You can take the boy out of Paisley... but you can't take Paisley out the boy!

Reclusive rock star Gerry Rafferty tells all about life growing up in his home town.

Regal Cinema PaisleyGerry Rafferty is remembering his Saturday mornings spent at the ABC Minors, in The Regal cinema. We're walking down the stairs in Paisley Museum and suddenly the reclusive singer-songwriter - who's sold millions of albums in his time - gives an a cappella rendition of the ABC Minors song.

Gerry, now 53, remembers it well. It goes like this: 'We are the boys and girls well known as, Minors of the ABC, And every Saturday all line up, to see the films we like and shout aloud with glee, We love to laugh and have a sing-song, just a happy crowd are we, We're all pals together, we're Minors of the ABC'

Aye, you can take the boy out of Paisley but you can't take Paisley out the boy.


john byrneGerry Rafferty is back in his home town for the opening of the exhibition of the work of his long-time friend, artist and playwright John 'Patrick' Byrne. The two of them go back a long way. John Byrne - who signs his paintings 'Patrick' - was a school mate of Gerry's older brother. The pair soon became soul mates as each of them pursued their own artistic endeavours. Gerry as one of the best songwriters the country's ever produced and Patrick as a renowned playwright and artist.


Patrick has painted the covers for several Stealers Wheel and Gerry Rafferty solo albums. He even decorated one of Gerry's expensive Martin acoustic guitars with a painting.


To most people these days, Gerry Rafferty is the man who brought us the chart-topping song, Baker Street and probably the most famous sax intro in the history of pop music.

Then there's Stuck in the Middle With You - a hit when Gerry and another buddie, Joe Egan formed Stealers Wheel. The song was given a further lease of life when it appeared on the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs movie.

However, to those who have enjoyed a generation of his music - from his partnership with Billy Connolly, in The Humblebums, to Stealers Wheel and his later, hugely successful, solo career - there's more to Gerry Rafferty than a couple of big-time hits. But back to Gerry's meandering down Memory Lane. He has a quiet smile to himself as memories of his childhood in Paisley come flooding back.

"We used to go to the ABC Minors every Saturday morning at the Regal cinema - the films they put on for us were great then. "I also remember coming here to the Museum and touching the big stuffed elephant and the lion." The elephant's long gone but the lion still stands proud inside the Greek-styled building on the High Street.

Gerry Rafferty was born on April 16, 1947 to a Scottish mother and an Irish father. Gerry - who now lives in London - recalls: "I was born and brought up at 13 Underwood Lane, The tenement's no longer there, they've built new flats where it stood. "My mum is 93 this year and she still lives in Paisley. When I come up to see her I sometimes take a look down that way. "I've been back to Underwood Lane and it felt very nostalgic seeing it again. I have very happy memories as a kid.

"I remember we used to go up to Oakshaw where all the rich people stayed stealing apples off their trees. "I loved going to the baths in Storie Street and then getting a bag of chips on the way home. "My favourite chip shop was Cardosi's at the top of Well Street. That was before they moved to the big fancy cafe in Causeyside Street." When Gerry was ten years of age the family moved to Garry Drive, in Foxbar. "A great thing was going up the Braes and passing the Bonnie Wee Well - I just loved that," he said.

St Mirins Academy Gerry went to St Mary's Primary and later St Mirin's Academy and openly admits his early years in Paisley influenced his songwriting and particularly his early lyrics. Gerry says: "Where you come from and where you spent your formative years has an effect and influence on you." Evidence of this can be seen in many of his songs - particularly on his pre-Stealers Wheel solo album, Can I Have My Money Back and later albums with his Stealers Wheel partner-in-song Joe Egan.

The idea for the title track, Can I Have My Money Back, came from an incident involving Gerry as a youngster. He explains: "I used to go the the cinema in a place we called The Bug Hut. It was The Alex Cinema, in Neilston Road opposite the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary. "It cost either two or three old pennies to get in and the film would sometimes break down or the picture would be jumping about the screen. "When this happened everybody would be shouting and we would stamp our feet. That's where the idea for Can I Have My Money Back came from and the song was written 12 years after the event."

Another song on that album was written about his mother. It's called Mary Skeffington - his mum's maiden name. He even used the melody of her favourite hymn, Sweet Sacrament Divine, as the intro passage.

Gerry's flirting with religious music didn't just end there. He recalls: "When Billy Connolly and I were playing together and we were coming home in the back of a taxi after having a few pints, we used to sing hymns. "I had some wonderful times with Billy."

A Stealers Wheel song, Steamboat Row was about his father. Explains Gerry: "When I was a kid and my dad had a few pints he would reminisce about when he lived in a row of miners' cottages down by Inkerman, in Paisley. They were known as Steamboat Row."

sandyAnother song born from his memories as a youngster, in Paisley is Syncopatin' Sandy. "I was about 13 or 14 and we used to pass the old Paisley Theatre in Smithhills Street on our way back from school. "I saw this big poster advertising a pianist called Syncopatin' Sandy. He was one of these guys from the music hall and Vaudeville tradition. "He must have been in his early 70s and was a marathon pianist who would play non-stop for hours and hours and people would come in and watch him. "I went in to see him and it was one of the most surreal things I have ever seen in my life. "He played for about one-and-a-half days non-stop and people would feed him whisky. He would be playing the piano with one hand and drinking the whisky out of a paper cup in the other hand. "That was a big memory for me."

Later in life Gerry lived in a tenement flat in New Street. Another of his songs chronicled this period of his life. It was called New Street Blues. Like most musicians before signing their first record deal Gerry, had a variety of jobs and they surface in some form or other in the lyrics of his songs. Says Gerry: "I left school when I was 15 and worked in a social security office, in Partick.

"Then I worked in Timpson's shoe shop, in Paisley High Street. "But there was never anything else for me but music. I never intended making a career out of any of the jobs I did. I wasn't much of a shoe salesman, anyway.

The second Stealers Wheel album is called Ferguslie Park - named after the sprawling Paisley housing scheme which had a terrible reputation in the 70s. Gerry explains: "We called the album Ferguslie Park to get as far away as possible from all the bullshit of the music industry in London. "It reminded us of our roots. We were clinging ferociously to our roots. Our identity and our songs were formed in this town."

bull inn paisleyBut when it comes to nostalgia, Gerry's definitely on a roll. The topic this time is, what were his favourite pubs in Paisley? He reveals: "I loved the Bull Inn with all its wee rooms and the wicker chairs. I used to take Billy Connolly in there. "These were the days when Jean Stevenson owned The Bull with the cat sitting on the shelf above the till. "We also drank in Lang's, in Moss Street and the lounge of the Club Bar, just across the road." Big grin on his face, Gerry says: "Here's a good one. The day Joe Egan got himself locked in the toilet of the Club Bar and they had to get a joiner in to let him out." He explains: "We were drinking Blue Lagoons at lunchtime in the lounge bar and Joe wandered off. "He was away a hell of a long time and I wondered where he was. "When I went into the toilet I could hear him shouting for help. He couldn't open the door and they had to get a joiner in to get him out." This episode is probably best summed up in the Rafferty song title - All the Best People Do It.