Gerry Rafferty, a Scottish singer and songwriter who had pop hits in the 1970s with “Baker Street” and “Stuck in the Middle With You,” which years later gained pop culture status after director Quentin Tarantino included it in the soundtrack for his 1992 film “Reservoir Dogs,” died Tuesday. He was 63.
Rafferty’s death was confirmed by his agent, Paul Charles, who told the Associated Press that Rafferty died after a long illness. The Guardian newspaper said he died at home in England with his daughter by his side.
Rafferty was a gifted musician but a reluctant star who delivered “concise, wry tales of love and ambition, inventively arranged” with a voice “that carries just the right amount of detachment,” Steve Pond wrote in The Times in 1979.
His career also included legal battles and a disdain for touring, particularly in the United States.
" Bob Dylan once said that fame was a curse. I think that, from an early stage in my career, I was aware there were many, many pitfalls of so-called celebrity,” he told the British newspaper the Express in 2001. “Once you have entered into that world you can no longer be the observer in life and I have always valued that highly. You become the observed.”
Rafferty co-wrote “Stuck in the Middle With You,” with its memorable lines “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you,” for Stealers Wheel’s first album in 1972.
“Baker Street,” which Rafferty once described as a tale about “feeling lost and alone in London,” became a hit in 1978 from his solo album “City to City.” The album reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s charts.
Rafferty was born April 16, 1947, in Paisley, Scotland. After playing in local bands, in the late 1960s he joined the Humblebums, which included the actor and comedian Billy Connolly. After the group split up, Rafferty released his first solo album, “Can I Have My Money Back?” in 1971.
Stealers Wheel recorded only three albums during the 1970s.The group’s turbulent history was marked by legal problems and a variety of personnel changes.
Rafferty said the legal issues helped him write “Baker Street,” which featured a moody saxophone solo.
“Everybody was suing each other, so I spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers,” he told the Scottish Daily Mail in 1995. “I knew a guy who lived in a little flat off Baker Street. We’d sit and chat or play guitar there through the night.”
His 1979 album “Night Owl” was a more modest success and included the song “Get It Right Next Time.” His last release was “Life Goes On” in 2009.
According to British media accounts, Rafferty had been in poor health in recent years and had struggled with alcohol-related issues.
A complete list of his survivors was not available.