John Byrne in drama tribute to Rafferty
Play to be staged in town if bid gets OK
Paisley artist and playwright John Byrne has been inspired by the music of Gerry Rafferty to write a stage show set in the town.
Dubbed Underwood Lane, the theatre piece will feature Rafferty’s music in a tough scenario set around the religious divide in the west of Scotland.
And it is Byrne’s ambition to have it staged in Paisley if it wins the bid to become UK City of Culture 2021.
The story will centre on the friendship of two teenagers – one a Catholic and one a Protestant – who grew up side by side but have never met, before a chance encounter leads to them setting up a band together.
The show is expected to feature many of Rafferty’s best-known songs, such as Stuck In The Middle With You, Whatever’s Written In Your Heart, Baker Street and Night Train.
Seventy-seven-year-old Byrne is working with Neil McArthur, who was the musical director on the National Theatre of Scotland’s stage adaptation of Byrne’s Tutti Frutti.
Robin Lefevre, who worked with Byrne previously on stage shows, is also involved.
Byrne said: “Underwood Lane is where the Rafferty family lived.
“I knew Gerald, as I always called him, from when I was eight years of age and I worked beside his older brother Jim in Stoddart’s carpet factory.
“I saw him two days before he died after I was told he was on his way out.
“I went down to see him in Gloucester, where he was living with his daughter, Martha. We spent five hours laughing and reminiscing.”
He added: “The script of Underwood could stand alone without any music in it.
“I didn’t write it to accommodate any of the songs – I just wrote it as a play. But it’s the songs that make the thing a complete work of art.”
As well as a playwright, John Byrne is an artist of great distinction.
His often quirky paintings are inspired by Surrealism
Gerry Rafferty died in January 2011, and is best known for his massive hit Baker Street.
Paisley 2021 bid director Jean Cameron said: “As one of Paisley’s best- known cultural figures, John Byrne has been a big supporter of his home town’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. So we are delighted he is working on this musical, which would be a fitting tribute to the music of his great friend Gerry Rafferty.
“Should we win, the programme for Paisley’s 2021 year will bring the best artists from Paisley, Scotland and the UK here to work with local talent, while telling our unique stories on an international stage.
“This show would be a great fit for that and we would be delighted to stage it here in Paisley.”
Artists John Byrne, top, and Gerry Rafferty, above