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04 October 2023

Scottish singer Gerry Rafferty dies aged 63

Gerry Rafferty (AGENCY)


Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, who enjoyed huge success with 1970s hits "Baker Street" and "Stuck in the Middle With You", has died aged 63 after a long illness, his agent said.

Rafferty, who spent his final years battling alcoholism, reportedly died peacefully at home on Tuesday in Dorset, southern England, with his daughter Martha at his bedside.

"I can confirm that Gerry sadly passed away," his agent Paul Charles told AFP.

He will be best remembered for his hit "Baker Street", a 1978 soft-rock classic with a trademark saxophone solo that made it into the top 10 of the British and US charts.

The song, which featured on his solo album "City to City", is still played regularly on radio stations across the world and was said to be earning the singer thousands of pounds a year right up until his death.

The saxophone solo, recorded by Raphael Ravenscroft, is rumoured to have been originally intended for a guitar -- it was only when the guitarist did not turn up that Ravenscroft stepped in and belted out one of the best known passages in rock music.

Before pursuing a successful solo career, Rafferty was a member of the band Stealers Wheel with whom he recorded "Stuck in the Middle with You" in 1972 as part of their eponymous debut album.

The song was given a fresh lease of life after being featured on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's 1992 hit movie "Reservoir Dogs", where it provided the incongruous backing music to a gruesome ear-slicing scene.

But Rafferty's laid-back songwriting style disguised a troubled past. Born on April 16, 1947, in the Scottish town of Paisley, near Glasgow, he was the son of a heavy-drinking Irish-born miner.

His mother used to drag young Gerry round the streets to avoid being at home when his father came back drunk. They would wait outside in all weathers to avoid a beating.

He started his musical career in earnest playing for folk outfit the Humblebums, joining Scottish musician and comedian Billy Connolly.

Rafferty formed Stealers Wheel in 1972 with his friend Joe Egan, before finally going solo. He released his final album, "Another World", in 2000.

His later years were overshadowed by worsening problems with alcohol and increasingly erratic behaviour. In November he was admitted to hospital in Bournemouth, southern England, after suffering liver failure.

He was forced to reassure fans of his wellbeing in February 2009 after reports he had gone missing.

His wife, Carla, who had been with the pop star since his teenage years in Scotland, finally left him in 1990.

"There was no hope. I would never have left him if there'd been a glimmer of a chance of him recovering," she said, cited in Britain's Guardian newspaper.

As well as battling problems with alcohol, Rafferty also endured professional disputes during his career, most notably a long-running contract disagreement with Stealers Wheel.

He is survived by daughter Martha, his granddaughter Celia, and brother Jim.