Former Nazareth Frontman Dan McCafferty Dead At 76

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Former Nazareth Frontman Dan McCafferty Dead At 76

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dan McCafferty, founding lead singer for the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth, has died. In a message on Facebook, Nazareth bassist Pete Agnew announced McCafferty’s death. “Dan died at 12:40 today,” Agnew wrote. “This is the saddest announcement I have ever had to make. Maryann and the family have lost a wonderful loving husband and father, I have lost my best friend and the world has lost one of the greatest singers who ever lived. Too upset to say anything more at this time.” McCaffery was 76.

McCafferty was born and raised in Dunfermline, Scotland, where he formed Nazareth in 1968 with Agnew, guitarist Manny Charlton, and drummer Darrell Sweet. They took their name from the reference to Nazareth, PA in the Band’s classic “The Weight” (“I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead”). They moved to London in 1970 and began putting out albums at a steady clip, building buzz with each successive release. Their third, 1973’s Razamanaz, yielded a pair of UK top 10 hits, “Broken Down Angel” and “Bad Bad Boy,” early examples of a sound that pulled from bluesy ’60s British rock ‘n’ roll but helped usher in the era of arena-rock pomp.

Nazareth kept cranking out albums and scoring hits throughout the mid-’70s, culminating in 1975’s smash Hair Of The Dog. The title track — with its memorable chorus “Now you’re messin’ with… a son of bitch!” — helped break Nazareth in America, where they soon scored an even bigger hit with a cover of Everly Brothers’ “Love Hurts,” their only top 10 single in the US. McCafferty’s gritty, impassioned, wailing vocal style would prove to be a huge influence on artists including Axl Rose, who invited Nazareth to perform at his wedding (they turned him down) and covered “Hair Of The Dog” on Guns N’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident?

Nazareth kept on making records and touring through the decades, carrying on through lineup changes and even the death of members such as founding drummer Darrell Sweet. In 2013, McCafferty retired from the road due to ill health, leaving Agnew as the only original member of the band. Agnew is now the only living founder of the band as well; McCafferty’s death comes just months after the death of original Narareth guitarist Manny Charlton.

Below, revisit some of Nazareth’s biggest hits.

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