Fans and friends pay tribute to Scots singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty

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MUSIC critics, celebrities and fans have been paying tribute to Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty today, who died yesterday aged 63 after a long battle with alcoholism.

Although best known for the saxophone-led hit single Baker Street in 1978 that catapulted him to worldwide success and was alone said to earn him 80,000 a year in royalties, the Paisley-born star had a long career, starting with his time alongside Billy Connolly in the Humblebums before founding Stealer's Wheel in the early seventies and then going solo.

Connolly led the tributes today: "Gerry Rafferty was a hugely talented songwriter and singer who will be greatly missed.

"I was privileged to have spent my formative years working with Gerry and there remained a strong bond of friendship between us that lasted until his untimely death.

"Gerry had extraordinary gifts and his premature passing deprives the world of a true genius."

Music journalist Paul Gambaccini noted that it was a cruel irony that it was Baker Street, a song about the singer's struggle with his increasing success, that brought him more of the fame he detested.

"He just wasn't of the constitution to deal with the music business, or to respect it. And thus he found fame and artistic success incompatible, and he became a wanderer, a lonely man, " said Mr Gambaccini.

• Rafferty at the height of his career in 1980

A statement released by Scottish band the Proclaimers read: "He was exceptional when we worked together and very kind to us. As well as a great songwriter, he was a really, really good singer with fantastic harmony ideas.

"The fact that as well as producing Letter From America, he sang backing harmonies on it meant a lot to us. A great guy, a fantastic songwriter, Gerry will be sorely missed and we are greatly saddened at the news."

Musician and broadcaster Tom Robinson said Rafferty would be greatly missed. The BBC 6 Music presenter said: "I'm deeply saddened to hear that Gerry has lost the battle with his failing health.

"His early work with Stealers Wheel was an inspiration to a whole generation of songwriters in the 70s including me, and many of us had hoped his recent album, Life Goes On, in 2009 would lead to a full-time return to writing and performing for a lyrical and highly gifted artist.

Fans have been posting thousands of tributes online today. On Twitter one wrote: "Gerry Rafferty's passing evokes floods of memories of wonderful times for me. A traumatic life brought solace to many. RIP."

Actor Michael Sheen also tweeted: "Just found out that Gerry Rafferty died. I have loved his music since my cousin Huw gave me Night Owl when I was about 13. RIP."

On scotsman.com, one fan commented: "I was really saddened by this news; Gerry Rafferty was such an excellent musician and songwriter.

"While Baker Street and Stuck in the Middle with You will always be his most well-known songs, he was so much more than just those two. I hope that people will give some of his other material a listen and appreciate what the great man has left us.

"My sympathy goes out to his family; thank you for sharing Gerry with us."

Another wrote: "Sad news, Gerry you were one of the best in the world.

RIP in Baker Street upstairs."

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