Singer Gerry Rafferty dies at 63

Singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty - best known for his 1978 hit Baker Street - has died following a long illness.

The 63-year-old Scot is said to have passed away peacefully at his home in Dorset yesterday, with daughter Martha by his side.

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It is understood his funeral will be held in his home town of Paisley, near Glasgow, later this month.

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Baker Street, with its distinctive saxophone solo, reached number 3 in the UK charts and no 2 in the US.

Rafferty, who split from wife Carla in the 1990s, was said to have earned 80,000 a year from the royalties on the song alone.

He was also a member of the band Stealers Wheel with whom he scored

another huge hit in 1972 with Stuck In The Middle With You.

The song underwent a renaissance in the early 1990s after being featured in Quentin Tarantino's hit movie Reservoir Dogs.

Musician and broadcaster Tom Robinson said Rafferty would be greatly missed.

The BBC 6 Music presenter said: "I'm deeply saddened to hear that Gerry has lost the battle with his failing health.

"His early work with Stealers Wheel was an inspiration to a whole generation of songwriters in the 70s including me, and many of us had hoped his recent album Life Goes On in 2009 would lead to a full-time return to writing and performing for a lyrical and highly gifted artist.

"He will be greatly missed."

Rafferty was born in Paisley near Glasgow on April 16, 1947.

He cut his teeth as a busker and also appeared with Billy Connolly's folk group the Humblebums.

But Rafferty fell out with the comedian when Connolly's jokes began to take up more time at the band's concerts, and he walked out in 1970.

Two years later he formed Stealers Wheel, but the outfit ended in acrimony in 1975.

His biggest success came in 1978 with his solo album City To City, which contained the single Baker Street. It proved to be an enduring radio staple.

Over the last two decades he released the albums On A Wing And A Prayer (1993), Over My Head (1994) and Another World (2000).

Despite his earlier success, Rafferty suffered from well documented problems with alcohol.

The singer was admitted to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital in November

following a collapse.

Rafferty, who had previously received treatment for liver failure, was also forced to reassure fans of his wellbeing in February 2009 after reports he had gone missing.

His solicitor said he was composing new songs at his home in Italy.

He released the album Life Goes On later that year, featuring six unreleased tracks including two Christmas carols and a cover of The Beatles song Because.