Manny Charlton, Nazareth guitarist and early Guns N’ Roses producer, has died aged 80

Manny Charlton, founding guitarist of Scottish hard rock band Nazareth and producer of early Guns N’ Roses demos, has died, his grandson has announced. No cause of death was reported. it was 80.

He was Nazareth’s guitarist, producer and co-songwriter from the band’s inception until 1990, playing on the band’s most successful albums, including 1973’s “Razamanaz” and 1975’s “Hair of the Dog.” The latter album went platinum in the US and included the group’s biggest hit, a dramatic cover of “Love Hurts”, originally made famous by the Everly Brothers, which reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group also scored a later, less successful single with 1980’s “Holiday.”

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In 1986, Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose reportedly wanted “the guy who produced Nazareth’s ‘Hair of the Dog'” to produce the band’s debut. Charlton ended up recording around 25 songs with the band at Los Angeles’ legendary Sound City Studios – all of which have been delivered and some of which were officially released as B-sides or bonus tracks – but pulled out of the album’s production due to commitments with Nazareth . The album, which was eventually recorded with producer Mike Clink, sold an estimated 30 million copies worldwide and became the best-selling debut album of all time. GNR recorded “Hair of the Dog” for their 1993 all-covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?”

While he was born in Spain, Charlton’s family immigrated to Scotland when he was a child, settling in Dunfermline. He played with several local bands in the 1960s, including one called the Shadettes who changed their name to Nazareth in 1968, inspired by lyrics from the Band’s classic song “The Weight”. The band developed a gritty and distinct sound, with Charlton’s blues-inspired guitar, Dan McCafferty’s powerful, sandpapery vocals – heavily influenced by Axl Rose’s style – and bassist Pete Agnew’s soaring harmonies, bringing to band a melodic feel rare for hard rock bands of the era.

The band gained momentum in 1971 on a tour opening for Deep Purple—the band’s bassist, Roger Glover, would produce many early Nazareth albums—but Charlton took the helm for “Hair of the Dog” and remained on that role until 1983. Nazareth toured and recorded extensively in the 1970s and 1980s, releasing approximately 17 studio albums during his tenure with the band.

He released nearly as many solo albums after leaving the band in 1990, including 2014’s Hellacious, which featured guest appearances from original GNR drummer Steven Adler, Def Leppard/Dio guitarist Vivian Campbell, Tim Bogert of Vanilla Fudge and others.

In a 2012 interview reported on Blabbermouth, Charlton looked back with some wonder on the fact that “Hair of the Dog,” the first album he ever produced, was a platinum-selling hit and broke Nazareth in the US.

“What that album did was set the band up for American success forever,” he said. “Looking back, I’m still trying to understand why she was so successful. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all about the attitude of the songs, the performances and the rawness of the production. This was the first album I produced for the band. Beginner’s luck, you might say.’

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