Manny Charlton, the founding guitarist of Nazareth who played on the Scottish rock band’s best-known records, including “Love Hurts”, its LP Hair of the Dog, and also produced early Guns N’ Roses demos, died today. He was 80. His grandson, Jamie Charlton, posted the news on social media with the caption “RIP Grandad.”
Charlton cofounded Nazareth in 1968 with singer Dan McCafferty, bassist Pete Agnew, and drummer Darrell Sweet. The band found success in the UK with its 1973 third LP, Razamanaz, produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover. It reached No. 11, and spawned a pair of Top 10 singles in Great Britain, “Broken Down Angel” and “Bad Bad Boy.” Its follow-up disc, Loud and Proud, arrived that same year and hit the Top 10, spurred by another hit single, “This Flight Tonight.”
But both of those album stalled in the 150s on the Billboard 200 chart in the US, as did Nazareth’s 1974 disc, Rampant, though it reached No. 13 in the UK.
But stateside success happened in a big way the next year.
Hair of the Dog, the group’s six studio disc, featured a radical reworking of “Love Hurts,” a 1960 non-single by the Everly Brothers. Gone was the Kentucky duo’s country-flecked arrangement, replaced by Charlton’s feedback-fueled guitar hook, which fed into a signature solo. The song hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, driving Hair of the Dog into the US Top 20 and proving to be its biggest American success. It later was featured on several TV series, including That ’70s Show, King of the Hill, Supernatural, and Scrubs and the 2005 skateboarding pic, Lords of Dogtown.
The disc’s title track — which belongs on any respectable “cowbell” playlist — also featured a driving guitar riff, and was the flip side of the “Love Hurts” single. Driven by the oft-repeated line, “Now you’re messing with a son of a bitch,” the song remains a staple on classic rock outlets.
“Love Hurts” went gold in 1976, and Hair of the Dog was certified platinum in 1992 for sales of 1 million units.
The album also spawned the moderate UK hit single, “My White Bicycle,” but the LP wasn’t a hit there.
Nazareth 1976’s album Close Enough for Rock ‘n’ Roll peaked at No. 24 in the US, the last time the group made the Top 40 stateside.
It had a minor US hit with the 1980 single “Holiday” and got some FM play for “Love Leads to Madness” in 1982. The group toured the US in 1981 with Krokus as its opening act.
Born on July 25, 1941, in Spain, Charlton continued to record and tour with Nazareth until 1990, when he left the band.
But before that, he would produce demos for one of rock’s greatest debut albums.
In 1986, Geffen Records brought Charlton in to oversee the recording of demos for what would become Appetite for Destruction, the juggernaut first calling card for Guns N’ Roses. He said in a recent interview with Loudersound.com that the buzzy, grimy quintet “were like Aerosmith and the Stones — especially with the image they had.”
The session produced more than two dozen tracks, but Charlton was unable to produce the final records because of Nazareth commitments. The disc eventually would top the Billboard 200 for five weeks; spawn a brace of classics include “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Paradise City” and “Welcome to the Jungle”; and become the seventh-best-selling album in U.S. history at 18 million-plus units. It reportedly has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
Said Charlton of GnR in the Loudersound interview: “They were just a bunch of young guys living their rock ’n’ roll dreams and having the time of their lives. I never foresaw that they would become one of the biggest bands in rock history.”
After leaving Nazareth, Charlton released one solo album and made two discs with the Manny Charlton Band before its breakup in 2003. He continued to make solo records through 2016, none of which made the US or UK charts.