Joe Egan, Stealers Wheel Founder With Gerry Rafferty, Dead at 77

July 9, 2024
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Joe Egan, the Scottish singer-songwriter who co-founded Stealers Wheel with Gerry Rafferty and co-wrote their 1973 hit “Stuck in the Middle With You,” died Saturday, July 6. He was 77.

Egan’s death was confirmed Sunday, July 7, on the official Rafferty Facebook page, run by Rafferty’s daughter, Martha (Rafferty died in 2011). No cause of death was given.

“Very sad news that the other half of Stealers Wheel, Joe Egan, passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon with his nearest and dearest around him,” Martha wrote. “I will always remember him as a sweet and gentle soul. May he rest in peace.”

Both Egan and Rafferty grew up in Paisley, Scotland, an industrial city outside of Glasgow, and even attended the same schools before they started playing in bands together when they were teenagers. Along with their early groups like the Sensors and the Maverix, Egan also contributed to Rafferty’s 1971 solo debut, Can I Have My Money Back?

The following year, Egan and Rafferty founded Stealers Wheel and signed a record deal with A&M. They recorded their self-titled debut with the legendary songwriting/production duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and the LP arrived in late 1972. After the first two singles failed to gain any traction, Rafferty actually left the band, but he was cajoled back after third single, “Stuck in the Middle of You” — a Bob Dylan-style pastiche/parody about a music industry party — became an unexpected hit.

Egan and Rafferty remained the core of Stealers Wheel as the rest of the band’s lineup shifted around. They recorded two more albums, 1973’s Ferguslie Park and 1975’s Right or Wrong, neither of which achieved the same commercial heights as their debut.

The closest they got to a second hit was the Egan-penned Ferguslie Park single, “Star,” which peaked at Number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song seems to find Egan interrogating the band’s sudden fame with the recognition that nothing is guaranteed: “After all you’ve been through tell me what will you do,” Egan sings, “When you find yourself back on the shelf?/Ahh, tell me.”

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Stealers Wheel split after Right or Wrong, and Egan went on to release two solo albums: 1979’s Out of Nowhere and 1981’s Map. He left the music industry in the Nineties and, according to The Herald, ran a publishing company from his home in Renfrewshire. 

While Rafferty went on to enjoy major success as a solo artist, the two old friends and bandmates stayed in touch over the years. After Rafferty’s death in 2011, Egan told The Daily Record, “Like everyone else I suppose we had our fallouts because we spent so much time living in each others’ pockets. But we were still in touch until very recently. In fact, I’d be sitting at home in Paisley with a glass in my hand and Gerry would be the same down south. We would talk on the phone for hours and reminisce about the old days. It was as though we were sitting in a pub in Paisley… He was a great friend, as well as bandmate.”



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