Friday, 14 January 2011

Snakes and Ladders - RIP Gerry Rafferty

I was sorry to hear of the recent death of Gerry Rafferty partly because I liked his music and partly because I read that he died after a long illness at the age of 63. I remember listening to him when he was part of The Humblebums with Billy Connolly but he will mostly be remembered for one song, Baker Street. And this was the motivation to write this blog.

Gerry was receiving £80 000 in royalties each year for this one song. This sounds really good for a singer who was ill, but compare that with an average annual salary. Then think about singers who have had two hits, or three or four. Also bear in mind that Gerry must have been receiving something from all of his other recordings, but nobody is mentioning the amounts. Presumably they pale into insignificance when compared with that one hit. The recording industry seems to be like a giant lottery, with a few conspicuous winners and lots of losers.

Gerry began as a busker. His recording career certainly brought in more than busking would have done, but there were many ups and downs in his career. He was never comfortable with live performance, he had to struggle with legal problems after the breakup of Stealers Wheel, and in 1983 he stopped writing and recording songs, and he was a recluse for many years. I can't help wondering what his life might have been like without so many "snakes and ladders".

I often criticise footballers and one reason for the criticism is the amount of money that Premier League players receive. You don't have to go too far down the football leagues to find players who earn much less. It sounds like it is the same in the music industry.

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