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Artist Website: www.rorygallagher.com
The following is adapted from the Rory Gallagher biography on Wikipedia (see original):
Rory Gallagher (1948-1995) was an Irish blues rock guitarist, born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and raised in County Cork. He is regularly credited as one of the most influential Irish rock and blues musicians of all time.
His first bands were showbands which played the popular hits of the day. In 1965 he turned the showband The Impact into an R'n'B group which played gigs in Ireland and Spain. He formed Taste in 1966, but the line-up which became legendary was formed in 1967, featuring his guitar and vocals, the jazz-tinged drumming of John Wilson and intricate bass playing of Richard McCracken. Recordings of the earlier version of Taste are still available and it's interesting to compare Rory's rudimentary guitar playing to the virtuosity that became evident fairly soon after in the later Taste. This was the group who released two studio albums, Taste and On the Boards, and made two live recordings showing the band at its incendiary best, Live at Montreux and Live at the Isle of Wight. The latter appeared a long time after the band broke up, famously, at that same Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. A legend of blues music, Rory had the fortune to play with many of the genre's biggest stars, and some of his best work was in collaboration with Muddy Waters on tracks recorded in London in the early '70s.
Rory then went solo, dropping the band's name and hiring another bassist, Gerry McAvoy, and various drummers, the most notable being Rod De'Ath. He produced more than a dozen albums, among them Rory Gallagher and Deuce from 1971, Blueprint and Tattoo from 1973, Irish Tour from 1974, 1975's Against the Grain, featuring his old worn out looking Fender Strat on the cover, and Calling Card in 1976.
A shy and humble man, Rory never married and had no children. Instead he is thought to have devoted his life to his music, especially the blues. He played and recorded what he said was "in me all the time, and not just something I turn on ...". Though he sold over 30 million albums world wide it was his marathon live performances that won him greatest acclaim. His passion and skill for the blues is well documented in the 1974 film "Irish Tour '74" directed by Tony Palmer.
In 1972 he was voted Melody Maker's Top Musician of the Year, dethroning Eric Clapton. His album Live in Europe has been a big selling album not only in Ireland but also internationally. Generally regarded as one of the top ten guitarists ever, many of today's top musicians, including The Edge from U2, Slash of Guns N' Roses fame, Johnny Marr of the Smiths and Brian May of Queen cite Rory as an inspiration in their formative musical years. It is also well documented that the Rolling Stones auditioned Rory for the band as their permanent guitarist in the '70s but he refused on the basis that it was against all he believed in terms of his own name and style.
Rory lived for a time in Belgium and from the late 1980s suffered increasingly poor health yet he continued touring. His final performance, by a visibly unwell man, was in February 1995 in the Netherlands. Rory Gallagher died in London on 14th June 1995 from complications following a liver transplant.
Rory was always associated with his famous well-worn sunburst Stratocaster, which currently resides in the custody of his brother Donal Gallagher who has officially retired it. It was reputedly the first in Ireland, ordered by a 'show band' member who changed his mind about the colour and then sold to Rory for just shy of ú100. The guitar was never intentionally modified, but years of touring and stage use have instilled it with many idiosyncracies. The most notable effect that years of touring have had on the strat is the almost complete removal of the guitar's sunburst finish, though being left out in the rain in a ditch for days after being stolen from Rory also had a large effect on the strat's condition. Other quirks include a 'hump' in the scratch plate which moves the neck pickup closer to the neck on the bass side and a replacement of all of the pickups, though this replacement was due to damage rather than a perception of a tonal inadequacy. Reproductions of the guitar have recently been sold by Fender, though with smaller frets and lower action than the original. These reproductions, though accurate in the parts used down to the single white dot used to replace a clay dot at the 12th fret, have had criticism aimed at the quality of their 'relic' paint job.
Rory owned a number of other instruments, though he never amassed anything like one of the giant guitar collections typical of blues guitarists. These other instruments include:
"Playing on stage with him in LA was one of the biggest thrills for me ever."
- Slash (Guns 'n' Roses)
"A beautiful man and an amazing guitar player."
- The Edge (U2)
"It was all about him playing the guitar, it got into your soul."
- Cameron Crowe (Writer/Film Director)
"In the 70s he built himself a reputation as a live performer of tremendous vitality."
"He was even headhunted to join The Rolling Stones."
- Niall Stokes (Editor, Hot Press)
"One of the things that was crucial for me I got from Rory Gallagher, which was the idea of, like, being a guitar player for life and living it."
- Johnny Marr (The Smiths/Johnny Marr and the Healers)
"So these couple of kids come up, who's me and my mate, and say 'How do you get your sound Mr. Gallagher?' and he sits and tells us. So I owe Rory Gallagher my sound."
- Brian May (Queen)
"Rory Gallagher always ploughed his own furrow, touring constantly and turning his back on commercial success to pursue his own music."
- Gary Moore
"An uncompromisingly serious musician"
- The Times, 16th June 1995