Gerry Rafferty

  • Scottish rock singer, musician and songwriter born in Paisley Scotland. Died in 2011 of liver failure.
  • Rafferty’s Irish father loved traditional Irish music, so Irish and Scottish music were prevalent in his house as a child. While in school, he became friends with Joe Egan, and they performed together in several bands. In 1963, Rafferty’s father died, so Rafferty dropped out of school and worked at odd jobs, but fully intended to make a career of music. By 1966, Rafferty and Egan were members of the band The Fifth Column. A single was recorded and released, but it was not successful.
  • In 1969, Rafferty joined a folk rock group called The Humblebums. Two albums were released between 1969 and 1971, including songs written by Rafferty, without success. When the group split up, the record label signed Rafferty as a solo act, and his debut solo album, Can I Have My Money Back?, was released, with Egan providing background vocals. While the album did not chart, it received some high praise from critics.
  • The following year, Rafferty reunited with Egan to form a band named Stealers Wheel. From 1972 to 1975, they released 3 albums. The self-titled debut album contained the single Stuck In the Middle With You. It became a classic rock staple, peaking at #6 on the Hot 100 chart. Stealers Wheel was unable to generate additional hits, other than Star, a single from their second album, which reached #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  • Legal wrangling prevented Rafferty from releasing any music for 3 years after the breakup of Stealers Wheel. Finally, in 1978 the album City to City was released. Rafferty and his producer begged the record company to release the first single, despite the record company’s reluctance – Baker Street became his signature hit, peaking at #2 in the U.S. and reaching the top 10 in 10 international markets. A second hit single, Right Down the Line, reached #12 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart – another yacht rock staple. The album was certified platinum.
  • The famous saxophone solo in Baker Street proved controversial when the session musician who performed it claimed that he wrote it – that claim was finally debunked when a remastered version of the album was released in 2011 which included the original guitar version of the sax solo, recorded before the final version with sax was chosen. Baker Street proved to an annuity for Rafferty – in 2003, he told the media that he still made £80,000 a year in royalties for the song. A UK dance group did a cover version of the song in 1992 that was a huge hit in Europe – while Rafferty loathed it, it earned Rafferty another £1.5 million.
  • His follow-up album was released in 1979 – Night Owl. It was less successful, though it still sold over half a million copies in the U.S., with Days Gone Down reaching #17 and Get It Right Next Time peaking at #15.
  • During the 80s, he released 3 albums. Only 1980’s Snakes and Ladders charted in the U.S., reaching #61 on the album chart. His lack of success was partially due to his reluctance to perform, as he was tired of touring and he was disillusioned with the music industry. Singles from these albums barely charted in the UK and Australia, and were ignored in other markets. His enjoyment of alcohol became an addiction during this time. Two more albums were released in the 90s, with Rafferty returning to his classic rock form and with contributions from his old collaborator Egan.
  • Over the years, Rafferty continued to withdraw from the conventional approach of the music industry. In 2000, he created a website and released an album, Another World, that initially was only available through the website. Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits provided guitar support throughout the album. In 2003, it was re-released by an independent label. His final album, Life Goes On, was released in 2009.
  • His drinking problems became disruptive over the last 10 years of his life. His binges led to headlines in the media reporting on his erratic behavior. In 2008, a four day binge led to him trashing his rented hotel suite. Over the following years, he fell in and out of depression. By November 2010, he was in the hospital on life support. Late that year, he was taken off of life support and showed signs of improvement. But, there was too much organ damage – on January 4, 2011, he died at the home of his daughter, at the age of 63.
  • I’m a yacht rock aficionado, and Baker Street and Right Down the Line are yacht rock classics. And Stuck In the Middle With You is another favorite of my early days. Here’s the official video to his hit Baker Street.

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