June 1 1985.
This gave Gerry another 'first' in British recording history, by becoming the first person ever to top the charts with two versions of the same number.
Gerry had decided to give the money to the Disaster Appeal in one lump sum rather than by dribs and drabs and six months after the release he had a cheque for £132,000 to give them.
He was totally stunned when the fund organizers told him, "We don't want it." They said the appeal fund had been closed and they didn't want the money.
Gerry pointed out that the British public had bought the record in large quantities because they wanted to contribute towards the families of the victims, but the fund was adamant.
The money then went into the burns research unit in Bradford.
Another disappointment for Gerry was the fact that despite the record being made specifically for the charity, the music publishers refused to waive their royalties, which would have added considerably to the burns research unit.
1989 was the occasion of the all-Merseyside Cup Final at Wembley between Liverpool and Everton, the city's two teams.
Gerry was asked to come along to sing 'You'll Never Walk Alone', which he says became one of the most emotional days of his life.