Gerry Rafferty (April 16, 1947 — Jan. 4, 2011) was a Scottish musician and songwriter who started as one-half of folk duo The Humblebums alongside future comedian Billy Connolly. The pair released two albums at the dawn of the 1970s, after which Rafferty released the solo album Can I Have My Money Back? on Transatlantic in 1971.
In 1972, Rafferty founded the folk/art-pop combo Stealers Wheel with Joe Egan, releasing three albums over a four-year period. Reemerging as a solo artist, Rafferty released three albums on United Artists between 1978 and 1980, followed by four further albums on Liberty, London, and Polydor over the ensuing trilustrum.
He was born Gerald Rafferty on April 16, 1947, in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, to Joseph and Mary (née Skeffington) Rafferty. He had two brothers: Joe (d. 1988) and Jim, who also became a musician. The family lived in the suburb of Ferguslie Park, where his Irish-born father worked as a miner and lorry driver. Joseph, an alcoholic, died when Gerry was sixteen.
Rafferty’s musical roots were in the mixed Scottish/Irish pedigree of his household. The boys were raised on traditional folk songs from both cultures; their mother sang such numbers around the house. As a teenager, Rafferty started writing songs, inspired by trad folk, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
After leaving secondary school, Rafferty held a series of odd jobs, including work as a shoe salesman. With classmate Joe Egan, he formed the beat covers group The Maverix, which performed locally on weekends. In 1966, the pair formed another beat combo, The Fifth Column, which issued the single “Benjamin Day” (b/w “There’s Nobody Here”) on Columbia.
In 1969, Rafferty joined The Humblebums, which had already released one album as a duo comprised of (future comedian) Bill Connolly and Tam Harvey, who left soon after Gerry’s arrival. Connolly and Rafferty released two albums together, The Humblebums (1969) and Open Up the Door (1970), both on the folk label Transatlantic. They toured the UK and Europe, playing one high-profile London gig at the Royal Festival Hall supporting Nick Drake and Fotheringay.
The Humblebums split in 1971. While Connolly tried to launch himself as a comedic folk singer, Transatlantic owner Nathan Joseph suggested he focus on comedy. Meanwhile, Joseph re-signed Rafferty as a solo artist. Around this time, Rafferty read The Outsider, the 1956 classic by author Colin Wilson. Its themes of alienation profoundly influenced Rafferty’s lyrics and overall outlook on life.
- Can I Have My Money Back? (1971)
- City to City (1978)
- Night Owl (1979)
- Snakes and Ladders (1980)
- Sleepwalking (1982)
- North and South (1988)
- On a Wing & A Prayer (1992)
- Over My Head (1994)
- Another World (2000)
- Life Goes On (2009)
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