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“You’ve been as constant as a Northern Star, the brightest light that shines…” Gerry Rafferty R.I.P

January 6, 2011

Gerry Rafferty, musician, died at the age of 63. It left me feeling sad when I heard it on the radio this morning.

Gerry Rafferty

I’ve always been in awe at his voice, which sounds so easy, yet conveys so much. Rather than trying to sound American, his voice is resolutely and unashamedly Scottish, which to me makes his music even richer. According to the obituaries I read, he was busking, was in a band called The Humblebums with Billy Connolly and was co-founder of Stealers Wheel. I didn’t realise until fairly recently he was connected to that group, but when you hear Stuck In The Middle With You, which is now forever associated with the Michael Madsen torture scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, of course it’s Gerry Rafferty:

Where would a Gerry Rafferty obituary be without mentioning his biggest hit, Baker Street? You can imagine a lone guy walking down that rain soaked street in a state of severe depression. According to the reports I read, this song was about alcoholism, which he knew an awful lot about, unfortunately. The Saxophone is the part that gets people excited, but I would suggest you listen to what’s going on underneath. It’s heavy; it’s deep; it’s awesome:

He had other hits with Get It Right Next Time, Night Owl, Royal Mile and many others. Baker Street trumps all others to many people’s mind, but my favourite is Right Down The Line. Listen to the chorus. Listen to the harmonies – gorgeous:

I’ve read a few other things about him in the papers, including the fact that he was receiving around £80,000 in royalities every year from Baker Street alone. Many musicians would give their right arm to be able to earn that kind of income from one record. He didn’t like the fame game, though. He ran as far away from the thing that most people run towards as possible. He also had a long battle with alcoholism, which eventually slapped him down for good. He was admitted to hospital in November last year with liver failure. He was readmitted a few days ago with kidney failure. He died at home on the 4th January.

It has been a tragic end to what must’ve been a difficult life, but his music will endure. That’s what will be remembered. RIP, Gerry Rafferty.

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4 comments

  1. Baker Street was a HUGE hit here in the U.S. I tried to emulate Hugh Burns guitar parts for months! When it was released I had just gone back to college after a five year slog working in shops. I was working graveyard shift in a factory, then going to early morning classes that were opening a new world for me. I would get in the car afterward and hear “”When you wake up it’s a new morning/ The sun is shining, it’s a new morning/ You’re going, you’re going home.”[

    God bless the man. I hope he’s well and happy now.


    • This is why music is so fabulous. It really is the soundtrack of your life. And how marvellous that Gerry Rafferty was part of your soundtrack. That was a lovely story, Mikey. Thanks for sharing it.


  2. His battle with the disease of addiction wasn’t really known here in the states until the news of his passing. I always wondered what became of him when he’d pop up on the radio, sad to know his talent was lost so long before the world lost him.


    • I knew he was a bit of a recluse, or at least that he didn’t like the trappings that seem to go hand in hand with becoming well known, but the alcohol problems were as much of a revelation to me as it was to you. An absolute crying shame.



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