5 Jan 2011

Singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty dies

8:47 pm on 5 January 2011

Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, who enjoyed huge success with 1970s hits Baker Street and Stuck in the Middle With You, has died after a long illness. He was 63.

Rafferty, who spent his final years battling alcoholism, reportedly died peacefully at home on Tuesday in Dorset, southern England, with his daughter Martha at his bedside.

His agent Paul Charles confirmed the death.

Rafferty will be best remembered for Baker Street, a 1978 soft-rock classic with a trademark saxophone solo that made it into the top 10 of the British and American charts.

The song, which featured on his solo album City to City, is still played regularly on radio stations worldwide and was said to be earning the singer thousands of pounds a year up until his death, AFP reports.

The saxophone solo, recorded by Raphael Ravenscroft, is rumoured to have been originally intended for a guitar - it was only when the guitarist did not turn up that Ravenscroft stepped in and belted out one of the best-known passages in rock music.

Before pursuing a successful solo career, Rafferty was a member of the band Stealers Wheel with whom he recorded Stuck in the Middle with You in 1972 as part of their eponymous debut album.

Music journalist and BBC radio presenter Paul Gambaccini said it was a cruel irony that Baker Street, about Rafferty's unhappiness with being a star, brought him more of the fame he hated.

"He just wasn't of the constitution to deal with the music business, or to respect it," he told the BBC. "And thus he found fame and artistic success incompatible, and he became a wanderer, a lonely man, allegedly a drinker. And now we have this unhappy end."

Gerry Rafferty is survived by daughter Martha, his granddaughter Celia, and brother Jim.