Gerald “Gerry” Rafferty (16 April 1947 – 4 January 2011) was a Scottish singer-songwriter best known for his solo hits “Baker Street”, “Right Down the Line” and “Night Owl”, as well as “Stuck in the Middle with You” recorded with the band Stealers Wheel.
His mother taught him both Irish and Scottish folk songs as a boy; later, he was influenced by the music of The Beatles and Bob Dylan.
He joined the folk-pop group The Humblebums in 1969.
After they disbanded in 1971, he recorded his first solo album, Can I Have My Money Back? Rafferty and Joe Egan formed the group Stealers Wheel in 1972, producing several hits, most notably “Stuck in the Middle with You” and “Star”.
Rafferty grew up in a council house on the town’s Foxbar estate and was educated at St Mirin’s Academy.
His Irish-born father, a violent alcoholic, was a miner and lorry driver who died in 1963 when Rafferty was 16.
He learned both Irish and Scottish folk songs as a boy: “My father was Irish, so growing up in Paisley I was hearing all these songs when I was two or three.
Songs like “She Moves through the Fair”, which my mother sings beautifully and a whole suite of Irish traditional songs and Scots traditional songs”.
In 1969 Rafferty became the third member of an existing folk-pop ensemble The Humblebums composed of future comedian Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey.
Harvey left shortly afterwards, and Rafferty and Connolly continued as a duo, recording two albums for Transatlantic Records.
A 1970 gig at the Royal Festival Hall, supporting Fotheringay with Nick Drake, earned a positive review from critic Karl Dallas, who noted that all three acts showed “promise rather than fulfilment”, and observed that “Gerry Rafferty’s songs have the sweet tenderness of Paul McCartney in his ‘Yesterday’ mood”.
In his own stand-up shows, Connolly has often recalled this period, remembering how Rafferty made him laugh and the crazy things they would get up to while on tour.
On one occasion Rafferty decided to look up the local Berlin telephone directory to see if there were any Hitlers registered.
In 1972, having gained minor airplay from his Signpost recording “Make You, Break You”, Rafferty joined Egan to form Stealers Wheel and went on to record three albums with the legendary American songwriters and producers Leiber & Stoller.
The group was beset by legal wranglings, but did have a huge hit “Stuck in the Middle With You”. Twenty years later, the song was used prominently in the 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs, although Rafferty refused to grant permission for its re-release.
Stealers Wheel also produced the lesser top 50 hits, “Everything’ll Turn Out Fine”, followed by “Star”, and there were further suggestions of Rafferty’s growing alienation in tracks such as “Outside Looking In” and “Who Cares”.
The duo disbanded in 1975. Rafferty, having once owned a Kent farm and a home in Hampstead, moved to California to be near Martha, before moving to Ireland in 2008 and later Dorset.
In recent years, he was better known for alcohol-fuelled incidents, apparent disappearances and poor health than for his music.