Dan McCafferty: Nazareth lead singer death explained, who is his wife, best songs, band history - and health

McCafferty toured with his band until 2013, when he announced his retirement due to health issues

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Dan McCafferty, a Scottish hard-rock hero, has died at the age of 76. He was best known as the lead singer of the band Nazareth, with whom he toured from 1968 until 2013, when he announced his retirement.

Nazareth are most known for their 1975 album ‘Hair Of The Dog,’ which included the title track as well as a version of The Everly Brothers’ ballad, ‘Love Hurts.’

The band remain active, although with bassist Pete Agnew as the sole original member and Carl Sentance as the new lead singer. Lead guitarist Manny Charlton, another Nazareth founding member, died earlier this year at the age of 80.

McCafferty is survived by his wife, Maryann and two children.

On Tuesday (8 November), Agnew paid tribute to McCafferty on the band’s Facebook page, saying: “This is the saddest announcement I have ever had to make.”

“Dan died at 12.40,” he added. “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.”

Here is everything you need to know about him.

Who was Dan McCafferty?

Dan McCafferty performing with Nazareth at the London Olympia in 1976 (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Dan McCafferty performing with Nazareth at the London Olympia in 1976 (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Dan McCafferty performing with Nazareth at the London Olympia in 1976 (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

McCafferty was born in the Scottish town of Dunfermline in 1946. He became a founding member of Nazareth in 1968, and cited performers such as Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Otis Redding as influences.

The group’s self-titled debut LP was released in 1971, showcasing a powerful, hard rock sound, albeit one that frequently incorporated more pop-oriented covers.

The band raised its popularity in rock circles by performing with Deep Purple, and though several of Nazareth’s early albums were modest UK hits, it wasn’t until the release of their sixth album - 1975’s ‘Hair Of The Dog’ - that they would truly gain traction.

The single ‘Love Hurts’, a revised version of an Everly Brothers song with a rougher edge thanks to Manny Charlton’s guitars and McCafferty’s grainy yet powerful singing, boosted the album’s sales, and reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the US, becoming the group’s most recognisable song.

Up until 2014, McCafferty appeared on all of Nazareth’s albums and toured with them for 45 years. He co-wrote some of Nazareth’s biggest hits, including ’Broken Down Angel‘ and ’Bad Bad Boy,’ and also released three solo albums over the course of his career.

How did he die?

The cause of McCafferty’s death has not yet been confirmed. In 2013, he announced his retirement from live shows in 2013 owing to the development of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a burst stomach ulcer.

In an interview with the UK music magazine Classic Rock at the time, he expounded on the nature of his health concerns and the state of his predicament.

He said that his COPD, which had "worsened in recent years," had forced him to leave the stage in Switzerland in late August 2013 after only three songs, stating that, "You don’t know when it’s going to come on, but suddenly you can’t breathe."

Although McCafferty retired from performing live, his voice may be heard on Nazareth’s 2014 album, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone.”

He said: “To go into a studio and sing isn’t like doing a gig. I could always make another record, but getting up to do an hour and three-quarters, and get people to pay money to come and see me - I can’t do that.”