“Star” — Stealers Wheel

No Words, No Song
6 min readDec 6, 2020
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

“Star” by Stealers Wheel is the musical equivalent of one of those “how it started…how it turned out” memes. Except in reverse.

The story starts brightly enough…

So they made you a star

Unfortunately it goes downhill from there pretty quickly.

Nowadays Stealers Wheel are best known for their song “Stuck In The Middle With You” which, after 20 years in relative obscurity, got an unexpected revival as the musical backdrop to a particularly memorable scene in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 blockbuster movie “Reservoir Dogs”.

And “Stuck In The Middle With You” is a great song, no question. I just think “Star” is even better.

“Stuck In The Middle With You” was the launch single from Stealers Wheel’s 1972 debut album. “Star” was from their 1973 album “Ferguslie Park”…in case you’re wondering, the album title is a reference to a district in Paisley, a town in the West of Scotland, where Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty, the two school friends who set up Stealers Wheel, both grew up.

By the end of the 1970s, Gerry Rafferty would become a global superstar on the back of his 1978 solo album “City To City”, and especially its launch track “Baker Street”. It’s probably fair to say Joe Egan took a somewhat quieter path after Stealers Wheel, eventually moving out the music industry altogether.

However Joe Egan was a considerable talent in his own right. Because of Gerry Rafferty’s later global success many people thought he was the prime mover behind Stealers Wheel, but nothing could be further from the truth. Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty wrote pretty much the same number of songs on Stealers Wheel’s first two albums, for example, and co-wrote the rest together.

Joe Egan was a great songwriter in his own right — “Stuck In The Middle With You” was a Joe Egan/Gerry Rafferty joint effort but “Star” was Joe Egan all by himself. He also sung lead vocals on that track.

Interestingly, if you run the clock forward a little, the vocal style of Gerry Rafferty on the “City To City” album owes a lot more to Joe Egan’s vocal work on “Star” than it owes to Gerry Rafferty’s own lead vocal on “Stuck In The Middle With You”.

No Words, No Song

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.