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Dan McCafferty, Nazareth Lead Vocalist, Dies at 76

Scottish band was best known for '70s rock radio staples 'Love Hurts' and 'Hair of the Dog,' the latter famously covered by Guns N' Roses
(Credit: Ian Dickson / Redferns)

Nazareth lead singer Dan McCafferty, who voiced such 1970s rock radio staples as “Love Hurts” and “Hair of the Dog,” died today (Nov. 8) at the age of 76 from unspecified causes. Nazareth bassist Pete Agnew confirmed the news in an Instagram post, writing, “this is the saddest announcement I ever had to make. I have lost my best friend and the world has lost one of the greatest singers of all time.”

Formed in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1968, Nazareth broke through in the U.K. with its third album, 1973’s Razamanaz, and the following year’s follow-up, Loud and Proud. The albums barely registered in the U.S., but Nazareth exploded stateside with the 1975 album Hair of the Dog, which featured its iconic, cowbell-powered title track and a nearly unrecognizable rendition of the Boudleaux Bryant-penned “Love Hurts,” which the Everly Brothers recorded in 1960.

“Love Hurts” reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and nudged the parent album to No. 17. Over the past three decades, it has prominently appeared in TV shows such as King of the Hill and That ’70s Show, as well as a memorable school dance scene in the 1993 movie Dazed and Confused.

A peerless showcase for McCafferty’s powerful, rasp-to-a-scream voice and take-no-prisoners bravura (“now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch”), “Hair of the Dog” was the platonic ideal for a rifftastic, mid-1970s boogie rock song, Its influence is heard in everything from Bon Scott-era AC/DC to Guns N’ Roses, who memorably covered it on their 1993 album The Spaghetti Incident? (Axl Rose asked McCafferty to perform “Love Hurts” at his 1990 wedding to Erin Everly, but he declined).


Nazareth’s U.S. success was short-lived, and by the late 1970s, the group began soldiering on largely as an international touring act with nearly a dozen different lineups until the 2010s. McCafferty retired from touring in 2013 due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease but released a solo album, Last Testament, in 2019.

His death follows the July passing of original Nazareth guitarist Manny Charlton at the age of 80. The group continues to perform with Agnew as the lone remaining original member and has a European tour on the books starting Friday in Germany.