Once whilst enjoying a summer’s afternoon at the poolside cafe in Penzance, Cornwall, my Noctorum collaborator Dare pointed out Raphael Ravenscroft as the man that was running the cafe. Really, that’s the man that played the iconic sax line on one of the most popular songs ever recorded, one of the most played songs on the radio ever, the man that single handedly boosted saxophone sales reintroducing the instrument to the planet. Does he own the seafront?
In my recent appraisals of what constitutes a writing credit on a song, this may be one of the most difficult to solve. There is absolutely no question that Gerry Rafferty wrote the song. The chords, the lyrics, the melody are all his, but for some reason despite this being a cracking tune, a quality international hit, it’s the saxophone part that lives on. There’s even an excellent guitar solo from Hugh Burns that seems unable to compete with that soaring memorable saxophone line.
Accounts differ as to whose line it actually is. Allegedly the demo had it as a guitar line but Raphael Ravenscroft suggested he had no direction and that’s what he came up with on his own. Whatever the case, unfortuantely both Rafferty a lifelong alcoholic, died of liver failure in 2011 aged 63 and Ravenscroft died unexpectedly of a heart attack just last October aged 60, so we’ll never really know the truth. What we do know is that Ravenscroft got less than 30 quid as a session fee and Rafferty made eighty thousand quid a year in royalties.