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Gerry Rafferty, the Baker Street genius, bows out at 63

GERRY Rafferty, one of Scotland's greatest singer- songwriters, has died, aged 63.

Rafferty, whose most famous work was the 1978 hit Baker Street, died following a long battle with alcoholism.

According to his daughter Martha, Rafferty died peacefully at home surrounded by family. He had been admitted to hospital in Bournemouth in November with liver failure.

The Scot was a member of Stealers Wheel, whose huge 1972 hit Stuck in the Middle With You underwent a renaissance after featuring in Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs in the 1990s.

Baker Street, with its distinctive saxophone solo, reached number 3 in the UK charts and No 2 in the US. Despite his success, however, Rafferty suffered from well documented problems with alcohol.

Fans paid tribute to the star last night as news of his death spread quickly. On website twitter one fan wrote: "Gerry Rafferty. Rest in Peace." Another fan said: "RIP Gerry Rafferty. Baker Street means so much to me."

Born in Paisley, Rafferty often recalled that, when he was a child, his mother would drag him round the streets of Glasgow, rather than risk his suffering violence at the hands of his Irish-born father, who would often come home drunk.

He cut his musical teeth as a busker on the streets of Glasgow, and first found modest success with Billy Connolly's folk group the Humblebums.

Rafferty started his career in a school band called the Mavericks, before working with Connolly. The comedian and Rafferty went their separate ways after two years, Connelly becoming a world-famous figure on TV and film, while the singer became one of Scotland's most notable musical talents.

He released a solo album in 1971 before founding Stealer's Wheel the following year. While Stealers Wheel enjoyed huge success with tracks such as Stuck In The Middle With You and Star, the group disbanded in 1975, leaving Rafferty free to pursue his solo career.

He had endured several professional disputes during his career, most notably a long- running contract disagreement with his former band members from Stealers Wheel.

It was in 1978 that Rafferty wrote Baker Street, the track that was recognised last October for having been played a staggering five million times worldwide. His most successful albums were 1978's City To City and Night Owl', released in 1979.

But despite his professional life going from strength to strength, Rafferty suffered from alcoholism, leading to the breakdown of his 20-year marriage to wife Carla in 1990.

Referring to their split, Carla said at the time: "There was no hope. I would never have left him if there had been a glimmer of a chance of him recovering."Rafferty, having once owned a Kent farm and a home in Hampstead, moved to California to be near his daughter Martha, before moving to Ireland in 2008 and later Dorset.

In 2008 he "disappeared" for six months but resurfaced when he checked into London's St Thomas's hospital for liver failure. But he checked out leaving his belongings behind and resurfaced when he trashed a hotel room at the Westbury Hotel.

He later said he hadn't disappeared but had been living in Tuscany.

As rumours began to surface again about Rafferty's health when news of his drinking problem became public, Rafferty's representatives were forced to release a statement in 2009 insisting he was healthy.

Later that year Rafferty released what was to become his last album, Life Goes On.

 
 
 

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