Best known for his success with solo hits, “Baker Street”, “Right Down the Line”, and “Night Owl” as well as “Stuck in the Middle with You” which he wrote while a member of Stealers Wheel, Rafferty was born into a working-class family in Scotland, where his mother taught him both Irish and Scottish folk songs as a boy. His abusive alcoholic father died when he was only sixteen, and Rafferty grew up in a council house on the town’s Glenburn estate and attended St. Mirin’s Academy. Inspired by his Scottish mother who taught him both Irish and Scottish folk songs and the music of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, Gerry started writing his own material.
In 1963 he left St. Mirin’s Academy and worked in a butcher’s shop and as a civil service clerk while also playing with the local group Maverix on weekends. In the mid 60s Rafferty earned money busking on the London Underground. In 1966 he met fellow musician Joe Egan; they were both members of the pop band the Fifth Column.
In 1969 Gerry became the third member of the folk-pop outfit the Humblebums which also featured comedian Billy Connolly. Rafferty and Connolly recorded two well-received albums on the Transatlantic label as a duo. In 1972 Gerry released his first solo album “Can I Have My Money Back?”. That same year Egan and Rafferty formed the group Stealers Wheel. Stealers Wheel had a huge hit with the jaunty and witty song “Stuck in the Middle with You,” which peaked at #6 on the Billboard pop charts. Stealers Wheel had a lesser Top 40 hit with “Star” ten months later and eventually broke up in 1975.
Rafferty’s second solo album “City To City” included “Baker Street”, his most popular song, one covered by Waylon Jennings and cited by former Guns-n-Roses guitarist Slash as an influence on his guitar solo in “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
Rafferty drew a clear distinction between the artistic integrity of a musician, on the one hand, and the music industry’s need to create celebrities and sell products, on the other. In an interview with Colin Irwin in 1988, he said: “There’s a thin line between being a songwriter and a singer and being a personality… If you feel uncomfortable with it you shouldn’t do it. It’s not for me, there are too many inherent contradictions.” Two decades later, speaking to the press after Rafferty’s funeral, Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers confirmed Rafferty’s dislike of celebrity: “He was not entirely comfortable with fame. Even more so than most people who work in this business, he saw it as not a good thing”. Reid believed Rafferty was fundamentally unsuited to the pressures of celebrity: “He struck me as a very, very sensitive man and for someone like that, fame was probably not appropriate.” Former bandmate Connolly agrees that Rafferty had different priorities: “I wanted success and fame and I got it, to a degree. Gerry wanted respect. He wanted his talent to be respected. He wanted his songs to be respected. And he certainly got that.”
Rafferty died in 2011 at the age of 63 after suffering a long illness and after having released nine solo albums. “Stuck In The Middle With You'” was used in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 movie “Reservoir Dogs.”
In October 2013 Peter Cameron released a biography of Rafferty entitled Stuck in the Middle with Gerry Rafferty, published by the independent publisher Linn.