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Gerry Rafferty, Scottish singer-songwriter, dies at 63

Rafferty in 1978, year of his hit
Rafferty in 1978, year of his hit "Baker Street." (United Artists Records)

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By Keith Thursby
Saturday, January 8, 2011; 10:59 AM

Gerry Rafferty, 63, a Scottish singer and songwriter who had pop hits in the 1970s with "Baker Street" and "Stuck in the Middle With You," which gained pop culture status after director Quentin Tarantino included it in the soundtrack for his 1992 film "Reservoir Dogs," died Jan. 4 at his home in England. The cause of death was not reported.

Mr. Rafferty was a gifted musician but a reluctant star who had a disdain for touring, particularly in the United States.

"Bob Dylan once said that fame was a curse," he told the British newspaper the Express in 2001. "I think that, from an early stage in my career, I was aware there were many, many pitfalls of so-called celebrity."

In 1972, Mr. Rafferty co-wrote "Stuck in the Middle With You," with its memorable lines, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you." It appeared on the first album of Stealers Wheel, a band led by Mr. Rafferty and Joe Egan.

"Baker Street," which Mr. Rafferty once described as a tale about "feeling lost and alone in London," became a hit in 1978. The solo album on which it appeared, "City to City," reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine's charts.

Gerald Rafferty was born April 16, 1947, in Paisley, Scotland.

After playing in local bands, he joined the Humblebums, which included the actor and comedian Billy Connolly, in the late 1960s.

Stealers Wheel recorded only three albums during the 1970s. The group's turbulent history was marked by legal problems and a variety of personnel changes.

Mr. Rafferty said the legal issues helped him write "Baker Street," which featured a moody saxophone solo.

"Everybody was suing each other, so I spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers," he told the Scottish Daily Mail in 1995. "I knew a guy who lived in a little flat off Baker Street. We'd sit and chat or play guitar there through the night."

In 1971, after the group split up, Mr. Rafferty released his first solo album, "Can I Have My Money Back?" in 1971.

Mr. Rafferty's 1979 album, "Night Owl," was a modest success; it included the song "Get It Right Next Time." His last release was "Life Goes On" in 2009.

According to British media accounts, Mr. Rafferty had been in poor health in recent years and had struggled with alcohol.

- Los Angeles Times


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