Dan McCafferty – Tribute

RIP Dan McCafferty

Phil Aston’s Video Tribute can be seen above.

Born William Daniel McCafferty (14 October 1946, Dunfermline, Scotland), Dan was best known as the lead singer and founder member of rock band Nazareth. His trademark gravelly vocals were matched by his power and, on occasion, range. With Nazareth he had hits including Bad Bad Boy, Broken Down Angel, This Flight Tonight, Love Hurts and Dream On.

Nazareth’s roots can be traced back to the early and mid 60s and the cover band The Shaddettes, who played local bars and ballrooms. Cementing the line-up of vocalist McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet, they changed their name to Nazareth in 1968 and turned professional a year or two later.

Nazareth signed to Pegasus in the UK (Warner Brothers in the US, Vertigo / Phonogram in Europe) and released two albums that, although strong, made little impact. A stand out, though, and also a single, was the rock’n’roll Dear John, and likewise the cover of Morning Dew. Nazareth were frequently partial to a cover version, but in each case Dan’s whiskey soaked vocals helped give them that Nazareth edge.

The band toured with Rory Gallagher and Atomic Rooster, but it all changed when they supported Deep Purple on two tours, where they were already airing material that would appear on their third album Razamanaz (UK Mooncrest, USA A&M). With Deep Purple’s Roger Glover at the production helm, Nazareth recorded Razamanaz, Loud’n’Proud and Rampant in quick succession, with top 20 hits, copious BBC radio sessions and a cover of This Flight Tonight that Joni Mitchel would briefly refer to as a Nazareth song. A worldwide high for Dan McCafferty and Nazareth came in 1975, with a move to Mountain Records, the release of the Greatest Hits, and Dan’s first solo album. A fine collection of covers (and some singles too), the album featured Manny Charlton, Roger Glover and members of fellow Scots and label mates The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

The same year brought the even bigger breakthrough Hair Of The Dog (now with guitarist Charlton producing), and the non album hit single Love Hurts (the Every Brothers song), that was added to US copies of the album.

Nazareth continued to tour and record, and things picked up again with 1979’s No Mean City, one of the band’s heaviest, and the sound is typified by both McCafferty’s vocals and the addition of second guitarist Zal Cleminson. This was my intro the band, an album first acquired on account of the Rodney Matthews art, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
In 1980 Dan appeared on the Mitchel / Coe Mysteries LP Exiled, a concept album narrated by Robert Powell. McCafferty’s track, Dreaming, is one of his finest ever vocal performances.
In the 80s Nazareth had a hit with Dream on, and also recorded with guitarist Billy Rankin and pianist John Locke, but by the late 80s they were back to a four piece. In 1987 he recorded his second solo album Into The Ring. He also guested with Andrew Ridgeley (ex Wham), R.A.M. Peitcsh R.A.M. Pietcsh, Spearfish and Nitrogods.

I first met Dan in late 1991 or early 1992, after the release of No Jive (issued on Mausoleum). Realising what a low profile the band had in the UK at the time, (I realised after I interviewed the band for a Record Collector magazine feature), and I offered to set up a fanclub and produced the Razamanewz newsletter over the next 10 years. I got to interview Dan several times, and I remained on his and his wife Mary Ann’s Christmas Card list for many years. I also got to spend time with Dan and the rest of the band during the recording of 1998’s Boogaloo.
Dan continued to tour and record with Nazareth after Darrell Sweet’s death, notably the albums The News, Big Dogz and Rock’n’Roll Telephone.

In the early 2010s began to suffer with COPD (he had smoked for many years), which lead to his retirement in 2013, when his was replaced by Linton Osbourne.

In 2019 Dan McCafferty released his third solo album, Last Testament.

Dan had a very distinctive gravelly whiskey soaked voice, and he could sing with power, bluesy metal, and could handle a ballad equally well.

During the 90s he occasionally fronted The Party Boys ft Zal Cleminson, Chris Glen and Ted McKenna and also appeared in the line up section of Never Mind The Buzzcocks

Dan died on 8 November 2022.

Whenever I spoke with Dan he always made time, was friendly, and he will be very much missed.

Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

Dan McCafferty

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes
1 year ago

Such sad, sad news to hear of Dan McCafferty passing. great tributes by Phil and Joe. What a man, what a singer , what a VOICE !!. Been following Naz since I was 13, a long time ago. Thoughts are with his family and life long Friend and bassist Pete Agnew. x

Phil Aston
Reply to  Tim Brookes
1 year ago

Thank you for visiting and watching the video plus sharing your memories of Dan McCafferty and Nazareth. Phil

Jürgen Schulz
Jürgen Schulz
1 year ago

Hi Phil, sad to hear that, another Rock icon gone, great voice alongside Rogers, Marriott, Plant etc.,I remember when we were waiting for “Love Hurts” at parties in the mid 70’s to dance close with a girl, but Nazareth had so many other Hits we remember.
Thanks for your personal tribute, time to play some Nazareth songs, R.I.P. Dan
greetings from Berlin,”Jogi”

Last edited 1 year ago by Jürgen Schulz
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x