Finbar Furey leads tributes to the late singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty

THE late singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty has been described as “oozing with groove” by his close friend, Finbar Furey.

The Irish folk singer yesterday led tributes from a range of music stars to the Scottish-born musician, best known for his 1978 mega-hit, Baker Street, with its signature saxophone solo, who died on Tuesday.

Rafferty, 63, who passed away peacefully at his home in Bournemouth following a long battle with alcoholism, is reputed to have earned £80,000 per annum in royalties alone for the song which came from his first solo album, City to City.

Furey said he first got to know Rafferty in 1967 when he was a member of a folk group founded by comedian and musician, Billy Connolly, called the Humblebums.

“I first met Gerry in Inverness and he just blew me away. He was in a different league completely. He didn’t know how good we was,” recalled Furey. “He was one of the most talented musicians and singers I ever knew but he completely underestimated his own talent. He was a very humble man.”

Rafferty wrote a song called Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway, which was a hit for the Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur. He later joined another band, Stealers Wheel, and penned the group’s biggest hit, Stuck in the Middle With You in 1972 — which enjoyed renewed popularity when it featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs.

Rafferty was the son of an Irish-born father who is believed to have come originally from Galway.

Furey recalled how his late friend was a regular visitor to Ireland and they would always meet whenever he stayed in Dublin.

“He loved coming over here and always booked a room in the Shelbourne Hotel,” said the singer.

Furey said Rafferty was “gobsmacked” on one occasion during a visit to Dublin when a couple of young musicians sang Stuck in the Middle With You in Foley’s pub on Merrion Row.

He also remembered how Rafferty had a deep affection for Ireland as well as racehorses and Celtic football club.

Rafferty’s long-term pal, Billy Connolly, said he was “privileged” to have spent his formative years working with Rafferty.

Rafferty, who was born in Paisley near Glasgow in April 1947, continued to release records over the last two decades, despite his well-documented battles with alcoholism.

In 2009 he released his final album, Life Goes On, which featured six previously unreleased tracks. He also produced the hit Letter from America for Scottish group The Proclaimers.

Rafferty’s 20-year-marriage to his wife, Carla, broke down in 1990. He is survived by a daughter, Martha.

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