Friday, December 30, 2011

In Memoriam: Gerry Rafferty

Gerry Rafferty: Big Change in the Weather


Stealers Wheel: Outside Looking In


$125,000 a year in royalties can buy an awful lot of booze. Thanks to "Baker Street", Gerry Rafferty never needed to do anything else after 1978... but drink. He passed away in January of 2010 from liver cancer after spending his last two decades seeped in alcohol. Among his final performances was a five day drinking binge at a five star London hotel which led to both his hospitalization and newspaper headlines that he had "disappeared".

But let's remember the more sober and creative days. The Scottish born singer first played with comedian Billy Connolly and Joe Egan in a folk act called The Humblebums. When they broke up Rafferty and Egan started up Stealers Wheel. I'm posting "Outside Looking In" instead of the more obvious "Stuck In The Middle With You" ( or that Beatlesque gem "Late Again") just to ensure you that dipping deeply in the Stealers Wheel catalog is well worth your time. The duo disbanded in 1975. Only the lawyers got rich.

But with his 1978 album City To City, which sold 5.5 million copies and knocked Saturday Night Fever off the the top of the charts, Gerry Rafferty became a millionaire. ( "Big Change in the Weather" is the B-Side to "Baker Street".) He didn't like being a star. You won't find a treasure trove of Rafferty videos on YouTube. The Proclaimers' Charlie Reid, whose 1987 hit album was produced by Rafferty said " He struck me as a very very very sensitive man and for someone like that, fame was probably not appropriate." 

From the outside, looking in, it appears Gerry Rafferty found his hiding place inside a bottle. But just give a listen to what he left behind.

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