Rock stars ‘fire’ lead guitarist
In a shock move Fife rockers Nazareth have sacked founder member Manny Charlton and installed a replacement – in the shape of guitarist Billy Rankin.
Drummer Darrell Sweet said this week that, “musical and personal differences” had led to a new core line-up for the band after 22 years. While no-one was prepared to talk in detail about the split which occurred shortly after the charity fund-raising concert at East End Park last month – Manny said this week, “Basically I was fired.”
He went on, “I thought that we might have been able to resolve things, but obvoiusly the rest of the guys reached an impasse.”
The guitarist, who co-wrote much of the band’s material with singer Dan McCafferty, says that he plans to “put out feelers” in the business and send off demo tapes of songs he has written in the hope of finding a recording deal. Manny emphasised that there is no acrimony between him and his successor, who has worked with the band in the past, and he said, “I have a lot of respect for Billy. He is a talented guy.”
Explaining that Nazareth regard the affair as an internal matter, Darrell said, “This is basically our business, albeit to a certain degree we are in the public domain.” He went on, “Nobody was happy about how things were going and as it happened the three of us decided to stick together and Manny was asked to leave.”
Billy was part of the band when they were a six-piece from 1980-1983 when it also included keyboard’s player John Locke. “That was a phase in our career when we reckoned that we had done everything that we could with a four-piece band and then we reverted.” said Darrell.
He added, “There was no question of going further afield. Billy is an excellent guitarist. We wanted a change with minimal disturbance and luckily we managed to do that.”
Of the rift, Darrell commented, “Manny, being one of the main songwriters, had a lot to say about the songwriting. However, we haven’t had a hit record for six years.” Nazareth are currently rehearsing for tours in Scandinavia, Europe and America and Darrell summed up, “We are very happy about the way things are going.”
Billy Rankin, who is originally from Kirkintilloch, began his career with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1978. He said, “I’ve always got on with Manny Charlton and everybody else in the band, and it was actually a big surprise when they asked me to replace him.” During his eighties involvement with Nazareth he contributed a number of songs, including Dream On, which was a number one hit all over Europe. Billy has enjoyed solo success in America.