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Raphael Ravenscroft, Man Behind Most Iconic Sax Riff in Pop Music, Dies at 60

Raphael Ravenscroft
Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Raphael Ravenscroft performs at Vredenburg in Utrecht on April 5, 1984.

Saxophone player Raphael Ravenscroft -- the man behind the most recognizable sax riff in pop music history -- has passed away of a suspected heart attack. He was 60.

Ravenscroft provided the sax hook on Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street," a fairly typical slice of '70s pop-rock turned into a transcendent hit by the unforgettable sax solo. "Baker Street" peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978 and the riff continues to be one of the most celebrated sax hooks in history.

Ravenscroft was reportedly paid for the sessions with a check that bounced, while Rafferty earned thousands in royalties on the song over the years.

Some music historians claim the "Baker Street" sax solo is strongly inspired by a similar solo in jazz-rock fusion player Steve Marcus' 1968 track "Half a Heart."