Billy Rankin knocks back Nazareth return
Former Nazareth guitarist and TeamRock Radio host Billy Rankin was this week offered the job of replacing Dan McCafferty in the band – but refused despite a trial rehearsal that he says went “fucking great.”
McCafferty exclusively told Classic Rock last week that he’d retired from the veteran Scottish rock outfit after his lung disease left him unable to deliver a full-length live set.
His decision came after Naz were forced to cancel a Canadian tour after he collapsed on stage in July, then collapsed again during a run of bill-topping festival appearances in Europe in August.
Bassist Pete Agnew – now the sole original member – called with the offer after fan speculation ran wild online. Rankin tells Classic Rock: “My name was mentioned a lot and I laughed like a train. Right up until the phone rang.
“Pete said, ‘We’d like you to replace Dan.’ I said, ‘No one can replace Dan. Why me?’ He told me, ‘Well, you can sing, and we’ve got history.’ I had to give him that one.
“We arranged a rehearsal and blasted through some old hits – and we all had to agree it sounded fucking great. But there was one thing missing: Dan.”
Rankin has been a member of the band twice. His first stint was in 1980, when he joined up after he’d been discovered in a Glasgow bar and made a member of Zal, the short-lived act formed by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band following the departure of frontman Harvey. He departed for a solo career in 1983 then returned for four years in 1990, appearing on a total of five Naz albums alongside three solo releases.
He later fronted SAHB in their 2003 incarnation, so he has experience of replacing a popular frontman – but that just added to his doubts. “Nazareth without Dan McCafferty?” he muses. “I can’t win with the fans, or the bottles I’d have to dodge. We agreed I’d think about it, and I have.
“Yesterday I called Uncle Pete and said: ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ As for Dan – get well, pal, and thanks for the 40 years of music.”
Rankin will pay tribute to McCafferty’s career on his Blues Magazine Show on TeamRock Radio tomorrow from 6pm.