‘Baker Street’ Saxophonist Raphael Ravenscroft Dies at 60
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The musician responsible for one of rock’s most memorable sax riffs has passed away at the age of 60 following what press reports are calling a “suspected heart attack.”
Sax player Raphael Ravenscroft was already working as a professional musician and arranger before being hired by Gerry Rafferty to perform on his 1978 single ‘Baker Street,’ but Ravenscroft’s distinctive work on the track turned him into an in-demand session player who’d go on to contribute to albums by Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Abba and many others. Although the song went on to become an enormous hit for Rafferty, legend has it that Ravenscroft was only paid a small fee for his work — and that the check for his services initially bounced.
Ravenscroft later debunked that rumor, but he did confess to one major dissatisfaction with the recording: “I’m irritated because it’s out of tune,” he told the BBC. “Yeah, it’s flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best.”
In or out of tune, ‘Baker Street’ helped serve as the foundation for a long career for Ravenscroft, who’d go on to publish a book (1990’s ‘The Complete Saxophone Player’) and release solo recordings in addition to continuing his work for other artists; in recent years, some of his session appearances included cuts for Daft Punk and Welsh soul singer Duffy. According to his daughter, artist Scarlett Raven, he ultimately came to appreciate Rafferty’s hit.
“You could tell from the way he played that he put his heart and soul into his music,” she told the BBC. “He touched your soul and made you want to better yourself. I think he was very proud of ‘Baker Street’ and that it made people feel good. I’m sure a lot of people will put on ‘Baker Street’ and smile today.”