Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Windin' your way down on "Baker Street", Gerry Rafferty Dead at 63

It was in early 2009 that I spotted a note that Gerry Rafferty had disappeared.  Thankfully, by February, he was supposedly doing very well (though it took me until September to note it).

Today, while having dinner, I heard Sue Guzman, a radio colleague from the Pamal group in Beacon (she was on WHUD at the moment) report that Rafferty had died.  His Wikipedia page says he died of liver failure

The Guardian of the UK offers a proper, albeit brutally honest obituary.  NPR includes an audio remembrance

Rolling Stone has an old article from 1978.

Of course, there are three songs that Rafferty will be remembered for in the overall public conscience…
From Stealers Wheel with boyhood buddy Joe Egan came the iconic (thanks to Reservoir Dogs) “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

That made Rafferty seem to be a one-hit wonder, which is a shame given his talent.  Yet Rafferty was never truly confident with his musical ability, and the music business was often difficult for him to deal with (presented well in “Sign on the Dotted Line”).  By 1978 he was a solo artist, and made a wonderful album called “City to City.”  The simple addition of a saxophone solo (by Raphael Ravenscroft) helped Rafferty cement his legacy with “Baker Street.”

Also off “City to City” came Rafferty’s last hit (ensuring he wouldn’t be a one-hit wonder after all).  “Right Down The Line” can sum up everything about love pretty well.

“Baker Street” has admittedly always been one of my favorite songs.  Combined with “Stuck in the Middle With You” and “Right Down the Line”, it was enough to make me want to find more of Rafferty’s music.  I bought a compilation called “Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right, 1970-1982” at the old Virgin store in Times Square.  I’ve listened to it countless times, along with “City to City” and other works. 

Part of his lack of commercial success was due to his reluctance to tour and promote his music.  As such, many know his music, but never knew his name.  And sadly his inner demons, including heavy drinking, led to today’s news.

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