It was the song that made Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty his fortune after becoming a world-wide hit and has been played on radio more than five million times over nearly 40 years.
Now a mass rendition of Gerry Rafferty’s iconic anthem Baker Street will be staged in the streets of Paisley to honour one of its most famous sons.
More than 30 saxophone players will be joined by a live band and a group of singers to perform at Paisley Cross tomorrow as part of the town’s bid to be named UK City of Culture later this year.
Rafferty, who played with Billy Connolly in the folk outfit The Humblebums, had a number of hits as a solo artist and in the band Stealer’s Wheel, but suffered from alcohol problems in later life and died in 2011 at the age of 63.
Baker Street, which features one of the best-known saxophone solos in musical history, was inspired by Rafferty’s regular travels between Paisley and London in the 1970s. It was said to have earned him around £80,000 a year in royalties.
A new Scottish songwriting festival was set up in Paisley three years ago in honour of Rafferty, with Eddi Reader, Barbara Dickson, Midge Ure, Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code, Dougie Maclean, Justin Currie and Ricky Ross among those to appear.
Rafferty’s musical legacy is expected to be a key pillar of Paisley’s UK City of Culture bid, which will be lodged officially with the Government next week.
Paisley is facing competition north of the border from Perth for the 2021 title, as well as Coventry, Hereford, Portsmouth, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Warrington, St David’s and Wells.
Raffety’s daughter Martha said: “My father was very proud of his Paisley roots and I am sure he would have been supportive of the town’s UK City of Culture bid.
“To have so many people playing the Baker Street solo together in the town centre is a unique idea and I’m sure it will make a great spectacle.”
The Baker Street tribute is being staged by the bid team and the music charity Loud ‘n’ Proud.
Founder Tommy McGrory said: “Gerry Rafferty is a Paisley guy. Baker Street is one of the most popular songs he’s written and one of the most famous. It’s one of the favourite saxophone songs of all time.
“This is a celebration of the song that is recognised to be the number one rock and pop saxophone song in opinion polls and top 10 lists worldwide. We want as many saxophone players as possible to come along.”
Jean Cameron, director of the Paisley 2021 bid team, added: “This event is a tribute to one of Paisley’s best musical exports and a song known the world over.
“As well as marking what would have been Gerry’s birthday it’s also a great way to shine a spotlight on the town as we prepare to submit the bid, which will feature Paisley’s incredible musical legacy.”