Tag Archives: Gerry Rafferty

Gone in threes: 2011

They say celebrities and prominent people go in threes. Here again is proof.

Gone in 2011 …

Anything for a laugh: Alan Sues (“Laugh-In”), Charlie Callas (rubber-faced comic), Kenneth Mars (“The Producers”).

Badasses: Christopher Hitchens (writer), Eleanor Mondale (the vice president’s wild-child daughter), Gil Scott-Heron (poet and singer).

Big men: James Arness (“Gunsmoke”), Clarence Clemons (E Street Band), Bubba Smith (the NFL, then “Police Academy”).

Bluesmen: David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin.

Career changers: Greg Goossen (major-league catcher turned Gene Hackman’s film double), Sylvia Robinson (R&B singer turned hip-hop producer), Andrea True (porn actress turned disco singer).

Character actors: Wyatt Knight (“Porky’s”), Sid Melton (“Green Acres”), Leonard Stone (“Willy Wonka”). They seemingly did go as a trio, passing within eight days of each other in October and November.

Comics legends: Bil Keane (The Family Circus), Jerry Robinson (the Joker), Joe Simon (Captain America).

Counterculture: Suze Rotolo (Bob Dylan’s muse in the early ’60s), Owsley Stanley (LSD chemist and ’60s scenester), Poly Styrene (punk musician).

Directors: Ken Russell (“Tommy”), Sidney Lumet (“Network”), Peter Yates (“Bullitt”).

Dramatic interludes: Fred Steiner (“Perry Mason” and “Star Trek”), John Barry (12 James Bond films), Pete Rugolo (“The Fugitive”).

Eccentrics: Barry Bremen (legendary ’70s and ’80s sports imposter), Terry Gale (Las Vegas entertainer who insisted on no cover charge at his last appearance — his funeral in his hometown of Milwaukee), Norma “Duffy” Lyon (Iowa butter sculptor).

Hasta la bye bye! Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadhafi, Kim Jong Il.

Inventive: Jeno Paulucci (Jeno’s pizza rolls), Milton Levine (Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm), Arch West (Doritos, with which he was buried).

Larger than life: Steve Jobs, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Elizabeth Taylor.

Monkee business: Bert Schneider (he co-produced the TV show), Don Kirshner (he produced the early music), Rob Grill (lead singer of the Grass Roots, who toured with the Monkees).

Speaking of Monkee business, we saw Davy, Micky and Peter in Milwaukee in July. It was a good show that turned out to be the last one on their 45th anniversary tour. It was to have ended in Milwaukee anyway — even the official tour T-shirts said so — but the tour managers reportedly added more dates without checking first with the fellas. Those extra dates? Canceled. Listen to the band! Not your steppin’ stone.

Nasty character actors: Bruce Gordon (“The Untouchables”), Bill McKinney (“Deliverance” and “The Outlaw Josey Wales”), Charles Napier (“The Blues Brothers” and “Rambo: First Blood Part II”).

“North Dallas Forty” on and off screen: Peter Gent (he wrote the book), G.D. Spradlin (he played the coach), Al Davis (just win, baby).

Not a good year for character actors: William Campbell (“Star Trek”), Edson Stroll (“McHale’s Navy”), Barbara Stuart (“Bachelor Party” and “Gomer Pyle USMC”).

Notorious women, if only for these roles: Anne Francis (“Honey West”), Jane Russell (“The Outlaw”), Maria Schneider (“Last Tango In Paris”).

Remarkable women: Judy Lewis (an actress, writer and therapist whose parents’ identities — the unmarried Clark Gable and Loretta Young — were long a Hollywood secret), Barbara Orbison (a teenaged German fan who became Roy Orbison’s wife, then his manager, then the tireless guardian of his legacy), Betty Skelton (a record-setting race pilot and race driver).

Seen, heard and read in Milwaukee: John McCullough (TV news anchor), Larry “The Legend” Johnson (DJ and talk-show host), Tim Cuprisin (reporter, media columnist and my friend).

Sitcom savants: Sam Denoff (“The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “That Girl”), Madelyn Pugh Davis (“I Love Lucy”), Sherwood Schwartz (“Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch”).

Still champions: Lorenzo Charles (North Carolina State and that dunk), Joe Frazier (heavyweight boxer), Jack LaLanne (fitness guru).

They had soul: Nick Ashford, Howard Tate, Amy Winehouse.

They shaped the songs: Jerry Leiber, Wardell Quezergue, Jerry Ragovoy.

They were country: Marshall Grant (Johnny Cash’s bass player, then his road manager), Ralph Mooney (steel guitarist helped create the Bakersfield sound in the late ’50s), Ferlin Husky (Bakersfield singer who helped create the Nashville sound at the same time).

Finally, we come to Gerry Rafferty, who defies being categorized in death as he did in life.

Yeah, but now it’s a dream, it’s a memory
But I’ll never forget what you gave to me

“The Royal Mile (Sweet Darlin’),” Gerry Rafferty, from “Snakes and Ladders,” 1980. It’s out of print.


Filed under December 2011, Sounds

Detoured from Baker Street

By now you know Gerry Rafferty left us last week.

The significance of his passing already has been nicely documented by Dw. Dunphy at Popdose, by Larry at Iron Leg and by George and Denny at 30 Days Out. Check them out, please.

Arriving late at the wake, I also remember hearing Gerry Rafferty on the radio.

Digging through the R’s and the S’s on the shelves behind me, I find four Rafferty or Stealers Wheel records before unearthing “City To City,” his breakthrough solo LP from 1978. You know the one. Everyone had it once. It’s been reissued on 180-gram vinyl — if you want to pay $25 — but is a fairly common sight in the used vinyl bins for $1 or $2.

But some of my best memories of Gerry Rafferty are of some of the deep cuts from the albums from a time when the spotlight had passed him by. Then I start playing those records, something I’ve not done in probably 25 years. The memories come back in a rush. The songs, the harmonies, are timeless.

Here are some of those songs, from a couple of albums that followed “City To City.” They’ve endured, at least for me. A musician can’t ask for much more.

“Welcome to Hollywood” and “Syncopatin’ Sandy,” Gerry Rafferty, from “Snakes and Ladders,” 1980. It’s out of print.

“Welcome to Hollywood” shows Rafferty’s disdain for fame. He’s confident enough to draw on his time as a star, writing “stuck in the middle with the blues again.” The intro and outro are dead-on parodies of hangers-on. In “Syncopatin’ Sandy,” ostensibly about a whiskey-fueled music hall piano player, the often alcohol-fueled Rafferty wonders “how long, how long” he can keep going.

“Sleepwalking” and “The Right Moment,” Gerry Rafferty, from “Sleepwalking,” 1982. It’s out of print.

I’ve had the infectious drumbeats of “Sleepwalking” rattling around in my head since hearing it again for the first time in many years. “The Right Moment” is a gentle counter to it, all piano and synths, something that fits nicely next to …

“The Way It Always Starts,” Gerry Rafferty, from the “Local Hero” soundtrack, 1983. Accompanied by Mark Knopfler, Alan Clark, Neil Jason and Steve Jordan. “Local Hero” remains one of my favorite films.

This song, written by Knopfler, was one of the last things Rafferty did until resurfacing five years later with the “North and South” album.

And a charming tribute.

“Baker Street,” a laid-back acoustic cover by my friend Alan Wilkis, a solo musician from Brooklyn. Alan can’t remember exactly when he did this, but he thinks it was four or five years ago.


Filed under January 2011, Sounds