Gerry and the Pacemakers singer Gerry Marsden, whose version of You’ll Never Walk Alone became a football terrace anthem for his hometown club of Liverpool, has died at the age of 78.

Friend Pete Price said on Sunday that the singer died after a short illness.

Gerry and The Pacemakers’s first three singles all reached number one in the UK Official Charts.

Marsden was made an MBE in 2003 for services to charity after supporting victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

At the time, he said he was “over the moon” to have received the honour, following his support for numerous charities across Merseyside and beyond.

Price said his friend died following an infection in his heart.

“Sending all the love in the world to Pauline and his family. You’ll Never Walk Alone,” he wrote in a post on Twitter.

Liverpool FC posted on social media that Marsden’s words would “live on forever with us”.

Marsden was best known for a string of hits including I Like It, How You Do It? and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

In a 2013 interview, Marsden told the Liverpool FC website how You’ll Never Walk Alone was adopted by the club’s fans as soon as it topped the chart in 1963: “I remember being at Anfield and before every kick off they used to play the top 10 from number 10 to number one, and so You’ll Never Walk Alone was played before the match. I was at the game and the fans started singing it.

“When it went out of the top 10 they took the song off the playlist and then for the next match the Kop were shouting ‘Where’s our song?’ So they had to put it back on. Now, every time I go to the game I still get goose pimples when the song comes on and I sing my head off.”

He added: “Every time I go to the game I still get goose pimples when the song comes on and I sing my head off.”

As well as being a Liverpool anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone has also been adopted by fans at both Celtic in Scotland and Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram posted a tribute on Twitter, saying he was “devastated” by the news.