Classic Hits & Oldies

Original Nazareth frontman Dan McCafferty dead at 76

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Kevin Statham/Redferns

 Dan McCafferty, the original lead singer for the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth, has died. He was 76.

The news was announced on the band’s Facebook page by bass player Pete Agnew, the only remaining founding member in the current Nazareth lineup. “Dan died at 12:40 today,” Agnew wrote. “This is the saddest announcement I ever had to make … 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.” 

No cause of death was given, but McCafferty had retired from the band in 2013 due to health issues, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a burst stomach ulcer.

McCafferty founded Nazareth in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1968 with Agnew, drummer Darrell Sweet and guitarist Manny Charlton. They took their name from a line in The Band‘s song “The Weight:” “I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ ’bout half past dead.”

In the U.S., they’re best known for their top-10 cover of The Everly Brothers‘ “Love Hurts,” which reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1976. It was their only top-10 hit, though the title track of their 1975 album, Hair of the Dog — sometimes erroneously referred to as “Son of a B***h” because of its hook — became a rock radio staple.

Their only other U.S. charted song was 1980’s “Holiday,” with its video getting airplay in the early days of MTV. In 1993, Guns ‘N’ Roses covered “Hair of the Dog” on their album The Spaghetti Incident?.

McCafferty was replaced first by Linton Osborne and then by Carl Sentance, who is their current singer. Their most recent album, Surviving the Law, was released earlier this year.

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