GERRY Rafferty, the reclusive Paisley-born singer-songwriter, has revealed that he earns more than (pounds) 80,000 a year in royalties from Baker Street, his 1970s classic song.

The 55-year-old, who shot to worldwide fame with the 1978 hit, said he could have retired on the profits of the single.

Rafferty, who is soon to become a grandfather, divides his time between his mansion in Hampstead, London, and a villa in Turin, Italy - a far cry from his childhood days spent in a tenement block in Paisley.

''Baker Street still makes me about (pounds) 80,000 a year,'' he said.

''It's been a huge earner for me and still gets an enormous amount of airplay all around the world.''

''It's every songwriter's ambition to come up with at least one song in their lifetime that's regarded as a classic. And Baker Street is mine.''

Speaking about the famous saxophone solo on Baker Street, he revealed that he was initially planning to sing the notes but changed his mind.

''At the last moment I decided the song needed a wailing, lonely, big-city sound to it.

''The guy who eventually played the solo was a guy called Raphael Ravenscroft.''

''With a name like that, I reckoned he had to be good - and he was.''

In an interview to promote Another World, his new album, the Celtic-fan told how he and Billy Connolly, his friend, with whom he played in the Humblebums during the 1970s, first met at a gig in an Orange Lodge in Paisley.

He said: ''It was a bit ironic since Billy and I are of Irish Catholic descent. We saw the joke in that and hit it off right away.

''As the Humblebums we played in some pretty hairy places and we soon learned to take care of ourselves.

''Billy avoided getting a sore face by being the funny-man and I was the shy guy in the corner who kept the singsong going.''

''After gigs we'd go to crazy house parties full of heavy-duty characters carrying knives.

''Connolly and Rafferty played together in the Humblebums until Connolly's joke-telling between songs split the band in 1971.

Adrian Crookes, media relations manager with the Performing Rights Society, said of the society's 38,000 members, 57% earned less than (pounds) 250 a year in royalties. ''Only 7% of writers earn more than (pounds) 10,000 a year in royalties.

''The vast majority are not having that kind of success, it's unusual, but it proves that if you can write a song that has longevity and that people enjoy then it will remain successful for a long time.''

He said Rafferty was the sole composer of Baker Street so would only have to share his royalties with Polygram, his publishers. ''He will earn royalties every time the song is played on the radio, or from any live performances of the song and from appearances of the song on compilation CDs and on TV programmes.''

Meanwhile, thousands of artists are being urged to apply for their share of millions of pounds in unclaimed royalties.

High-profile stars such as David Essex and former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon, former Sex Pistols singer, have been encouraged to come forward, along with Neil Morrissey, voice of Bob The Builder.

A special website has been set up by the royalties body Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) to ''remind'' about 5000 musicians of their dues. PPL says many artists are eligible for anything from (pounds) 25 to (pounds) 500, with a few eligible to claim thousands

Even Pavarotti is listed among those artists who have yet to claimed royalties which are owed to them.