ufoIt’s that time of the week again when RUSHONROCK‘s reside classic rock columnist Self Made Man offers his take on the music world.

And today he turns his attention to the ailing star of one of the genre’s best-loved acts Nazareth.

Every week Self Made Man writes exclusively for RUSHONROCK


So legendary Nazareth vocalist Dan McCafferty has burnt out – or is he just fading away?

To paraphrase Neil Young’s famous lyrics from Hey Hey, My My we won’t be seeing the gravel-voiced Scot in concert ever again following his decision to retire after collapsing on stage in Switzerland last weekend.

Happily, initial reports that McCafferty had suffered a stroke proved unfounded. He’s called a halt to his 45-year career with the band due to a lung condition which can make breathing difficult at times.

The announcement grabbed my attention for two reasons.

First and foremost, I like Nazareth and have done since I first heard their hit single Broken Down Angel when I was 11 or 12 years old.

But it was the word “retire” which really set me thinking. 

Do rock stars “retire” or as Young claimed, do they just burn out or fade away?

I can’t recall too many musicians announcing their retirement even though many of them from the classic rock genre are now over 65. 

The late Jon Lord retired from Deep Purple in 2003 because he didn’t want to tour anymore though he still worked, spending his twilight years composing classical music.

McCafferty says he may still work in the studio – Nazareth’s as yet untitled 24th album is due out later this year – but to all intents and purposes, the Fife frontman’s days as one of the most distinctive singers in rock, are over.

Will he set a trend? I doubt it. Current evidence suggests most musicians prefer to follow the example of The Rolling Stones who have a few more concerts in them before that final Great Gig In The Sky.

Death has cut short the careers of many from Bon Scott, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and John Bonham in their prime to Ronnie James Dio, Rick Wright and Lord in their 60s. 

But few choose to retire.

Led Zeppelin, of course, disbanded following the death of Bonham, but Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones have all been musically active ever since.

Pink Floyd will never reform – their appearance at Live 8, when Roger Waters memorably reunited with his former band mates, was unequivocally their last concert – though there has never been a formal announcement that the group have ceased to exist.

David Gilmour released a hugely successful solo album a few years ago but has not toured for some time, in stark contrast to Waters, whose “The Wall” tour has taken him around the world three times.

The Who – now down to just two founding members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend – have just completed a European tour. Most of us privileged to see them live this year are resigned to the fact, that was the last time though from what I witnessed, there was plenty petrol left in the tank of both men.

I would imagine most artists of that generation will gently wind down their careers rather than formally end them. 

Eric Clapton, like Gilmour, has hinted his live appearances will be few and far between while it’s unlikely Paul McCartney will re-emerge for anything a one-off event such as the Opening Ceremony of last year’s Olympic Games or Hard Rock Calling. 

And then there’s the ageless, adrenaline junkie Bruce Springsteen but if I mentioned him too many times in a blog about retirement, he’d probably sue.

Ian Murtagh