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Tribute to Dan McCafferty – Nazareth’s Homecoming to Alhambra

Our virtual travels often bring you to some crazy cool places, so I would completely understand that just by looking at the title of this post you might think that we are heading out to Nazareth, the biblical city in Northern Israel…sorry not this time.

Okay, I get it – 🎶’we are pulling into Nazareth, since we're feeling ‘bout half past dead…’🎶

Now, you're getting warmer, but we’re not heading out to Eastern Pennsylvania to visit Carmen or the Devil as they are mentioned in ‘The Weight’, a song by The Band. Nor are we visiting any other famous residents of Nazareth, Pennsylvania – like the car racing legends of the Andretti family. However, that song by The Band, did inspire four young Scottish rockers in the late sixties to name their band ‘Nazareth’.

Alright maybe we're going on a musical journey with Nazareth to Alhambra, in Granada, Andalusia, Spain!

Oh, how I wish that we could visit that Alhambra- one the most famous and well-preserved Islamic palaces in the world, but not this time. However, we are going on a rocking journey to Scotland’s newest city – Dunfermline!

Now, don’t let that fool you, even though Dunfermline’s official ‘city status’ was not granted until October of 2022, it is old! Not counting all the previous settlements (neolithic and others), even the modern Dunfermline has an incredibly rich history. As a former capital of Scotland, it’s Abbey (that actually predates the Palace of Alhambra in Granada, by more than a century) was used as the burial place of Scottish Kings and Queens. For example, King Robert the Bruce and Queen Margaret, later Saint Margaret, are buried there.

But we will leave the Dunfermline history for other posts for now, because we are heading into the Alhambra -The Alhambra Theatre- because we have a concert to get to!

The Alhambra Theatre is a historical landmark in Dunfermline, obviously not as old as the Abbey, but it is still over a hundred years old, as it opened its doors in 1922. It has served different purposes in its history, because aside from plays and musicals, it has hosted concerts and comedy acts – even a ‘Peter Pan on Ice’ performance! It has also been used as a cinema and as a bingo hall. For more history on Alhambra, as well as information on all upcoming shows, we recommend that you check their website.

Here are some of our photos of this incredibly beautiful theatre:

On this occasion we were there to welcome the return of Dunfermline’s most famous band-Nazareth!

So, please let me introduce you to four incredible hard-rock musicians from Dunfermline: vocalist Dan McCafferty, bassist Pete Agnew, drummer Darrell Sweet, and guitarist Manny Charlton! So, as I just mentioned, they were all from Dunfermline…well sort of. Manny was actually born in Spain, although his family migrated to Dunfermline when he was just two years old. In any case, I do find it a fun coincidence, that he was born as Manuel in the town of La Linea in Andalusia, Spain, not that far at all from the Palace of Alhambra!

These budding young Dunfermline rockers got to know each other through their affiliations with different cover bands, including a band called The Shadettes. But then in December of 1968 this quartet decided to form their own band – and that’s when they ‘pulled into Nazareth’!

Well, if not to Nazareth, definitely to stardom! Because they soon found themselves making records in London, and touring around with Deep Purple. Shortly thereafter, Nazareth started to climb up the charts as well. One of their early hits from their Razamanaz album was the song ‘Broken Down Angel’. Below is a video of it from their concert in Brazil 2011, almost 40 years after first releasing it in 1973.

Throughout their career, Nazareth has had numerous big hits on the charts all over the world, especially in Canada, Europe and South America. But, for some reason their success in the United States has been a bit limited. However, they did crack the American charts in 1975, with their big hit – ‘Hair of the Dog’! And I know that many of you might be thinking that you don’t know that song. Well, that’s because it is usually just known as the ‘Son of B****’ song. But, if you just listen to the opening riffs and the cowbells throughout the song, I guarantee that you’ll have heard the song countless times. Also, be sure to watch through the video to see the creative way Dan uses the bagpipes.

See, that’s the thing about Nazareth, everyone knows their songs but not everyone knows that it was Nazareth that made these songs into the classics that they are and that have stood the test of time. Not only did their own songs become big hits, but they also made some remarkable cover versions of other songs (that are really now more known by their Nazareth versions). For example, their cover of the Everly Brothers song: ‘Love Hurts’, which was their only Top Ten hit in the U.S.

Although fame may have eluded them in the States after the 70’s, the band kept recording and touring in the 80’s. One of their greatest songs was released first in their 1982 album “2XS”, and then later as a single in 1983 and I know that you all know this one – ‘Dream On’! Now, I know that there are many great live concert videos of 'Dream On', and perhaps one of the funniest and weirdest official music videos ever, but I had to include this lyrics video (below) for one very specific reason – in the photo, Manny is wearing a Habs jersey. I just love it. A Spanish born Scot from Dunfermline wearing a Montreal Canadians jersey!

Throughout their history, there have been numerous line-up changes to Nazareth, many of them just were member additions like second guitarist Zal Cleminson, keyboardists Ronnie Leahy and John Locke. However, the first major shake-up was in 1991 when Manny left Nazareth. He was first replaced by Billy Rankin, who then was replaced by Jimmy Murrison in 1994. Jimmy is still the guitarist for Nazareth today – so he is the one we saw in the concert in the Alhambra Theatre.

The next big shock to the band was the sudden death of the drummer, Darrell Sweet, during their concert tour in 1999. He died of a heart attack at the age of 51. After this loss, the remaining members decided to carry on, and they did not have to look far for their new drummer because they enlisted Lee Agnew (the son of the bassist Peter Agnew). Lee remains the drummer of Nazareth to this day, so he will be rocking with us shortly!

But if you recall the title of this post – this is a Tribute to Dan McCafferty. To start, I want to express the affinity that I have always had for Dan McCafferty and his voice. To me he has one of the most distinguished rocker voices, and it is one of the voices that I will always recognize immediately. I understand that he might not have the angelic pipes of Steve Perry of Journey or Brad Delp of Boston, or that his voice might not be everyone’s favourite, but I have always loved it. And I am not alone because even Axel Rose and Slash of Gun N’ Roses, Brian Johnson of AC/DC, and many other rock stars list Dan McCafferty as their favourite singer!

The next big shake up to the Nazareth line-up came in August of 2013. After nearly 45 years of recording and touring, Dan announced his retirement from touring. This was due to his health issues, both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stomach ulcers. Yet, even as he stepped aside from touring, he encouraged the band to go on – because to him Nazareth was bigger than any individual. However, he was still able to record in the studio, both with Nazareth, and as a solo artist. He even recommended his replacement to be Linton Osborne. Unfortunately, Linton left after a little over a year (also for health reasons), and he was then replaced by the current singer of Nazareth – Carl Sentance.

As I mentioned, Dan McCafferty recorded as a solo artist, releasing his album ‘Last Testament’ in 2019. It’s a great album that showcases his talent after more than five decades of performing, and despite his health issues, he still had his remarkable voice! From that album he also released one of the most haunting but beautiful music videos I think I have ever seen – please enjoy ‘Tell Me’-

Another great video from his album is the song, ‘Home is Where the Heart Is’, which was filmed along the shores of the Firth of Forth, just south of Dunfermline. They conclude the video in the Bruce Arms pub in the village of Limekilns, on the outskirts of Dunfermline. So, it’s obvious that fame, fortunes and stardom did not change the fact that Scotland and Dunfermline were always where Dan's heart was.

Unfortunately, the name of his last album (‘Last Testament’) was quite ominous because we lost one of the most influential singers of our time on the 8th of November 2022, when Dan McCafferty passed away and “pulled out of Nazareth” for the last time. So, for us, this is how we honour him, but also Manny (who also passed away in 2022) and Darrell, and any other people who have been affiliated with Nazareth over half of a century. We want to introduce or re-introduce more people to the story and the music of Nazareth. We want all of you to- Dream On!

As for Nazareth, they’re still rocking and honouring the legacy of past members by continuing to tour. You can check out more about them and their upcoming shows at-

So, it’s time for me to wrap up the stories and all the history babble for now, and just let there be rock! Here are a few clips and photos from Nazareth’s incredible concert in their hometown of Dunfermline, at the Alhambra Theatre from April of 2023.

Until next time – don’t forget to ‘Explore & Discover’! And ROCK!!


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