Stealers Wheel

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Stealers Wheel
Stealers Wheel - TopPop 1973 9.png
Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty in 1973
Background information
Origin Paisley, Scotland
Genres Pop rock, folk rock, soft rock, pub rock
Years active 1972–1975, 2008–present
Labels A&M
Members Rod Coombes
Paul Pilnick
Tony Williams
Tony Mitchell
Past members Joe Egan
Gerry Rafferty
Roger Brown
Ian Campbell
Rab Noakes
Luther Grosvenor
DeLisle Harper

Stealers Wheel are a Scottish folk rock/rock band formed in Paisley, Scotland, in 1972 by former school friends Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty.[1] Their well-known hit is "Stuck in the Middle with You".

The band broke up in 1975 and re-formed without Egan or Rafferty in 2008.


Egan and Rafferty first met when they were teenagers in Paisley and they became the core of Stealers Wheel. They were initially joined by Roger Brown, Rab Noakes and Ian Campbell in 1972. However, that line-up only lasted a few months and by the time the band was signed to A&M Records later that same year, Brown, Noakes and Campbell had been replaced by Paul Pilnick, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes.

This line-up recorded their self-titled debut album Stealers Wheel (October 1972), which was produced by the influential American songwriters and producers Leiber & Stoller, and 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".[2][3][4]

Stealers Wheel in 1973

By the time the first album was released Rafferty had left the band and had been replaced by Luther Grosvenor, who remained with the band for much of 1973 on tour. DeLisle Harper also replaced Tony Williams on tour.

"Stuck in the Middle With You" reached No. 6 in the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart[5] in 1973, and sold over one million copies worldwide, and was awarded a gold disc.[6] With the album also selling well, Rafferty was persuaded to return. However, Grosvenor, Coombes and Pilnick all left the band. With so many changes in the band's line-up they officially became a duo, with backing musicians as needed on tour and in the studio. Later in 1973 the single "Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine" had modest chart success (the single version is a substantially different recording than the album version and all subsequent CDs) and, in 1974, the single "Star" reached the Top 30 of both the UK and US charts.[1][5] 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."[7]

The group's second album, Ferguslie Park, was released in 1974 with the duo backed up by nine backing musicians.[8] The album, named after an area of Paisley, just reached the US Billboard 200 and was a commercial failure. With increasing tension between Egan and Rafferty they could not agree on which studio musicians to use on the third album, and with Leiber & Stoller also having business problems, Stealers Wheel disappeared for eighteen months. By the time the album Right Or Wrong was released in 1975, Stealers Wheel had ceased to exist.[1] The last album, because of disagreements and managerial problems, was produced by Mentor Williams. All three albums had sleeve designs by artist John Byrne.

After 1975, the group was hardly known, and the two last single releases faded away in the charts. Both Egan and Rafferty recorded songs which included lyrics referring to the acrimonious history of Stealers Wheel and a Best of Stealers Wheel album was released in 1990. In 1992 director Quentin Tarantino used the track "Stuck in the Middle with You" in the soundtrack of his debut film Reservoir Dogs, bringing new attention to the band.[1] In September 2001 a dance version of "Stuck in the Middle with You" was a UK Top 10 hit for Louise, with a music video that drew heavily on the original song's appearance in the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs.

All three albums have been unavailable for a number of years, although in 2004 and 2005 the British independent record label Lemon Recordings, of Cherry Red, re-released them with remastered sound and new liner-notes.

After being contacted by iTunes and K-tel records in California, Tony Williams re-formed Stealers Wheel in Blackpool in 2008 with two other original band members, Rod Coombes and Paul Pilnick, together with locally based musician and songwriter Tony Mitchell. On 10 November 2008, they started filming a music video for a re-release of "Stuck in the Middle" on the Fylde coast. They also began writing songs for an album due to have been released in 2009, although they have no plans to go on tour.[9]

Gerry Rafferty died on 4 January 2011 after suffering liver failure.[10]

Band members[edit]

Current members
  • Rod Coombes - drums (1972–1973; 2008–present)
  • Paul Pilnick - lead guitar (1972–1973; 2008–present)
  • Tony Williams - bass guitar (1972–1973; 2008–present)
  • Tony Mitchell - guitar (2008–present)
Past members
  • Joe Egan - lead vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar (1972–1975)
  • Gerry Rafferty - vocals, lead guitar (1972, 1973–1975)
  • Roger Brown - vocals (1972)
  • Ian Campbell - bass guitar (1972)
  • Rab Noakes - guitar, vocals (1972)
  • Luther Grosvenor (Ariel Bender) - vocals, guitar (1972–1973)
  • DeLisle Harper - bass guitar (1973)

Selected discography[edit]


  • 1972: Stealers Wheel (US No. 50, AUS No.44)
  • 1974: Ferguslie Park (US No. 181)
  • 1975: Right or Wrong
  • 1990: The Best of Stealers Wheel


Year Single UK[5] US
1973 "Stuck in the Middle with You" 8 6
1973 "Everything Will Turn Out Fine" (in US as "Everyone's Agreed That Everything Will Turn Out Fine") 33 49
1973 "Star" 25 29
1975 "Right or Wrong" - -
1975 "Found My Way to You" - -


  1. ^ a b c d e Eder, Bruce. "Stealers Wheel Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 527. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 337. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  7. ^ David Middleton. "FORTY-FIVE REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE #18: Born Sippy". Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Ferguslie Park Stealers Wheel review". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  9. ^ Parkinson, Shelagh (11 November 2008). "Blackpool Councillor follows Take That's lead". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  10. ^ Gray, Michael (4 January 2011). "Gerry Rafferty obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]