Manny Charlton obituary | pop and rock

Hair of the Dog was the 1975 album that put Scottish rock band Nazareth into the big leagues, and it was their first to be produced by the band’s guitarist and arranger Manny Charlton, who died at the age of 80 years old. It gave them a Top 20 hit on the US charts and a US Top 10 single with their version of The Everly Brothers’ Love Hurts.

But Hair of the Dog also proved to be another kind of landmark for Charlton. When, in the late 1980s, then-little-known band Guns N’ Roses were working on material for what would become their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, their lead singer, Axl Rose, asked their record label, Geffen , to “make me the guy who produced Hair of the Dog of Nazareth”. The title track, with its big, swaggering beat and raspy chorus of “now you’re messing with a son of a bitch”, was one of Axl’s all-time favorites.

At the time, Charlton was working on Nazareth’s 1986 album Cinema, but despite the poor quality of the live tapes Guns N’ Roses sent him, he agreed to fly to California to meet them. “If we liked each other and I liked their music, I might produce for them,” he recalls. He liked them, and they got along well enough to make 25-song demo recordings, including hits Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle. But production duties with Nazareth meant Charlton had to return to Europe, and Appetite for Destruction ended up being produced by Mike Clink. It has sold over 30 million copies.

“They were just a bunch of young guys living their rock ‘n’ roll dreams and having a blast,” Charlton said. “I never anticipated that they would become one of the greatest bands in rock history.” He was never paid for his work on the demos, but they were included in a 2018 reissue of Appetite for Destruction, while Guns N’ Roses’ 1993 cover album The Spaghetti Incident? included their version of Hair of the Dog.

Charlton was born in the Andalusian town of Línea de la Concepción in Spain, where his Scottish mother and father had emigrated in the late 1930s. During World War II, when he was two years old, his parents moved back to their home town of Dunfermline.

As a youth he was inspired by the sounds of early rock ‘n’ roll which led him to learn the guitar before playing the streets of Dunfermline and later playing with various local bands. He met future Nazareth bandmates Dan McCafferty (vocals) and Pete Agnew (bass) while playing in ballroom house band Kinema, and all three formed the Shadettes with drummer Darrell Sweet.

Nazareth’s classic 1976 line-up, left to right: Darrell Sweet, Dan McCafferty, Manny Charlton and Pete Agnew. Photography: André Csillag/Shutterstock

The Shadettes wore matching yellow suits and performed cover versions of top 30 hits, but that all changed in 1968 when they changed their name to Nazareth (inspired by the band’s song The Weight, whose opening line is “I arrived in Nazareth feeling ‘about dead and a half'”. With the advice of their manager, Bill Fehilly, a Scottish bingo hall entrepreneur who also handled the business of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, they moved to London in 1970 and released their first album, Nazareth, the following year.

Neither that record nor its follow-up, Exercises (1972), made much of an impression, but the tide began to turn with Razamanaz (1973), produced by Roger Glover of Deep Purple, with whom Nazareth had toured. By now Nazareth’s hard-hitting yet melodic sound was becoming noticeable, and the album reached No. 11 on the UK Albums Chart, while also spinning the UK’s top 10 hit singles Broken Down Angel and Bad Bad Boy. Loud’n’Proud (1973) did better on the UK charts reaching No. 10, and their rock version of Joni Mitchell’s This Flight Tonight was a No. 11 single.

The band’s prospects looked promising, and it was with their sixth album, Hair of the Dog, that major international stardom dawned. It was recorded over nine days at Escape Studios, a converted oasis house in Kent, and along with the title track, featured some of the band’s most enduring songs. Imaginative cover versions were a Nazareth trademark, including the psychedelic nugget of Tomorrow’s 1967 My White Bicycle, a No. 14 hit. There they delivered a surprisingly delicate treatment of Randy Newman’s bar ballad Guilty while by ringing apocalyptic Beggars Day by Nils Lofgren. The American version of Hair of the Dog contained the group’s grandiose and dramatic version of Love Hurts, an early specimen of the “power ballad” genre arranged by Charlton and sung with heartbreaking intensity by McCafferty. This earned them a Top 10 hit in the United States and worldwide, helping the album to sell over 2 million copies internationally.

Nazareth performing Hair of the Dog live in 1977.

Hair of the Dog proved to be the platform for a series of hit albums, including the US Top 30 album Close Enough for Rock’n’Roll (1976), although the magic waned by the time where they released 2XS in 1982, which was their last album to hit the Top 200 on Billboard’s album charts. Charlton’s final album with Nazareth was their 17th, Snakes n’ Ladders (1989), after which he quit. “There were just too many personal issues in the band at that time,” he said. “We never should have been in the studio at that time and I’ll take my share of the blame for whatever bullshit happened.”

In 1998, he moved to Texas, where he formed the Manny Charlton Band, with whom he recorded a few albums. He has also released a series of solo albums, from Drool in 1999 to Solo in 2016. The compilation Creme de la Creme – A Best Of was released in 2018. In 2021 he celebrated his 80th birthday by recording a new version of Nazareth’s 1976 song, Telegram. , a saga of the life of a touring rock musician.

He is survived by his daughter, Vicki. He was divorced from his wife Isabelle.

Manny (Manuel) Charlton, musician, born July 25, 1941; passed away on July 5, 2022

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