Tributes paid to Rab Noakes after singer-songwriter dies suddenly

Tributes have flooded in after the death of Scottish singer-songwriter Rab Noakes at the age of 75.
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Noakes, who is said to have died suddenly in hospital, enjoyed a career spanning well over half a century.

He played with Gerry Rafferty, Lindisfarne and Stealers, but was renowned as a solo artist, releasing more than 20 albums since his debut in 1970.

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Born in St Andrews and brought up in Cupar, Noakes had been performing professionally since 1967.

He also played a key role in the Scottish music industry thanks to a career with the BBC, where he became senior producer of music at Radio Scotland, and also had a long-time involvement in the Musicians’ Union.

Noakes played a pivotal role in tribute concerts to Michael Marra and Gerry Rafferty at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival, where he was a regular performer.

The news of his death was revealed on social media by close friend and fellow Fife singer-songwriter Barbara Dickson.

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She said: “My dear and old friend Rab Noakes has died suddenly in hospital today. I am shocked. We had so much in common – The Everly Brothers, the Flying Burrito Brothers and an enduring love of songs, particularly traditional music. Sleep well, Rab. May you rest in peace. Bx"

Singer-songwriter Rab Naokes has passed away. Picture: Kris KesiakSinger-songwriter Rab Naokes has passed away. Picture: Kris Kesiak
Singer-songwriter Rab Naokes has passed away. Picture: Kris Kesiak

Author and fellow Fifer Val McDermid said: “In tears at the news of Rab Noakes’ death. Known and loved this generous, talented, open-hearted man since I was 14, never known a kinder soul. Or a better guitarist.

"We messaged each other only a couple of days ago and he was his usual upbeat self. We were planning to record some tracks together in the New Year. Known and loved him since I was 14.”

Steve Carson, director of BBC Scotland “All of us are deeply saddened to hear the news about Rab Noakes.

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"His contribution to music in Scotland cannot be overstated, alongside some remarkable programmes he made here at the BBC. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and with all his fans across the nation.”

Rab Noakes pictured performing at the Cash Back In Fife in Aberdour. Picture: Cath RuaneRab Noakes pictured performing at the Cash Back In Fife in Aberdour. Picture: Cath Ruane
Rab Noakes pictured performing at the Cash Back In Fife in Aberdour. Picture: Cath Ruane

Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis said: “An iconic and generous musician, and a gentleman. It was always a joy and an education to be in his company. Fois shiorraidh dha anam.”

Scots singer Iona Fyfe said: “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of Rab Noakes. He was always so encouraging, generous with his time and unbelievably kind, welcoming and supportive.”

Fiddler Duncan Chisholm said: “Rab was a true gentleman, always encouraging and generous of spirit. He was an incredible performer and a real iconic figure in Scottish music.”

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Playwright David Greig said: “I'm so sad to hear of the death of the Rab Noakes; an exquisite songwriter, producer, singer, mentor, who deeply cared about music and the arts in Scotland. I was always in awe of his talents and inspired by his kindness.”

Singer-songwriter Horse McDonald said: “So very sorry to hear about Rab Noakes. What a giant of a man, he’ll be sorely missed.”

Bruce Findlay, founder of the Bruce’s Record Shop chain, said: “I am gutted and so saddened to hear my dear old friend Rab Noakes has died. Thank you for all the wonderful music Rab but thank you most of all for being a pal for over 50 years.....I'm going to miss you man.”

Broadcaster Bryan Burnett said: “Such sad news about our own Rab Noakes. A huge loss. He hired me at Radio Scotland and as a producer he taught me so much about the country-pop music we both loved.”

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Playwright Stephen Greenhorn said: “Hard to take in that Rab Noakes has gone. He seemed to have been around forever. Can't imagine how many lives he touched with his music and his kindness. A real sore loss.”

Comedian and actor Sanjeev Kohli said: “Apart from being a musical icon, Rab Noakes was a gentle man who was very kind to me. Go well big man.”

Broadcaster Vic Galloway said: “Very sad to hear that Rab Noakes has passed away. A lovely guy and an important, influential figure in Scottish music!”

Former Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Rab Noakes made a special and unique contribution with both his music and in his committed and solid representation of Musicians through the Musicians’ Union. A pleasure to listen and work with him.”

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