Manny Charlton, Nazareth Guitarist & Guns ‘N Roses Collaborator, Dead at 80

by Emily Morgan

Manny Charlton, the longtime guitarist for Scottish hard-rock band Nazareth and Guns’ N Roses collaborator, has died. He was 80. 

Charlton was born in Andalusia, Spain, in 1941 but later moved with his family to Dunfermline, Scotland as a child. In 1968, he co-founded the band Nazareth alongside vocalist Dan McCafferty, bassist Pete Agnew, and drummer Darrell Sweet. 

The band, equipped with its hard-rock sound and its close relationship with Deep Purple, helped contribute to the band’s success. They quickly garnered a fanbase, allowing them to grow the band’s fanbase through the ’70s, culminating in their most successful album to date, Hair of the Dog, in 1975. 

As a result, Hair of the Dog turned the group into an overnight success and put Charlton’s talents as a guitarist and producer on full display. 

“I wanted the song [Hair of the Dog] to have a groove,” Charlton explained in an interview in 2021. “I wouldn’t worry too much about the solo until the actual solo part in the song. You’ll notice I didn’t really play a lot of guitar fills. I played a pretty tight, heavy, rhythm part. And I continued that, and played the solo over the top. That was the method.”

Axl Rose takes interest in Manny Charlton

The album also marked the beginning of Charlton’s role as the band’s producer, a position he would hold throughout the band’s tenure. 

In addition, the album’s no-frills heavy metal sound and its hit title track would get the attention of a young Axl Rose. “Get me the guy who produced Hair Of The Dog,” Rose once said as Guns N’ Roses were attempting to demo the songs that would put up their debut album, Appetite For Destruction.

Although Mike Clink produced Appetite, the band released Charlton’s demos in the 2018 reissue of the album. 

Later, Charlton worked on Nazareth’s 17th album, Snakes’ n’ Ladders, before retiring in 1990. Additionally, his retirement would be no surprise as he had a tough time producing Snakes’ n’ Ladders. In fact, Charlton said the experience was a “disaster.”

“There were just too many personal problems in the band during that time,” he told Legendary Rock Interview. “We should never have been in the studio at that point and I’ll take my share of the blame for all the bullshit that went down.”

Despite this, Charlton joined Nazareth to tour the album before Charlton officially retired from the band. 

In 1999, Charlton returned to the studio. However, this time, he was in the recording booth. He released his first solo album, Drool, that year. More followed quickly: Bravado in 2000, Stonkin’ in 2002, Klone This in 2003. 

The musician then released one album a year until 2008’s Then There’s This.

Charlton’s cause of death has yet to be confirmed.