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Obituary of Rab Noakes | The music

On stage, Rab Noakes was an impeccably dressed singer and a tremendous guitarist who may play nearly something. It might be conventional Scottish songs, American nation ballads or songs by his heroes Bob Dylan and the Everly Brothers, to songs by Cliff Richard, Speaking Heads or Beck Hansen.

And alongside the “interpretations” (he hates cowl phrases) there have been his personal songs, which confirmed his reward for melody, his love of Americana and his means to put in writing about a variety of topics and ranged from tributes to different musicians , like his nice buddy Gerry Rafferty on the defiant That Will not Cease Me, written after being handled for most cancers, or Water Is My Buddy, a track about hydration and reward for the NHS.

Rab, who has died all of a sudden aged 75, performed a singular function on the Scottish music scene via his encyclopedic musical information, his highly effective songwriting and his enthusiasm for excellent songs and musicians. He started singing and writing within the Nineteen Sixties, working with Rafferty, with whom he based Stealers Wheel (though he left earlier than the band signed a contract and made profitable information). His songs have been additionally recorded by one other profitable band, Lindisfarne, with whom he toured.

He recorded various solo albums for main labels, typically with the assistance of well-known producers, however by no means recorded the anticipated hits. However he saved going at an age when many musicians may think about retiring, and his later work was as highly effective and authentic as something from his early profession.

Rab Noakes, left, in Amsterdam in 1973 with Stealers Wheel, with, from second left, DeLisle Harper, Luther Grosvenor, Rod Coombes, Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty. Noakes left the band earlier than signing a recording contract. Photograph: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

He appreciated to collaborate. He toured with Scottish Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes and American singer-songwriter Brooks Williams, with whom he had lately completed recording an album of Don Everly songs.

With singer Barbara Dickson, an previous buddy, he recorded Reunited in 2014 and final toured in September. She described him as “an excellent life pressure…a improbable songwriter and an exquisite guitarist. Individuals watched from the entrance row with binoculars to see what he was doing.”

He additionally constructed up a following of younger Scottish musicians, lots of whom have been lining as much as play on his subsequent album. Roddy Hart described “a way of kinship, although we have been separated by many years, age-wise… he was a part of the historic cloth of Scottish music”. Jill Jackson described how Rab was her mentor when she was 16 “and taught me every part I knew, singing, writing, recording. As soon as I used to be late for a gig as help and he requested how a lot they paid me. I mentioned £50 and he mentioned ‘give it to me’ and took the cash – and I used to be by no means late for a gig once more! He grew to become an unimaginable buddy.”

Dwelling in Glasgow, it was inevitable that Rab would get entangled with Celtic Connections, the annual competition of Scottish, Americana and different world kinds. His inventive producer Donald Shaw described how he and Rab spent hours discussing the musical hyperlinks between Glasgow and America, how Woodie Guthrie as soon as visited Broomielaw bars and the way people singer Josh MacRae despatched Broomielaw tapes to Pete Seeger, who would cross to Dylan.

Shaw booked Rab to play on the competition and was instrumental in tribute exhibits to Rafferty, songwriter Michael Marra and Martyn Bennett, who had combined Scottish people with electronica.

“He was essential in bridging the hole between the previous Scottish music and the brand new American music,” Shaw mentioned. “During the last 30 or 40 years, during the last 30 or 40 years, Scotland has discovered its personal voice, wanting outwards relatively than inwards … he has helped bridge that hole. I consider him as a catalyst between completely different kinds, younger and previous.”

Rab was born in St Andrews, Fife, the son of Robert Noakes, a postal employee, and Elsie (née Ogilvie), an area authorities officer and newbie singer. The household moved to Cupar, the place Rab attended Citadel Hill Major after which Bell Baxter Excessive College, the place he first met Davie Craig and Artie Trezise, ​​associates with whom he would proceed to make music.

Rab Noakes on stage, circa 1980.
Rab Noakes on stage, circa 1980. Photograph: Tony Russell/Getty Pictures

He left faculty at 16, entered the civil service, working as a pensions and nationwide insurance coverage clerk, first in Alloa, then Glasgow and London. However he was additionally making a reputation for himself and enjoying the folks membership circuit. He made his first skilled look in Glasgow in 1967, and in 1969 spent “9 weeks, seven days every week, 4 hours an evening” enjoying in a resort in Denmark with Craig.

That very same 12 months he met Rafferty in Billy Connolly’s father’s home in Glasgow. They remained shut associates and in 1971 he sang on Rafferty’s solo album, Can I Have My Cash Again?, earlier than deciding not to stick with him in Stealers Wheel (though he nonetheless performed dwell with them). By now he had met Lindisfarne, who had recorded Flip a Deaf Ear on their 1970 debut, Properly Out of Tune, and Collectively Without end on the 1971 bestseller Fog on the Tyne.

Rab was now following his personal path. He joined Dickson, Craig and Trezise and different musicians from across the area within the Nice Fife Highway Present, which toured Scotland in 1970, and in the identical 12 months he launched his first album, Do You See the Lights? A second solo album, Rab Noakes, was launched in 1972, produced by Bob Johnston, who had labored with Dylan, whereas Crimson Pump Particular (1973) was produced in Nashville by Elliot Mazer, well-known for his work with Neil Younger .

His songs included Department, which he carried out on BBC TV’s The Previous Grey Whistle Take a look at, however failed to provide hits. Subsequent albums included By no means Too Late (1975) and Stressed (1978), produced by Terry Melcher, well-known for his work with The Byrds, and that includes backing vocals by Rafferty and Dickson.

As soon as referred to as a heavy drinker, Rab gave up alcohol in 1982. Along with his pop profession seemingly stalled, he moved to the BBC, the place he used his huge musical information and love of radio, working in Manchester after which Glasgow as a producer senior musical. He stop in 1995 to arrange a manufacturing firm, Neon, with Stephy Pordage, whom he married in 1998. This was adopted by a document label, Neon Information, and now his profession has flourished as a maverick impartial, shaking up the Scottish music scene. .

His current releases have included I am Walkin’ Right here (2015), The Therapy Tapes (his 2016 response to Dylan’s Basement Tapes, following most cancers surgical procedure), and Welcome to Anniversaryville (2018).

An lively member of the Musicians’ Union, he served on its government committee for 16 years till he resigned in 2020. As a performer who loved assembly different musicians and music followers within the media, he was one of many present organizers of London. lunches he christened “SCRIBs”: songwriters, songwriters, rockers, ink-fingered maniacs (writers and publicists) and broadcasters. He sang typically and was at all times the very best dressed man within the room.

Stephy died final 12 months. His first marriage, to Marianne Mitchelson, resulted in divorce. Rab is survived by his brothers, Alan and Ken.

Rab (Robert Ogilvie) Noakes, musician, songwriter and producer, born 13 Could 1947; died on November 11, 2022

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