Raf, Raphael, the saxophonist's saxophonist, died in Exeter at the weekend. He was only sixty years old. It makes you think.
'Baker Street' was special. Gerry Rafferty's sublime song managed to turn a dull thoroughfare famous only for a fictitious character, Sherlock Holmes, into an avenue as glamorous and exotic-sounding as Sunset Boulevard or Broadway.
It was the song that made us fall in love with the saxophone. There are plenty of incredible sax solos - Andy Mackay's on Roxy Music's 'Virginia Plain'; Ronnie Ross's on Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side'; Dick Parny's perfect blues solo on Pink Floyd's 'Money', Bowie's on 'Soul Love' from 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust ..' and I want never to forget Steve Norman's on Spandau's 'True'. but 'Baker Street' has always seemed the definitive. Regardless of that fact that, by his own admission, Raph was a bit flat.
When 'Baker Street' hit, Gerry Rafferty was a has-been. Stealer's Wheel were stuck in the middle and on the way out, their moment past. How many thousands, millions of musicians have been there. They come and go, most of them hoping against hope for everlasting fame and fortune, for the legendary status that eludes all but the few. Still, they make music honestly. They leave a legacy, to those who remember, and who care. Raph did. He worked as a session musician for Daft Punk only recently. He also wrote and published the definitive work, 'The Complete Saxophone Player', in 1990. There'll be a rush on for that now.
The brilliance of a track like 'Baker Street' is its ability to transport us, in an instant, to the time when we first heard it. Who we were, who we hung with, what we fretted about, what we wore. It gifts us the ability to experience youth again.
Raph played with so many greats. His contribution to remarkable music by Marvin and Floyd and Bonnie et al is all but forgotten now. Gerry Rafferty's gone. Now Raph is too. 'Baker Street' will live forever.