According to his daughter Martha, Rafferty died peacefully at home surrounded by family. He had been admitted to hospital in Bournemouth in November with liver failure. The Scot was a member of Stealers Wheel, whose huge 1972 hit Stuck in the Middle With You underwent a renaissance after featuring in Quentin Tarantino‘s film Reservoir Dogs in the 1990s.
Baker Street, with its distinctive saxophone solo, reached number 3 in the UK charts and No 2 in the US. Despite his success, however, Rafferty suffered from well documented problems with alcohol.
Fans paid tribute to the star last night as news of his death spread quickly. On website twitter one fan wrote: “Gerry Rafferty. Rest in Peace.” Another fan said: “RIP Gerry Rafferty. Baker Street means so much to me.”
Born in Paisley, Rafferty often recalled that, when he was a child, his mother would drag him round the streets of Glasgow, rather than risk his suffering violence at the hands of his Irish-born father, who would often come home drunk.
He cut his musical teeth as a busker on the streets of Glasgow, and first found modest success with Billy Connolly‘s folk group the Humblebums.
Rafferty started his career in a school band called the Mavericks, before working with Connolly. The comedian and Rafferty went their separate ways after two years, Connelly becoming a world-famous figure on TV and film, while the singer became one of Scotland’s most notable musical talents.
He released a solo album in 1971 before founding Stealer’s Wheel the following year. While Stealers Wheel enjoyed huge success with tracks such as Stuck In The Middle With You and Star, the group disbanded in 1975, leaving Rafferty free to pursue his solo career.
He had endured several professional disputes during his career, most notably a long- running contract disagreement with his former band members from Stealers Wheel.
It was in 1978 that Rafferty wrote Baker Street, the track that was recognised last October for having been played a staggering five million times worldwide. His most successful albums were 1978′s City To City and Night Owl‘, released in 1979.
But despite his professional life going from strength to strength, Rafferty suffered from alcoholism, leading to the breakdown of his 20-year marriage to wife Carla in 1990.
Referring to their split, Carla said at the time: “There was no hope. I would never have left him if there had been a glimmer of a chance of him recovering.”
Staying out of the public eye, coupled with label problems, did little for sales of Rafferty’s subsequent efforts. While the follow-up to City to City, the United Artists’ release Night Owl, fared well, sales of Rafferty’s fourth solo album, Snakes & Ladders, also on United Artists, faltered. When EMI purchased United Artists, Rafferty was dropped and has not recorded with a major label since. He has continued to record steadily, however. Taking advantage of technology not even dreamed of when he had his first hit, Rafferty released Another World on Icon Music in 2000, distributing the album exclusively via the Internet.
The album was inspired by Rafferty’s world travels and was recorded over two-and-a-half years in London, Scotland, Barbados, France, and Tuscany. “My heart and soul have gone into this album, and by releasing it in this way my creative influence has not been diluted in any way,” Rafferty said in a London PR Newswire release. The renegade distribution method is in keeping with Rafferty’s long-held image as an industry skeptic, a depiction that he described in a 1979 Rolling Stone interview as only partially accurate. “This whole thing about me ‘working within the confines of the music industry’—it’s all gotten a bit out of hand,” he said. “The image is correct to a certain extent. But it isn’t as if I’m trying to start some crusade. Everybody who works as a musician has had exactly the same kind of problems I’ve had. I don’t believe I’m so isolated or unique in any way. It’s just that from time to time I’ve put those experiences down in the form of a song.”
He is survived by daughter Martha, granddaughter Celia, and his brother Jim.
I’m deeply saddened to hear that Gerry has lost the battle with his failing health, It is understood his funeral will be held in his home town of Paisley, if so ill be there. Bob Lyle 5/01/11
Can I Have My Money Back?, Blue Thumb, 1971.
City to City, Capitol, 1978.
Night Owl, United Artists, 1979.
Snakes & Ladders, United Artists, 1980.
Sleepwalking, Liberty, 1982.
The First Chapter, Cambra, 1984.
North & South, Polydor, 1988.
On a Wing and a Prayer, Avalanche, 1992.
Over My Head, Avalanche, 1994.
Blood & Glory, Demon, 1999.
Another World, Icon Music, 2000.