According to a post from his grandson, Manny Charlton the founding guitarist of the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth and the producer of Guns N’ Roses’ early demos, has passed away. He was 80; no cause of death was given.
From the time Nazareth was founded in 1968 until 1990, he served as the band’s guitarist, producer, and co-songwriter. He played on some of the group’s most popular albums, including “Razamanaz” in 1973 and “Hair of the Dog” in 1975. The group’s biggest hit was a dramatic cover of the Everly Brothers’ classic song “Love Hurts” from the latter album, which went platinum in the United States and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. With “Holiday” from 1980, the trio also scored a later, less successful hit single.
On July 25, 1941, Charlton was born in Spain. but when he was a young child, his family moved to Scotland and settled in Dunfermline. In the 1960s, he was a member of a number of regional bands, including the Shadettes, whose 1968 name change to Nazareth was motivated by a line from The Band’s timeless song “The Weight.”
Dan McCafferty’s powerful, sandpaper vocals—which had a significant influence on Axl Rose’s style—blues-inspired Charlton’s guitar, and bassist Pete Agnew’s high harmonies—brought a melodic flair uncommon for hard rock bands at the time—all contributed to the group’s development of a gritty and distinctive sound.
On their sixth studio album, Hair of the Dog, the quartet radically reworked the Everly Brothers’ 1960 non-single “Love Hurts.” The country-tinged arrangement from the Kentucky duet was replaced with Charlton’s feedback-fueled guitar hook, which led to a distinctive solo. Its biggest American triumph, the song peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, propelling Hair of the Dog into the US Top 20. Later, it appeared in a number of TV shows, including Scrubs, King of the Hill, Supernatural, That ’70s Show, and Lords of Dogtown, a 2005 skateboarding film.
The 1980 single “Holiday,” had the little US hit, and in 1982, “Love Leads to Madness” received some FM airplay. The opening act for the group’s 1981 US tour was Krokus.
More than two dozen recordings were created during the session, but Charlton was unable to create the final albums due to Nazareth’s obligations. The album finally peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 for five weeks, gave birth to some timeless songs including “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Paradise City,” and “Welcome to the Jungle,” and amassed sales of over 18 million units to rank seventh all-time in the United States. Over 30 million copies have supposedly been sold worldwide.
After quitting the band in 1990, he made almost as many solo albums, including 2014’s “Hellacious,” which had cameos from Tim Bogert of Vanilla Fudge, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard/Dio, and Steven Adler, the original GNR drummer. “They were simply a bunch of young men living their rock ‘n’ roll fantasies and having the time of their lives,” said Charlton of GnR in the Loudersound interview. I had no idea they would go on to become one of the most successful rock bands ever.