Original Nazareth vocalist Dan McCafferty dies aged 76

Manny Charlton and Dan McCafferty of Nazareth onstage in 1975
(Image credit: Jorgen Angel / Getty)

Dan McCafferty, the former frontman for Scottish hard rock band Nazareth, has passed away aged 76, according to a report from his former bandmate Pete Agnew.

Writing on the band’s social channels, Agnew stated:

“Dan died at 12:40 today. This is the saddest announcement I 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.”

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The frontman helped Agnew form the band from the ashes of their previous group The Shadettes in 1968, though the pair already had a long history, having been friends since the age of five.

The band enjoyed the early patronage of Deep Purple members Roger Glove and Jon Lord, both of whom produced albums for the group in the ’70s. However, the band’s most notable success, 1975’s Hair Of The Dog, was produced by guitarist Manny Charlton. 

It featured a cover of the Boudleaux-Bryant composition Love Hurts (made famous by the Everly Brothers), which would become their most successful single, as well as the snarling and distinctive title track, which carried the memorable refrain, “Now you’re messin’ with… a son of a bitch!”

Hair Of The Dog (the title a supposed play on ‘heir of the dog’ i.e. ‘son of a bitch’) was later covered by Guns N’ Roses and the original found popularity with a new generation on the Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost And The Damned soundtrack around 2010. Axl Rose reportedly once remarked onstage (opens in new tab) in 1988 that “If it wasn't for Dan McCafferty and Nazareth I wouldn't be singing.”

The band’s core line-up of McCafferty, Agnew, Manny Charlton and drummer Darrell Sweet, would remain remarkably stable until 1990. Charlton, who passed away in July of this year, left in 1990 and was initially lined up to produce Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction

McCafferty – renowned for his remarkable vocal, which was reminiscent of a combination of Bon Scott and Axl Rose – remained with the group until 2013, when he announced his retirement from touring following his diagnosis with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.