Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stormin' into 2011

I hope 2011 has been good for you so far. Besides the new year, January brings a new line-up of artists in the Eye of The Storm:




1/22-1/23: DAVID BOWIE

1/29-1/30: CAROLE KING (40th Anniversary of "Tapestry")

The first week of the new year also brought some sad news. On January 4th, Gerry Rafferty passed away at the age of 63. The singer-songwriter, best known for his solo hit "Baker Street" as well as "Stuck In The Middle With You" with his band Stealers Wheel, was hospitalized in November for liver failure. Rafferty had a #1 album in the U.S. with 1978's "City To City," which featured "Baker Street." "Stuck In The Middle With You" also received new life in the '90s, thanks to its infamous use in Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs."

Gerald Rafferty was born on April 16 1947 into a working-class family in Paisley, Scotland. As a teenager he taught himself to play banjo and busked illegally on the London Underground, an experience which inspired "Baker Street." By 1968, he was playing bass in a succession of bands. But Rafferty soon realized that folk music was his first love, and he joined a trio called the Humblebums.

In 1971 Rafferty formed Stealers Wheel with Rab Noakes and his childhood friend Joe Egan. The group’s debut album, released in December 1972, was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and featured folksy harmonies and strong melody lines.

The album included the quirky "Stuck In The Middle With You," with which Rafferty and Stealers Wheel enjoyed their biggest hit. Although that song enjoyed great chart success in May 1973, it basically turned out to be a one-hit wonder. After a succession of band members joining and leaving — Rafferty himself dropped out for a couple of months before returning to record a follow-up — Stealers Wheel vanished into obscurity.

Although disillusioned and preoccupied with management problems, Rafferty re-emerged five years later with a solo album, "City To City," which sold more than five million copies, and included "Baker Street." When it was released as a single in April 1978, "Baker Street" took off on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching No 3 in Britain and No 2 in the U.S.

"Baker Street" transcended the regular folk genre with its signature saxophone riff played by Raphael Ravenscroft. In fact Rafferty had been planning to sing the melody, but changed his mind. “At the last moment I decided the song needed a wailing, lonely, big-city sound to it,” he said. “The guy who eventually played the solo was a guy called Raphael Ravenscroft. With a name like that, I reckoned he had to be good – and he was.

“It’s every songwriter’s ambition to come up with at least one song in their lifetime that’s regarded as a classic,” he added. “And Baker Street is mine.”