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