Raphael ‘Raf’ Ravenscroft, the saxophonist who played the riff on Gerry Rafferty’s classic track Baker Street, has died at 60.
The respected session musician also appeared on Robert Plant’s debut solo album Pictures At Eleven, Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut, and Mike Oldfield’s Islands and Earth Moving. He also wrote books on sax technique.
He’s thought to have suffered a heart attack at home in Devon after entering semi-retirement in 2012 due to ill health.
Friend Julie Bookham said: “Raphael suffered a stroke some time ago. He was taken to hospital but died early on Sunday morning.”
Baker Street, from Rafferty’s second solo album City to City, won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically And Lyrically in 1978. In 2010 it was recognised for having been player over 5,000,000 times.
Although his account is disputed, Ravenscroft said he came up with the riff after being presented with a song containing “several gaps.” He added: “Most of what I played was an old blues riff. If you’re asking me, ‘Did Gerry hand me a piece of music to play?’ then no, he didn’t.”
The song’s success led to an increase in sax sales in the years following its release.