Thursday, November 20, 2008

Light in Your Head and Dead on Your Feet

Gerry Rafferty fell into obscurity pretty quickly after "Baker Street" was followed by "Home and Dry," "Right Down the Line," "Get It Right Next Time" - that's more hits than you thought he had, isn't it? And we didn't even mention Stealer's Wheel. Anyway, by the turn of the Eighties, Rafferty stopped having hits, and more or less stopped making albums after 1982's Sleepwalking.

Heavy drinking apparently didn't help the matter either. This past summer, Rafferty checked into a London hotel, whose other guests started complaining that Mr. Baker Street was relieving himself wherever he pleased, and it didn't always please him to use the loo. When he checked out, the maids discovered an enormous cleaning job: Rafferty had left the room literally soaked with both blood and urine. You probably suspect that I'm making this up, but I couldn't make up such a thing.

Rafferty then checked himself into a hospital to deal with liver damage, which seems like a pretty good idea. But on August 1st, he walked out, leaving all his stuff behind in his hospital room. He hasn't been seen since. Well, he's probably been seen by someone, but you know what I mean.

My, that was unpleasant, wasn't it? Let's end on a happier note: The indelible sax break in "Baker Street" was played by a gentleman with the Harry Potterish name of Raphael Ravenscroft. Rafferty has always maintained that he wrote that sax riff, but Ravenscroft claims that Rafferty handed him the song and asked him to fill in a sax part. "Most of what I played was an old blues riff," Ravenscroft has said. "If you're asking me: 'Did Gerry hand me a piece of music to play?' then no, he didn't." Instead of a songwriting credit, Ravenscroft got a check (or cheque, as they like to say in England) for 27 pounds. It bounced. Come to think of it, that's not much more pleasant than the sad saga of Gerry Rafferty.

Many thanks to Rob for the idea behind this post


MJN said...
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MJN said...

I saw Raphael Ravenscroft on tour as a member of David Gilmour's band in 1984 or so. I still remember him playing the sax solo from "Money" while he strolled through the crowd. It was an outstanding performance.

T. Nawrocki said...

I remember you telling me that. At first I wrote that he had played on the original "Money," but then I found out he didn't.

Marshall said...

I always associate the phrase "relieving oneself" with urine, but rarely with blood. (And by that, of course, I mean I'm gratified that I'm not the only one around here who relieves himself of blood. At hotels.)