January 4, 2011

TO HEAR HIS VOICE IS TO HAVE YOUR EAR START ITCHING:

Gerry Rafferty obituary (Michael Gray, 1/04/11, guardian.co.uk)

The Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, who has died aged 63 after a long illness, wrote the multimillion-selling hit Baker Street, which more than 30 years after its 1978 release still netted him an annual £80,000. At the end of the 1970s he did his best work, a series of richly resonant albums that gave no hint of their creator's inner troubles.

Rafferty was born in Paisley, near Glasgow, an unwanted third son. His father, Joseph, was an Irish-born miner. His mother, Mary Skeffington, whose name would provide a Rafferty song title, dragged young Gerry round the streets on Saturday nights so that they would not be at home when his father came back drunk. They would wait outside, in all weathers, until he had fallen asleep, to avoid a beating. "If it wasn't for you, I'd leave," Mary told Gerry. Joseph died in 1963, when Gerry was 16.

That year, Gerry left St Mirin's academy and worked in a butcher's shop and at the tax office. At weekends, he and a schoolfriend, Joe Egan, played in a local group, the Mavericks. At a dancehall in 1965, Gerry met his future wife, apprentice hairdresser Carla Ventilla. She was 15, from an Italian Clydebank family. They married in 1970, after courting at the bohemian bungalow of the artist and future playwright John "Patrick" Byrne and his wife, Alice. Byrne, also educated at St Mirin's, had long been Gerry's mentor, and had first interested Gerry in playing the guitar. Billy Connolly was also in Clydebank, and after Gerry's song Benjamin Day failed as a Mavericks single, Gerry and Egan quit the group and Gerry joined Connolly's outfit, the Humblebums, a Clydeside folk act.


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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 4, 2011 3:22 PM
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