Dan McCafferty: Tributes paid after death of former Nazareth singer

Tributes have poured in following the death of Dan McCafferty, former lead singer of Scottish rock band, Nazareth who died today at the age of 76.

Lifelong friend and band colleague, Pete Agnew, broke the news on the group’s official Facebook page.

He said: “This is the saddest announcement I have ever had to make. Maryann and the family have lost a wonderful, loving husband and father, I have lost my best friend, and the world has lost one of the greatest singers who ever lived.”

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He added: “Too upset to say anything more at this stage.”As lead singer of Nazareth - arguably the most enduring rock band to emerge from the Kingdom of Fife - the unmistakable vocals of Dunfermline-born McCafferty powered the band to a string of hit singles in the 1970s that, in turn, paved the way for a career that endured for 45 years.

Nazareth prepare for their world tour in "The Sinclair Arms" pub Dunfermline. Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew, founder members, rehearsing in the pub. (Pic: Kenny Smith/TSPL)
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Ill health prompted his retiral from touring and recording, but the band continues under the leadership of sole remaining founder member, bassist Pete Agnew, with McCafferty’s blessing.

On calling time on his own role as front man, he explained: “ "if you can't do the job you shouldn't be there — Nazareth's too big for that.”

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But for many fans, McCafferty’s voice defined the sound of Nazareth - a band which started out as The Shadettes and kicked against the rule of covers only in the ballrooms of Dunfermline to make made their way to London, where they honed their act with Roger Glover, bass player with Rainbow, at the helm as producer.

And, just like Blackmore’s band, they knew how to rock and still curate songs that made the playlists. Broken Down Angel remains as radio-friendly and fresh today as it did back in 1973, ditto Holy Roller or Turn On Your Receiver.

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Nazareth scored a huge hit with a cover of the Everly Brothers’ Love Hurts which went platinum in 1975 and was their only top ten US hit.

The band released a string of albums, and continued to tour across the decades, playing to loyal audiences across Europe and as far afield as Russia. Their 40th anniversary saw them sell-out the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.

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In 2013 McCafferty had to leave the stage through ill health but there was one final bow.

Fittingly, it came in his home town as Nazareth and fellow west Fifers, Big Country, teamed up for Legends of Rock - a short-lived music event at East End Park, Dunfermline in 2015.

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New frontman Carl Sentance did the gig, but left the spotlight for the encore everyone wanted - McCafferty, one of rock’s most under-rated lead singers, back behind the mic.

There’s a moment in every gig which defines the night - a snapshot you retain long after the stage lights have dimmed. For many fans, it was McCafferty with his arm round Pete Agnew, belting out ‘Broken Down Angel’ for the very, very last time.

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It’s ironic that those lungs which powered a sound akin to a 747 jet engine should ultimately let him down with the onset of COPD drawing his days on stage to an end, but he continued to record, releasing his final album, Last Testament, in 2019.