NAZARETH were inundated with offers from around the world after the retirement of Dan McCafferty but found his replacement in the next village.

Linton Osborne, from Crombie, is a well-known entertainer in his own right locally but only decided to throw his hat in the ring at the last minute.

He proved to be the perfect fit for Naz as they look to get back on the road after their longest-ever lay-off.

It’s a tough ask to fill the void left by one of the most distinctive voices in rock but the Press was given a preview of the new line-up in action this week and Linton proved with his rousing performance of the classic ‘Broken Down Angel’ that he can re-energise the Dunfermline rockers.

In recent months it looked at times as if Nazareth’s long career was at an end when, shortly after Dan had to call it a day with the degenerative lung disease COPD, fellow founder member Pete Agnew was struck down by a serious illness which put him in a coma for 10 days.

He just pulled through and is now looking forward to getting the band back on the road in Russia in April and the release of a new album in May.

Linton (41) said it was only a chance meeting with the band’s tour manager Tam Sinclair, which led to him entering the race to become Naz’s new front-man.

“I bumped into Tam at the gym and he persuaded me that I could do the job.

“I thought ‘I’m as well giving it a shot if they’re auditioning folk’ – and now I’m glad I did.” Pete said, “We’ve known Linton for years, from the jam sessions up at Sinky’s, from events I’ve been at like big birthday parties and he was at school with my sons.

“There were four guys auditoned before Linton from England, Sweden, different places.

"Guys we’ve known from the circuit who would have liked to have sung with Nazareth.

“When Dan packed it in the news was everywhere so there was a lot of interest.

“There were guys from the States, Canada, emails from Russia.” However, the worldwide search for a replacement for Dan – from Limekilns – ended in his neighbouring village.

Pete continued, “We thought we might as well give an audition to someone who lives here and it was obvious right from the start Linton was the one.” The new Naz singer laughed, “But they didn’t tell me though.” He added, “It all hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest. To play in a brilliant rock and roll band – it’s all I’ve ever wanted.

"Twenty five years I’ve been playing in bands now and finally I’ve got a good one.” Linton’s career once saw him performing rock anthems dressed as a monster and he also released a country and western album but he’s been pleased with the reaction from Nazareth’s devoted legion of fans.

“Everybody’s being kind with their comments and it’s been a positive reaction. I can’t wait to hit the stage.

“I can’t think straight at the moment. I just want to get on stage and prove myself.” Pete added, “In Brazil and Russia they don’t just become fans, they’re fanatics and the band’s really big in both places so Linton’s going to be seeing some strange new places.

“This year we’ll be in Russia, Turkey, Canada, America then back to Russia.

“Anyway he already seems to know the words to the Nazareth songs better than we do!

“Everybody’s got an opinion but it’s been very positive so far, the reaction from the fans.

“It’ll be good when we get out there again. The last full gig we did was on the 9th of July in Canada and that’s the longest we’ve ever gone without playing.” Pete fell ill in October just a week after he and Dan switched on Dunfermline’s new landmark illuminations.

He went on, “We were dropping like flies. I was in hospital for two months.

“It was a complete internal collapse, my kidneys, gall bladder, liver – you name it I had it.

“I was in a coma for about 10 days. They had me in intensive care then I got pneumonia. They sent for the family.

“There’s a whole month I can’t remember.” The band’s new album ‘Rock and Roll Telephone’ was recorded last summer with Dan still on vocals.