Gerry Rafferty

Gerry Rafferty (1947–2011) was a Scottish musician and songwriter who emerged in The Humblebums, a folk duo with future comedian Billy Connolly. The pair released two 1969–70 albums, which presaged Rafferty’s 1971 solo debut Can I Have My Money Back?

In 1972, Rafferty teamed with longtime friend Joe Egan in the art-pop/folk combo Stealers Wheel, which scored an international hit with “Stuck In the Middle With You” from their self-titled debut, followed by the 1973–75 albums Ferguslie Park and Right or Wrong.

Rafferty kick-started his solo career with the 1978 release City to City, a US No. 1 album with the evergreens “Baker Street” and “Right Down the Line.” He followed with the 1979–80 albums Night Owl and Snakes and Ladders. His output slowed after the 1982 release Sleepwalking. In 1987, he produced the debut album by Scottish folk-rock twins The Proclaimers.


Early Life, Activity

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.


The Humblebums

In 1969, Rafferty joined The Humblebums, which released one prior 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 and played 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? 

Gerry Rafferty released his debut solo album, Can I Have My Money Back?, in November 1971 on Transatlantic.


Stealers Wheel

In early 1972, Gerry Rafferty re-teamed with Fifth Column bandmate Joe Egan in Stealers Wheel.


City to City

Gerry Rafferty released his second solo album, City to City, on January 20, 1978, on United Artists.


Night Owl

Gerry Rafferty released his third solo album, Night Owl, in June 1979 on UA.


Snakes and Ladders

Gerry Rafferty released his fourth album, Snakes and Ladders, in April 1980 on UA.


Sleepwalking

Gerry Rafferty released his fifth album, Sleepwalking, in September 1982 on Liberty.


North and South

Gerry Rafferty released his sixth album, North and South, in April 1988 on London Recordings.


Discography:

  • 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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