Gerry Marsden, lead singer of the British band Gerry and the Pacemakers, has died at the age of 78 after a short illness, a friend has announced.

Marsden found fame in the Merseybeat music scene and for singing the soccer anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

“It’s with a very heavy heart after speaking to the family that I have to tell you the Legendary Gerry Marsden MBE after a short illness which was an infection in his heart has sadly passed away,” radio broadcaster Pete Price posted on Twitter.

Marsden formed the band in 1959 and enjoyed chart success in subsequent decades as part of Liverpool’s Merseybeat movement that included contemporaries such as The Beatles.

The band’s 1963 version of You’ll Never Walk Alone has become the anthem of Liverpool Football Club in the Premier League.

“Gerry’s voice accompanied our biggest nights. His anthem bonded players, staff and fans around the world, helping create something truly special,” the club tweeted.