The Scottish singer-songwriter has died at the age of 63 after suffering from a long illness. A cause of death wasn’t given.
Gerry Rafferty will be best remembered for two tracks from the 1970s: the saxophone-fueled “Baker Street” and “Stuck in the Middle With You,” which he recorded while in the band Stealers Wheel.
Both continue to be heard for different reasons. “Baker Street” has one of music’s most famous openings — for better or worse, when you hear the sax kick in, you can never forget it — and helped sell five million copies of the City to City album, turning Rafferty into an overnight millionaire (it’s believed that he continued to earn six figures annually from “Baker Street”). Not too shabby when you consider that he recorded the album in his wife’s parents’ house using a four-track machine, and played every instrument himself. It will be played on radio stations so long as there are radios.
As for “Stuck in the Middle With You,” despite doing respectably upon its mid-70’s U.S. release, it was director Quentin Tarantino’s canny decision to use the track to soundtrack his infamous ear-slice scene in his debut movie, Reservoir Dogs, in 1992 that gave the track a second life. Tarantino, if you excuse the pun, has always had an ear for picking the perfect songs for his scenes and none more so than in this case.
But by then, Rafferty had battled a drink problem and spent time in hospital with liver failure. After starting work at a butcher’s shop and the tax office in Scotland, he managed to fit in music on the weekends before he turned to busking on the London Underground, where the inspiration for “Baker Street” was born. It was a paean to disillusionment in the big city, depicting a man unable to achieve his dreams. The city has “got no soul,” he sang. “It’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong/When you thought it held everything.” Yet the song ends on a high note with a “new morning” and this man going home.
Rafferty was never able to top those two highlights, with relatively recent tabloid headlines surrounding his trashing of a hotel room, while on a drinking binge, sadly detracting from his music. Rather ironically, his final offering was Life Goes On, a collection of songs that had previously been available as downloads on his website. (via BBC)