Raphael Ravenscroft

Raphael Ravenscroft (4 June 1954 – 19 October 2014) was a British musician, composer and author. He is best known for playing the saxophone on Gerry Rafferty's song "Baker Street".

Raphael Ravenscroft
Ravenscroft in 2014
Ravenscroft in 2014
Background information
Born(1954-06-04)4 June 1954
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Died19 October 2014(2014-10-19) (aged 60)
Exeter, Devon, England
  • Musician
  • composer
  • author

Early lifeEdit

While his place of birth is disputed,[1][2][3] the England and Wales Birth Index places it at Stoke-on-Trent.[4] He was the eldest son of Trevor Ravenscroft, author of the 1972 occult book The Spear of Destiny,[5] and spent much of his young life in Dumfries, where his father lived.[6]


Gerry Rafferty and "Baker Street"Edit

In January 1978, Scottish singer-musician Gerry Rafferty released his first solo material since 1972 and first material of any kind since the demise of Stealers Wheel in 1975. As a then-unheralded session musician, Ravenscroft was asked to play the saxophone on the album City to City (1978). His contribution included the sax riff on the best-known song from the album and of Rafferty's career, "Baker Street". The song was an international hit, charting at number 3 in the UK and number 2 in the US. "Baker Street" was reported in 2010 as having received 5 million air plays worldwide to date. City to City reached number 1 in the US album charts and went platinum. In the UK the album reached number 6 and went gold.

Ravenscroft told the BBC's The One Show in 2010 that he was only paid £27.50 for the "Baker Street" session, which was the Musicians' Union rate at the time.[7] It has been (falsely)[8] reported that the cheque bounced and that it was kept on the wall of Ravenscroft's solicitors; in contrast, the song is said to have earned Rafferty £80,000 a year in royalties.[9]

The saxophone break on "Baker Street" has been described as "the most famous saxophone solo of all time",[10] "the most recognizable sax riff in pop music history",[11] and "one of the most recognisable saxophone solos of all time".[12]

In a radio interview in 2011, Ravenscroft said that his performance on the song annoyed him. "I'm irritated because it's out of tune", he said. "Yeah, it's flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best."[13] Ravenscroft mostly refused to play "Baker Street" during interviews. The last time Ravenscroft played "Baker Street" was in the summer of 2014 when he organised a charity gala concert in Exeter for Nicole Hartup, a 12-year-old city schoolgirl who had died in a fall.[14]

Ravenscroft worked with Rafferty from 1977 to 1982. As well as the songs he worked on for City to City he contributed to Rafferty's next two albums, Night Owl (1979) on which he played the lyricon on the title track of the album, and follow-up album Snakes and Ladders (1980).[15]

In 2011, he recorded a tribute to commemorate the funeral of Gerry Rafferty called "Forgiveness" with friend/producer Grice Peters at Sound Gallery studios, which combined his saxophone playing with the voices of Grammy-nominated choir Tenebrae.[16]

While Ravenscroft falsely claimed to have made the decision to incorporate the riff (based, he said, on "an old blues riff") into "Baker Street", earlier demo recordings for "Baker Street" have the same refrain, played by Rafferty on guitar, which were recorded before Ravenscroft became involved in the sessions for the song, indicating that Ravenscroft was not responsible for including the melody in the song. An almost identical riff had actually been written ten years earlier for the 1968 Steve Marcus jazz track "Half a Heart", and it has been suggested by Gary Burton, a friend of Marcus, that Ravenscroft's performance on "Baker Street" was likely influenced by the earlier song.[17]

Other workEdit

From his breakthrough with "Baker Street" he went on to perform with Pink Floyd (The Final Cut, 1983), ABBA[3] and Marvin Gaye.[3] Other Ravenscroft performing credits include work with America, Maxine Nightingale,[3] Daft Punk,[3] Kim Carnes, The Only Ones, Mike Oldfield, Chris Rea, Robert Plant, Brand X, Hazel O'Connor[18] and Bonnie Tyler. In 1979, he released the solo album Her Father Didn't Like Me, Anyway (CBS Portrait JR 35683). In 1983, Ravenscroft released the track "Maxine" which gained airplay, but performed poorly on the charts. In 1987, he was credited, along with Max Early and Johnny Patrick for the new theme to the Central Television soap opera Crossroads.[citation needed]

In 2010, Ravenscroft played on albums and on sessions with Duffy,[3] Mary Hopkin and Jamie Hartman. In 2011–12, Ravenscroft contributed to the album Propeller by Grice Peters (GRICE).[19]

Ravenscroft wrote several books on saxophone technique, including The Complete Saxophone Player (1990).[3]

In 2012, Ravenscroft created the music for a series of films featuring photographer Don McCullin, and during 2011–2012 composed for several major advertising campaigns around the world. In summer 2012 he took a break due to ill-health, and moved back to Devon.

In 2014, Ravenscroft went to Belgium to help and set up the saxophone project Wie is Sax4Pax? with the company Adolphe Sax & Cie.[20]

Personal life and deathEdit

He married and divorced twice, and separated from his third wife in 2009. His daughter is the artist Scarlett Raven.[21] Ravenscroft died on 19 October 2014 at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, aged 60, of a suspected heart attack.[3]


Pictures at Eleven, Robert Plant, Pledge Pin


  1. ^ Place of birth disputed, The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  2. ^ Notice of death of Ravenscroft, The Scotsman. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Raphael Ravenscroft, Baker Street saxophonist, dies aged 60". The Guardian. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  4. ^ "GRO: SEP 1954 9b 746 STOKE, Raphael G. Ravenscroft, mmn = Johnson - click 'Find' to search". ONS GRO Birth Index of England and Wales. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Dusty (John Martyn)". Scott Walker; or The Man Who Ruined My Life True Life Confessions of a Showbiz Hack. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  6. ^ Raphael Ravenscroft obituary, itv.com, 20 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Raphael Ravenscroft BBC THE Ofty SHOW 2010". BBC. 2010. 3:08 minutes in. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2014 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "Simon Mayo Drivetime (9 February 2012)". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  9. ^ Chilton, Martin (21 October 2014). "I was paid £27 for Baker Street sax solo". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  10. ^ Selby, Jenn (22 October 2014). "Raphael Ravenscroft dead: 'Baker Street' musician who played the most famous saxophone solo for just £27, dies aged 60". The Independent. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  11. ^ Lynch, Joe (21 October 2014). "Raphael Ravenscroft, Man Behind Most Iconic Sax Riff in Pop Music, Dies at 60". Billboard. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  12. ^ Welsh, Daniel (21 October 2014). "'Baker Street' Saxophone Player Raphael Ravenscroft Dead: Musician Behind Gerry Rafferty Hit Dies, Aged 60". HuffPost. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Baker Street saxophone player Raphael Ravenscroft dies". BBC News. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  14. ^ Byrne, Mike (1 August 2014). "Top musician organises fundraising concert for funeral of Exeter's tragic Nicole". Exeter Express and Echo. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Raphael Ravenscroft". LinkedIn. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.[unreliable source?]
  16. ^ Notice of death of Raphael Ravenscroft, westernmorningnews.co.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  17. ^ Adam Chandler (17 December 2015). ""Baker Street Gerry Rafferty Saxophone"". The Atlantic.
  18. ^ Maconie, Stuart (2004). Cider With Roadies (1st ed.). London: Random House. p. 256. ISBN 0-09-189115-9.
  19. ^ Profile AllMusic. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Raphael Ravenscroft passed away - Adolphe Sax & Cie". Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  21. ^ "Testimonies". Scarlettraven.com. Archived from the original on 26 January 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2014.

External linksEdit