Dan McCafferty retires from Nazareth
End of the line: McCafferty, second left, with Naz
Nazareth singer Dan McCafferty has retired from the band as a result of the health issues which forced them to cancel two sets of live dates.
The veteran vocalist collapsed on stage in Switzerland at the weekend, resulting in rumours that he’d had a stroke. Last month he collapsed in Canada. Both incidents caused the band to call off further appearances.
Now he’s shouted down the stroke story – but admits a lung disease has brought an end to his 45-year live career.
McCafferty tells Classic Rock: “I’ve not had a stroke. That’s completely untrue – thank goodness and touch wood. I’m not in hospital in Switzerland at all. I don’t know how these things get started.
“I’ve got Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and it’s been getting worse over the years. You don’t know when it’s going to come on, but suddenly you can’t breathe.
“I was going on stage at Summerfest in Switzerland thinking, ‘This is great – our first festival in a few months and it’s a lovely day.’ We couldn’t have asked for better.”
Three songs in he suffered an attack of COPD, leaving him out of breath and unable to continue. He decided at that moment to retire with immediate effect.
“When I came off stage I said to the boys: ‘I can’t keep doing this to the band.’ I can’t embarrass the boys and the fans. If you can’t do the job you shouldn’t be there – Nazareth’s too big for that.”
McCafferty’s decision came after he’d taken a break following his collapse in Canada, which was caused by a burst stomach ulcer. “I thought I’d be fine,” he says, “But you lose so much blood when that happens.”
He admits he and his bandmates are “a wee bit emotional” and haven’t come to terms with the news, but he says: “The music we’ve made over the years is more important than any member of the band. We always felt like that, and I can’t see that’s changed just because I’ve left.
“I really hope they get someone else. I’m sure they can.”
Naz recently completed recording work on their 24th album, not yet titled. “To go into a studio and sing isn’t like doing a gig,” says McCafferty. “I could always make another record, but getting up to do an hour and three-quarters, and get people to pay money to come and see me – I can’t do that.”
He’s going to take time out to consider his future, but says a solo album might be a possibility. As to the chances of a farewell show, he jokes: “It could be like, ‘I’ll sing for ten minutes, everyone go for a pint, than I’ll sing for another ten minutes.’ I don’t know how well that would work!”
McCafferty adds: “Let everyone know I appreciate they’ve been there for all these years.”
Naz formed in Fife, Scotland in 1968, with McCafferty and bassist Pete Agnew the only members to feature in all lineups until now. Other members included Manny Charlton, John Locke, Zal Cleminson and TeamRock Radio Blues Magazine Show host Billy Rankin. The last lineup to feature McCafferty had been stable since 2002, with guitarist Jimmy Murrison and Agnew’s son Lee on drums.