Gerry Rafferty - "Baker Street"
By 1978, Gerry Rafferty emerged from 5 years of record company litigation and his previous hit with Stealer’s Wheel (one of his former bands) “Stuck in The Middle With You” a distant memory. With producer Hugh Murphy he began work on this solo album, "City To City". Rafferty : "I knew I'd written a good bunch of songs so I called Hugh and we started recording. I remember thinking I'd be pleased if "City to City" sold 50,000 copies". It sold five and a half million.
Central to its success was the song “Baker Street” (Baker Street is a real street in London, Rafferty often stayed with a friend who lived there). Rafferty and his label felt it was too enigmatic and reticent to be a single but a groundswell of radio play, producing a huge surge of public interest, changed their minds. The reason ? That saxophone riff, certainly the most memorable sax intro of all time [or is it George Michael's "Careless Whisper" ?].
Urban legend has the riff being performed by British actor and TV quizmaster Bob Holness. In reality the solo was performed by top sessioneer Raphel ‘Raff’ Ravenscroft (who has played on records by Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, Abba, Alvin Lee and many others). But Ravenscroft's line was not actually written by him. Rafferty wrote the song with an instrumental break, but didn't have a specific instrument in mind. Hugh Murphy, who produced the track, suggested a saxophone, so they brought in Ravenscroft to play it.
The publisher and the record company couldn't have been happier about the success of the song and subsequently, the album. Everyone concerned was thrilled, until it became clear that Rafferty, who had a reclusive and iconoclastic streak, was not going to tour America to support the album. The album, which hit No. 1, might've gone double-platinum had Rafferty toured.
Available on the album "City To City"