The Hit Song That Brought The End Of Gerry Rafferty

Gerry Rafferty‘s story began in the humble town of Paisley, Scotland, where his love for music took root. As a young man, Rafferty was heavily influenced by folk and blues artists such as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Lead Belly. These early influences set the stage for his musical career, which kicked off with his time in the folk duo the Humblebums alongside Billy Connolly.

In 1972, Rafferty took another leap and co-founded the folk-rock group Stealers Wheel with Joe Egan. The band’s self-titled debut album produced the hit ‘Stuck in the Middle with You,’ which reached the Top 10 in both the US and UK charts. Although Stealers Wheel ultimately disbanded due to internal conflicts and management issues, Rafferty’s musical journey was far from over.

In the years following the dissolution of Stealers Wheel, Rafferty found success as a solo artist, most notably with his album ‘City to City‘ in 1978. The album’s iconic single ‘Baker Street‘ catapulted Rafferty into the spotlight, bringing him wealth and fame that would later prove to be a double-edged sword.

The story of how ‘Baker Street’ came to be is one of perseverance and determination. Jon Brewer, a producer and a fan of Stealers Wheel, met Gerry Rafferty during a challenging time in the musician’s life. With no money and a newborn daughter to care for, Gerry shared a demo of ‘City to City’ and ‘Baker Street’ with Brewer, who was so captivated that he offered to fund the album and provided financial support. This opportunity gave Rafferty a chance to create one of the most iconic songs in music history.

Here is how Brewer recalled the making of the album during a 2019 interview with Classic Rock:

“His wife had just given birth to their daughter, and he told me that he didn’t have any money to buy nappies. He said, ‘I’ll play you something.’ And he played ‘City To City’ and ‘Baker Street’ – a demo without the sax part. And I went, ‘I’ll fund the album. And here’s five grand in cash to help you.'”

However, the enormous success of ‘Baker Street’ seemed to mark the beginning of Rafferty’s downward spiral. With its haunting lyrics and a memorable saxophone solo, the song earned Gerry millions in royalties, but the wealth and fame that came with it also led to self-destructive behavior. It is said that Rafferty would often listen to ‘Baker Street’ on repeat, perhaps finding solace in the lyrics that seemed to echo his own life: ‘Well, another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away and forget about everything.’

Brewer’s words on those days:

“Rafferty was becoming obnoxious with me. He hated capitalism. He wouldn’t sit in my Rolls, he wouldn’t sit in my offices, we had to meet in these pubs, and it all became very strange. He said to me, ‘I can’t stand the way you live because you drive a Rolls Royce, and you have this house and this and that…’ He hated the music business and everything in it.”

He added:

 “Gerry became someone else, and it was alcohol that took him over. He died many years later in a terrible state.”

Despite his struggles, Rafferty continued to produce music and charm those around him, as evidenced by his impromptu performance at McCarthy’s bar in Castletownbere, west Cork. However, his disdain for the music industry and the trappings of fame would eventually drive him into isolation. Rafferty retreated to a farmhouse in Sussex, where he became increasingly bitter and paranoid, ultimately cutting ties with those closest to him, including his brother Jim.

In the end, the same success that made Gerry Rafferty a household name contributed to his downfall. Despite the heartache and struggles that plagued him, Rafferty’s musical legacy lives on, a testament to his undeniable talent and the timeless power of his music.