Rory Gallagher PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 October 2008 12:42

Rory Gallagher

Born: 2 March 1948, Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland

Died: 14 June 1995, London.

Age: 47

Cause of death: MRSA infection following liver transplant.

Rory Gallagher was an Irish blues/rock guitarist Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, he grew up in Cork City in the south of the country. He is best known for his solo work on several albums, and for his tenure in Taste during the late 60s. Rory Gallagher's albums sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide.

Gallagher's first bands were showbands which played the popular hits of the day. In 1965 he turned Impact into an R'n'B group which played gigs in Ireland and Spain. He formed Taste in 1966, but the line-up which gained fame was formed in 1967, featuring Gallagher on guitar and vocals, John Wilson on drums and Richard McCracken on bass. The group released the albums, Taste and On the Boards, and made two live recordings, Live at Montreux and Live at the Isle of Wight. The latter appeared long after the band's break-up, which occurred shortly after their appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.[3]

After the break-up of Taste, Gallagher toured under his own name, hiring bass player Gerry McAvoy to play on his first eponymous album (a relationship that would last twenty years on the road) and Wilgar Campbell on drums.

The 1970s were Gallagher's most prolific period. He produced ten albums in that decade, including two live albums, Live in Europe and Irish Tour '74, which for many best captured his bands' raw and naturally dynamic qualities.[citation needed]. In 1972 he released the album Deuce, which is essentially three-piece R&B. Also in 1972 he was voted Melody Maker's Top Musician of the Year, dethroning Eric Clapton.[4] His album Live in Europe has been a big selling album not only in Ireland but also internationally.

Gallagher played and recorded what he said was "in me all the time, and not just something I turn on ...". Though he sold over thirty million albums world wide, it was his marathon live performances that won him greatest acclaim.[3] His passion and skill for the blues is documented in the 1974 film Irish Tour '74, directed by Tony Palmer.

The line-up including Rod De'Ath on drums and Lou Martin on keyboards stayed together between 1973 and 1978. Other release highlights from that period include Against the Grain, the jazz-tinged Calling Card album (assisted in production by Roger Glover (bassist with Deep Purple) and the hard blues-rocking Photo Finish and Top Priority albums.

A dedicated follower of blues music, Gallagher played with many of the genre's biggest stars, collaborating with Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis on their respective London Sessions in the mid 70s. Gallagher was also invited to tryout with The Rolling Stones following the resignation of Mick Taylor and with Canned Heat after the departure of "The Eagle". He was David Coverdale's second choice (after Jeff Beck) to replace Richie Blackmore in Deep Purple.

In the 1980s he continued recording, albeit at a slower pace, producing Jinx, Defender, and Fresh Evidence. These albums progressed towards a more mature blues style. After Fresh Evidence, he embarked on a successful tour of the United States.

Gravesite.
Gravesite.

Gallagher's health and his ability to perform were increasingly compromised by excessive use of alcohol, combined with drugs that had been prescribed to alleviate his anxiety about flying. From the late 1980s, he suffered increasingly poor health, yet he continued touring. By the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in the Netherlands, he was visibly unwell. A liver transplant became necessary and was nearly successful, but just before being discharged from the hospital, an MRSA infection developed. His health quickly worsened and he died in London on 14 June 1995, leaving no wife or children.

Gallagher's final resting place is in St Oliver's Cemetery, on Model Farm Road just outside Ballincollig near Cork City, Ireland. His headstone is a replica of an award he received in 1972 for International Guitarist of The Year.

In 2003, Wheels Within Wheels, a collection of acoustic tracks, was released posthumously by Gallagher's brother Donal Gallagher. Collaborators on this album included Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, The Dubliners and Lonnie Donegan.

Many modern day musicians, including The Edge from U2, Slash of Velvet Revolver, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard and Brian May of Queen, cite Gallagher as an inspiration in their formative musical years.


Rory's Stratocaster on display in Dublin in 2007
Rory's Stratocaster on display in Dublin in 2007

Gallagher was always associated with his well-worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster (Serial Number 64351), which his brother Donal has officially retired. It was reputedly the first in Ireland, ordered by a showband member who changed his mind about the colour. Gallagher bought it for just shy of £100 at Crowley's Music Store on Cork's McCurtain Street. The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs, for a start, are odd (5 Sperzels and one Gotoh), and all of these have been found to be replacements. Secondly, it is thought that the nut has been replaced and interchanged a number of times. Thirdly, the scratchplate was changed during Gallagher's time with Taste. Another change was the pickups of which none are original. The final modification was that of the wiring. Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired it so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He also installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one. The most notable effect that years of touring have had is the almost complete removal of the guitar's original sunburst finish, partly through being left out in the rain in a ditch for days after being stolen,and partly due to the fact that Rory's blood type had a very acidic quality, which affected the guitar's finish when he sweated while on stage. 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.

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 16:07
 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Who's Online

We have 46 guests online