Gerry Rafferty loses battle with alcoholism

Gerry Rafferty

Gerry Rafferty, the musician responsible for the 70s hit ‘Baker Street’ amongst others has passed away aged 63, due to long-term alcoholism.

Rafferty spent many years battling with the debilitating disease that destroyed his liver, and although his condition did improve slightly, eventually his life support machine was switched off and he was allowed to die.

Rafferty was born April 16th, 1947 in Paisley, Scotland, the son of a devout man who was also a drinker and unpredictable. Like most people, he developed a love for music during his teens.

For a short while he worked with Billy Connolly in The Humblebums, a Glaswegian band who recorded a few albums together before Rafferty decided it was time to go solo when he recorded his first solo endeavour, Can I Have My Money Back in 1972. That same year he teamed up with an old friend to form the band Stealers Wheel who enjoyed much success with the hit song Stuck In The Middle which reached number 6 in the charts and later received a second wave of success when it was used by Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs.

In 1978, Rafferty released City to City, a solo album that sold over 5 million copies worldwide, and contained his classic hit Baker Street which owed much of its success to the sound of Raphael Ravencroft’s saxophone riff.

Rafferty’s last few years were marred by reports of uncharacteristic behaviour. He was thrown out of the Westbury Hotel in London for unruly conduct and then checked himself into hospital citing liver problems as the reason. Just a month later he disappeared altogether with sources claiming that he was happy and well and writing new material in Tuscany, when in truth  he was in a Dorset hospital receiving treatment for both alcoholism and liver failure.

Former manager Michael Gray was effusive in his praise of Rafferty’s voice, and believes that it was his stubbornness that limited his musical achievements. “Behind an aggressive front, and a strong awareness of his own musical excellence, was fear. He turned down working with Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and others.”

Rafferty leaves behind his daughter Martha; his granddaughter Celia; and brother, Jim.

image: whisky-online.com