Tag Archives: Richard Thompson

Gerry Rafferty, Dead at 63

From MTV Dot Com

Gerry Rafferty, the singer/songwriter behind smooth ’70s hits like “Stuck in the Middle With You,” “Right Down the Line” and “Baker Street” died Tuesday (January 4, 2011). He was 63.

Born in Scotland, Rafferty busked on the streets of Glasgow and formed a folk group called the Humblebums with Billy Connolly, who would go on to become a renowned stand-up comedian and actor. After releasing a pair of albums with the band, Rafferty released a solo record and then formed Stealers Wheel, who scored Stateside success in 1972 — they were viewed as the British Invasion’s answer to Crosby, Stills Nash & Young — with their debut album and, of course, the song “Stuck in the Middle With You, which would achieve additional notoriety when it was prominently featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs some two decades later.

Rafferty would move on from Stealers Wheel and find success as a solo artist with 1978’s City to City, which featured “Right Down the Line” and “Baker Street, which features one of the most legendary saxophone solos in music history and has since been covered by everyone from Waylon Jennings to the Foo Fighters.

His follow-up, 1979’s Night Owl, featured appearances from Richard and Linda Thompson and was a moderate success, though each of his subsequent albums fared poorly on the charts, due in no small part to Rafferty’s reluctance to perform live. He continued to release albums into the 2000s, but for the most part, he disappeared from the public eye, and his later years were marked by a series of reports that suggested he was battling alcoholism. Last month, Rafferty reportedly suffered kidney failure and was placed on life support in an English hospital. U.K. newspaper The Guardian reported that he died at his home in Dorset with his daughter Martha by his side.

Gail and Jamie’s Rad Adventure at The Apollo!

Spectacle Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello Hosts Spectacle On The Sundance Channel

A few days ago – actually it was the night I returned home from my whirlwind trip to Reunionpalooza in California – I got an email from my friend Jamie inviting me to go see Elvis Costello with her at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. When I first read her email, because I was delirious and not really paying attention, I thought this would be a standard Elvis Costello concert performance. But it turned out that the show we went to last night was a taping for this program called Spectacle, which runs on the Sundance Channel. It’s a regular weekly TV series, hosted by Elvis Costello, where he interviews and performs with various iconic musicians and celebrities. Elton John is the show’s Executive Producer, which explains so much.

Apollo Marquee

Photo By Jamie Moroni

Last night was the “Build a Band” show, where an impressive selection of different musicians were introduced over the course of the two-hour taping (I believe the show runs for an hour), each one chatting with Elvis about his musical career and then performing one or more of his songs with Elvis and his longtime band, The Imposters. Elvis’s guests were singer Nick Lowe, who produced Costello’s first five albums, prolific songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson, legendary pianist and songwriter Allen Toussaint – who has evidently written every song known to man – and the fabulous Levon Helm, drummer for The Band. Songs that I actually knew the names of included “Blame It On Cain,” which Elvis performed with the Imposters as a warm up, Allen Toussaint’s “Fortune Teller” and  “Certain Girl” (popularized by the late Warren Zevon), Nick Lowe’s “The Beast In Me” (which he wrote for Johnny Cash) and what is inarguably The Bands’ best-known song, “The Wait” for which folk singer Ray LaMontagne joined the group on vocals. Eclectic!

Going to the Apollo Theater in Harlem to see Elvis Costello tape a TV show was really fun and a very different kind of thing to do on a weeknight. Plus, Elvis is so cool and rad (Favorite Elvis Costello Song: “New Amsterdam”). He really should record books on tape for kids, because his speaking voice is just hypnotic. The Apollo Theater is gorgeous and comfy, and even though neither Jamie nor I had ever been as far uptown as 125th street, we were joking that “Harlem is just like a normal place!” because that is what we do. The “A” train back downtown was also well-air conditioned, un-crowded and really fast. I was on 14th street in about 20 minutes, and home by 11:00 PM. Last but not least, Jamie is the most hilarious person, so we had fun hanging out and acting like idiots together. Good Times.