INTERVIEW: Dan McCafferty, Nazareth

Nazareth on stage

Nazareth on stage

First published in Music Interviews by

FOR more than 40 years Dan McCafferty has not only been the hard-edged voice of legendary Scottish rockers Nazareth but, with fellow original member Pete Agnew, he has taken the band through the ups and downs of an ever-fickle music industry, to remain one of the most explosive and exciting live bands out there.

With a UK tour under way, including a gig at The Brook in Southampton on March 21, the band are still delivering the goods in the form of hard rock tunes, mixed with heartfelt ballads and their unwavering sense of fun.

“We still love playing live; it’s the best part of the job and the fun part of our day. For that couple of hours each night we can forget about the other things going on in our lives and just enjoy the moment, and I hope the fans can get into that sense of things as well,” he says.

Formed in Dunfermline in the early 60s and originally known as the Shadettes, they changed their name to Nazareth in 1968. The band were heavily influenced by the American R&B invasion then sweeping the UK.

“Me and Pete were into soul music in the early days, we both loved Otis Reading, Sam & Dave that kind of thing, and then we heard the Rolling Stones and things changed.

“They made a difference, they had that edge, their music wasn’t perfect, there was bum notes and mistakes, but it was raw and exciting. They made us think, if they can do it we can do it as well.”

Struggling to find local gigs, the band kept on going, for no other reason than, as McCafferty explains “if you wanted to eat, you had to work.” The boys from Scotland finally moved to London in 1970, and soon released their self-titled first album.

The band’s third album Razamanaz contained their first hit singles, Broken Down Angels and Bad Bad Boy. This success took McCafferty by surprise, even though he believed in what the band were doing.

“It was never about anything else but the music, we just wanted to play. I remember walking down the street in London and this girl came up to me and asked for my autograph, and I thought ‘how does she know who I am’, then she said ‘I saw you on Top of the Pops last night’, and then I realized we were famous,”

laughs McCafferty Celebrity status is something the singer feels has not only got in the way of the music business in recent years, but has had a negative effect on the industry.

“Nowadays it’s all about being famous, that’s why most people want to be in a band, and everyone wants celebrity status.

“Even my milkman has a website.

What the heck does he want a website for? He delivers the milk, although I must admit I went and had a look so I suppose the point worked,” chuckles McCaferrty With the band hitting the big time after the release of Hair of the Dog in 1975, the glory years began. Multi selling albums, sold-out world tours, projected the band into the high life.

By the mid 80s, the bands popularity had started to fade, and despite numerous line-up changes they still found a hard core fan base to deliver their own unique brand of hard rock to.

However, tragedy struck in 1999 with the death of original drummer Darrell Sweet on an American tour.

Taking the decision to carry on, Agnew’s son Lee was drafted into the vacant drum stool.

With the addition of guitarist Jimmy Murrison, the band experienced a new lease of life.

Dan said: “All the guys are into this band which is a terrific place to be.”

With the current tour and the release of last year’s Big Dogz album to critical acclaim, Nazareth are still doing what they do best.

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