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Les Maguire, keyboard player for Gerry and the Pacemakers, dead at 81

Les Maguire

Les Maguire, keyboardist and last surviving member of the 1960s British beat group Gerry and the Pacemakers, died Nov. 25. He was 81.

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The native of Liverpool died at Aintree Hospital north of the city, surrounded by family members, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Maguire’s death followed those of Freddie Marsden in 2006, Les Chadwick in 2019 and Gerry Marsden in 2021, according to the newspaper.

According to The Times of London, Maguire loved to tease people with a pop trivia quiz -- which 1960s group from Liverpool went to No. 1 with their first three singles on the British charts?

Most people would answer The Beatles -- but it was Maguire’s group. Gerry and the Pacemakers topped the British charts with “How Do You Do It?” “I Like It” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Maguire played on all three hits, and more.

Born on Dec. 27, 1941, in Wallasey, just across the River Mersey from Liverpool, Maguire joined the Pacemakers in 1961, replacing the group’s original keyboard player, Arthur MacMahon, the Echo reported. He remained in the band until they disbanded toward the end of the 1960s.

Maguire’s granddaughter, Hollie Crosbie, 33, paid tribute to the “devoted” dad and grandfather.

“Grandad was just really fun and a very generous person,” Crosbie told the Echo. “He was a really lovely guy and everybody loved him. My own dad died when I was 11 years old and he was like a dad to me.

“He was a great grandad to my little my little boy Finley. He was the first boy born in the family and he was very excited.”

The Pacemakers were the second band to sign with Brian Epstein, who signed the Beatles first. The two groups were also produced by George Martin.

In 2016, a rare acetate of two early Beatles songs, found in Maguire’s loft, sold for $98,417.17 in an auction, the BBC reported. He was given the record by Epstein in 1963 after it had been returned to him by Martin, according to the newspaper.

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