Death of Rab Noakes: Tributes to the musician who died at 75

Rab Noakes died suddenly at the age of 75 (Photo: Getty Images)

Scottish singer Rab Noakes has died aged 75, with fans and friends paying tribute to the influential musician.

Noakes died in hospital on Friday after a career spanning more than half a century, with more than 20 albums to his name and having worked as a senior producer for BBC Radio Scotland.

First playing professionally in 1967, Fife-born Noakes became a founding member of folk rock band Stealers Wheel and performed at festivals such as Celtic Connections.

Val McDermid, the best-selling crime writer who is also from Fife, has paid a moving tribute to the man she has known since she was a teenager following news of his death.

‘In tears at the news of the death of Rab Noakes. Known and loved this generous, talented and open man since I was 14, I have never known a kinder soul.

“Or a better guitarist,” she added.

Rab Noake
The influential musician had a decades-long career (Photo: Redferns/Getty Images)

Fellow singer-songwriter Barbara Dickson also remembered the man she played with.

“My dear and old friend Rab Noakes passed away suddenly in hospital today,” she wrote.

‘I’m shocked. We had so much in common – the Everly Brothers, the Flying Burrito Brothers and an undying love for songs, especially traditional music. Sleep well, Rab. Rest in peace.’

And musician Iona Fyfe added that she was heartbroken by the news.

“He was always so encouraging, generous with his time and incredibly kind, welcoming and supportive. A complete honor to have spent time with Rab, together in @WeAreTheMU. Privileged to have shared a stage with him.

Steve Carson, Director of BBC Scotland, said: ‘All of us at BBC Scotland are deeply saddened to hear the news of Rab Noakes.

“His contribution to music in Scotland cannot be overstated, alongside some outstanding programs he has done here at the BBC.

“Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and to all of his fans across the country.”

BBC Radio Scotland broadcaster Bryan Burnett added on Twitter: ‘Such sad news regarding our very own Rab Noakes. A huge loss.

Celtic Connections Festival 2012: Bring It All Home - Souvenir by Gerry Rafferty

Tributes poured in for the musician (Picture: Redferns)

“He hired me at Radio Scotland and as a producer he taught me a lot about country-pop music which we both loved.”

Noakes is probably best known for being a founding member of Stealers Wheel, although he left them before their debut album was released.

The band, formed in Paisley, Scotland, went on to release the mega hit Stuck In The Middle With You.

After eight years with BBC Scotland as a senior producer on music programmes, Noakes left the business to set up the production company, Neon,w with his wife.

His 20th and final album, Welcome To Anniversaryville, was released in 2018.

You have a story?

If you have a celebrity story, video or photos, contact the entertainment team by emailing us at, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.

MORE: Part One: The week’s best new shows, from supernatural thriller to historically-inspired musical

MORE: Andrew Rannells on his new musical Tammy Faye and his gay portrayal on TV: ‘There has been great progress’