Monday, November 27, 2017

Rory Gallagher (1948-1995)

Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland in 1948. The family moved to Derry then settled in Cork City where Rory grew up. Inspired by Elvis Presley, Rory (age 9) was given his first acoustic guitar as a gift from his parents. He soon picked up the rudiments of the instrument and mastered tunes by his favourites: Lonnie Donegan, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis. Quite a talent Rory entertained the family and school friends then in 1960 (aged 12) he won a talent contest and spend his prize money on an electric guitar. Whilst still at school Rory started to play with local show band called The Fontana Showband whose repertoire included all the popular hits of the day. Rory was now playing lead guitar with a Fender (sunburst) Stratocaster and soon they were getting gigs in the UK. In 1965 the group changed their name to 'The Impact' with new line-up. More gigs followed and a tour of US airbases in Madrid, Spain. The group based themselves in London but by the time they played in Hamburg, the six piece the band was now a trio consisting of Rory, Johnny Lehan (saxophone) and Oliver Gallagher (Bass). Keen to develop more as a blues musician Rory encouraged The Impact to follow his lead. In 1966 Rory formed a trio with Eric Kitteringham (bass) and Norman Damery (drums) called 'The Taste`, then a year later he reformed as Taste with John Wilson (drums), Richard (Charlie) McCracken (bass) and Rory on guitar. The band become resident at London’s Marquee Club where they enjoy great success.

Taste were signed by Polydor and released two brilliant albums Taste and On the Boards.

During 1970 they toured with Blind Faith and performed at the Isle of Wight Rock Festival. Rory was definitely the showman and often appeared on stage with a long cape. Just at the peak of their success as a live act the band spilt in 1971. Rory Gallagher went on to a successful solo career initially backed by The Rory Gallagher Band, with Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Wilgar Campbell (drums). Rory's conviction and sincerity with his music held him apart as a musician and earned him critical acclaim as a rock guitar virtuoso. Throughout the latter part of the 20th Century he released many albums showcasing his brilliance as a lead guitarist.

This was often recognised by the number of times he was asked to guest in the studio, playing with many of his heroes. Rory become first choice as a replacement for the Stones’ Mick Taylor but work commitments take on a world tour in 1975. As a recording artist Rory concentrated on albums and had no hit singles per se. He was in constant demand both for studio sessions as well as a live performer and toured the world many times. From the late 1980s, he suffered increasingly poor health, yet he continued touring until 1995 when it became apparent Rory was seriously ill. Years of drinking and drug abuse had damaged his liver and despite a transplant an MRSA infection developed and sadly he died in King`s College Hospital, London in 1995.

Worth a listen

Sugar Mama (1969)
Same old story (1969)
On the boards (1970)

Rory Gallagher
Laudromat (1971)
Sinnerboy (1971)
Goin' To My Hometown (1972)
Bullfrog Blues (1972)
I could’ve had religion (1972)
Lonesome Highway (1975)
I'll Admit You're Gone (1976)
Bad Penny (1979)
The King Of Zydeco (1990)
The Loop (1990)

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