In a post early this year, I casually wondered how the guy who played the sax solo on Baker Street was doing. Unfortunately, as of last month, the answer is he isn’t. He died of what is believed to have been a heart attack at the age of 60.
But even though Baker Street only netted him a bounced cheque for 28 bucks, from all accounts it seems like Raphael Ravenscroft did alright for himself, which is nice.
Over the years, Ravenscroft’s swaggering sax could be heard on work by numerous artists, everyone from Pink Floyd to Daft Punk, Abba to America, Marvin Gaye to Robert Plant, Bonnie Tyler to Duffy. He also cut a solo album, 1979’s Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway, composed the soundtracks to numerous advertisements and a handful of TV documentaries, and wrote several instructional books on saxophone playing.
But he will be remembered first and foremost for “Baker Street,” a song whose saxophone hook is arguably the greatest in pop history—and at the very least, right up there with contenders like George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” Glenn Frey’s “You Belong To The City,” and Hall And Oates’ “Maneater.” And it’s quite possible none of these would have existed had Ravenscroft not set the bar so incredibly high. You can probably trace an entire generation of melancholy ’80s pop right to Ravenscroft’s lips.
Interestingly, he spent quite a few years really not liking Baker Street because his part annoyed him.
“I’m irritated because it’s out of tune,” he once said in an interview. “Yeah, it’s flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best.”
I’m no expert on these things, but I never noticed that. And I’ve never heard anyone else complain about it, either. Because it’s awesome. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street