Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Gerry Rafferty

Like Jeff Lynne [1], Gerry Rafferty presents an interesting conundrum for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There are three ways (at least) for Gerry Rafferty to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and so far none of them has happened. Gerry Rafferty could be inducted for his solo career, for his work with Stealer’s Wheel (or some combination of the two), he could be inducted as a producer for his work on “Shoot Out All The Lights” from Richard and Linda Thompson as well as the Proclaimer’s “Letter From America,” or as a songwriter for his undeniable songs like “Stuck In The Middle With You,” “Baker Street,” and “Right Down The Line,” which are only the best-known of his many excellent compositions. Suffice it to say that there is no reason why Gerry Rafferty deserves to be excluded from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame given his undeniable contributions and influence to Rock & Roll across a wide variety of genres. To have not been inducted at all when one could easily see him inducted twice is one of the more glaring omissions in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Gerry Rafferty’s Contribution

Gerry Rafferty made a strong and noteworthy contribution to Rock & Roll music history as an artist, as a songwriter, as a solo artist, as a member of two bands, and as a low-key and professional producer, as well as an inspiration for artists as diverse as the Proclaimers, Richard and Linda Thompson, Lily Allen, and La Roux. Gerry Rafferty’s work with the Humblebums gave him credibility in the folk community, his work in Stealer’s Wheel gave him the massive hit “Stuck In The Middle With You,” which he wrote, and his solo work gave him songs varying from more folk numbers like “Can I Have My Money Back?” and “To Each And Every One” to massive hits like “Baker Street,” “Right Down The Line,” “Night Owl,” “Get It Right Next Time,” and “Days Gone Down,” to more meditative and even spiritual tracks like “Another World” and “North And South,” among songs that he himself wrote [2]. His hostile attitude to the fame game, given his deeply private personality, ought to make him even more worthy as an inductee, showing how talent can trump marketing in appreciating a truly awesome artist.

Gerry Rafferty’s Contribution

Gerry Rafferty’s contribution to rock and roll largely stems from two sources. The first source is his own musical career. His work in the Humblebums provides evidence of his craft in folk music, an often underrated genre, and immediately after the Humblebums broke up he recorded his debut solo album, “Can I Have My Money Back?” which featured some immensely worthwhile songs, including its title track, “To Each And Every One,” and “Mary Skeffington.” Then he helped found Stealer’s Wheel with Joe Egan, making three well-regarded albums and writing the massive and iconic hit, “Stuck In The Middle With You.” After three years of contractually obligated silence, his “City To City” and “Night Owl” albums featured immense hits like “Baker Street,” “Right Down The Line,” “Get It Right Next Time,” “Days Gone Down,” and “Night Owl,” which alone would make him worthy of consideration into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After a dry spell in the 1980’s, his 1988 album “North And South” marked a return to form, and his last studio three albums 1992’s “On A Wing And A Prayer,” “Over My Head,” and 2000’s “Another World” offered thoughtful spiritual and personal reflections on life. His main body of work spans 30 years, including some of the most memorable songs of his era.

In addition to his own musical career, Gerry Rafferty deserves credit for the influence and producing work he has had on the career of others. His production work for Richard & Linda Thompson became the album “Shoot Out The Lights,” though Rafferty’s work was rejected and his investment was a failure [3], the project being known to this day as “Rafferty’s Folly.” Far happier was his experience in producing The Proclaimer’s debut album “Letter From America” along with Hugh Murphy. Likewise, his work with Barbara Dickson, who sang backup for him, and Mark Knoffler of Dire Straits is also worthy of mention. In addition, Gerry Rafferty’s work has inspired such younger artists and bands as La Roux and Lily Allen. His iconoclastic attitude of rejecting the tours and other trappings of the rock star life, his use of songwriting to wrestle with his considerable demons (including alcoholism, which seems to have been self-medication for worse demons), and his basically shy and retiring nature are a part of Rock & Roll history that is vital but often ignored, and they help balance out the picture of what it means to be a worthwhile and authentic rock musician.

Why Gerry Rafferty Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Gerry Rafferty’s songwriting genius deserves credit at the highest level–and an easy way to provide this credit would be to induct both Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan under “Stealer’s Wheel/Gerry Rafferty,” which would include the largest extent of Gerry Rafferty’s work. Alternatively, Gerry Rafferty could be inducted as a songwriter, though most of his songwriting was for his own work (along with the Humblebums and Stealer’s Wheel). When an artist writes and performs two of the most iconic songs of an entire decade, besides a handful of other worthy hit singles, over the course of a thirty-year career that spans multiple genres and inspires multiple generations of musicians to be true to their own musical muse, that is worthy of being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, without a doubt.

Why Gerry Rafferty Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Let’s face it, Gerry Rafferty wasn’t an easy person to get along with, and he certainly didn’t like the politics of the music industry. And there is nothing more political about the music industry than its hall of fame, unfortunately. A disinterest in playing political games combined with supposed gatekeepers that enjoy nothing more than being schmoozed and charmed ends up to a lack of interest for a truly amazing singer and songwriter, whose authenticity is in every song he wrote.

Verdict: One of the years where the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame clears out its backlog of worthy singer/songerwiters, Gerry Rafferty is going to get his worthy induction. But it will probably take a while.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-elo-jeff-lynne-traveling-wilburys/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerry_Rafferty

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Thompson_%28musician%29

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Gerry Rafferty

  1. Aaron Battle says:

    There is no reason for him not to be in the R & R Hall of fame. He is and always will be rock n roll. To this very day, I can still put on any Gerry Rafferty album and listen non-stop, then repeat. Pure musical genius.

    • I agree; the same is true for me! He was an immensely talented singer, songwriter, and producer who refused to play the game of self-promotion, and I think he deserves some credit for that.

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  7. Seasick Sailor says:

    You forgot Snakes and Ladders, a great album.

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