Stealers Wheel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stealers Wheel
Joe Egan (left) and Gerry Rafferty in 1973
Joe Egan (left) and Gerry Rafferty in 1973
Background information
OriginPaisley, Scotland
GenresPop rock, folk rock
Years active1972–1975, 2008
Past membersJoe Egan
Gerry Rafferty
Rod Coombes
Paul Pilnick
Tony Williams
Luther Grosvenor
DeLisle Harper
Tony Mitchell
Roger Brown
Iain Campbell
Rab Noakes

Stealers Wheel were a Scottish folk rock/rock band formed in 1972 in Paisley, Scotland, by former school friends Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty.[1] Their best-known hit is "Stuck in the Middle with You". The band broke up in 1975 and re-formed briefly in 2008.


Egan and Rafferty met as teenagers in Paisley, and became the core of Stealers Wheel. They were initially joined by Roger Brown, Rab Noakes and Iain Campbell in 1972. By the time the band was signed to A&M Records later that year, Brown, Noakes and Campbell had been replaced by Paul Pilnick, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes.[2]

This second line-up recorded Stealers Wheel (October 1972), produced by American songwriters and producers Leiber & Stoller,[2] and it was a critical and commercial success, reaching No. 50 in the US Billboard 200 album chart, with their hit single "Stuck in the Middle with You" coming from the album.[1] On 7 November 1972 the band appeared on BBC 2's The Old Grey Whistle Test, performing "I Get By" and "Late Again".[3][4][5]

Stealers Wheel appearing on TopPop in 1973

By the time the first album was released, Rafferty had left the band; Luther Grosvenor filled in for him on tour.[2] Tony Williams also left shortly afterwards, and DeLisle Harper joined on bass for the tour.

"Stuck in the Middle with You" reached No. 6 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart[6] in 1973, selling over one million copies worldwide, and was awarded a gold disc.[7] With the album also selling well, Rafferty was persuaded to return. However, Grosvenor, Coombes, Pilnick, and Harper all left the band. The band officially became a duo with various backing musicians on guitar, bass, and drums.[2] Later in 1973, the single "Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine" had modest chart success, and in 1974, the single "Star" reached the top 30 of both the UK and US charts.[1][6] Reviewing the single "Star", David Middleton at PopRockNation wrote:

A catchy shuffle of the Lennonesque variety, 'Star' is 3 minutes of pure shimmering acoustic-guitar pop loveliness and honey-throated vocal harmonies, punctuated with spikes of harmonica, kazoo, woodblock, and bawdy barrelhouse piano.[8]

A second album, Ferguslie Park, was released in 1973,[2] with the duo supported by nine musicians.[9] The album, named after an area of Paisley, just barely reached the US Billboard 200 and was a commercial failure. With increasing tensions between Egan and Rafferty, and with Leiber & Stoller also having business problems, Stealers Wheel went on a year and a half hiatus.[2] By the time their third and final album Right or Wrong was released in 1975, they completely disbanded.[1] Because of disagreements and managerial problems, it was produced by Mentor Williams. In 1978, A&M released the compilation album Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan — Stuck in the Middle with You (The Best of Stealers Wheel).

Another compilation album, Best of Stealers Wheel, was released in 1990. In 1992, director Quentin Tarantino used the track "Stuck in the Middle with You" on the soundtrack of his debut film Reservoir Dogs,[1] in which it was used in the iconic scene involving the torture of a police officer. A dance version of "Stuck in the Middle with You" was a UK top 10 hit for Louise in September 2001, with a music video that drew heavily on the original song's appearance in Reservoir Dogs.

All three albums had been unavailable for many years, though in 2004 and 2005 the British independent record label Lemon Recordings, of Cherry Red, re-released them using vinyl sources rather than tapes.

After being contacted by iTunes and K-tel in California, Tony Williams briefly re-formed Stealers Wheel in Blackpool in 2008 with Rod Coombes and Paul Pilnick, together with close friend Tony Mitchell. On 10 November 2008, they started filming a music video for a re-recording of "Stuck in the Middle" on the Fylde coast. They also began writing new songs although they had no plans to tour, and disbanded again.[10]

Gerry Rafferty died on 4 January 2011 of liver failure.[11]

In early 2016, independent record label Intervention Records reissued both Stealers Wheel and Ferguslie Park on 180-gram vinyl.[12][13]

In 2017, Caroline reissued all three in a mini-boxed set with three BBC bonus tracks on the first album. All were remastered.[14]

Rab Noakes died on 11 November 2022, at the age of 75.[15]

Band members[edit]

  • Joe Egan – lead and backing vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar (1972–1975)
  • Gerry Rafferty – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards (1972, 1973–1975; died 2011)
  • Paul Pilnick – lead guitar (1972–1973, 2008; died 2021)[16]
  • Tony Williams – bass (1972–1973, 2008)
  • Rod Coombes – drums (1972–1973, 2008)
  • Luther Grosvenor – lead and backing vocals, guitar, lap steel guitar (1973)
  • DeLisle Harper – bass (1973)
  • Tony Mitchell – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (2008)



Year Title Peak chart positions
1972 Stealers Wheel 44 25 50
1973 Ferguslie Park 181
1975 Right or Wrong 201
1978 Gerry Rafferty & Joe Egan - Stuck in the Middle with You: The Best of Stealers Wheel
(A&M compilation)
1990 The Best of Stealers Wheel (compilation)
2017 Stealers Wheel: The A&M Years (all three studio albums, some live tracks)[19]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
1973 "Stuck in the Middle with You" 8 16 6 2[20]
"Everything Will Turn Out Fine"
(in AUS/US/CAN as "Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine")
33 90 49 25[22]
"Star" 25 67 29 12[23]
1975 "Right or Wrong"
"Found My Way to You"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b c d e Eder, Bruce. "Stealers Wheel Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 1132/3. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  3. ^ "Old Grey Whistle Test - Vintage Rock TV Archive". Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Stealers Wheel - 'I Get By'". YouTube. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Late Again (Stealers Wheel)". YouTube. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 527. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 337. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  8. ^ Middleton, David (29 December 2008). "Forty-Five Revolutions per Minute #18: Born Sippy". Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  9. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Ferguslie Park Stealers Wheel review". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  10. ^ Parkinson, Shelagh (11 November 2008). "Blackpool Councillor follows Take That's lead". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  11. ^ Gray, Michael (4 January 2011). "Gerry Rafferty obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  12. ^ "Stealers Wheel 180G LP". Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Ferguslie Park 180G LP". Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Stealers Wheel: All Three Albums Boxed". 5 March 2018.
  15. ^ Suter, Ruth (12 November 2022). "Rab Noakes dead: Scots Singer-Songwriter Passes Away Aged 75". Daily Record. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  16. ^ "Tributes pour in for Liverpool born Stealers Wheel star who played with the greats". Liverpool Echo. 2 October 2021. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  17. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 292. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ a b "Stealers Wheel - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 25 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  19. ^ "Stealers Wheel The A&M Years : CD Box Set". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  20. ^ "Canadian peaks". RPM.
  21. ^ "Stealers Wheel - Stuck in the Middle with You". Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  22. ^ "Canadian peaks". RPM.
  23. ^ "Canadian peaks". RPM.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]