Gerry Rafferty

The newpapers, television and radio have been full today with obituaries and tributes to Paisley born Gerry Rafferty who died yesterday.

His first well known appearances were with The Humblebums, a group of folk oriented musicians which included a certain Billy Connolly as a member.

When they split up Rafferty set out on his own for a while. Mary Skeffington, a song apparently about his mother, shows his folkiness at the time of his first solo LP, Can I Have My Money Back?, recorded before he joined the group where he had his first big success, Stealer’s Wheel, effectively a collaboration between Rafferty and Joe Egan.

The big hit, Stuck In The Middle With You, needs no introduction nor explanation but on that LP I liked more Rafferty’s quirkier song Benediction, a web friendly version of which unfortunately I cannot source. Also a hit was Star, said at the time to be a reflection of Rafferty’s fractured relationship with Connolly but in fact written by Egan. Any rift with Connolly was later repaired.

Stealer’s Wheel’s second LP was the unusually named Ferguslie Park, after a well known Paisley housing estate.

Rafferty’s biggest success came of course after the demise of Stealer’s Wheel when he resumed his solo career and recorded the LP City To City. There is barely a dud on there. My particular favourites are the title track, Mattie’s Rag and that fantastic ballad Whatever’s Written In Your Heart.

The blockbuster was Baker Street with its signature saxophone playing from Raphael Ravenscroft. (No. It wasn’t Bob Holness.) This recording was, as I recall, the first ever winner of a Brit Award for a single (though it may have been a similar award that was the Brits’ precursor.)

The two subsequent LPs Night Owl and Snakes And Ladders still saw Rafferty at the peak of his powers but a reluctance to tour and a shrinking from fame meant more big hits weren’t forthcoming.

[Edited to add:- Rafferty’s last brush with chart success came with his production work on The Proclaimers’ Letter From America (for an unusual take on which see here.) That recording’s final musical flourish – after the drawn-out “Lochaber no more” – seems to me to be pure Rafferty.]

A sad descent into alcoholism followed in his latter years.

Everyone will be featuring either Baker Street or Stuck In The Middle but I’m going with a song each from those latter two LPs where Rafferty was still in his pomp.

Gerry Rafferty: Get It Right Next Time

Gerry Rafferty: The Royal Mile (Sweet Darlin’)

I’ve just listened to Whatever’s Written In Your Heart again.

I can’t not put it in.

Gerry Rafferty: Whatever’s Written In Your Heart

Gerald Rafferty, 16/4/47-4/1/11. So it goes.

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  1. bigrab

    Good stuff Jack.

    I don’t know how far the idea got, but this is from the Steely Dan biography ‘Reelin in the years’

    “Another vocalist Becker and Fagen thought would work well in Steely Dan was Gerry Rafferty”

  2. jackdeighton

    Thanks, Rab.
    That shows how well regarded Rafferty was as a musician.
    I’ve added an extra wee bit to my piece that I forgot to put in yesterday.

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