Magazine Articles & Interviews

MAGAZINE ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS - Borrowed from RoryON!! website


001 - Conversation with Rory Gallagher by Shiv Cariappa 6/1/91
Conversation with Rory Gallagher, June 19, 1991
The article in the "Christian Science Monitor", July 29, 1991, was partly based on this taped interview, which Shiv Cariappa has kindly allowed us to reproduce on the Rory Gallagher Home Page.
I first talked to Rory just before he got on stage at the Paradise Club near Boston on March 29,1991. He agreed to an interview from London because conditions were unsuitable to carry on a conversation at the club.

As promised, he called me on June 19, 1991, from London. My article, following my talks with
Rory, appeared in the Christian Science Monitor on July 29, 1991. I must confess that I
approached the interview more from the perspective of a longtime fan than a journalist. I have done some minor editing to clean up some pauses and interjection
Conversation with Rory Gallagher, June 19, 1991
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Transcribed from tape on November 5, 1995 by Shiv Cariappa.

Shiv Cariappa: I understand from Steve [Steve Karas formerly of I.R.S. Records] that you have a new line-up or that you are busy auditioning people.

Rory Gallagher: Yes, I am trying out some new people. I am still on good terms with the other guys, but they have formed a band. The harmonica player used to be with a group called Nine Below Zero. They still want to make themselves available for me for odd gigs, but it is really not that practical. We have one possible show in New York coming up, but I don’t think I will have a new band ready for that. So, I might do it with the old line-up. It is all a bit up in the air at the moment for the next day or so.

SC. So Gerry McAvoy is still with you then?

RG. Not really. I mean, he would do some dates with me if he were free, but at the rate I’m going to be working I think I will probably just get a new line-up. I am sorry to see him go, you know.

SC. Yeah, but after 20 years, I guess it was time to move on.

RG. Things move on, you know. They started doing these casual dates last year with Nine Below Zero, and they got to like it, and then they weren’t particularly sure about my plans. Well, it happens to all musicians, they like a change of scene and so on.

SC. Perhaps this will be a new direction – a fresh direction for you.

RG. Yeah, well, I mean obviously new musicians give you new morale and so on, but it is going to be quite difficult. I have such a repertoire of songs that I have to work hard at rehearsals, but if I am lucky with the right musicians it will give me a new bite, but I am the first to admit that I am sorry to see them going, but you know, it was very amicable. I knew about it before we went on the last American tour. But like I said, if I am really stuck and they were free, they would fill in, but you can’t really operate like that, you know.

SC. Rory, I want to ask you about two areas. One has to do with this whole business of commercialization and releasing singles. And the other regarding guitar heroes, rock musicians, and the myths that go along with making them larger than life. What seems fairly endemic to the music industry is the self indulgence of many of your contemporaries. I mean you are relatively young …

RG. Yeah.

SC. I mean, so you have got several decades of music hopefully.

RG. Hopefully, yeah.

SC. How have you managed to stay clear of that self-indulgence, you know, over the years?

RG. Umm. In the sixties I found a few of my favourite groups surprised me – they started as blues bands. It was not that I was narrow-minded but I was surprised to see Paul Butterfield’s [blues] band making a single, and then I saw Fleetwood Mac making one. At least Butterfield’s songs were sort of blues songs. Fleetwood Mac who I admired and I liked Peter Green, they came out with Albatross.

SC. I remember that.

RG. It was a very nice tune. It was a start with them softening up [releasing singles] – you know what I mean.

SC. Yeah.

RG. And groups like Free made singles. I mean, it is ridiculous, even Bob Dylan makes good singles. But for some reason a certain attitude crept into me then and I decided [not to release singles], but now about bringinga possible single out for radio play, I might do that. But I would never squander my whole credibility, whatever that is, just for one silly song. I mean, at this point if I had a very good song that I believed in, I wouldn’t mind. But I find that a lot of good rock musicians come out with very trivial songs [as hits], and I think that’s what ruins it. Whereas if you come out with a really strong contender then I think it is OK.

SC. How have you managed to shield yourself from all the excesses, self indulgences, and just the number of things that go along with being a musician on the road? Is that a fair question?

RG. Well, it is a fair question, but it’s hard to answer. I’ve been generally lucky. A lot of musicians I knew, like Paul Kosoff, passed away – and [ones] I didn’t know, like Hendrix and Brian Jones. All those deaths warned me off as a teenage musician. Well, I was nearly 20-21. I am not saying that I am a goody-goody, but when youcome from Ireland, you are brought up on a strict kind of line, you know.

SC. I understand.

RG. You know, I never moralize or advocate you should live this life or that, but when you are touring a lot, and you know, you can take any road you like, but I mean you won’t last if you burn yourself out with drugs or alcohol. Some musicians seem indestructible, but even they have to pay a price for it, you know. I suppose everyone has to live their own life.

SC. I’ve done a tremendous amount of reading about you, and I absolutely love your music.

RG. That’s good.

SC. I first heard Deuce way back in ’72 or ’73 when I was growing up in India, and my brother brought it from the States.

RG. Oh yes.

SC. And two songs, which struck me right away – one was I’m Not Awake Yet, and …

RG. Oh yes.

SC. I love that song, and the other one was Crest of a Wave. You remember those?

RG. I do indeed, I’ve been playing them the last couple of days, because the two remaining LP’s that have to come out on CD are Photofinish, and Deuce, and a couple of tracks have to be re- mixed, edited, and that kind of thing, because they want them to be slightly modified for the CD. So I am listening to what could be done to help. I wouldn’t change some of the tracks, but it so happens that I’m Not Awake Yet, is one of my own favourites. It is an unusual theme, because it was the nearest thing to an Irish-Celtic guitar part with a 12-string and so on. The actual idea was, well not like astral traveling, but quite often where you can control that point where you wake up and where you are still in semi-control dream state. That was the idea. Crest of a Wave, it was – vaguely – a story, I can’t remember now. Well, the idea is in the song title itself, that you don’t walk on people when you are flying high.

SC. I talked to you, if you remember, briefly before you got on stage at the Paradise Club and …

RG. Yes, I remember that, yeah.

SC. And you said you played guitar when your were about nine, and started hearing these old blues, root-blues tunes over the radio when you were a teenager over the BBC … In my case growing up in India, the only thingswe heard were songs on radio were by Jim Reaves, Ricky Nelson – the Shadows were popular – but what attracted you to those songs like the Robert Johnson kind of music?

RG. To begin with, for some reason I liked the acoustic guitar and the guy called Lonnie Donnegan who was the first guy to really influence me, and it turned out that he was doing songs by Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, which were folk and blues songs. I like the themes of the songs. Obviously, I was a fan of Buddy Holly at the same time and Eddie Cochran. But initially for the first couple of years I was more interested in American folk songs and the acoustic guitar and the image of the American traveling musician – the drifter, you know. I was keen on rock and roll but I thought it was not the same. Then bit by bit when I heard Muddy Waters on radio and Jimmy Reed and obviously hearing contemporaries like the Rolling Stones and John Mayall. I mean, I listened to everything at that time that had that kind of appeal. The ultimate guy – in the long run, the connection between folk, blues and rock and roll is Bob Dylan, because he seems to be able to straddle across from Big Joe Williams right through. Not to mention he took all the country blues elements, the Woody Guthrie influence and then added on his own surreal lyrics and attitudes and so on.

SC. Just to quote you from before, you said there was something rhythmic and raw about the music – that is accurate, isn’t it?

RG. Yes, I always liked the raw acoustic [sound]. I don’t like records that are overproduced. I mean, I like Muddy Waters’ because they were so rough and echoey, but the right kind of echoes, you know what I mean. Even to this day I don’t like some of the mixes that people do. They take the rough edges of some very good pieces of music. A lot of the new equipment is designed to do that in fact, whereas some of the older recording equipment and echo machines – their deficiencies helped make the sound of that time. So when I go to the studio, I always look around for the older bits of equipment and compressors and things like that, you know.
Solid state is another sound. Like, most rock or blues guitar players would tell you that they don’t like using solid state amps. They don’t have the full warmth of a tube or a valve.

End of part one
Conversation with Rory Gallagher, June 19, 1991

SC. What are you recording plans? In an interview you said you’d probably do a boxed-set, a live set, an acoustic set. Is that all included in a boxed set?

RG. They will be separate. Even in a boxed set, probably one side will be acoustic of tracks that have already been done. But my plans are little bit tilted now at the moment because of trying to get a new band together and what have you, and mixing these two albums. I think a boxed set and an acoustic album will come together in the next nine or ten months. You know, I have plenty of engagements that I can take up at the moment, but the most interesting one that I might do is work with the Irish group, The Chieftains.

SC. Oh yeah?

RG. They are doing a TV show in Dublin and they invited me on that, and they are also doing a week of gigs in London with different people they want to experiment with. I am not sure whether I am free for that at the moment. But that will be something worth doing, you know

SC. Have you ever thought of doing a video concert or documentary?

RG. Oddly enough, Welsh television and Irish television both separately want to do a documentary on me in the future. I’d rather wait maybe another year to see what develops because it is something I wouldn’t mind doing, not for the ego’s sake, but for the sake of covering 20 odd years of music. That could be something interesting to do. Other than that, I am interested in film music anyway.

SC. Have you done any film music?

RG. I haven’t. There is one vague offer, and it is the story of a blues band. It wouldn’t be like Crossroads, but something in that line. I am still waiting on the script. The problem with that kind of music is that [laugh] Ry Cooder has cornered all that market.

SC. Have you written anything since Fresh Evidence?

RG. Oh I have. During the American tour I taped quite a few things in the hotel rooms. Mostly music rather than lyrics. I’ll have to settle down for the lyrics. On the road you always jot down little bits and pieces. Those songs will be coming together in the next couple of months.

SC. When you write music, do you remember where you wrote Shadow Play, or Tattoo’d Lady? Or did you got into the studio with the intention of writing Shadow Play, or did you wake up one morning with the idea?

RG. Some songs I can distinctly remember where I was, whether I was in Cork, in Ireland, or London, or America. Oddly enough, when you are in the studio and the tapes are running and everything, quite often they would actually inspire you to write a song or finish a song that is only in the notebook. I can distinctly remember writing Shadow Play with a 12-string guitar because I was in bed with the flu in Ireland, and the effect of the flu seemed to affect me with the lyrics. Because with a bad flu you get slightly dazed with sleep and all that. But other songs I can’t recall to mind right now, but some songs of course are half written today and half written a week later, or quite often they lie in the notebook for six months and you just simply can’t put it together with the music or vice-versa. But after writing quite a few songs now, I’ve got, not a method, but a way of being patient with a couple of verses or a certain set of chords. I can match them up quicker now than I used to. The one thing you do improve is songwriting.

SC. I have another question. On Philby do you have electric sitar on that song?

RG. Yes. Yes, that is electric sitar which I am crazy about. I love the sound of that. I rented that one from the Who. Pete Townshend has a hire company. Eventually I got one in New Jersey. It is very hard to get, but there is a company now in America doing replicas of them. Jerry Jones is the name of the company. Now that’s another case. I was in Portugal once on a short holiday, and I wrote Philby there. I remember that distinctly.

SC. I mean, that’s a great song, I love that song. That is one song I kept playing over and over again.

RG. Thank you. I was fascinated by his story. I read every book I could get on him, and of course he is not a great hero in England. I don’t agree with spying and so on, but he was so audacious. I never heard a song before that – on a spy or a specific spy. I often wondered if he ever heard it.

SC. Well, he passed away a couple of years ago, I think in Russia, didn’t he?

RG. Yeah, but that was quite a few years after the song came out.

SC. There’s two other songs, you know, Daughter of the Everglades, – now that is another favourite of mine. That is something I don’t think you’ve done in concert, have you?

RG. I think we only did maybe once or twice ever. It was quite hard to perform because its acoustic guitar is very prominent on the record even though there is an electric guitar. I could do it with Lou Martin on keyboards.

SC. Do you still play with him?

RG. I don’t, but oddly enough he played on one track on Fresh Evidence and one track on Defender. But that song we played around Louisiana. It was a very obvious place to play that because of the setting there and so on. I had this sort of ballad, this story of someone drifting from the city away from somebody. It is kind of a sad little story, but I quite like it myself.

SC. There is another song I kind of like – Failsafe Day.

RG. Oh yes.

SC. You haven’t played that live, have you?

RG. I played that live in Europe. But unfortunately not too many times [in America], possibly once on the American tour, but we played it here quite a bit. I can’t remember where I wrote that. The idea is like a holocaust type of situation, you know. I tried to make it not obvious as an Armageddon or anything like that. It is like, well I can’t think East Berlin anymore [because] it wouldn’t be the case. It is not unlike the idea of Heroes that David Bowie wrote. It is an isolated – an unusual city – where someone is getting very affected by it and the other person saying, you know, “”keep your control, keep your grip. The people running the world are not playing by the rules”, something like that, you know.

SC. Especially on Defender and a lot of your songs, it seems like you read a lot of mystery novels, like on Last of the Independents. Do you read a lot of mystery books?

RG. I do, yeah. Well, I am a great fan of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

SC. Continental OP – it’s like a tribute to him?

RG. It is, yes, indeed. It is his character, the Continental OP, a very vain detective, and I just wrote that one night after reading various stories of his, you know. He’s got a book of short stories called the Big Knockover, and the “”OP” is in that. I’ve also got quite a few books on the life of Dashiell Hammett, which is quite an interesting story on what he’s been through and so on. And I wrote songs like Big Guns which is about a guy who has bitten off more than he can chew. It is about a small-time crook. He’s got to the point where he has no friends in the underworld and the police want him as well. And I used a similar type of guy, but more innocent, in the song called Loanshark Blues.

SC. Yup! You did that in Boston.

RG. Oh, did we do that?

SC. Yeah! It was great.

RG. Thank you. That one I was slightly influenced by The Picture on the Waterfront. The atmosphere more than the story. But I do read a lot of crime fiction, and I like Patricia Highsmith – she is a favourite of mine as well. She writes more psychological sort of stories. She has a lot of crime stories where she has maybe only one murder and only one cop in it, and it is not all cops and robbers.

End of part two
Conversation with Rory Gallagher, June 19, 1991

SC. You know in the 1980’s, at least especially in the latter part of the 80’s, for your fans, it seems like a lost decade. Seems like you almost disappeared from the scene. There was no mention of you. And you said that you had a flying problem. I gather that is behind you.

RG. Yes, to a great extent. That is only one reason why we didn’t go to the States. We just started concentrating in Europe, and I got delayed making certain albums, and plus some of the tours we were offered in America just didn’t appeal to us, because it meant going around stadiums playing in front of some other huge rock band or a group that would not have an audience sympathetic to blues or rock and roll.

SC. I understand. I remember you were on with Blue Oyster Cult, and I think Rush. A rather odd combination, I thought.

RG. Yeah, we did a couple of those and they were soul destroying. I mean, we did OK on them. I am prepared to rough it, and I have roughed it before, but I prefer to play in a club or a small theatre if it comes to that. The trouble with the flying thing – I had a couple of bad flights, and this is after hundreds and hundreds of flights. If it happens to you on a bad day it can affect your psyche, you know. I’ve pretty much cracked that now, because on this last tour, I had to fly to Tokyo and then to Sydney, Australia and then to America and so on and so forth. People think it is wimpish, but when you pick up the paper and find out that Stevie Ray Vaughan got killed, it reminds you that entertainers are not any more important than anybody else, but you do get a little bit cautious, you know.

SC. I understand. Another question: on your album Stage Struck, 1980, I gather. It seemed rather unrepresentative of your music, meaning it was all a rock production. Unlike Irish Tour ’74, which you know displayed your entire musical vocabulary. And you are best known for your live performances, and it has been a long, long time since ’74 I gather, to have something live out. Does that ring any bells in a sense?

RG. Yeah, the sound on Irish Tour was a better sound, I admit that. We had a lot of difficulty mixing [Stage Struck]. In Europe, besides the eight tracks on the album, there were two extra tracks put in the package on a single, including one acoustic blues balancing out a little bit. Because so many tracks were recorded in different locations, the engineer tried to match up the sound. It is my fault of course, I was there, but it was a little too harsh, and it only gave the hard-rock aspect of what I do, so it is not my favourite album.

SC. Can we hope for something more representative in the future maybe?

RG. Oh, definitely. I mean it is not a bad album.

SC. No it isn’t.

RG. I would’ve liked to have some more different – different shades in it, you know.

SC. I mean something even like Off the Handle would have worked in there, don’t you think?

RG. Indeed, and the irony of it is that we recorded so many shows around the world to get that. What we should have done is just gone into a club and stayed for three nights or two nights and just nailed it down. But we thought it was a novel idea at that time. You know, one night in San Francisco, one in Cleveland, one in Australia somewhere, you know what I mean, but quite of ten the more grandiose the project, the less effective it is, you know.

SC. How do you feel about your writing and your musicianship right now? I mean do things come easier now? Are you right on top of your guitar playing?

RG. I think I was in pretty good form on the tour. I am practicing every day. I don’t really practice like jazz musicians, but I keep my chops together. I do need a couple of gigs really to get myself back in proper form. There is no way you can do that just playing at home even through an amp and all the rest of it. You need to be out on the road. Once I start rehearsing that will be a step in the right direction. But I have certainly not gone too lazy, I can guarantee you. Writing-wise, I have lots of things on tape and so on that I’ve got to work on, but I do have to spend a couple of sleepless nights on that yet. I am hoping to go back to Ireland for a few days, and that usually is a good location for working in. There’s fewer distractions there. London is a pleasant enough city, it is not all that inspiring sometimes, because like any big city there’s a lot of stress. You know what I mean.

SC. You still have family in Ireland.

RG. Yes I do. Yeah, in the south of Ireland.

SC. I guess that’s about it. Can we expect you here in the States?

RG. A tour, hopefully yes if I can get all these things put together, you know.

SC. How close are you to finding people?

RG. I’ve got it narrowed it down to about six.

SC. We are talking about all new personnel, right?

RG. It looks like that. Initially, I am more concerned about drums and bass, ’cause that’s what I need for the first week or two, and then if I want to add anything, I will from there. But if I’m gonna get a keyboard or something I would prefer to work with drums or bass alone for a week or two.

SC. Anyway, I am just trying to write a story, and the basic theme of my story is not just the return of another great guitarist, but at least, you know, a lot deeper. Actually the lead of my story pretty much says that: just to borrow the title of your ’75 release, you’ve been going Against the Grain. Something to that effect.

RG. You know the strange thing, Against the Grain, is the name of Boris Yeltsin’s new book, that is only by the way, you know.

SC. Oh yeah, he’s here in the States right now.

RG. [Laughs] So I have to watch it, you know, but that is only by the way.

SC. He just came to the States last night, and he was on television last night.

RG. I hear he is already criticizing Gorbachev.

SC. [Laughs] He already is. I don’t know, but in my view he’s come down a few notches. He seems rather like a populist, you know.

RG. I think so.

SC. Some people call him another Mussolini, which is a little scary.

RG. Gorbachev turned out a bit disappointing, but initially, and I think in the long term he will be a better bet than people give him credit for.

SC. I think so, and he’ll probably go down as one of the truly great men of this century.

RG. Yes, he struck me as a man with dignity, you know, whereas Yeltsin I imagine can be volatile if things didn’t go his way. His appearance looks tough, perhaps that comes in the way of judging him, but we’ll see what happens, you know.

SC. Oh, there’s another line, which I thought of putting in – that you could quite easily teach a credible college course on blues masters, blues influences and trends.

RG. Oh!

SC. I mean, I am basing this on an interview you did for Guitar Player back during Photofinish, and said you really have an uncanny understanding and knowledge of it all.

RG. Thanks very much.

SC. I am trying to write a 1500-word story, but I think it is going to be cut down to 800 words by the editors,
you know for space.

RG. I hope Steve sends it on to me, I look forward to reading it when you got it put together.

SC. We’ll see – again like I told Steve, no promises, one never knows what the editors do with it.

RG. Yeah.

SC. It is really a pleasure talking to you.

RG. Great.

SC. And I really followed your music for a long, long time. It’s brought me a lot of happiness, so I really thank you.

RG. Thank you very much.

SC. And good luck and all success to you.

RG. Thanks very much indeed.

SC. Bye, Rory

RG. Nice talking to you. bye, bye. See you.

(c) 1995 by Shiv Cariappa

002 - Photo-Finish Tour Interview by Mark Stevens 12/78 from Triad magazine
Photo-Finish Tour
The interview took place in Los Angeles at a hotel close to the Starwood Ballroom where Rory performed in December 1978. Mark Stevens interviewed the guitarist for the Los Angeles-based Triad magazine, and an article titled “Rory Gallagher. Meat ‘N’ Potatoes Rock ‘N Roll” appeared in the February 1979 issue. On the day of the interview Mr. Stevens, with tape-recorder in hand, also observed Rory’s band run through a sound check. The band went through several numbers including “Cloak and Dagger” from Photo-Finish, a scorching rendition of “Overnight Bag” also from Photo-Finish, and instrumental versions of the Beatles number “Words of Love,” and “They Don’t Make Them Like You Any More” from Tattoo.

Thanks to Shiv Cariappa for his help in transcribing and editing the interview.

MS: How come you are not playing at a big hall tonight where you could be playing to a larger
RG: We could have done it. We could have played at the Civic or the Shrine. The basic planning of this tour was listed as a club tour, which immediately puts things slightly askew in some cities because people think that if you don’t do the big gig, you are going down or something. We just wanted to do a club tour without getting involved in a big mishmash of a concert tour with Aerosmith, which we had done previously by doing this theater and that theater. This time it was basic — lets go back and play clubs for a tour and have fun. Especially now with a new lineup, this has been great. It is tough doing two shows a night, because I don’t do two 45-minute shows, I do two to three hours. It was great at the El Macambo in Toronto. There again we could have done a theater. We did the Bottom Line in New York for a couple of nights. We did this kind of thing throughout. It gets your feet back on the ground. But the next time we will probably do something bigger.

MS: What have you been up to for the last two years? You have been gone for so long.

RG: [Laughs] My Zodiac must have been up the creek these last two years. First we planned to have an album out. We were in the studio this time last year. We wanted an album out by the first of January. At one time we actually thought we would have it out by this time of the year, but that wasn’t to be. Anyway, we worked on it, but things got complicated in the studio, and it got delayed and so on, and so I had to come back for another couple of weeks on the album. So there I lost three months in the studio. Anyway, I got so fed up with the thing even though it was costing me a fortune. I scrapped the album on the last day when it was cut. I never thought I would do that, but there was a lot of pressure to get it out. I was not satisfied with the quality of the songs.

MS: Are these the same songs scrapped on Photo-Finish?

RG: About half – – it wasn’t because of the material or the musicians or anything like that. It was a song thing that I didn’t think on the technical side everything worked. So I scrapped the thing — that was around February, and then I broke my thumb the day after I decided on this album –outside this hotel.

MS: Your right-hand thumb?

RG: Yeah. I still can’t bend it fully, but I can play on it. It sounds like a very sad-luck story. For six weeks I had a thing on it — a dressing. So after that I had to cancel a German tour. Anyway, my thumb got better, and we did a British tour. It was the summer of this year, and we were getting ready to redo the album as it were, and I decided to change the lineup of the band after six years. So I got a different drummer and dropped the keyboards. I went back into the studio. Finding a new drummer was difficult too, because there’s a lot of hot drummers in London. They are hot, but they don’t understand rhythm and blues. They are going to do Billy Cobham or they are going to do disco. I was fortunate to get Ted (McKenna) at the last hour. The guy could do it all.

MS: Were you just auditioning when you found him?

RG: I was auditioning drummers, and the engineer I was working with at the studio in London happened to know him and called him. He came around, and so we did the album in four weeks in Germany. We left the London studio because it wasn’t the best atmosphere. London is a big city, and considering all the traumas that had gone on, I had felt that I would like to work at this particular studio in Germany. It was like in a village with a hotel and two bars. So there was no driving — you just got up in the morning and walked into town.

MS: Were there good facilities — a good studio?

RG: Oh, the studio was perfect. It was 13 kilometers from Cologne. So you were close to a big city if you wanted to be near one. The studio was also 24-track. We brought over an Irish engineer who was working in London who had previously done Venus and Mars (Paul McCartney) and Let it Bleed (Rolling Stones), and a lot of Kinks records. He was great, the studios were great, and the band was great. We added some new songs and the others were rearranged. It all worked out in the end.

MS: Which ones are the new songs on Photo-Finish, and what happens to the ones you

RG: I still like the ones I scrapped. But it so happened that I wrote a lot of new ones that I thought were more in keeping. I just wanted to shuffle them around, I confess. The new ones are “Shadow Play,” “Shin Kicker,” “The Last of the Independents,” and “Cloak and Dagger.” The remaining ones were “Mississippi Sheiks,” “Brute Force,” “Fuel to the Fire,” and “Cruise On Out.” We left four behind — they might never surface, but then they might. It has happened before, and you look back and you decide that song was great. But this time, I just felt the new ones were so immediate, and they gave me an inspired feeling to get it on. So then we went back on the road with a new label — six weeks in Europe, which was the best European tour I’ve ever been on with anybody. It was great fun, for one thing at least, to get back on the stage after all the ups and downs. When you look back, they weren’t actually ups and downs, but they really seemed like it at that time, because, you know, people would say, ‘Where the hell is the album?’ and ‘Can you not write songs anymore, what’s wrong with you?’ Or people would think you are lazing away, which I wasn’t. Sometimes it’s worth redoing something. You’ve got to be satisfied. I know that I have an album, that I can play it uncritically and enjoy it.

MS: You’ve got a really live feeling to that album in the studio, and the other thing that
occurred to me is your voice. Have you been working on your voice with lessons or anything?
You sing pretty strong.

RG: What I did in some of the earlier albums, the Polydor albums, I used to sing live. We were doing too many albums. We did at least two a year, which was heavy work, plus a lot of gigs. As you roll on over the years, you become more aware of singing better. You just get better doing it, you get louder. I don’t mind over dubbing vocals now and then. I used to be odd about that. I wanted to do live lead, live everything. But now I do pretty much a live-lead combination, rhythm guitar and guide vocal, or if it is a really hot live vocal lead we pair it, or I do a complete vocal. I used to feel terribly awkward in the studio with nothing in my hands. I used to try and get it as instinctive as possible, but now I can split my brain and also be a technician. But all the tracks still are 90 percent live. Then we might over dub rhythm or a little lead or percussion.

MS: What about “The Last of the Independents”? It sounds like it is a sequel to “In Your Town.”
But in some ways it talks about yourself. Did you have that in mind when you wrote that song?

RG: No, but some people have said that to me. They thought that I was the last of a particular group of people, or I was independent or something. Maybe I am a bit, but I doubt that. The song actually came about when I had the title and then wrote the song. Half way through it I realized that I had read the review of the picture “Charlie Varrick” [1973] with Walter Matthau. Did you see that? The old-time crook who turned over the bank. And basically that’s the story. The Charlie Varrick movie was subtitled “The Last of the Independents.” I loved the story, but I never saw the movie. Not having seen the picture, I can only guess what it was about. But the story is a bit like another picture Joseph Losey made with Stanley Baker, “The Criminal” [1960]. It’s about a guy who is the only one who knows where the money is stashed X years ago, who does his time in jail and gets out, and they are all ghosting after him trying to find it. The song is about what the guy is doing. They are after him on a jumbo jet. He gets out on a laundry chute in Chicago. It is just a comic gangster-type song that has a good Bo Didley sound to it.

MS: What’s that line on that song, which goes like, “sing like a . . .”?

RG: “Sing like a canary.” I saw a movie with gangster talk, which said “I won’t sing like a canary, I won’t go naming names, I might need police protection, but I play my own game.”

MS: The reference to the syndicate you could think is record business.

RG: [Laughs] You could do a nice Bob Dylan-type break down on that. I was aware of the fact that with that title some people would see me as the last crusader of the blues, or being some kind of independent.

MS: Many things have changed in rock-and-roll in the last couple of years haven’t they?

RG: Things have gotten very formal. There is so much disco and a lot of bands that are just prefabricated corporations. In England, the bands were getting so big it had to be Shea Stadium or nothing, and it had be 15 limos and a Cecil B. DeMille stage. So at least there is a sobriety that the new-wavers brought in. But then some of the new wave people pretend they were born yesterday and pretend they never heard of Eddie Cochran or Muddy Waters

MS: I mean bands like Boston and Kansas.

RG: Well, Kansas has paid its dues, they have been around a long time. If I look at the billboard charts and those magazines, the only records I like are the Stones record and Springsteen. Boston and Kansas, I like to see them in the charts, but there is so much formula and what I call synthesized prefabricated music. There is not much raunchy and funky-type music now. There is a heavy loud music, but not the kind of independent music. In England things have gone overboard with new wave and punk, but I think that is a more positive movement than some of things that were going on. Elvis Costello is good. I can hear echoes of all kinds of people in his music, but he doesn’t credit them whereas Bruce Springsteen, who I admire greatly, is so honest and open about things. He has been such a great rock fan for years and does his own thing.

MS: Which songs on the new album do you like the most, and how does the album fit in with
some of the things you have done in the past, especially with the two-year break in there?

RG: I think it is different from Calling Card. I think Calling Card is an album I like. It has a good sound, it has a good level feeling, but I don’t think it has the excitement the new one has. I think this one is the best album of the lot. The songs stand out, the beat is there. We don’t overplay or underplay, there is plenty of guitar sound, but it isn’t an ego trip. I mean, I do like all the albums naturally in some way or another. It is hard to compare. Some people think it is a three-piece set and that it is connected with Deuce, the first album [self-titled] or the Taste albums. I think it is a little bit like Tattoo in terms of some of the songs like “Cradle Rock,” “Sleep on a Clothes Line,” that type of gritty bite. I dropped the songs that were in anyway vacant. I wanted it really loud and that it kind of kicked.

MS: About direction, do you know where you are headed to from album to album?

RG: Well, I did have quite a vision this time before doing it, and of course the vision became clearer as time went by. Even though I love playing acoustic guitar, I wanted the album to be rhythmic and hard, not hard in the normal hard-rock, heavy-metal type, but brass-knuckles music. I mean some critics say, “Oh, he is just doing some old rock and blues, he is not changing, or he is not going fusion.” People are expecting me to change, but that would be a fake change. I could do a fusion album just like that, and it could be fun, or do a reggae album and wear a country western hat and then everyone would say “He’s progressing.” That it not progression, that is just playing different games with the media. Now what I want to do is play music that I think there is a distinct lack of around. There are very few people doing good meat-and- potatoes music with interesting sounds. I sound boasting about it [laughs]. No, there’s better people playing good, tough music, and I hate to see this stuff dying. On the other hand, I don’t want to just recreate old blues music — I want to do new sounds. But obviously anyone listening can see that I am a blues and rock fan. That’s my ambition.

MS: You mentioned the media, and it occurs to me that a lot of rock musicians create a public
image. You are obviously not into that. But can you be a rock star and make it big without
doing that? Bruce Springsteen is not into that, and do people like that give you hope?

RG: Yes, Springsteen and Bob Seeger. That is heartening, because they did not make it with some wimpy tune that just came out of nowhere. I believe it can be done, yeah. What image does Bob Seeger have with his long hair and beard? We know he has a great voice and great band. He gives out a vibe, and that is it. He does not try to put on a movie-style act and be ten different people. Some people do that very well, and that is their privilege. Springsteen is a hard-working guy, but you just don’t say he’s a hard-working guy, because he is a great talent. To make it really big in Europe is just as hard, but it can be done without resorting to extreme media gimmicks. In my case, I have had a certain amount of publicity in Europe, but it has never been as much as some other people have had. I have been lucky enough. I have had a great following there and in Japan.

MS: Do you think about that in regard to your career?

RG: Time goes by very fast, you know what I mean? I don’t think about it because I am concerned about more immediate things you have to weigh, such as a gig, a sound check, and getting to the next venue. I mean I would certainly like to be as big as Springsteen or Bob Seeger in the long run, but I don’t know. On the one hand you are a musician and you just want to play what you enjoy doing most to a good audience in some reasonably successful capacity. That is my main goal, but naturally you are a human being and you have an ego like everyone else. You like to be as big as you think you deserve to be or what others think you should be. Well, I am happy doing what I do, but I am not organized in my mind about success and planning as some other people are, and that annoys some people who have to deal with me.

MS: The first time we talked, and that was in St. Louis and you may not remember, but I was really shocked after the concert that you were really quiet offstage and really relaxed and very complacent. What’s going to happen tonight from right now and when you get onstage and go bananas? It is like two different people. Once you get up there it is a different story.

RG: [laughs] It is, sometimes I don’t recognize myself up there, and sometimes I don’t recognize myself when I come off the stage. I don’t know. I am not aware of this Jekyll and Hyde change. I mean, if I were as crazy offstage as I am onstage, people would lock me or they wouldn’t talk to me.

MS: What goes though your mind from now onto the stage? Do you think about the music or the
blues or what?

RG: I don’t know. Even when you do it so often, I still am as nervous as ever. It is the sound, the people, the expectation I guess; the enjoyment of playing — the release of playing. For me playing is a big release for the day for me. I really can’t break it down, what I am thinking. When I get onstage, I want to cause a bit of a rumpus and have a bit of fun. Obviously, if I were sitting in with someone else, I would be more laid back, I think. If you are up front, I think you have to hit it tooth and nail, you know.

MS: Are you optimistic about the future of rock? At this point things aren’t too hot over here.

RG: I am pretty optimistic about music in general always. I think things go a little astray now and then. I get a little worried about the control about the music business and radio — those kinds of things. I get annoyed that the AM radio system is so tied up now and DJ’s aren’t allowed to play the records they want but told to play records that what the public thinks they want to play. Which means they want to hear Grease and Disco Fever 15 hours a day. I think radio should loosen up a bit. This business about not playing anything more than two minutes and thirty seconds — this isn’t healthy. That is too much Big Brother. Even FM radio has been affected –all depending on advertisements and that so rt of thing. I am not hankering for the great days of the sixties, they weren’t perfect either, but there was a certain sense of experimenting, and looking into the library and not playing the first twenty records and that type of thing. You know now we have the new wave thing, and a lot of bands just cannot play. But many of them have proved that it is possible to change the big boys. Like the Stones for example, by dropping the big scenery and playing with smaller amplifiers. You can still play in clubs. In England I used to play in the clubs. Now all of a sudden, all these groups started playing in smaller venues. Even DJ’s have gone crazy. European radio is not the greatest either, they don’t have AM and FM radio systems like in the US. There they like to pigeonhole music like rhythm & blues.

MS: Just to end on, what’s in the near future for you? Do you have any albums planned, or are
you writing songs?

RG: I have lot of skeletons of songs lying around that need to be fleshed out. I have a lot of good ideas for songs. I have some songs that have not been rehearsed as yet. After this four-week tour we will go back to do a British tour during December and January — an Irish tour for Christmas. Then a small Spanish and Portuguese tour. As far as the next album, it depends on how Photo-Finish goes. We could do another one in January or February and have it out in the summer or the early autumn. We might even move over here, either New York or Los Angeles. Otherwise it just defeats all the hard work we have done here. This is our thirteenth tour or so.

If you go back to Europe, you can easily get tied up again there, and then tours get delayed. But then again we won’t forsake Europe either. I am at this point where I can start concentrating on America. I’d love to be as big as Springsteen or Seeger by all means. My long-term ambition is to have a top-ten album in America, and to get that you have to be ambitious. But if the ambition overrides the fun of it, you’re in trouble. Some people see me as the last crusader of the blues or some kind of independent because I do a certain amount of things my own way. I don’t mind being an independent, but I don’t want to be the last of anything.

(c) 1978 by Mark Stevens from Triad Magazine
reformatted by roryfan with permission from Mark Stevens

003 - Rory Gallagher, Meat 'N Potatoes Rock & Roll by Mark Stevens from a 1979 Triad magazine
Rory Gallagher: Meat ‘N Potatoes Rock ‘N Roll
by Mark Stevens
I first saw Rory Gallagher on stage, outdoors, playing a brief set in the Boston Commons in the summer of 1971. Fleetwood Mac was also on the bill, and I think the other band was either Status Quo or Canned Heat. It’s been too long. Rory opened up and played for maybe 40 minutes. He was terrific. Well, I can’t say for sure he was terrific, but I knew almost instantly that I would be a long-time fan. His attitude was so unusual — so non-rock-star. An Everyman. I later saw Rory perform at basketball arenas in Evansville, Indiana (opening for The Faces in 1973 or 1974) and in theaters in St. Louis (with Black Sabbath, I’m pretty sure). At that time Donal, his brother and manager Donal, was kind enough to arrange an interview with Rory after that show, which had a couple of thousand people fairly well rapt.

Perhaps the most memorable setting was during the early 1970’s in a tiny (elementary school size) gymnasium out in the country not far from St. Louis. The town was Washington, Missouri. It was not the easiest spot to find (for fans or rock bands, I would assume). It was a weekend afternoon and two other acts also played — The Flock and Brownsville Station. Rory was a bit late arriving, as I remember, but set up quickly and played for at least two hours. Every one of the rock fans — not more than two hundred — attending there probably thought Rory had mistaken this pint-size room for a major concert venue. He gave it everything he had and then some more.

In the mid-1980’s I saw Rory open up at McNichols Sports Arena for Rush and, judging by his energy level alone, he played with the same gut energy and enthusiasm for a crowd of 200 as he did for 16,000. Rory was a consummate performer. Donal was kind enough to let me say hello again to Rory backstage. If being a musician was Rory’s best talent, being host was a close second. Never anything but humble, kind, and earnest to his guests. I also saw him at The Starwood in Los Angeles in late 1978 and watched him run through a 25-minute sound check. I recorded the sound check on a cheap, beat-up tape recorder and to this day occasionally listen to him rip through a few songs and riffs, including an instrumental bit of the Beatles’ “Words Of Love”.

An interview with Rory at a nearby hotel prompted the following article, which was printed in a monthly Los Angeles rock magazine called TRIAD. The story ran in the February, 1979 edition and the headline was

“Rory Gallagher: Meat ‘N Potatoes Rock ‘N Roll”:

Even Rory Gallagher can’t explain it. “I don’t recognize myself up there sometimes or I don’t recognize myself when I come offstage”, he says in the barely-audible tones that are a marked contrast to his growling voice and sweat-drenched performances on stage. “I don’t know, I could go from being John Smith, to being John Smith with the lights on. I’m not aware of this Jekyll and Hyde change but if I was as crazy offstage as was onstage, people would lock me up, or they wouldn’t talk to me. It’s the sound of the people, the enjoyment of playing, the release of playing that gets me up. I know when I hit the stage I want to kick it out and cause a little rumpus. If you’re out front, I think you must get down there, tooth and nail'”.

Tooth, nail and fingerpick, anyway; which is just what Rory Gallagher brought to his early December Starwood gigs, delivering exhausting, brass knuckles rock and blues. The Starwood gig, near the end of a four-week club tour, was Gallagher’s first in Los Angeles in nearly two years. And even though it was outside a Sunset Strip hotel nearly two years ago that Rory broke his right thumb, he said he won’t hold it against the city, and, following a European tour this winter, may temporarily settle on the west coast to keep the pressure on in his push for the big time.

Those assembled for the Starwood gigs would clearly welcome Rory in residence here. They were hungry for the sound of a guitar with Gallagher in control. In return, Gallagher dipped deep into his supply of energy and enthusiasm, displaying his masterful work on guitar with child-like exuberance. His fingers flew, searching out notes, it seemed, on sheer instinct. His whiskey-salted voice barked and snapped, and throughout he taunted and teased the crowd, as much a showman as Bruce Springsteen. There was the pump-it-up rocker “Shin Kicker” for openers. Then the chunka-chunka “Do You Read Me?”. And the biting “Bought And Sold” followed by the straight blues “I Wonder Who”, transcending the token three-chord-wonder obligatory numbers done by most bands. This is Rory’s home turf, the stuff of his soul. Rory’s fingers danced for all they were worth. “Some critics say, he is only doing rock and blues and he’s not changing”, said Rory between tongue-wetting sips on Seven-Up and whiskey after the Starwood sound check. “People expect me to do something that is a fake change. Well, I could do a fusion album, or do a reggae album and wear a cowboy hat, but that’s just playing games with the media. There are very few people doing good meat and potatoes music with interesting songs”.

Irish-bred Gallagher has nine solo albums out, plus four with his late-1960’s blues trio Taste. He has toured the States thirteen times, and has a loyal, sizable following in Europe. But American success has been spotty and elusive. With the sparkling new album, Photo Finish, his first all-electric effort, Gallagher is optimistic about his future but befuddled by the state of his art. “Things have gotten very formal; so much disco and a lot of bands that are just pre-fabricated corporations. In England the bands were getting so big it had to be Shea Stadium or nothing, and it had be 15 limos and a Cecil B. DeMille stage. So at least there is a sobriety that the new wavers brought in. But then some of the new wave people pretend they were born yesterday and pretend they never heard of Eddie Cochran or Muddy Waters”.

Heartened by the success of Bob Seger, who plugged away for years before national recognition, and by Bruce Springsteen, who Rory admires and feels affinity with because of his simple human approach to performing, Rory remains confident.

“I’d love to be as big as Springsteen or Seger by all means. My long-term ambition is to have a top-ten album in America, and to get that you have to be ambitious. But if the ambition overrides the fun of it, you’re in trouble.”

“Some people see me as the last crusader of the blues or some kind of independent because I do a certain amount of things my own way. I don’t mind being an independent,” he says, speaking in a loud, normal onstage voice for the first time, “but I don’t want to be the last of anything.”

Copyright c 1996, Mark Stevens.
Mark Stevens worked for the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado. He was a national field producer for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on American public television. Mr. Stevens made his connection with Rory initially as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor where he wrote music and rock features. He also reviewed one of Rory’s concerts for The News at McNichols in Denver, and wrote as a freelancer for the Los Angeles based magazine TRIAD.

Thanks to Mark Stevens for sharing his article. It is also posted to Kimmo’s page
reformatted by roryfan
background is a capture by donman from Montreux 1979, mutated by roryfan

004 - While My Guitar Gently Weeps by Michael Ross 5/17/98 (Sunday Times Article) Enlightening article reflecting on Rory's life and persona.
From The Sunday Times – May 17, 1998 – article by Michael Ross
with additional reporting by Mick Heaney

While my guitar gently weeps

It’s nearly three years since we lost one of our greatest musicians, a man who couldn’t come in from the cold when the blues fell down like hail. By MICHAEL ROSS

Rory Gallagher was headstrong from start to finish. Headstrong, driven, stubborn and reluctant to take advice, even from his brother Donal, who managed his affairs. The qualities which helped to make him a musician of such renown, one of the world’s leading blues guitarists, were the same qualities which contributed to his premature death three years ago, on June 14 1995, at the age of 47.

The Republic’s first rock star, who blazed a trail for Thin Lizzy, the Boomtown Rats and U2, who sold 14 million records in his 30-year career, who beat Eric Clapton in critics’ polls when Clapton was at his peak, Gallagher was not only respected, but also universally liked as a gentle and dignified man. To those on the outside of his deeply private life, it seemed that he could go on making music for another 30 years. An underrated songwriter, he could perhaps have become the redefining force, which he recognized that the blues needed. He died, however, at an age when blues musicians are often just getting into their stride. Gallagher’s stride, having begun so confidently in his teenage years, – first with the Fontana Showband in Cork, to which his family moved from his native Donegal, then with two incarnations of the trio Taste, had faltered when the 1970s market for rootsy music gave way to the fickleness of the 1980s. Gallagher made some of his best music in that decade but it was largely ignored, fueling his anxiety and depression, making him push himself harder, exposing an already vulnerable man to the quick fix quackery which his brother blames for his death.

“It always concerned me that he was so driven and that because of the demands on his time, he felt things could be solved by a doctor’s prescription. That was his undoing,” says Donal Gallagher, speaking for the first time about the events which led to his brother’s death, which he says is analogous to that of Elvis Presley. “There were people who should have taken better care of Rory…”

Rory Gallagher lived a solitary life, isolated by the white heat of his talent, by his self-reliance, determination and overwhelming diffidence. “He was like two completely different people on stage and off” says Donal. “I remember Eric Clapton remarking to me in 1969, during an American tour, on how reserved Rory was. It was strange to have someone that exuberant on stage and so deeply private and introverted offstage.” Brendan O’Neill, Rory’s drummer from 1981 to 1991, recalls: “He thought very deeply. He read a lot. He was into detective novels. I think that was actually part of his make-up. He loved to be undercover, never showing his hand too readily, and would work out his thoughts before anyone could penetrate them.”

The singular determination and extreme sensitivity, which shaped his entire career, were evident from the age of 11. Having got his first guitar at the age of nine and taught himself to play, by the age of 11 he was looking for audiences to entertain, so he entered talent contests. An incident in one such contest in the Christian Brothers school he attended, in which some Brothers reacted with hostility to him performing a Cliff Richard hit, Livin’ Doll, had a marked and lasting effect on him, turning him in on himself according to Donal. “It was a strange experience having Rory as your older brother, because at a very early age he realized what he was destined for,” he says. “He was a man with a mission, and either you supported him totally or he was not interested. There was no halfway house.”

His mother recognized Rory’s prodigious talent immediately, and fully supported his fledgling career. When he joined the Fontana Showband at the age of 15, she arranged for him to transfer from the authoritarian Christian Brothers to a school, which understood he was now a working musician and did not complain if he arrived late. He worked throughout his teenage years, first on the showband circuit around Munster, later building a following in Belfast, where there was a flourishing beat-music scent The consequence was that he did not allow himself the chance to blossom into adulthood. “He didn’t socialize,” says Donal “He just wasn’t interested. He performed at parties and dances but he didn’t mix I didn’t quite understand his driven quality. He was thinking about his place in music history rather than living a regular adolescence.”

He changed the Fontana into a rhythm and blues band, renaming it The Impact, but he outgrew the band quickly and left to form his own outfit, Taste. Gallagher’s working methods in the studio, which were to become a problem later, caused no difficulties in the two incarnations of Taste, which he led from 1966 to 1970. Tight budgets, in any case, did not permit the agonizing and indecision, which were a feature of his later career. Gallagher had firm opinions on how Taste’s career should be advancing in the US, and friction between him and the band’s equally headstrong manager resulted in disbandment, with Gallagher feeling let down He considered giving up music altogether but was steered back to work by Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant, who offered his services. Gallagher declined and instead his brother evolved from Taste’s tour manager to manager of Rory’s new trio, and carried on working for his brother thereafter “I managed his affairs but never claimed to give him direction,” says Donal. “Nobody did. He was not one for debating band policy. He was the boss and that was the end of it. I did try to get him to impose discipline on himself. He never learned how to delegate and that caused problems, particularly in the studio. I held the view that what he did was just a job. He never saw it like that. Physically he always seemed able to handle the workload, but it concerned me, even in the days of Taste, that his work had such an effect on him emotionally.” When the going was good – and it was good throughout the 1970’s, with Gallagher prolific and successful – his punishing work rate was sustained by sheer momentum. “The best years were early to mid-1970s,” says Gerry McAvoy, Gallagher’s bassist for 20 years “It was fun then, because obviously it was fresh and everyone was younger. Rory was 100 per cent sold to music. It took over his life, maybe to his detriment. It almost became an obsession as well as great love)’

When Gallagher’s career slackened, various problems such as insomnia and a fear of flying – not ordinarily of overwhelming gravity – assumed greater proportions. “Rory was performer, producer, manager in a way, songwriter,” says Donal “The physical exhaustion took its toll, as did the pressure to bring out albums, as did being ignored by the media. He withdrew into himself He didn’t go to as many gigs or buy as many albums “When be was off the road he didn’t know what to do with himself and this made him depressed and disoriented, he didn’t have the ability to relax or unwind. Even when he went back to Ireland he was uneasy. He felt people were fickle and mightn’t like him any more.”

Gallagher himself recognized that his life lacked balance. He had relationships, but none lasted. Those close to him hoped he would meet someone who could make him happy but it did not happen. He got satisfaction from his job, but there seemed to be little else which gave him pleasure. “Even after the last time he played Dublin, in 1992, one of the best shows I saw him play, he was quietly satisfied rather than particularly happy,” says Donal.

On that last trip to Dublin, in uncharacteristically unguarded mode, the guitarist spoke about his predicament: “The things I wanted when I was younger I have achieved. It would be more than enough for most people. I should be happy.”

It says much about Rory Gallagher’s need for privacy that the person to whom he was closest, his only sibling, knew little of whatever distress he experienced. “Whatever he was feeling, good or bad, he kept very much to himself,” says Donal. “I can’t say that we ever had an in-depth personal conversation. There wasn’t a lot said between us. There was a kind of telepathy between us, though.

“I’d say he was extremely lonely, but it was hard to tell because he was so private. He was tremendously melancholic and he was never satisfied with anything he did.”
Gallagher’s melancholia deepened suddenly during the making of his 1987 album, Defender. He later said that in the course of several nights in the studio, something unpleasant and even threatening came over him. He gave up his trademark check shirts in favour of plain dark clothes, and gradually his health deteriorated, his weight ballooning at times, the result of a fluid retention problem exacerbated by steroid treatment and the cocktail of other prescribed drugs which he was latterly consuming. Keyboardist Lou Martin, who played with Rory in the 1970s, remembers: “He was up and down in those later years. I saw him and he was puffy around the neck, and looked bloated. But the last time I saw him, at a concert in Cork, he looked fine. He was off whiskey and drinking pints and white wine.”

“Donal Gallagher became alarmed at his brother’s state of health in the middle of 1994, a year before he died. “I felt he was giving up. His physical exhaustion had led to mental exhaustion. I think, with hindsight, that the poor man had had a series of nervous breakdowns that were not visible to other people. When I saw how serious the situation had become, I reckoned it was better for him to go out and work, he had been under strain during his time off the road in London, trying to create new music. It had become counter-productive.

“Rory’s natural cure was to tour, do what he did best, get his adrenaline going and use his energy productively. But that was the dilemma. The thing which made him better also made him worse through exhaustion.”

After touring for the latter half of 1994, Rory’s health deteriorated dramatically in the first two months of 1995. A short tour of Holland in late January was canceled halfway through when he became ill. “When he started having abdominal pains, which, with hindsight was probably the first sign of his liver trouble – he was prescribed paracetamol, which, where a liver is damaged, can cause more damage. I wish more checks had been made at the time.”

Gallagher was admitted to King’s College hospital in London in March 1995, and it was only then that the extent of his ill health became apparent: his liver was failing and a transplant was required.

“It was only then that he got the medical care he needed,” says Donal. “The surgeon who performed the operation was staggered that such a young man needed a new liver. This damage was compounded by drink, though Rory was not the heavy drinker he was rumored to be.”

After spending 13 weeks in intensive care, Gallagher was waiting to be transferred to a convalescent hospital when he contracted an infection. “I didn’t believe he would die,” says Donal. “Or I didn’t want to. He deteriorated rapidly in the end because his immune system was exhausted. They pumped him full of antibiotics but it was no use.

“With hindsight I would have done some things differently. But I don’t blame myself. You can’t change someone if they don’t want to change. Rory had a stubborn streak. He wasn’t going to change for anybody.

Thanks to mob for supplying this article
Reformatted by roryfan

005 - Rory Gallagher, Defender of the Blues by Anil Prasad 3/22/91
Rory Gallagher’s contribution to the evolution of blues-rock was extraordinary. Throughout the course of his 30-year career, the Irish guitarist and singer-songwriter brought unmatched integrity and passion to the genre. Unlike contemporaries who went the blues-pop route, Gallagher never watered down his sound. He remained content to deliver album after album of scorching performances drenched with rollicking guitarwork and gritty vocals, inspiring generations of musicians to stay true to their instincts. With more than 30 million records sold, he also proved that an uncompromising approach could also be a wildly successful one.

The self-taught musician first hit the limelight as the leader of Taste, an enormously popular late ’60s power trio that incorporated folk, pop and jazz into a blues-rock base. Following the group’s demise in 1970 due to internal tensions, Gallagher embarked on a celebrated solo career. The ‘70s and early ‘80s saw him release several landmark solo albums including Tattoo, Blueprint and Calling Card. Other highlights included his work on records by legendary bluesmen Muddy Waters and Albert King. The rock guitar fraternity also took notice, with Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers all citing Gallagher’s work as a significant influence.

The mid-to-late ’80’s weren’t as kind to Gallagher. Faced with record label disinterest in the face of changing musical tastes, his album sales and audience declined. That started to change with the release of 1990’s Fresh Evidence. The disc lived up to its name as it delivered one of the most diverse and engaging collections of his career. The album explored a wide variety of blues styles and found Gallagher stretching out on instruments such as dulcimer, electric sitar and mandola.

Gallagher passed away in June 1995 at age 46 from complications following a liver transplant. His body failed him, but his musical soul continues to triumph in the hearts and minds of legions of fans around the world.

This interview, conducted during the Fresh Evidence tour, finds Gallagher using the album’s songs and production ethos as a springboard to to explore the broader philosophies that informed his life.

Tell me about the approach you took when recording Fresh Evidence.

It took enough out of us, I can tell you. It took about six months to make, which is quite a long time really. It sounds like relatively simple music, but we were trying to get a good vintage, ethnic sound in the production and everything else. We used a lot of old valve microphones, tape echo, old spring reverbs and things like that, instead of using all the digital equipment. We used a valve compressor as well, which gives a different effect than modern compression. We used a few modern tricks as well, but just enough to help out.

Some of the songs are quite long and somebody else would have edited them and taken out verses, but I just left everything as it was. I can usually get the backing track or the feel on the first take or two. I think it’s in the mixing and overdubbing areas that I’m more of a perfectionist. We cut the Fresh Evidence master about four times. In a perfect world, I’d like to walk in a room and just play it once and have it all perfect. You’re at the mercy of the engineer, and the sound, and the room, the desk and everything else.

Why did you choose to cover Son House’s “Empire State Express?”

I had the record for years and I just fancied that song because I thought I could interpret it reasonably well. I went into the drum booth and just used the two microphones and recorded it in one take, live. Mentally, I put the gun to my head and said “This is the way it has to be done.” It came off fairly well. The strange thing about it is I lost the record about a week before I was going to record it. Not that I was going to copy the record, but I wanted to listen to it again and check it out. But I had the lyrics written down in a book anyway. So I recorded my own arrangement from memory and it turned out okay.

The situation may have worked in your favor. Too many blues covers are simply clones of the original.

Yes indeed. If you just ape the old record, then it’s a one-dimensional thing. I try to adapt and interpret the songs at the same time. It’s good to capture the original feeling, but there’s no point in doing it just verbatim. I know certain guys who do that and it doesn’t get them anywhere. But then some ultra-purists feel you shouldn’t tamper with these songs or even attempt them. I think it’s one way of keeping the music alive and bringing it another step forward.

Son House’s importance seems to have been eclipsed by the renaissance of interest in Robert Johnson.

It’s unfair really. As great as Robert Johnson was, “Walking Blues” and “Preachin’ the Blues” were written by Son House. He also gave lessons to Robert Johnson. With this great boost to Robert Johnson, maybe they should bring more attention to other artists who were nearly or equally as important. But Robert Johnson has the mystique, the death thing and the devil connection.

Do you believe in the Robert Johnson mythology?

I think it’s possible. I heard the same thing about John Lennon—that when he was in Hamburg, he made some kind of deal. And if you look at his death and his effect on people and life in general, you have to wonder, but then I ‘m a little bit superstitious anyway.

How does being superstitious affect your life?

It has affected me very much in the last 10 years. I get it from my grandmother. She was very superstitious as well. I’m funny about numbers. It’s become a phobia, so I have to watch it. It affects your day a lot. Before I go on stage, there are certain things I do that are semi-sort of Gypsy superstitious things, but I’m coping with them. It hasn’t affected the music, thank God. If you got really bad, you’d say “I’ll pick that note instead of that one or sing this song before that.”

Are you a spiritual person?

I suppose deep down I am. I certainly don’t think we’re on this planet just revolving with nothing out there. When you’re in tight corners, you can come to the realization that you have some kind of a belief. I’d say I do, but I don’t preach about it and don’t make a big thing about it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing in the end. I’m too scared not to be, let’s put it that way.

Rory Gallagher
“Heaven’s Gate” shares several qualities with classic blues numbers.

That’s close to the idea of “Hellhound On My Trail” by Robert Johnson. It’s a man being haunted in a room in a terrible condition. It’s a semi-redemption type of song and it’s also slightly preaching to people that you can’t bribe St. Peter. It’s in the blues tradition even though the song is in my own sort of style. The lyrics kind of speak for themselves—somebody going through a very bad patch and facing up to mortality and all those sorts of heavy things.

What did you write “Walking Wounded” about?

I liked the title. I had it in my notebook for weeks and then the first couple of lines just came to me. Also, my health wasn’t very good at the time. It’s not written in the first person as such, but I suppose it’s written from the point of view that if you’re at a very low ebb, you still have fighting spirit. That’s the basic message in it. The song has a nice riff and a bittersweet flavor to it.

In contrast, “Middle Name” depicts a darker tale.

That’s kind of Slim Harpo-influenced, musically. I tried to create an image of being down around the bible belt with a guy stuck in a situation searching for someone that could be his wife or someone else before a big storm or Armageddon or the Holocaust. It’s kind of overwrought, but that’s the vibe I tried to create in the thing. It’s a bit of a Tennessee Williams-type of setting really. Like in any of my songs, I tried to keep it from being one-dimensional. It’s nice to have an image-and-a-half in a song, at least.

“King of Zydeco” explores your interest in Zydeco music and is dedicated to Clifton Chenier. Tell me about your fascination with his music.

He’s sort of the B.B. King of Zydeco music. He played accordion, which is the lead instrument in that kind of music, instead of the guitar. It’s kind of blues, but it’s sung in French. It’s kind of a cross between Cajun folk music and other things and I like the records. I like the slightly sloppy feel to them. I wrote the song about somebody getting away from modern city stress into this mystical juke joint somewhere in the South, like in a road movie. Of course, at the end of the journey there would be somebody like Clifton Chenier playing on a small stage—the perfect gig, in my mind. I saw him perform in Montreux, Switzerland. We both played the jazz festival there a couple of times and he was performing—not on the same day, but we saw him anyway. I didn’t get to meet him. He looked hearty. He died quite young really. That’s the problem with these shows—you’re on the same bill with people and you’re either too shy to say hello to them or you say “I’ll see them again, surely.”

You’ve recorded two albums that were never released. What can you tell me about them?

In 1978, we recorded a complete album in San Francisco and on the day it was being cut I just turned against it. I still have the acetates of it, but I’m glad we didn’t release it. I mean, it was adequate—there was nothing wrong with it. I wouldn’t call it a bad album. But between the production, the sound and the way it was played, I knew we could do better. In fact, what we did is we went back to Europe and recorded Photo-Finish. Using some of that material, we recorded Photo-Finish in about three weeks instead of spending six weeks or more in San Francisco. The other one I recorded was tentatively called Torch. We made that before Defender. That suffered from the same problems. I was dissatisfied with the sound, the performance and the direction. Sometimes the easiest way out is to just drop the project and to start afresh. Even if you do hold on to some of the songs, it’s best to start in a fresh room with a new engineer and make new attempts at the songs.

Recent years have seen a watering down of blues traditions in favor of lightweight blues-pop. What do you make of it all?

I just do my own thing really, but I’d be envious of people who have all these doors open to them and sell a huge amount of records. It doesn’t really do to get jealous of anyone, because it gets you nowhere. But sometimes it seems like a very hard road to continue to do what you’re doing under the right conditions. Some people do appear out of nowhere and the next thing you know, they are superstars, but I really don’t lose sleep over that because I’ve got enough to worry about in my own little area. I certainly would like to have more exposure and higher places in the record charts. I’m not happy to be semi-obscure, but I’m not going to sell-out just for the sake of getting my face on a magazine or anything.

It’s rare to see media coverage about you that doesn’t mention Eric Clapton as a musical compatriot. Does that frustrate you?

I have respect for Eric Clapton from the early days, but I’m surprised they always link his name with me. Maybe earlier on there might have been more of a comparison, but not at the moment. Clapton seems to be the icon of all guitarists including Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. I suppose he’s the successful face of what the blues is and I’m probably the guy on the sidelines. He’s working in a different area from me now. And even in the blues field, I cover different blues tangents than Eric does. I work in country blues and even though I do some numbers that are in the B.B. King and Albert King area, I work in a lot of other influences in as well. My blues roots are all over the place, where Eric’s tend to be a little narrower.

Rory Gallagher
Some believe many of the up-and-coming blues artists aren’t paying enough attention to the roots of the music. What do you think?

If you’re only 19 years of age and the first electric guitar player you heard was Eddie Van Halen or something, you might think the blues might be Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck. At the very most, you might think of Albert King or B.B. King. They don’t dig back further than that. I think if you’re a real blues player, you should go back as far as you can and study and absorb what you hear. That said, some of these young guitar players for their age, even though they don’t look back that far, have amazing technical facility, but from my point of view, not that much feeling. They have superb speed and can play classical music on the guitar and everything else, but I’m still fascinated by the rawer element of the music.

I’m reasonably optimistic about the future because Muddy Waters had a hit single recently, even though it was because of a jeans ad in Europe. John Lee Hooker also had a hit last year. It obviously isn’t 100 percent pure John Lee Hooker. It was kind of a combined effort with other people, but in 1991, I suppose you just have to accept that. There are still a few guys around who are still playing pure blues too. I think I’m a cross between a dyed-in-the-wool purist and someone that likes to be free enough to play things on the fringes of blues. I don’t mind rock and rolling. I don’t mind a bit of folk creeping in or a jazz phrase or whatever. I think aside from the music, a lot of musicians accept the sort of show business avenues as they are. They don’t question anything and they’re quite happy to follow the establishment. It must be the old Irish in me—we tend to work outside the establishment, historically and otherwise.

You’ve worked with a core nucleus of musicians for a very long time. Describe the chemistry that’s developed.

Jerry McEvoy has been with me on bass since ’71 and Brendan O’Neill’s been there on drums for about 10 years. We also have Mark Feltham on harmonica. He’s been playing off-and-on for about six years with me. Generally, it’s good to have a line up for a long time. There are arguments for and against that, but on the plus side, you get an ESP thing going. You can also keep the repertoire wide open. We don’t do the same set every night. The band just recognizes the song from the chord. I don’t even have to say anything. It makes for a very tight show.

You used to play sax on your records occasionally. Is that something you’re still interested in?

I still play it at home once in a while. I’m kind of rusty on it now. I got lazy and concentrated on the guitar more. The last time I played it on a record was on a small bit on the Defender album on a song called “I Ain’t No Saint,” which is kind of an Albert King-ish sort of blues. I played three saxes triple-tracked on it. I still like the sax and wish I could play it as well as I used to be able to. I also play mandolin and harmonica. I can’t really play piano, which is a great pity from my point of view. I can play a lot of other stringed instruments including dulcimer and banjo. Unfortunately I can’t read music, and to play by ear is quite difficult, whereas with guitar, you can progress without reading music.

What are your career highlights to date?

Some of the early gigs at the Marquee club in London were important. Also, my first trip to the U.S. and Canada was obviously important. Playing in Hamburg during the late ‘60s was good also, as were some of those big festivals we did like the Isle of Wight. Also, recording with Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis were big things for me. Getting the last two albums recorded and released were highlights for me too, because the ‘80s weren’t really good to me. So, to get into the ’90s is a good feeling.

How have you have evolved as an artist over the last 10 years?

Naturally, in 10 years, you change as a person and you learn a lot from your mistakes. You also learn a lot about wasting time and the right way to handle things. We’re not touring as much. We’re not doing eight or nine months of the year, so I’ve got a bit more time to get a perspective on what I do. I think I’ve improved my songwriting. I’m every bit as enthusiastic about playing as ever and I’m still learning.

006 - Rory in the Sky by Rick Koster Dallas Observer 12/3/97
Rory in the sky
The long-coming canonization of an Irish hero By Rick Koster
“Are your Irish friends coming to dinner?”
My mother, stuffing a turkey on a rain-drenched Thanksgiving day in 1976, was wondering if I was bringing Irish blues-rock guitar hero Rory Gallagher and his band home for our family’s traditional evening meal. In fact, I wasn’t “friends” with Rory. And until an hour or so before, I’d never met him.
Gallagher was in Dallas for a show at the now-defunct Electric Ballroom, and it had occurred to me–a huge fan–to invite the Gallagher band over for supper. It seemed a Thanksgiving kind of thing to do. With a bit of detective work, I found them registering at the downtown Holiday Inn. I went up to the guitarist–one of the most gracious humans ever–introduced myself, and made my offer.

Though he was clearly tired, Gallagher was nonetheless flattered. He thanked me effusively for the offer and referred me to his brother/best friend Donal, who served not only as the band’s road manager, but also as Rory’s business manager. Donal, equally soft-spoken and polite, explained why dinner would be impossible: They were late and hadn’t yet had a sound check. But why didn’t I come backstage after the show for drinks? Did I have tickets? How many did I need?

Rory Gallagher died two years ago last summer, on June 14, at age 47. He’d recently undergone a liver transplant; when complications set in, he didn’t make it. His passing wasn’t much of a big deal in the States; it was weeks before I learned of his death while skimming a guitar magazine. In fact, if you walk into any record store and try to buy albums from his extensive canon, well, good luck. For, despite carving a virtuoso’s niche in a style later made popular in the U.S. by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gallagher’s legacy has been criminally hard to find.

Yet across Europe, the U.K., Scandinavia, and Japan, Gallagher is saint-like in the truest sense of the phrase. He was a guitarist, writer, and performer of true genius and neon intensity; a generous, humble man who believed passionately in the power of music to heal. As such, his forays into the north of Ireland to play for rock-starved kids during the truly violent early ’70s defied logic even as they defined courage.

It’s stupid and cruel that an entire generation of American music fans doesn’t have the slightest idea who Rory Gallagher is and hasn’t had much chance of discovering him. But as we approach Thanksgiving some two decades after his flame-thrower performance at the Electric Ballroom, there is hope.

Donal Gallagher last week completed negotiations for the release of Rory’s catalogue after years of record-company chicanery, both here and in Europe. The establishment of Capo Records, Rory and Donal’s longtime signature label project, and a distribution arrangement with BMG Records should ensure that a new release program for all of Rory Gallagher’s records–both solo and with his definitive late-sixties power trio, Taste–will be in effect by the first of the year.

“The catalog had been distributed by IRS Records,” says Donal from his home in London, although IRS went into liquidation some 18 months ago. “It’s all very convoluted, but IRS was taken over by Capitol/EMI, [which] has gone through some rather difficult times as well. Recording-wise, we’ve always been unlucky in America.”

That’s an understatement. Gallagher broke up Taste not long after its historic performance at the Isle of Wight festival, then set out on his own. He signed a solo deal with Polydor, and within two years, on the strength of records like Live in Europe and Blueprint, Gallagher established a reputation in his homeland and on the continent for impassioned guitar artistry and steamhammer rock. A handsome, smiling man who favored checked lumberjack shirts and peeling Fender guitars, he mixed an archivist’s love of rural American bluesmen with a finger-in-the-light-socket stage presence that bonded with the working class all over Europe.

On 1973’s Tattoo, Gallagher–an avid fan of Russian cinema and American hard-boiled detective fiction–began to write tunes that, while still focused on pure energy, imbued a true narrative voice and a heightened sense of melody and wit. Both in performance and global context, the follow-up, Irish Tour ’74, opened his singular talents to America.

The album was recorded during a series of shows throughout Ireland–including dates in Belfast that remain the stuff of legend. The tour was filmed for an apocryphal documentary that, until recently, was believed lost in a fire. But a security copy of the footage turned up in a processing lab, and Donal Gallagher has been editing the film, using up-to-the-moment technology to even out the sound quality.

Donal explains: “I looked at the footage, and I knew Rory’s concerns with it being brought back into the market. It’d been done in the early ’70s, and to bring it back in the ’90s, well, he didn’t want it to seem like Spinal Tap.” But Irish Tour ’74 is anything but satire. And the sound quality is uneven for the most dramatic of reasons.

“The numbers that were taped in Cork City were all very good because they were on Ronnie Lane’s mobile unit,” Donal says. “But other sections and performances which were shot in Belfast, we didn’t have the benefit of the mobile. For insurance purposes or whatever, they wouldn’t bring it into Dublin or Belfast.

“You’ve got to remember, when that was shot, the troubles in the whole north of Ireland were really at a peak. It was extremely dangerous for us to go in there. But Rory felt that it wasn’t the kids that were the problem, and that the only way you can unify such a situation is to go in and play.”

Backstage at the Electric Ballroom, where I’d brought in turkey sandwiches and where both Gallaghers and Rory’s most enduring band–bassist Gerry McAvoy, pianist Lou Martin, and drummer Rod D’Ath–were supplying the liquor, I’d asked Rory if it was true they’d played through bombings in Northern Ireland. In his typical modesty, he downplayed the incident, but I remember McAvoy pulling me aside and telling me how truly frightening it had been.

Donal, too, vividly recalls those performances. “That was just Rory’s way. I remember playing Queen’s University in Belfast for the students’ New Year’s Eve party, and 11 bombs went off. And he just went on playing. We were all waiting–12 bombs at midnight, you know?–and we sort of made some inquiries and were told, ‘Don’t worry, the twelfth one won’t go off where you are.’

“Rory just liked doing that for the kids,” Donal adds. “We went behind the Iron Curtain when nobody was getting in there. We went in and played Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, a lot of the territories of East Germany–at a time when there was no other reason to do it.”

Now, a quarter-century after those tours made Rory Gallagher a hero, his brother can at least ensure that the world can see the Irish Tour ’74 film. And the album, which broke Rory in the states, remains one of the finest live records ever made.

For the rest of the decade and into the ’80s, Rory enjoyed his greatest visibility in the U.S. He made sturdy inroads on headlining theater tours and in support of acts like Yes and ZZ Top in larger arenas. Incredible studio LPs like Against the Grain, Calling Card, Photo Finish, Top Priority, and Jinx continued to bolster his hero’s status overseas–he’s sold more than 30 million records worldwide. Though the albums sold modestly in America, a shift in U.S. labels from Polydor to Chrysalis kept PR support at a minimum. And despite a core loyalty that mirrored his global popularity in intensity if not in size, Rory never broke through here in a truly big way.

Always an enthusiastic drinker in the fine rock and roll tradition, Rory nonetheless stayed in shape. Donal confirms that his brother never took recreational drugs or so much as smoked a joint or cigarette. But a growing fear of travel and the stress of a touring schedule that kept him on the road up to 250 nights a year exacted a toll. And a deepening sense of depression eventually caused Rory to seek help.

“I would call it melancholy,” Donal says. “To be honest, most of the great artists that I’ve met all have a sort of terribly sad side to them–no matter how successful they are. Rory had that.” In a series of medical treatments that Donal contested all along–and over which he may yet take legal action–Rory was prescribed a variety of extremely addictive anti-depressant medications, many of which, says Donal, have since been taken off the market. “I think Rory found himself very much in a terrible, vicious circle. He was being given drugs by his doctor on prescription–as medicine–thinking that he needed them when he really didn’t. I believe that he found himself without much energy from these anti-depressants, and the only energy level he could get was a shot of brandy. And I think that’s OK for a while, but eventually it catches up with you.”

Rory stayed on the road as long as possible despite an obvious and significant decline in health. Donal says he begged Rory’s doctor to put his brother on a program to wean him off the anti-depressants and even contacted a lawyer, telling him he thought Rory was being slowly killed by his doctor. The lawyer said there was nothing, legally, Donal could do.

Eventually, Rory slipped into a coma. He was hospitalized at Kings College Hospital in London, where it was discovered he needed a liver transplant. The surgery that followed was successful, and the guitarist seemed to be on the road to a complete recovery when an infection set in. He never left the hospital.

In Germany, the television stations suspended programming for the night, showing nothing but Rory Gallagher concert films–a practice that has endured each June 14, the date of his death. In Paris, the mayor made a proclamation, and within a week, plans were under way to rename a major street in his honor.

Both in England and Ireland, it was as though a national hero had died. Thousands lined the streets of Cork to give him one last standing ovation. The funeral cortege made its way to the services at the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. He was laid to rest in St. Oliver’s Cemetery.

The main plaza in Cork City has been renamed in his honor, and a statue of Rory Gallagher graces the central square. On the two anniversaries since his death, huge throngs have attended memorials where dozens of artists perform all-night tributes of such Gallagher originals as “A Million Miles Away,” “Shadow Play,” “Sinner Boy,” “Tattoo’d Lady,” “Ghost Blues,” and “Walk on Hot Coals,” and amazing renditions of “Messin’ With the Kid” and Leadbelly’s “Out On the Western Plain.”

For Donal Gallagher, the maintenance of Rory Gallagher’s music and what he stood for will always be a full-time job and a labor of love. And now that he’s cleared the business obstacles that so hindered the availability of Rory’s substantial body of work, he says he’d like to take the time, at last, to grieve.

This article comes from The Nov. 27, 1997 issue of the Dallas Observer
reformatted by roryfan

007 - A Personal Tribute by Phil N. Rossner, Cosmic Debris 12/95
A personal tribute by Phil N. Rossner
Rory Gallagher only played in Victoria once. It was 1974 and he was on a tour with the British rock band Status Quo. The English rockers were supposed to play Victoria by themselves, but apparently Rory said that he would also like to perform. I was a young guitar player who was totally immersed in the whole music scene at the time, and Rory Gallagher was my guitar hero. I couldn’t wait to see him play….
One of my friends at the time, Mike Griffiths (then editor of music magazine Cobwebs & Strange), ran into Gerry McAvoy and Rod De’Ath (Rory’s bassist and drummer) wandering around downtown. “They were very surprised that I knew who they were!”, Mike said later. They invited him to go backstage before the show and meet Rory, so when Mike showed up at the Memorial Arena (the infamous “echo barn”), he was ushered into a room where Rory was by himself and in the middle of re-stringing his famous ’61 Strat. Mike proceeded to ask Rory about some of his early influences and both Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were mentioned. When I asked Mike recently what Rory was like to talk to, he recalled – “Rory was real soft spoken and modest. I talked to him for about fifteen minutes and he never showed the slightest hint of being inconvenienced in any way. He was totally cool and gracious.”

Rory hit the stage like a raging tornado. Never before had I seen a performer that exuded so much energy. He blasted through a whole string of his original songs and blues favorites, astounding us with his raw brand of rock `n blues. It would be an understatement to say I was blown away! He is one of only two performers that gave me shivers of excitement up and down my spine (the other was BB King). I was electrified! It was the only time I was to see Rory perform live, but I have never forgotten it. To me, Rory’s performance was the epitome of what rock `n roll and blues is all about – honest, raw, in-your-face musical inspiration. I have attempted to follow his guidance ever since – give the audience everything you’ve got, no-holds-barred! He was my teacher, the main man on guitar – a musical big brother. When a friend relayed the news to me that Rory had passed away, I broke down and cried. I had been deeply saddened to learn of the passing of other great, inspiring musicians – Albert Collins, John Lennon, Stevie Ray – but it was different with Rory… I had “known him” for so long.

I had been planning a trip to see my elderly relatives in England next year and was hoping to seek out Rory. I just wanted to let him know how much his music meant to me. I had visions of jamming with him on stage….. Life has a funny way of not turning out the way you would hope, but on thinking deeply about it, Rory is still here. Every time I play, Rory is there along with Albert and Stevie Ray and all the others who have influenced me. If you have been touched by the music, then they are there with you as well…. and that is something that transcends life and death. As a five-year-old Sean Lennon said when he was told that his Dad had been killed, “I guess when you die you become much more bigger because you’re part of everything.” Rory may have left us on the physical plane, but for a whole generation of guitarists and music lovers who were influenced by him, he lives on…..
Copyright c 1995, Phil N. Rossner (Published in the Cosmic Debris magazine, December 1995)

reformatted by roryfan

008 - Q Magazine July 1990 by David Sinclair
The Show must go on! by David Sinclair

The schedule-shredding microchip music business of the `90s has left him plodding in its wake. After 25 years with a battered Strat proclaiming man’s inalienable right to boogie, Rory Gallagher is struggling to preserve his self-confidence and resist the relentless march of technology. Chin up, says David Sinclair… The show must go on!

At the start of 1970 the world was Rory Gallagher’s oyster. Cream had split up towards the end of 1968 and Hendrix, having dissolved the Experience, had spent most of 1969 faffing around in a haze of dissolute disorganisation. The group that looked tailor made to step into vacuum was Taste, an Irish blues-based trio which boasted in Gallagher a musician who looked more than capable of claiming a place alongside the likes of Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore in the second wave of rock guitar virtuosos.

In February l970 Taste’s second album, On The Boards, began a rapid ascent of the chart. It was a bold pioneering collection which minted fresh coin from the hard currency of the blues. The title track was a striking amalgam of rock and jazz-noir which featured Gallagher blowing a fair saxophone solo, something of a first among “guitar hero” accomplishments. But it all went wrong and in less than a year Taste had fallen apart. As a solo act, Gallagher subsequently went on to greater success, but retreated from the cutting edge. Forever decked out in his checked shirt, jeans and plimsolls (the ancestors of trainers), he carved a niche for himself as a no-frills, no-nonsense man of the people. A perennial live favourite, he hauled his battered Stratocaster, a bass player, drummer and minimal road crew round the European arena and festival circuit without remit, achieving widespread popularity and acclaim during the ’70s. His image solidified around the time of his most successful album, Live! In Europe (1972), a high energy proclamation of man’s inalienable right to boogie, which featured standards like Messin’ With The Kid and Bullfrog Blues that have lodged in his set ever since.

In America, where he is less well known, Gallagher has mounted no less than 25 full-scale college and theatre tours over the years. In England he has played the Reading Festival more times than any other act, ditto the Montreux Festival, and he’s proud of it. While his fans have been loyal, many other people assume that Gallagher died the death some time after punk, and with only three new albums released since 1979 – Stage Struck (another live recording in 1980), Jinx (1982) and Defender (1987) – the ’80s were indeed remarkably quiet, even by the low-key standards of this retiring performer.

“I’m not the most organised guy in the world”, Gallagher comments equably, a feature that has been evident in the weeks leading up to this interview, during which a warm-up gig in Hamburg, the recording of a German TV show in Baden Baden, a gig in Cologne, and two proposed meetings in London have all fallen through. He eventually appears in a quiet Chelsea bar where the staff treat him as a familiar and valued customer, reserving a quiet table in the corner, and supplying lagers and whisky chasers throughout.

He is in poor shape. Rheumy eyes peer from a face that looks as if it has been pumped up like a football. His hair is a virulent shade of dark henna red, but grey roots push up along the crease of a ragged centre parting. What can do this to a man? He explains that many sleepless nights, bad diet and much lack of exercise and fresh air have been the upshot of a prolonged stretch in the recording studio. He has just finished work on his new album, Fresh Evidence, and the fact is that in stark contrast to his happy-go-lucky, have-guitar will-travel image, Gallagher is both a painstaking perfectionist and a sufferer of extreme angst when it comes to the recording studio. “If you produce, write and play on an album, you lose all perspective. I get terrible doubts. The predecessor of Defender, an album called Torch, was put in the bin. The recordings went on and on and eventually I just turned against it. This happened before. We did a complete album in San Francisco in the ’70s and then scrapped it. That was the album before Photo-Finish. This is the constant danger. If you’re working for months on end in the studio you lose the joy of it and in the end you turn against it. I’ve just got this one finished in time. I’m happy enough with it now.”

He looks, none too certainly, at an advance tape of Fresh Evidence sitting on the table. It is the cause of all the recent disruptions to his schedule, since the album has had to be fully mixed at least twice and then cut three times before reaching a standard that he will accept as satisfactory. “Knowing my temperament I have to watch myself. You start going home and playing albums by your favourite artists and then you put your own record on and you can go from being excited about what you do to being very depressed about what you do – which is probably a healthy thing, but it’s not healthy in terms of planning and touring and so on.”

“If you were getting a lot of nice critical acclaim all the time, you might think, Gosh, gee whizz, I’m not that bad, I do pretty good things. But the route I’m on I don’t get that much coverage and an awful lot of it is left to my own judgement. I’m probably over-critical of myself so you have to boost yourself back up. The best thing for that is to go to a couple of concerts. You see somebody who’s supposed to he a genius and then you go home and say, Gee whizz, God Almighty, I’m not too bad after all. “You could neuter yourself if you didn’t have some self-esteem. My next plan is to go out and do some extreme touring, which is the best therapy of all. Every night you get a chance to prove yourself and you can’t be overdubbing it a million times.”

Gallagher’s neurotic attention to detail has paid off and Fresh Evidence is a considered and varied collection without an ounce of spare flesh on its wiry frame. On two tracks in particular– Middle Name and Heaven’s Gate – he solos with whiplash severity and taut economy against smouldering, minimalist backdrops that belie the long months of effort that went into the making of the finished article. The album emerges too at a time when blues-based rock is suddenly as fashionable as it has been at any time since the ’60s. Bonnie Raitt has just topped the American chart; John Lee Hooker is more successful than he’s been for several decades; Gary Moore is in the chart with Albert King; Larry McCray is racing to pick up the Robert Cray baton; and even mainstream veteran Eric Clapton peppered this year’s Albert Hall residency with several nostalgic Blues Nights. Gallagher has, of course, occupied the one fixed point all along and smiles at the thought of everyone else once more coming round to his way of thinking.

“The compass has come round again all right. It’s not that nice when you’re out there in the cold. You always have fans who will follow you through thick and thin, but the temperature feels good again now. Even so, I want to avoid the AOR element that some of the blues artists are getting into now. I still like to have a street feel to it, because that’s the way Chicago blues is. I can be as technical as I want to, but I still want it to be a little bit crazy. I’m serious about the blues and I study it. But I would prefer to be a little bit rowdy as opposed to too sophisticated.”

The mystery of how a man born in Ballyshannon on the northwest tip of Ireland on March 2, 1948 and brought up during the ’50s in the town of Cork should have come to make a study of the blues his life’s work is unravelled in the first instance by reference to the much underrated skiffle star Lonnie Donegan. “I found Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie through Lonnie Donegan; with the exception of the BBC jazz programmes and American Forces Network who would play the odd Muddy Waters track, Lonnie was the only source for getting to hear of material like that.”

From there Gallagher found his way to the likes of Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and Jimmy Reed. The subsequent emergence across the water of The Rolling Stones and Alexis Korner didn’t hurt either. “You’d see in Melody Maker photographs of the Chris Barber Band touring with Muddy Waters and Big Bill Broonzy. I got books out of the library that had photographs of Blind Blake and people like that. I was just fascinated by the blues. The strange thing is I can’t play jigs or reels or any of that traditional Irish stuff as well as I ought to, whereas I think I have got a good ear for blues, the tonality of it and so on.”

Gallagher got his first guitar when he was nine and taught himself to play, using tutorial books. When he was l5 he bought the sunburst Fender Stratocaster which he uses to this day: “It’s a 1961 model. I got it second-hand. It was [[sterling]]100, which was an absolute fortune at the time. It was in good condition then, but it’s got so battered now it’s got a kind of tattoo quality about it. There’s now a theory that the less paint or varnish on a guitar, acoustic or electric, the better. The wood breathes more. But it’s all psychological. I just like the sound of it. It’s also a good luck thing. It was stolen one time and it came back. It’s kind of a lucky charm.”

Gallagher admits to being extremely superstitious, a man who is tempted to stay in on Friday the 13th. “I’m trying to cure it. If I throw a shirt on the couch and I should tidy up… I might look at it and think, No, I’ll leave that. Even the position of a piece of paper at home, or where you leave your shoes… It’s actually dangerous to get that psychotic about it, but I am. “I’m also into the zodiac, unfortunately. I try to avoid it because that’s bad luck. Numbers and stuff. I think it may be an Irish thing. It’s a Druidic, pre-Celtic thing that creeps into Irish Christianity. It’s something that you have to conquer because it is very unhealthy mentally. It can control your mind.”

Gallagher’s late father played accordion in a traditional Irish band and his mother is still possessed of a fine singing voice, so although Gallagher junior rebelled against Irish music, it seemed a natural step for him to make a living by joining The Fontana Showband when he left school. “It’s great fun in a showband, whatever you say, although it can be frustrating too. You’ll get a great jazz saxophonist having to play The Twist by Chubby Checker, and you’ll get a drummer who really wants to be playing in a ceilidh band or you’ll get someone like me who just wants to play Chuck Berry and R&B. But you do it for a laugh at a certain point. Some of the bands have quite a serious attitude. They spend a lot of time getting good uniforms and hoping to make it in Las Vegas. I had a uniform, God forbid. I actually wore the jacket with Taste for a bit. It had double buttons, kind of like a Beatle jacket. But I knew from Day One that I was only passing through.”

As the beat boom overtook the British Isles, and even Cork played host to bands like The Rolling Stones (“1963 they came, with Brian Jones. It was the first time I’d seen anyone playing the slide guitar – a very underrated musician”), The Fontana Showband changed its name to The Impact in a half-hearted attempt to keep up with the times. It didn’t work. The band split up and in 1965 Gallagher was asked by the manager to put a band together to honour some outstanding dates in Hamburg. With bassist Richard McCracken and drummer John Wilson, Gallagher formed Taste and the trio went off to cut its teeth through the time-honoured rigours of the Hamburg night-club scene. “The whole atmosphere was still very Beatlesesque. The beauty of it was that, aside from playing six 45-minute sets a night, you could play as much Chuck Berry as you wanted, and do as much jamming as you wanted. You still had to play a couple of pop hits every so often to keep the dancers happy and avoid the beer bottles.”

Although nowadays there is a thriving Irish rock scene, in the ’60s there was virtually no one else apart from Van Morrison and Them. Taste found it extremely hard to get established on the mainland, but persistence paid off. They moved to the penury of bedsit land in London and criss-crossed the country touring with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (Mick Taylor line-up) and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, among others. Together with Yes, they supported Cream on their Albert Hall farewell concerts in 1968, toured America with the ill-fated Blind Faith and following the success of On The Boards, were well on their way to much wider acclaim .

Twenty years later, Gallagher is still extremely touchy about the subject of Taste. At the time of the break-up, drummer John Wilson laid the blame at Gallagher’s door, complaining to the music press that the guitarist had been taking all the money and short-changing the rest of the group. “I hate talking about ancient history all the time”, Gallagher says with a visibly pained expression. “In some respects I regret the group breaking up when it did, but I don’t think it would have lasted more than a few months longer in any event. I remember playing the Isle Of Wight Festival (August 1970) and we weren’t talking to each other then. We took the ferry across, and we put on a reasonable show and got a great reaction, but musically it was all over between us. Other things were happening which shouldn’t have been happening, but they were not my fault. Richard and John know the truth. I was made out to be the villain but they know it’s simply not true. I got very badly burned there. I’ve been through the Taste story so many times and I’m sick of it.”

Besides resembling a man having his teeth pulled when the subject of Taste is broached, Gallagher scrupulously avoids naming names, but according to his younger brother, Donal, who was at that time Rory’s road manager, the financial problem stemmed from bad management practices, with money being withheld from Wilson and McCracken who were then told it had been paid to Gallagher. It was, says Donal, a classic case of management divide and rule, and it left Rory scarred for life. “He still won’t accept the very idea of having manager” says Donal (41) who now takes care of all Rory’s management needs. “I’ve never been fully appointed to the job, and I’m constanty reminded of it,” he adds a shade wistfully.

“It’s no mini-empire,” says Rory when asked about the close-knit, almost cottage industry nature of the present operation. “By nature I’m not a business-like type of person. I’m not that organised. But I want anything that I’m doing to be under control, and I want the final say on things and I don’t want things to get out of hand like they did before. I don’t think in terms of power levels really, unless there’s a clash or something like that. I like to think I’m anti-organisation and anti-establishment and anti-setups, but you do have to have some kind of plan so that three or four musicians show up at the same time at the same gig or the same airport. It’s something I’ll always have a problem with, but once you get things rolling on a tour, that side of it becomes unimportant.”

Gallagher, who has never married, now lives in Chelsea, where he keeps his radio tuned into the Irish station RTE and continues to take an Irish newspaper. He is hardly what you would call a superstar. For one thing he is too shy. “I was in the same plane as John Lennon once,” he reminisces, “and I thought I’d better go and say hello to him, but I hadn’t the guts to do it. I regret it to this day. I’m useless at that. I have trouble going up to unknown bands and saying hello. I did the same thing with Hendrix. It was at the Speakeasy club and I was sitting two tables away from him. I could have said hello. There weren’t too many people there. Same again with Brian Jones at Blaizes. I didn’t say hello and lived to regret it. But sometimes people should be left alone. I wouldn’t bring up the subject, except that all these people seem to drift and fade away… I did shake Howlin’ Wolf’s hand. I’m a terrible cheap fan really.”

On the other side of the coin, he has avoided the pub rock obscurity that has claimed so many of his peers from the ’60s blues boom, and continues to ply a good trade doing what he does. He has not made enough to retire and one wonders if he intends to carry on like the old blues stars he so much admired in the first place. “That was my plan and my ambition, but over these last four or five years I’ve wondered if I can keep it going. I think if I can get over the next couple of months when the album comes out, and I can get back out touring, I’ll go for about 60. That would be a fair time to retire. That would be my dream. You reach the point in your life where you have to make a commitment. It’s not as easy as when you’re 19 or 25 or 30. It’s not the live part so much that’s difficult, it’s the recording. I find the gypsy part of it easy enough. But working with a set piece of music in the studio… well, I agonise too much. The best thing I can do right now is rehearse and go on the road and play. It’s better than retiring to Buckinghamshire and getting a mansion and six corgi dogs and writing the next rock opera.”

from Q magazine July 1990
reformatted by roryfan

009 - British Rock Guitar : Rory Gallagher by Dan Hedges
Guitar Player Books 1977

To the purists, the mere thought of anyone but the originators playing the blues is justification for outrage. In England, this issue came to a head in the middle and late Sixties when people like John Mayall and Eric Clapton sparked off the “Can a white man play the blues?” debate. Even if it was only taken seriously by the people who were asking the question, it nevertheless triggered an interest in Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon records. People wanted to see how Clapton and company stacked up against the “real thing.”

In one instance, the question “Can a white man play the blues?” became localized with the unique query: “Can an Irishman play the blues?” And in the case of Rory Gallagher, the answer is a definite yes. Born in Cork, Ireland—an entire ocean away from the back porches of the American South—Rory got into the blues because, he explains, “First of all, there’s the raunchy sound. It’s not that clean tone that was the usual rock and roll style. Secondly, you didn’t have to work in a structured format—limiting yourself to a half-verse solo. You could improvise, and the solo didn’t have to be the same length every night. It was a much looser structure, and there were all sorts of new and interesting techniques that I could get into, like bottleneck, and all sorts of different tunings.”

It would be inaccurate to classify Rory Gallagher as a traditional blues guitarist. He doesn’t eat, sleep, or drink the blues, nor does he consider it a major tragedy that he wasn’t born in Fly swatter, Mississippi. While the blues occupy a major share of Rory’s musical attentions, his overall guitar style is a mixture: a pinch of jazz, a bit of clean country picking, a dash of Fifties rock, a hefty dose of hard rock, and a dab of old Irish, all blended together by a natural feeling for traditional blues and a respectful disregard for convention.

Discussing his approach to a blues number, Rory says, “If I want to chicken-pick the thing, which is connected more with the James Burton style, I’ll do it. I don’t feel that you have to be that pure about it. If I want to use a bit of the old tone control for a wah-wah effect, fine. It’s apparently against the pure blues creed, but I won’t have second thoughts about doing it. I like to do new things with the blues, you see. There’s not much point in simply recreating what’s already been done. I mean, Hubert Sumlin, who is one of my favorites, doesn’t even play the way he did twenty years ago. The blues players themselves are often the first to admit that they want to do something new, so you have Muddy Waters recording with wah-wahs and all. The younger blues-rock players have actually affected the old black players.

“It’s just that whole white scholastic thing,” Rory suggests. “They think of the blues as a load of chronological numbers and recording dates. I don’t believe in butchering old blues numbers. I like to echo the old thing. But I don’t think you’re helping the blues if you stick to the traditional way when you’re playing to younger listeners. They wouldn’t be interested in me playing the same old style, plus I’d be bored coming out and doing the same old thing every night.”
Gallagher’s interest in music began early when Irish radio introduced him to what could be loosely described as ‘pop music.’ “Even as a toddler,” Rory explains, “I was very aware of hearing people like Guy Mitchell and Tennessee Ernie Ford on the radio, along with things like the ‘High Noon’ theme, and all that. Apparently, I was always singing around the house, because most Irish families are interested in music in the first place—not necessarily pop music, but they were all singing around the house. When relatives came in, they’d be singing too, and since my grand-mother had a bar, there were lots of family get-togethers.”

Bill Haley (closely followed by Elvis) hit the scene when Rory was six or seven years old. He was a bit young to really appreciate the full significance of it all, but he was aware that something new was beginning to happen. “I could tell the difference,” Gallagher reports. “I could tell that this was a totally different thing, much better than Jo Stafford and all those people.”
Like just about everyone else growing up in the British Isles during those years, his major source of musical excitement came from skiffle music. Skiffle-King Lonnie Donegan was Rory’s hero and the driving acoustic skiffle guitar sound was a strong attraction. “I used to know all of Elvis’ songs, but around the ages of eight, nine, and ten, I actually found that I liked Lonnie better than rock and roll.” Rory recalls, “I thought he was the most, and I ended up getting my first cheap acoustic guitar when I was ten. I already had a couple of little ukuleles, and had gone through the stage of making them out of shoe boxes, so when I got that guitar, I was ready to go. I got a couple of books about Lonnie Donegan’s Skiffle Shooters, Charles McDevott, and Nancy Whiskey And The Teetotalers. These are all people that you don’t hear of anymore, but they were really big back then, and all the books had chord diagrams in them.

Unlike many kids at that age, Gallagher was serious about playing the guitar and singing right from the very beginning. He quickly taught himself the preliminary three-chord trick and went about learning the standards he picked up from the skiffle people: “It Takes A Worried Man,” “Don’t You Rock Me, Daddy-o,” and “John Henry.” “I’d always wanted to sing as well as play the guitar,” he says, “and I really got myself keyed up over the whole thing. I got a skiffle band together with my brother on washboard and another guy on tea-chest bass. We gave our first public performance at a talent contest, which I don’t think anybody actually won, but I remember that we just loaded ourselves onto the back of this guy’s uncovered lorry, with the tea-chest bass and the washboard. I’ll never forget it, because the washboard player got so nervous that his thimbles fell all over the place!”

Ten-year-old Rory spent the next year performing in the Sunday Night Boy Scout variety show circuit and building up a fairly respectable repertoire of songs that included an assortment of Lonnie Donegan numbers, along with selections like “Midnight Special” that didn’t really fit into a pop or skiffle category. At twelve, he got his first electric guitar—a Rosetti Solid VII. “It was an amazing machine,” he recalls, “but you couldn’t take the cord out of it because it was permanently attached! I had a Selmer Little Giant 4-watt amplifer, too, which I would really love to have now for a practice amp. It sounded something like one of those Pignose things.”

Rory went through an energetic period of forming his own bands but it was impossible to find enough gigs to match his enthusiasm. As he puts it, “The environment in Ireland was all dance music, showbands and things, which was complicated by the fact that I was only 12—though I thought I was 23. I never realized that I was so young ,just because I was taking it all so seriously.”

Gallagher’s lack of success gave him plenty of time to practice, and he began listening to all the American musicians who were just beginning to hit their stride: Buddy Holly (who replaced Lonnie Donegan in the Rory Gallagher Hall Of Fame), Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino. “I think rock and roll struck England with a heavier bang than it did in the States,” he says. “I know that when Elvis hit the scene over here, it was like a totally new era. In the States, listeners were already aware of Hank Williams, the semi-rhythm and blues things that sounded a bit like rock and roll, and electric blues, so it didn’t really shock them. Over here, it was a different story. It went from Jo Stafford to “Jailhouse Rock” practically overnight but between the jukeboxes, radio, and the rock and roll movies, I eventually heard all of the new stuff. I didn’t even have any records. I just listened to the radio.”

Starved for a chance to play, Rory finally joined an outfit called the Fontana Showband. “I just couldn’t get a group together, and I figured it would be better to join the Showband than to sit at home staring at the wallpaper,” he explains. “You could do at least 50% rock and roll in a showband; the rest would be a hodgepodge of country and western, comedy numbers, and everything else.”

The Showband gave him more experience in front of an audience, and for two and a half years, gave him an opportunity to see a bit of the world. By the time the band evolved into something called the Impact Showband, the rock influence had been firmly pushed into the foreground, though a handful of dance numbers were retained to keep everyone happy. The Beatles had made their auspicious appearance by this point, but Rory didn’t immediately latch onto them as the next new thing. He saw them as a further refinement of the brand of music he had been listening to since “Rock Around The Clock.” “I thought, ‘This is great!—a vintage rock and roll group, because they were playing Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard,” he recalls. “They looked different though, and I remember hearing them on radio programs that I’m sure everybody has forgotten about, doing “Twist And Shout’ and all those great numbers. They were a fantastically raw rock and roll group. All the other groups were rather low-key in those days—except for Johnny Kidd And The Pirates. So I was delighted, and the whole new image with the hair and everything got to everyone in some shape or form. Then the Stones came along, and they were even raunchier. I liked the Beatles and the Stones about equally, but I suppose I felt a little closer to the Stones, because they weren’t dressing up in neat suits and going for that teenybopper image.

“There was another great group from Liverpool called the Big Three,” Gallagher continues, “and I liked them as much as I liked anyone. They had a great bass player [John Gustafsson, later with Quatermass], and an incredible guitarist named Griff Griffiths. He was definitely one of the best, yet one of the most overlooked guitarists in the country. He played a really cheap Hofner guitar, and would always borrow an amp when he got to the gig.” As the months rolled on, lots of other emerging British guitarists began to catch Rory’s ear: Steve Winwood, Jeff Beck, and acoustic players like Bert Janseh and Davey Graham. “I never said, ‘Well, forget EddieCochran, because these people are much better.’ Everything had something for me, and I tried to listen to it all.”
It was at this time that the blues masters began to enter Rory’s life.

Through the influence of many of the blues-oriented British groups, Gallagher was prompted to start checking a little more thoroughly into the sources of their inspiration, In his words, “I began to take a very deep interest in the blues, in the fullest sense of the word, when I started hearing Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, and all the other people that musicians over here were beginning to discover. At the same time, no one person in rock, blues or whatever, totally affected my outlook. I didn’t wake up one morning to find that the whole world had changed because I had heard so-and-so. I was listening to a bit of everything, and while I got more and more interested in the blues as time went on, I was literally absorbing music from all different places.”

Rory didn’t have much chance to experiment when he was with the Showband and near his seventeenth birthday he decided, “Well, I could get stuck in this dance band stuff for life and go nowhere.” So he left. A few weeks later, the Showband split up altogether, and Gallagher formed a no-name, three-piece group with the Showband’s drummer and bassist. Then an opportunity to substitute for a group called The Fendermen popped up in Hamburg, and Rory and his friends jumped at the opportunity. He reminisces, “The Fendermen were an English-Irish band, kind of like the Shadows. The lead player even wore glasses! So we masqueraded as The Fendermen, and the audience didn’t know the difference, because the promoter never told them.”

The three went their separate ways after Hamburg, but Rory returned to Ireland, impressed with the possibilities of the three-piece format. In the summer of 1966 he formed another trio with drummer John Wilson and bassist Charlie McCracken from a local group called the Axles. This was the beginning of Taste. Right from the start they were fairly successful on the Irish and German club circuits, but attempts to find work in London failed. It prompted them to move from Cork to the musically-alive environs of Belfast. Taste eventually landed a few free gigs in London through promoters who had spotted them back home. In 1968 the band decided to move to London where they found a healthy amount of work at the Marquee and various festivals throughout the summer. Although they made some demo tapes in Ireland (later released as In The Beginning), their first official recording session didn’t take place until the lineup had changed: Rory teamed with John Wilson and Ritch McCracken. Things were going exceedingly well for them after that (culminating with an American tour supporting Blind Faith), but Taste broke up in 1970, just when they were within striking distance of the top.

“We blew it, but we had a good lifespan,” Rory feels. “So I got myself out of a few hundred contracts, and was finally free to form my own group in 1971 with Gerry McAvoy, Rod De’Ath, and later, Lou Martin. We recorded our first album [Rory Gallagher] in January and February of that year, went out on the road in May, and have been on the road ever since!”

Spending half the time that Rory spends on the road would be enough to drive many musicians around the bend. However, Gallagher feels that all the hard touring has paid off. Watching him onstage, it’s easy to see that he’s totally in control, completely at home with his instrument, and comfortable with his style and approach.

Gallagher’s overall aim is to keep himself interested in whatever he’s playing at the time—drawing on a bit of this and a bit of that, sometimes mixing radically different elements as he sees fit. “I don’t shrug off any of the things I used to like,” he claims, “so if a little bit of Eddie Cochran creeps in somewhere, I won’t think, ‘Oh no! That’s fifteen years old. I can’t play that!’ I play what I want, which means holding onto lots of things from the past.” For example, a subtle Celtic element, reminiscent of the ancient pipe and harp tunes of Scotland and Ireland, surfaces every now and then and provides an interesting contrast to Rory’s customary blues-rock approach.

He explains, “When you grow up in Ireland, you find that you hear that kind of music all over the place:in school bands, in the street on Easter Sunday—everywhere. So I suppose it did have an unconscious effect. The way Irish songs are written, the structure, the tunings, and the lyrics, all affect me, making me different from an English guitarist, who hasn’t been exposed to that kind of thing. My main drive comes from the American music, but the tunings and the way I phrase things will often have that old Celtic flavor.”

Rory admits to being, not bored, but disappointed in the current state of rock guitar. “I suppose that rock guitar has become a bit mainstream over the past few years. I really thought that another style or direction would have developed by this stage.” He explains, “I guess McLaughlin’s picked up on that one a bit—a cross between jazz, Eastern, and rock playing. I mean, every type of music requires a different set of principles. Jazz is total freedom, but other types of music are nice because they aren’t as free. I keep imagining the ultimate guitar player as someone who can play like Martin Carthy, with an unusual tuning style, the rhythm of Baden Powell, the blues feel of Hubert Sumlin, and the tone of James Burton. I keep trying to imagine the ultimate guitarist, but that’s nearly impossible. A folkie would never really feel comfortable playing jazz licks, for example.

“Then too, who one person would consider to be the ultimate guitarist, somebody else might view as no big deal,” he goes on. “So it all comes down to the individual taste of the listener. No matter how fantastic a guy is, he’ll never appeal to everybody, though some guys who are known for a certain thing have managed to pull in a few other elements. Larry Coryell can play jazz with a bit of rock and get away with it, and Roy Buchanan can play a country-rock thing. Then there are people like Chris Spedding who you can’t pin down to any one thing. He’s constantly changing.

“I really thought that somebody would have come along who could be the John Coltrane of the guitar, though. I think it’s going okay, but the whole trouble with the rock scene, and this has always been the case, is that you get a giant like Clapton coming along—he deserves the credit, no doubt about it, as does Hendrix—but the trouble is, everybody’s inclined to forget that there’s a whole series of lesser-known guitar players who are, to me anyway, just as important as any of these people.” Rory explains, “It surprised me that the whole world started to play like Clapton back in the late Sixties, when there were people around who were just as interesting. They don’t even get a look because of bad luck or because they’re not commercial. But that’s always the case, I guess. It’s like politics. One big guy always gets to the top, and there are always a couple of other guys who could’ve done just as good, if not better, but they get lost along the way. Griff Griffiths of the Big Three means just as much to me as Clapton does—and I like Clapton, I’m not criticizing him.”

Gallagher continues, “Steve Winwood used to play great guitar, for example, so it wasn’t only Clapton who was worthy of people’s attention. Of course, it’s partially the musician’s fault in some cases, because they lay back too much. Still, I’ve always had the complaint that rock critics and audiences tend to overlook people. I’ve got minor favorites who have never hit the scene, and I think, ‘Just look at what these guys could give to people.’ John Hammond has been terribly overlooked. Okay, he’s not Jimi Hendrix, but as a raw and raunchy guitarist, I would put him right next to Keith Richard. Mind you, Keith was overlooked for a good, long while, too. Those big driving chords were always Keith’s though, and a lot of lead work, even in Mick Taylor’s day, was still Keith. When Hendrix hit the scene, I got the feeling that everyone said, ‘Well, thanks, Keith. You’ve given us the early Stones thing,’ and then they ignored him after that.”

Rory doesn’t believe that a talented person will always be recognized in due course, though he believes in “the right place at the right time.” While nobody can predict when, or if, the right time and place will present themselves, he feels that constantly being out in front of an audience is the best way to tip the odds in one’s favor. In Gallagher’s estimation, “Clapton was lucky. Everyone was dead keen on the blues sound, the blues songs, and the blues image-the Mayall thing. He had everything going for him, as did Hendrix, who came in during the psychedelic era though he was a little bit early for it over here. So everyone who makes it needs those little extras, and needs to be in the right atmosphere to come forward.

Dylan became a giant, but there was already a genuine interest in folk music anyway-though the things he was doing with Robbie Robertson and the Band at the time were overlooked. You can’t change the way things are. The audiences and papers will only pick up on things in their own good time—if at all. Acoustic players are still being overlooked, for example. There are a lot of great acoustic musicians in the States, but they don’t look right. It’s all short hair with Bermuda shorts, but they’re playing great. The image isn’t there, so they get overlooked. Of course, you get the same thing among musicians themselves. You get these guitar players who pretend they don’t listen to anybody else-that they don’t like anybody else-like they were born yesterday. I’m a fan, and I get a kick out of listening to other people. It’s the only way to keep up on things-the only way to learn.” Rory’s own listening habits are always open to something new, but he complains that he hasn’t seen or heard any particularly earthshattering new guitarist for quite some time. He really enjoys Little Feat, Z.Z. Top, and Ry Cooder, the aforementioned John Hammond, Martin Carthy, Tony Joe White, Roy Nichols (Merle Haggard’s guitarist), and the late Clarence White, His overall musical taste at the moment seems to hover between the old blues masters like J.B. Hutto, Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Robert Nighthawk, and the more, high-powered guitarists like Richie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton.

His avid interest in jazz reached its peak during his Taste days, and while it’s slacked off a bit since, he still listens to Pharaoh Sanders, Eric Dolphy, and Baden Powell–whose merging of mainstream jazz with Brazilian bossa nova Rory finds particularly interesting. Although he’s listened to all the guitar greats like Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, and (in particular) Django Reinhardt, he’s found that he can identify much more strongly with the sax players.

“Once I got into jazz,” he affirms, “I found I had this terrible hunger to hear something that I couldn’t hear in rock or blues. I suppose it must have happened to a lot of people when they heard John Coltrane. His lines and the chords are really incredible. That whole era of jazz sort of whetted my appetite and satisfied it. So I veered away from jazz, but not before I’d picked up all those ideas along the way. I mean, that free-wheeling phrasing that I try to get must come from the sax. As I’ve said. I’m a fan of the guitar, and of music. It’s nice to be able to fall back on a jazz chord if you need it, or a country lick, or a classical run. That’s my idea of what modern guitar should be.”

When listening to blues and rock, Rory doesn’t automatically home in on the guitar solo and then dismiss the rest of the a rrangernent Ihe total effect is what counts how the guitar relates to the singer, to the other instruments, and to the song itself. Rory’s the focal point as far as the audience is concerned, and the gig-scarred Stratocaster that hangs from his shoulders has become something of a trademark, a visual representation of the rough, jagged brand of music with which he’s become identified. As he describes it, “I think it’s a ‘59 or a ‘60. It’s second-hand, though it wasn’t that beat up when I bought it. The guy who had it before me wanted a red one, but when he ordered it, they sent him this sunburst by mistake. He played it for a few months, and then the red one came in, so he sold it to me for £100 [about $250], which took me ages to pay ott. That was as in 1963 when I joined the Showband. I think it the second Stratocaster in Ireland, and to a fifteen— year-old guitar player, it was like gold. I was afraid to even look at it! The reason why it looks the way it does now is because I sweat like mad. It’s my birthsign. I’m a born sweater, you see, and I’ve done a few million gigs with it,

In the Showband, for example, it was seven hours a night. I mean, I clean the guitar. I haven’t tried to wreck it, but I’ve got a lot of salt in my blood, and the sunburst finish never lasts anyway. I guess I don’t feel like getting it repainted because I’ve grown so fond of it. But it’s eventually going to crack up. If I walked out onstage with another one… I mean, you get branded with a certain guitar. Have to keep up the image, you know!”

He originally played the Strat (and still does occasionally) through an old Vox AC-30 bass amp, later adding a Rangemaster treble booster to give it the top he was after. Later on he got a gigantic Burns solidbody, but this he traded in for the Telecaster he currently uses for slide work.

The moth-eaten Strat, without a shadow of a doubt, is his instrument. “If it breaks down, like it did on one American tour. I’m lost,” he claims, “I can get through a night on the Telecaster, but I’d rather avoid it. I carry an extra Strat with me now a ‘58 maple job, though I think I might start using that for slide instead.”

Rory says that the Telecaster is a fine instrument for country slide, but he finds the bass pickup a bit thin. “Changing the pickup to a humbucker would only make things worse,” he claims, “because the full, lively sound of the humbuckers just doesn’t mix well with the cranky tone of the standard Telecaster pickup. A guy could sit down and say, ‘Right. I’ll get myself a Telecaster body, a humbucker pickup, a Guild pickup, etc.’–a real hodge-podge of different parts. But the guitar won’t necessarily have any character. I use my Strat as it is, though you need a treble booster to get that raunchy thing, because the guitar is really made to be played like Gene Vincent or Buddy Holly. If you go to the other side of the wall and get a Les Paul, you can get that raunchy sound, but that’s about all you can get from it. If you want to get into a half verse of nice clean percussive country playing, you can’t do it. I’m not anti-Gibson, by the way. Some guy wrote me a really violent letter, because he thought I didn’t like Gibsons, and he had just laid out $700 or something for one. [here are things you can do with a Strat that you can’t do with a Les Paul, and vice-versa.

“I love that Strat, though, and if something happened to it, I’d probably buy another one.” Rory continues, “I even like the tuning heads on them–the old Klusons, rather than the Grovers. You get instant tuning, and the harmonics are dead true. You can hit a harmonte and pull a string at the top of the fretboard for a nice squeal. It’s the kind of guitar you can do unorthodox things with.”
In the same breath, Rory reveals himself as a champion of obscure, but well-made guitars—the sort of instruments that no style-conscious rock star would be seen with.

As he puts it, “Everyone seems to think that there are only three guitars in the world now -the Les Paul, the Strat, and the Telecaster. I remember a time when nobody would touch a Strat because the Shadows had gone out of vogue. Harrison was playing a Rickenbacker and a Gretsch, so everyone got into those semi-solids. If you played a Stratocaster, you were from the last century. Now you rarely see Rickenbackers anymore, and the Strat is the guitar again. I suppose it is the best, inasmuch as it gives you a very clean, sophisticated guitar sound—clean and brittle. But it’s not an automatically good, raunchy blues guitar, because you have to perk it up.”

Gallagher’s small but respectable collection of outcasts includes a mid-Fifties solid Rickenbacker, a Sears and Roebuck Silvertone (similar to the black and white Danelectro solids), and a “really loud” ‘59 or ‘60 Guyatone that was made in Japan, which Rory might soon be using onstage for a couple of numbers. For the most part, he’ll continue using the Stratocaster and Telecaster. The Strat is strung with Fender Rock N’ Roll strings (150s), while the Telecaster, used mostly for bottleneck, is equipped with a mixed set of light and medium gauge Fenders. These strings have been lightened over the years; for example, the wound .022 or .023 third is now a plain .018 or .020, which provides better balance to the A and E tunings that Rory uses onstage.
“If I were using a D or G tuning,” he adds. “I’d probably use a real medium or even a heavy set. Since I’m tuning the guitar up, 1 can’t have them too heavy or it causes problems. The action for both guitars is fairly high by average standards, but not over the moon. I think it’s better for sustain and volume. If I’m using fairly light strings, I hate it when they’re too close to the fretboard and when I’m aiming for a nice punchy chord, but it goes mmmmffff, buzz. I like to get a slightly acoustic feel to my strings, so I can get a really hammering chord out of them.”

For onstage amplification, Rory either relies on an old tweed 4×10 Fender Bassman. or an equally aged Fender Twin Reverb. He prefers using a guitar with a clean sound, like the Strat, and a really “dirty” amp. The Bassman is his first choice because he finds a bass amp well suited to his rough style of playing. He thinks that the idea of using four 10” speakers for bass guitar is ludicrous. Buddy Holly and Buddy Guy also used the Bassman, and Rory recommends it as a very loud amp for guitars. “As I’ve mentioned, I sometimes use a Rangemaster treble booster, though I’m using a Hawk II at the moment, which is much more expensive, but it gives more control.” He notes, “Basically, when I stopped using the AC-30, I stopped using the Rangemaster. Then I got the Fender Twin, and started plugging straight into it. I was happy with that slightly cleaner tone for a while, but I went back to using the booster again with the Bassman about a year ago. Ideally, I could still plug straight in if I played at a lower volume, but with the piano and everything else in the band, you need something to make the guitar more piercing.”

On the job, the volume on the Bassman is set at a little less than half of its full range, because of the extra boost from the treble booster. Even without the booster, Rory has never pushed his amp more than three-quarters of the way up. The bass and treble controls are usually about three-quarters of the way on, depending on whether or not the booster is being used. The amp has a presence control as well, which is set at 2.

Generally, Rory turns his Strat volume control straight up to 10 for solos, dropping it down to 7 or so for the in-between parts. The tone controls are usually up full, unless he takes to wiggling them for a wah-wah effect. Although all three pickups get their fair share of use, he particularly likes working out of the middle one, and for a solo he’ll often switch from the out-of-phase position to the in-phase position, depending on the effect he wants. “That’s what I like about the Strat,” he explains. “You can do so many different things with it. If it had a built-in treble booster to give it that humbucker fuzz, it would be unbea-able. But I’ve got a fuzzy amp, so I get that anyway. The main thing is that I never turn the amp up full. I have it miked through the PA, of course, but not very much, unless we’re playing in really big places. Most of the time, there’s just a hint of guitar going through the PA to send it out to the audience a bit more. The amp does all the work, but it’s a loud amp to begin with.”
Nowadays, Gallagher uses his Bassman amp for recording, although the old AC-30 is still rolled in from time to time along with an ancient Fender Deluxe (with one 12” speaker) that he uses occasionally for overdubs. Rory never plugs directly into the studio board. Apart from the treble booster and an MXR phase shifter (“just for fooling around with”), Rory finds effects pedals and devices unnecessary. Effects, as far as he’s concerned, “should come from the hands. I’m not against groups who use effects. I suppose you have to experiment with them, since you never know when something interesting might crop up, like the Mu-tron. McLaughlin has every string on his guitar going through a synthesizer, and that’s quite good, but nothing gets to me like an ordinary guitar going through an amp.

When it comes to acoustic instruments, Gallagher’s modest but well-used collection includes: the Martin D-35 and the circa-1932 National Aeoleon he uses onstage (strung with medium bronze Martins or Darcos), a Harmony Sovereign 12-string, and a cheap, Swedish Bjarton—a very high-pitched instrument that he rarely plays unless he’s doing a ragtime number. “I’d like to get another —maybe a Harmony Sovereign 6-string. I really like them,” he claims, “because they’re not as cultured as the Martins. I’d be quite happy to play a Yamaha because they’re instantly good. They don’t improve with age. After ten years, they’ll be worse instead of better, while a Martin will improve with age.”

Rory’s playing technique has definitely improved with the passing of time. His technical development has been slow and easy, since he seldom shifts gears or changes direction on sudden impulse. He feels that he’s had a good idea of how he wanted to play since he was a kid, and that’s guided him right up to the present day. He went from playing chords, to playing like Buddy Holly, to doing Chuck Berry solos, to playing the blues, to developing an experimental style. But none of this came overnight. “I’ve never gone off on crazy tangents,” he says, and he doesn’t like his changes to be very noticeable. Since 1969, Rory has been playing more acoustic guitar and he attributes this to his increased fluidity on electric guitar “just because my fingers are more supple now, going from heavy strings to light.” He wanted a certain tone, played in a certain style, and he’s held on to that throughout, but according to Rory, “that doesn’t mean that I haven’t got new things that I want to do and learn.”

Onstage, Gallagher tries to have something musically interesting going on at all times. Unlike some players, he doesn’t fall into some uninspired riff while waiting for the big solo. Instead, he wants everything to count to the fullest. Without bulldozing his way through a flurry of notes that only clutter, he uses his instrument as a finely-crafted tool; embellishing, coloring, and carefully filling in the gaps between solos.

“Playing with a three-piece lineup for so long had a lot to do with my current approach,” he states, “though I probably didn’t learn the same things as the Cream people learned. We did piledriving chords but we were into more of a chunky rhythm thing, not some big thing built around the drums. I learned to carry it, and I could always fill in with chords and little bits of solos while I was singing. Even in the Showband, we didn’t always have an organist or a rhythm player, so two feet. We have keyboards in the band now and it’s a fantastic addition, but not having and it’s a fantastic addition, but not having another melody instrument never worried me. I suppose I got into a very fluid, melodic thing and, there again, I suppose that hearing a lot of accordions and fiddles as a kid had a lot to do with it. It’s very hard for me to be objective, but I like to think that I can surprise people with the next little guitar lick. I don’t like to say, ‘All right, this is a verse. I’m going to play chords, and the next thing is going to be a solo.’ I’d like to think people notice that in between the lines, in between the vocal phrases, I’m slipping in a little something—playing in harmony to what I’m singing, or playing the chords backwards to the bass player. I mean he knows it, and I know it, but I like to think that the audience notices it as well. I’m out to keep the whole thing interesting, rather than piledrive it, turn the volume up, and then hammer home a solo. Everything should be interesting–the intros, the key changes, and the endings.”

Rory’s picking style falls midway between straight flatpicking and fingerpicking. He uses a heavy gray Herco flatpick and “the fat” of his index and middle fingers. He alternates between single notes and clusters, though in no fixed proportion. For fast solos he invariably sticks to flatpicking. He looks for rhythm parts, and he’s working on dropping the flatpick altogether for straight acoustic playing. Currently, Gallagher relies on a thumbpick and his bare index and middle fingers. He found that this is essential for slide work, though the years spent gripping a flatpick have trained his muscles into a habit that’s hard to break.

In fretting, Rory uses every finger on his left hand, including the little finger. “It’s nice to be able to play a couple of jigs and reels every now and then,” he points out, “and you have to be able to use your small finger for that. Using the bottleneck, my small finger is probably overtrained, because I had to learn to depend on it as a 3rd finger. It’s easy to get lazy with it though, and just depend on the other three. But God knows you need everything you’ve got!”

He’s learned to make full use of the entire fretboard, from end to end, avoiding the 12th-to-2lst-fret fetish of many roek and blues guitarists (“dweedle guitar”, as John Entwistle calls it). “I like to play in octaves and do damping tricks with my right hand,” Gallagher says. “Rather than go through the trouble of turning the volume down for a quieter verse, I can half the volume by just damping the strings. It has a very nice percussive effect, especially when the drums are added to it. I like to hold on to the old root note as well. Pete Townshend and Steve Marriott like to do that, too.”

Rory’s bottleneck style is his strongest link to traditional blues, but it’s interesting that his initial inspiration didn’t stem from the backwoods of Mississippi. He explains, “I used to do a bottleneck number in the Showband, of all places—sort of a blues thing—around 1965. It was unusual for the time, but Brian Jones was already doing it at that point. He was the first rock guitarist I heard using that style, though there were a couple of other people around who were interested in it for the Hawaiian and country effects. I heard one or two blues people playing that way, but to be honest, I really can’t remember who. So I would have to say that Brian Jones was my initial influence as far as bottleneck is concerned.”

It wasn’t until the Taste era [1966-1970] that Gallagher discovered open tuning. “I think I might have seen a letter in the Melody Maker advice column, where somebody wrote in and asked, ‘How do you do his?’, and Alexis Korner might have answered, saying that you had to do it like this.” Rory recalls, “Then there were a couple of letters dealing with various folk guitarists and the D tuning, which was the big discovery, so I just put two and two together, figuring that you could use the folk tuning with the slide, and that was it.”
Rory started working with F and G tunings in addition to the D, which he applied to songs like “Leavin’ Blues.”

Today, he’s a master of the bottleneck style, taking pride in doing a little more with it than is customary. He explains, “The thing about my bottleneck style is that it’s not like I sit back and have another guitar player backing me up so I can just do the slide work. It all goes back to that three-piece work, where I really had to learn how to carry it. But I enjoy playing like that. I can do a slide solo, and the rest of the time be playing chords and straight notes, but with the slide still on my finger. I like to forget that it’s there and, in a sense, I’m a three-fingered guitar player when I’m playing slide. I don’t like straight slide playing where you play a bit, sit back, and play another little bit. The guitar has to keep going with chords and things, and I like playing bottleneck chords, even when I’m not using the bottleneck.”

Rory’s choice for a bottleneck or slide is an empty Coricidin bottle [Coricidin is an American cold remedy], which he’ll use for months on end, occasionally switching to a regular steel tube for a slightly sharper tone. Although he prefers placing it on his stronger 3rd finger, the construction of the National (where the neck joins the body at the 12th fret) requires that he use a smaller steel slide on his little finger. This gives him a better vibrato. Overall, glass is Rory’s first choice.

“If you want to get a really sharp tone like, say, Muddy Waters gets, I don’t think glass would be suitable, but it’s good for a nice, clean, pure slide.” He recalls, “I used to use a highly shined copper one, which was a bit noisy, though really gritty. The thing is, they don’t sell Coricidin in England so I have to pick up a few more bottles of it everytime I’m in the States. I think they make the best bottleneck you can get, though I wish they would make them in a slightly smaller size, so I could use one on my small finger. I only hope that the company doesn’t move over to plastic. We’ll all be ruined then! You can use lipstick holders. Tom Rush used to use one, and so did Dylan for his one and only bottleneck number. They’re quite effective, but they’re a bit too light. John Hammond uses a big heavy socket from a wrench, and Brian Jones used a part from a car. Alka-Seltzer makes a bottle that would be nice, but it’s too big. Hrnmm, you could write a thesis on this! Anything will work. I’ve broken a lot of wine bottles in my time, trying to get the ideal bottleneck!”

For electric slide, he normally tunes to A or E and uses a capo for B or G. He tunes his acoustic guitars in D or G, or uses the D tuning with the G string left at G. This is one of Rory’s favorite tunings because it gives him a major sonority when he hits the 3rd string at the 3rd fret. He’s experimented with really low C and B tunings, but finds them impractical because the strings get too loose. lie’s aware that there are all sorts of exotic tuning possibilities available to him, but he prefers sticking to the orthdox and more easily adaptable systems. He continues, “If the tuning is insanely complicated, it’s of no practical use to anybody. You have to be able to sing it. I think Joni Mitchell has a couple of really oddball ones, but the guitar has its limits. You can’t tune an E string up three or four frets, and you can’t take it down too much, so there’s only so much you can do. The main tunings you can get are D, G, A, E, or D, leaving the G at G for Celtic sorts of things. Davey Graham uses one where he takes the B to A and the G to F, which is pretty unusual. It depends. If you’re writing a particular number, it might be adequate to bring the two E’s down to D and leave everything else as per normal— which is a really nice thing, too.

“I have an electric mandola—which I got after I got my mandolin—and that uses a plain violin tuning, but a couple of tones down.” He maintains, “There are more than enough tunings to go around, of course, but it would be nice to discover a new one that would actually change the course of guitar playing. I think I’ve developed the bottleneck technique well past the Elmore James stage, though. I never get caught in a tight corner now, and I’m sure there’s a lot I can learn. But I feel that I finally have something worked out which is mine–something I can keep working on.”

Onstage, Rory always devotes at least one solo number to showcasing his lightning-fast technique on mandolin. This usually develops into a whistling, foot-stomping exercise in audience participation. Rory claims, “I didn’t really get into the mandolin until after I’d been into slide for quite a while. I used to do one or two dixieland numbers in the Showband with a banjo mandolin–the kind George Formby used to use. So I had a limited knowledge of it there, and then everyone seemed to get into it. I was interested in using banjo tuning, but didn’t want to play banjo onstage, even though I liked it. I couldn’t see myself doing it. I was just interested in playing a few jigs and reels. Then Ry Cooder and Johnny Winter started doing some things with mandolin, so I really got into it after that.”

Gallagher is entirely self-taught, having picked things up by ear and touch. While many guitarists are proud that they’ve never had a lesson in their lives, Rory regrets that he hasn’t been able to delve more deeply into the theoretical side of music. “It’s just that I never got to know anybody who was prepared to give me lessons. Nobody from up where I came from was able to anyway, so I just got a kick out of learning from records and books with chord diagrams in them.” He goes on, “Mind you, I wouldn’t mind a few classical guitar lessons, even now-—though the main problem is that I still can’t read music. I’ve tried, but I can only read a couple of notes. Being able to read properly would have made a big difference, because I would have had more courage to go to someone and ask them to teach me things. The way it is now, they’d tell me to learn how to read first. But I’ll get to that one day. It’s just the time factor, really, but it’s definitely in the cards. The thing is, if I sit down with books and try to learn something, I start thinking of songs and new things instead of concentrating on what I should be doing. It’s a pity, because some of the things I play now and then are slightly reminiscent of the classical feel….a plectrum or a fingerpicking thing that won’t really fit into any category, certainly not blues or rock. I just wish I knew a bit more about that kind of thing.”

Rory doesn’t hold himself to any rigid practice schedule, though he tries to play a little bit every day-—ten minutes here, an hour there, occasionally skipping a day or two altogether. “I try to learn something every time I pick up a guitar, you know—even though I’m not really consciously trying to work out something specific”

In the future, Gallagher hopes to write music for films —not necessarily guitar music, ‘but not your average Hollywood musical either. As a guitar player, I’d like to play with all those favorites that I’ve mentioned,” he muses, “but it depends on how willing you are to stay off the road. If I stayed off the road and went into the session circle, I’d do a lot of different sessions and get to play with a lot of different people. I’d probably get bored, because I prefer being on the road. I’m really happy with my own band, playing away, and doing what I’ve been doing all along. But then, if some guitar player in another band got sick and couldn’t go on tour, I’d like to go out anonymously, and do the tour with them. Rather than just sit in with them for a night, I’d like them to continue with what they usually do. I wouldn’t want to change them, but just fit what I do in with what they do.”

Rory would also like to play bottleneck guitar with an Irish pipe band; mergingtheold blues style with the ancient Celtic flavor, though he’s not about to go head-over-heels into Irish or any other kind of music, apart from the kind he’s already playing. He explains, “I have no grand ambition to play with a symphony orchestra or anything, but you never know. You never can tell. That’s the mistake we all make. You say, ‘No! Never,’ and then you start rethinking it a year later and decide that it might be a positive idea after all.”

For now, Rory is content to concentrate on the type of music he knows best—the sharp, rough-hewn, but melodic approach that no one else has been able to copy. His keen respect for the blues complements his love for rock and roll, and his guitar work reflects the music of his past and, in a way, the music of his future. Rory Gallagher clearly enjoys playing the guitar. His goal is to give his listeners the best of his talents, both onstage and in the studio.

“I know certain people will hear one thing in my playing, and others something else. The thing is, I always like to have a couple of tricks up my sleeve, and not sound the same to everybody,” says Gallagher. “I like to think that people who don’t listen so closely still spot and appreciate me as a good, raunchy guitarist, while the people who are interested in melody and the little hidden things will spot that aspect as well. I like to be different things to different people—but not a hundred and one different things.

My playing is like a stone that you let the rain fall on. The changes all come naturally and in their own good time.”

010 - Rory Gallagher and His Fury by J.P.Sabour & X.Bonnet 2/93
The following article was taken from a French interview in Guitar World in February of 1993. Joe Satriani was on the cover. The article was translated by Len Trimmer and posted to the ‘bullfrog’ in 9/98. Len stated that he tried to just translate the French and that he didn’t know exact words Rory may have used, so there could be mistakes. Len has a GREAT Rory FTP site at The site includes pics, articles and a terrific Rory database of shows, bands, song lists etc. Thanks to Len for his efforts!!
The interview included one full page photo and a partial page photo.

Rory Gallagher and His Fury by J.P.Sabour & X.Bonnet

Icon of British blues-rock for the last twenty years, the man from Cork has suffered a trip through the desert since the mid 1980’s that is as unexplained as it is unjustified. A period of ups and downs that he hasn’t escaped unscathed, to the point of seeing the future with detachment and uneasiness.

No news for a two and a half years. Insidious rumors have even painted the man as being near the end of the line, his failing health ready to seal the cap on a journey turned bad by the ravages of time, volatile moods and a musical style that is as turbulent as it is fleeting. Far away seems the time when every new album or concert appearance automatically created a stir. Blown away are the days when Rory Gallagher evoked unanimous praise for having known how to forge a personality and a style while adapting himself to all the styles, from blues to heavy metal to punk.

Trying not to evoke the word come-back, the ex-Wayward Child launches today into the “nth” tour in support of an upcoming album that we’d like so see symbolize a fever rediscovered, by default a “rehabilitation” in the eyes of those who never cease to focus on the renewed interest in the blues. Guitar in hand, the Irishman hasn’t lost any of his verve, remaining more capable than ever of setting fire to a concert hall with his generosity while hypnotizing the audience the next instant with an acoustic detour imprinted with a troubled finish. As for the chequered shirts that he wears only rarely now, they are certainly more “true” than those worn by certain grunge groups recently converted to the “farmer” cult, all scandalous connotations aside.

GW: You started more or less at the same time as the British Rock boom and one would be tempted to say that you are one of the first with the label “fast guitarist”.

RG: I’ve always been a fast player and I still am, without searching to get into a contest with Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani. I have nothing against that technique or those “supra-musicians” who I am first to recognize have immense merits but, due to my own tastes, I’ve always considered rhythm as the indispensable element of rock. I’ve always sought to evolve within the boundaries where rhythm ties in with the lead, using “suspended chords” that John Lee Hooker made his specialty. Pete Townsend is among those who has known how to best capture this fragile equilibrium and that’s why he is still today among my favorite guitarists. Technique by itself doesn’t mean anything.

GW: At the beginning of the 80’s, that propension to play fast brought the public to interest themselves in only that aspect of your playing and to forget sometimes that you were also a songwriter. Does it disappoint you that you’ve become a sort of cut-out bin item despite your best efforts?

RG: Yes. The turning point was certainly the period of the live LP Stage Struck. In fact, after having done the blues, rock a little hard rock went into heavy metal area or somewhere close to it since that was only its premises. It’s true that I felt a bit like I was putting up a false face to the crowds since this way of playing was only one facet of my personality, yet the whole world seemed to hold onto just that. The way that that was perceived is maybe one of the reasons that I felt “obliged” to come back next with more insistence to a more acoustic, rootsy or ethnic style.

GW: To close out this heavy metal chapter, do you have good memories of that jam in Los Angeles, about two years ago, with a certain Slash?

RG: Oh yes. Charming boy. A little crazy, but very charming! Very timid also, since it was with caution he came to me to ask if Duff (McKagan, G’ n ‘R bassist)
and himself could get on the stage with me. I know their first two albums, so I knew where I was going ! I was a fan of Izzy Stradlin and of what he had accomplished on the rhythm guitar anyway. It’s too bad that not too many people noted the importance of his role in the group when he was in it and after. Slash reminds me a little of a young Jimmy Page with his way of playing [in “dilettante” style]. You sometimes get the impression that he doesn’t pay attention to what he’s doing or that he doesn’t care, which is far from the truth, as in the next instant he can let loose a riff that will freeze your blood. Very strange. He also shows respect to the music and to its origins when he plays.

Now I’m not so sure that the commercial path that they seem to be taking is the right one for them. In a sense, the group seems to be too controlled, too influenced from the outside. If you look at their album cover, it’s scary, there are at least 120 people credited. Thanks to..for the strings, thanks to..this, thanks to..for that. Despite it all, I thinks they’ll last because they have an enormous potential, notably thanks to Slash who really is an excellent guitarist.

GW: You’ve always had the reputation of someone who knows exactly where he’s going and how to get there. The other side of the coin is that, except for Gerry MacAvoy, who was by your side for more than fifteen years, finding the right musicians and the ideal lineup didn’t happen without causing some problems.

RG: That’s true. It was even sometimes very complicated! The problem with getting the right lineup, whether it was the one with Gerry and Brendan ( O’Neill, the drummer who accompanied Rory for awhile before joining already departed Gerry MacAvoy in Nine Below Zero) or the lineup at the time of Taste, is that they were led to dissolve almost by the force of things and due to the wear of time. Having a “loyal” group behind you is nice, but that could also become very restrictive. That said, it’s true that over time, I’ve learned to be more flexible with the musicians I choose to accompany me. I’ve adopted a different attitude and that’s logical: as you get older, you learn other things and other ways of behaving, you retain some lessons in many areas. My policy with the current lineup is to act and to live day to day without worrying if the guys will be on the next album or the next tour. That’s fairly difficult for me because I’ve had the habit of thinking too much, trying too hard to control events for a long time, reflecting too much on the past, the present, the future, who I am, where am I going, what will happen tomorrow, etc…..Today, I’ve cleared the decks of all of those existential worries that ended up preventing me from…living!

As a result, I’ve gained a tranquility of spirit and musically, too, as now if I want to go from a three piece band to a four piece band or vice versa in mid tour, I’ll do it more freely. It’s a good challenge for me because that permits me to put forth the most truth and freedom in my playing.

GW: As you said earlier, your last album and notably “Fresh Evidence” mark a return to the roots but are also heavier. Where are you going with the next one?

RG: All the while staying “rootsy”, I think it will be harder, more direct, with a sound that will astound, I hope. I have a few ideas on that, but being superstitious, I prefer to keep a vale of mystery! I can nevertheless reveal that two albums will come out at the same time, the other being an acoustic album with one side blues and the other side celtic, Irish or traditional. Other than that, I’d like to record them in different studios, a bit like a gypsy going from town to town to get new experiences. As some people already know, I am a frustrated painter and in order to keep my energy up or a certain freshness, call it what you will, I feel the need to change my surroundings in order to express myself better.

I hope I will still be able to record these albums fairly quickly, because I don’t want to repeat certain errors of the past by spending an incredible amount of time in the studio abusing my physical and mental health by thinking and rethinking what will work and what won’t. An album that takes six months of work to record isn’t worth the effort in my opinion. The problem today is the technicians and sound engineers. With the advent of digital, they constantly have the desire to redo this or rework that, by natural reflex. Perfection at this price doesn’t interest me in the least and that could sometimes create certain misunderstandings in the way of working.

GW: At the time when blues is living a second youth, does the musical environment seem more welcoming to yourself?

RG: This rebirth could only satisfy me, of course, even if I hold back some reservations. Today, the blues doesn’t seem to be coming back in the spirit of guys like Albert King, BB King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy or John Lee Hooker, the kings of the guitar. We can call them that. It’s too bad that today’s public is largely unaware of their music – that is, the more rootsy and traditional aspects of the Dallas and Delta blues.

(Long silence) And then, in any case, I don’t care in a way. To be truthful, I feel a bit used up after all theses years. I’ve given so much of myself to this business that I really have difficulty getting enthused about anything. Often, I think that I’d be better off dropping everything and going fishing or back to my paintings. I don’t have a desire anymore to inspires sympathy in others or any other sentiment for that matter.

When during many years no one has paid you the least attention, and to see some people in this business come back because it becomes the new trend, I can’t put up with that. It’s a fairly perverted attitude. You end up caring about nothing and you can only look at this circus with a distant and discouraged regard. For years, the “defenders of rock” have in a way abandoned their responsibility, during the onset of punk and new wave, notably, whereas I continued to play and tour, to do the dirty work without the least bit of support, the least bit of publicity or coverage in the press. If today someone is interested in me in the least, I’m tempted to say stop by default. I have the chance to eat when I’m hungry and to be alive, but unfortunately that’s all that matters to me right now. Success, failure, honors or oblivion, none of that means anything to me.

by J.P.Sabour & X.Bonnet, translation by Len Trimmer
reformatted by roryfan

011 - In Love with the Blues from the June 13, 1998 issue of the Irish News
Rory Gallagher never forgot Belfast
and city fans will never forget the
world star who loved to play the
Ulster Hall

In Love with the Blues

Tonight Belfast’s Elmwood Hall will rock to the music of the late Rory Gallagher. Three years after Rory’s death on June 14 1995, Tony Bailie looks back at the man and his music and discovers his legacy lives on ……

It is not unusual for a city to honour its famous sons, and recently a memorial was unveiled in Cork commemorating Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher ..but why should there be a Avenue Rory Gallagher in Paris?

There are other more surreal memorials; a crawl through the Internet uncovers a host of sites dedicated to the guitar legend: often these sites have been set up by fans …in Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia and another swathe in North America …to give their own testimonies to the music of Rory and to share their memories of the man.

It is of course a cliché to use the word legendary” when talking about a rock star, particularly when they are dead, but the status of Rory, in his home country and abroad, is more deserving than most.

He may never have set the pop charts alight, but worldwide his albums sold millions and his concerts have gone into the pantheon of rock history.

Belfast has a unique place in the Gallagher legend during the rhythm and blues explosion of the mid 1960’s Rory and his band Taste lived in the city and refined their sound before going on to take Europe by storm.

Rory Gallagher never forgot Belfast and returned throughout the 1970’s, when few other artists of his calibre dared to come near the place.

The Ulster Hall became almost a second home to Rory and it is not unusual for older rockers in the north to become choked up as they recall his performances.

Younger (ish) rockers like myself can boast that we saw the great man in the eighties, again in the Ulster Hall, but there was always a feeling that we had missed Gallagher at his prime. Not so, assure the older members of the rock fraternity- Gallagher never lost it.

Rory was actually born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, in 1948, and moved with his family to Cork when he was still a child. His brother Donal can remember him tuning into American radio to search out Blues music when he was aged just six.

He recalls: “My father was a musician and when Rory asked for a guitar my parents sent off through a catalogue and received what was almost a toy guitar, but Rory at the age of eight was able to pick out chords on it. Later when we moved to Cork he got a proper acoustic guitar and then later an electric one. “

Rory’s first musical outings were with the showbands that predominated the Irish music scene in the 1960’s, but during atom in Germany the showband he was with fell apart and Rory persuaded the promoter to let him continue with a three-piece.

When he returned to Cork, Rory stuck to the three-piece format and formed his first power blues trio, Taste, in 1966, a year before Cream and two years before the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The Rolling Stones and The Animals had already successfully tapped into the Delta Blues sound of the American deep south, and in Belfast a young Van Morrison and his band Them, were doing the same.

The Belfast audience was ripe for the burgeoning rhythm and Blues scene and had spawned the legendary (it’s that word again) Sammy Hustons and the Maritime Blues Club.

Here regulars could see the best of Irish and British Blues bands, interpreting the sounds from across the Atlantic. It was that scene which attracted Rory to the city.

Queen’s University lecturer John Fleming recalls Rory Gallagher in those days and being instantly taken by his mastery of the guitar, stage show and his ability to get an audience hopping.

It is an admiration that lasted throughout Rory’s career and those memorable Ulster Hall concerts. John Fleming is still a Gallagher devotee and one of those behind tonight’s Elmwood Hall tribute.

“His guitar technique was what caught me and he never lost it. He was a shy man, but seemed to come alive when he went on stage. “

Taste went through a number of line-ups before settling down to the line-up of Gallagher on guitar and vocals, Richard McCracken on bass and John Wilson on drums.

They produced two studio albums and a live recording at the Isle of Wight festival in 1969 , before breaking up.

Rory spent the rest of his career touring under his own name, usually in a three-piece format, but with piano and mouth harp augmenting the line-up along the way. His steadfast bass man through nearly the rest of his career was Belfast born, Gerry McAvoy .

Rory produced over a dozen studio albums, but the live ones seemed to portray the man at his best. Doubters should listen to Bull Frog Blues on his early live release, European Tour, or Too Much Alcohol and the self-penned, A Million Miles Away, on the Irish Tour 74 album.

In fact let’s get down to it, A Million Miles Away, aching vocals and tortured guitar solo, is the best goddamn song you’re ever likely to hear.

Many late comers, like myself, may have been lured (appropriately dressed in denims and a cheap copy of Gallagher’s seemingly endless supply of cheque shirts) to Rory concerts by the foot stompin’, stadium rockers like Shadowplay, Philby and Shin Kicker, but it was obvious that the man’s artistry and passion were with the blues -a passion that he instigated in others, handed down, and for many (I’ll include myself here again), blossomed into an obsession.

The common theme that ran through Gallagher’s music was the blues: he could have gone all Claptonesque and sold bucket fulls of a glossy soft bluesy pastiche, but he was too deeply rooted in the whole Blues ethos to do that.

Legend has it that when Mick Jones, who replaced the late Brian Jones, left the Rolling Stones, Gallagher was approached, but he refused and some guy called Ronnie Wood joined instead.

Donal Gallagher says that there was pressure on Rory from his record company to concentrate on the heavy metal sounds, but that Rory could not leave the Blues behind.

Perhaps he suffered in commercial terms, but his integrity earned him the respect of the Blues fraternity. At the precocious age of 24, Rory played with Muddy Waters and later with Jerry Lee Lewis.

Belfast, sometime in the mid 1980’s, Gallagher’s band disappears off the stage, but he stays and is handed a medieval looking acoustic guitar and launches into Tony Joe White’s “As the Crow Flies’. Rapture and applause follow. Next comes, and somehow we all knew somehow it would, Leadbelly’s ‘Out on the Western Plain’. Nice one Rory.

Like John Fleming, Belfast rock impresario Terri Hooley is another who remembers Rory during his early performances at the Maritime, but he also has a unique insight into the man and his music, just before he died.

Terri recalls, “I interviewed him for a UTV programme called “Rock the North”. He was ill at the time and didn’t want to do it, but finally agreed….saying he would rather talk about what he was doing then, rather than his past musical career.

“That was fine, but then I asked him why did Irish people like the blues so much. That set him off and he talked for, it seemed like hours, about Irish traditional music, Cajun, the Blues and how they were all interlinked.

“He was one of the nicest guys you could meet, but if you walked in to a room with six people in it, Rory Gallagher was the last person you would ever expect to be a rock legend. If you went back stage he would be pacing up and down by himself and be really nervous, yet by the time he got on stage it was a completely different ball game and there was a real stage presence there. “

Terri Hooley has also had recent first-hand experience of Rory’s international appeal.

“We see it with the influx of foreigners coming to Belfast who come in and snap up an Rory’s albums. During the peace talks there were literally hundreds of journalists from all over the world staying round the corner in Jury’ s Hotel and the Europa, and they would come in and get really excited about all of Rory’s albums that they couldn’t buy at home.”

The Gallagher legacy looks set t0 filter down into a new generation. Radio Ulster’s rock guru Mike Edgar, who presents the youth-focused Across the Line, admits he is a Rory Gallagher fan.

“He is Ireland’s Jimi Hendrix.” But Mike’s admiration is, he says, outshone by a new generation of fans. “I am constantly amazed by his appeal. I can think of two 17-year-olds, one who plays in an indie rock group and the other in a heavy metal band and both claim to have the entire Rory Gallagher back catalogue in their record collections. I think it might be a generational thing, and their parents who were growing up during the seventies and eighties have now passed on their appreciation of Rory to their kids.”

Mike also remembers Gallagher as “a quiet, unassuming” man.

“He was very soft spoken, but a genuine and sincere person. The last time I interviewed him he was unwell and anyone else would have told you to clear off, but he seemed to sense that it was more than an interview for me, that I was a fan, and he said it was OK for the interview to go ahead. “He was someone who was seeped in the Blues and respected by his peers. I remember on one occasion interviewing BB King and he was sitting talking about Rory Gallagher. You don’t get a much better recommendation than that, but still he (Gallagher) didn’t have the world wide recognition he deserved.”

If Rory didn’t get such recognition in terms of record sales and music press, he did among his musical peers and his fans. Few recording or touring artists have earned the accolade of being among the top 10 guitarist in the world, and in the transient world of rock music, few have secured the loyalty of life-long fans.

That devotion has continued beyond Rory’s life and according to John Fleming, tribute nights will be held across Europe, Asia and North America this weekend to remember the Ballyshannon-born Blues man.

“We are expecting people from England and Europe at the Elmwood Hall on Saturday. There will be five bands, including Aftertaste with Dave McHugh, who looks like Rory and does a mean impersonation of him. Mark Feltham, who played harmonica on-and-off for nearly 15 years with Rory, will also be appearing.”

Donal Gallagher also plans to travel to Belfast for tonight’s concert and he is currently working his way through Rory’s archive and plans to remix and release all his albums, post Taste for now, with additional tracks never before issued.

Donal still has Rory’s trademark battered Fender Stratocaster guitar and will be shipping it off to Fender in California next week so they can begin work on a Rory Gallagher signature model.

Recently the guitar was put on display at a Fender exhibition and there were guitars belonging to Hank Marvin, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, but Rory’s stood out, it is so distinctive it hardly needed any explanation as to who it belonged to.”

Donal admits to being proud of his brother’s legacy, although it is obviously tinged with sadness that he is no longer with us.

“I don’t think he got the recognition that he deserved while he was alive, but the generation of musicians and fans coming through now seem to respect his music and I think he is now getting a lot more recognition for his integrity. He lived and died the Blues.”
This article comes from the June 13, 1998 issue of the Irish News.
reformatted by roryfan

012 - Burning Hot Gallagher (Brulent Gallagher) by Christian LeBrun 2/74
The following interview was from the February 1974 edition of the French magazine, Rock & Folk. The translation from French was done by Len Trimmer. Thanks again to Len!!
Interview with one 1 1/2 page photo, four large almost full page photos and a 11×17″ photo (pages 34-41):

Burning Hot Gallagher (“Brulant Gallagher”) by Christian LEBRUN

Rarely has the Olympia [in Paris] vibrated as much as during the Rory Gallagher concert December 17 [1973]. “Vibrated”. Vibrations. That’s the word. Rarely has there been such communication between musician and audience. One has to go back to Eric Burdon or Alvin Lee to find that. Rory Gallagher is in that league of players who force enthusiasm for and the love of a crowd through their generous display of energy, by their untiring way of seeking ecstasy. In this case, the audience sees directly the personality of the man on the stage. Rory Gallagher, faithful to the Blues, marvelous guitarist, exuberant, kind, simple, hard working, was in Paris on one stop of a vast world tour. He played the best tunes from his last album, “Tattoo’d Lady”, “A Million Miles Away” and “Cradle Rock”, he held the entire hall’s attention with acoustic numbers “Going To My Home Town” and “Unmilitary Two-Step”, and then he finished everyone off with the wild electricity of “Walk On Hot Coals” and “In Your Town” before a final celebration with “Bullfrog Blues”.
Rory Gallagher, during this time of rebirth of sophisticated rock stars, could seem a bit old-fashioned. He is anything but that; his success will grow. This tranquil Irishman contents himself by making excellent record after excellent record, by doing hot show after hot show. Nothing else matters. Some say he’ll never be a star, but he just goes back to work, winning over legions of fans every day. Plus, he’s a person who is always interesting to encounter and speak with; that’s what we’ve done.

Christian Lebrun (CL): You’re coming here straight from a British tour, I believe. How was that? Did you find a change in the British audiences of 1973?

RG: It was great to get back to that audience. We haven’t played for them for nine months, except for the Reading Festival. Nine months have given us time to clear our heads, to re-evaluate what we’re doing, to freshen us up. During this time there was the experience of an American tour, the new tunes from the last album. So it wasn’t the audience that changed, but the style of the concerts. So it was great to come back like that and I really had a good time.

CL: What did you learn from the American tour?

RG: During an American tour, one night you’re playing for 20,000 people, the next day in a festival for 300,000, then you do week in a club for a few hundred people. That gives you a lot of different experiences. Also, it lets you share the bill with amazing performers and that forces some competition. For example, we played with ZZ Top, Freddy King, some really great performers. We also played with the Faces, and there we had only one hour to play instead of our usual two, so we had to give more density and cohesion to our set. That surely gave us more bite when we came back to Great Britain. We also played in Wales, which we’ve done for years and that was interesting. It’s always difficult to play in Wales. There were concert halls in Cardiff and Swansea where not too long ago you couldn’t enter wearing jeans, you had to be “well dressed”. The band could play in jeans, but not the audience…

CL: What do you feel when you play in a place like Chicago or in the south of the USA, at these places where the Blues were born? Have you played before a black audience?

RG: That’s the best! It’s a great source of inspiration. We haven’t played for a completely black audience, but sometimes before a well mixed audience. We haven’t played in Chicago. I have to say, nevertheless, that it’s a bit deceiving in that the blues towns are not particularly different from any others. The best places for rhythm’n’blues and the blues are now found in cities like Atlanta where the blues bands come from the Carolinas, or in Texas. There you can see groups like the Allman Brothers Band, Wet Willie or Little Feat, which is a group from Los Angeles that often plays the Atlantic coast. Every tour reveals new interesting cities like this. Nashville, Toronto, Canada, Atlanta, San Francisco, of course.

CL: Have the influences of Bluegrass and Country been comparable to those of the Blues on your guitar style?

RG: It’s hard to make the distinction. I’ve been interested in folk music for a long time. Long before I became familiar with the blues, long before I even knew what the Blues are, my idol was Lonnie Donnegan, who was very inspired by Country, Folk, and Woody Guthrie. From there, I became interested in Country-Blues: Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy. Then I was influenced by the rockers: Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly. Then later on, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, electric blues. Country has also greatly influenced me by way of the compositions of Hank Snow and Merle Haggard. But I think that my major influence is the Blues. It’s better to have many influences. If you only have one, your style, especially concerning guitar style, will be severely limited. There are many things the country players do and not the blues guitarists. Such as the picking that I do, myself.

CL: How, more precisely, did you discover the Blues?

RG: Oh! Like everyone else. At the time, there weren’t that many records available. The first I listened to was Chuck Berry. It was my guide towards the blues. Lonnie Donnegan, too. Then it was the discovery of the “EP’s” of Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Buddy Guy…

CL: You weren’t like Van Morrison, in a family possessing a blues record collection?

RG: No. In his case, his mother ran a record store. He had the best collection in Belfast. He was born with that in his hands. John Mayall’s father was a jazz guitarist who taught him at a very early age the T. Bone Walker style. My parents were musicians, but they were more in the Irish music scene.

CL: Do you ever want to incorporate Irish music into your compositions?

RG: I like the Irish song writing style. If I find a good old Irish tune, I’ll do it. But it has go go along with my style. There’s a tune like that on my first Lp, “Just The Smile”. But it seems difficult for me to play a jig, a reel or something like that, even if I love Irish music tremendously. There are groups like Horselips who have experimented with that to a certain level. There’s Planxty, who are traditional players but they are very good. Steeleye Span achieved that, also. It’s possible, but I would find it difficult to imagine myself writing words for an Irish theme.

CL: How did young Irish consider Irish music when Rory Gallagher was a teenager?

RG: When I was an adolescent, the young people were more interested in rock’n’roll than in Irish music because it was associated with very short sighted, conservative performers. It didn’t have the same attraction to the young. But in the past two years, people have been having second thoughts about it. They’ve begun playing it without getting all dressed up, for example… and now, there’s a true movement in Ireland. Everyone is playing in groups like the Horselips.

CL: Are you going to go back to play in Belfast soon?

RG: The last I heard we are supposed to go play there a little after Christmas [late 1973/early 1974]. We were supposed to play there last year but the organizer changed his mind. We think that it’s going to happen this year, but if the organizer says no, we won’t be able to do it. We can’t play in the street. It’s difficult to organize a show there because there are so many permits to obtain! I’d love to go back there and play. We’ll maybe play two concerts. People there are not deprived of music,. but they are deprived of big concerts.

CL: Do you think that as an Irishman, you need to speak out about your thoughts on the Northern Ireland question?

RG: I have my opinion, my point of view. But I don’t think that whatever I think about the British government will interest the young British coming to the shows. Anyway, the people coming to the concerts know more or less what is going on in the North who is right, who is wrong and what should be done.

CL: Do you really believe that?

RG: Oh yes! When I speak with them, I can see that their opinion is made and they don’t need my comments. They know. They read the papers. And even if the papers twist the facts, they know. They know that I’m Irish and that I hope for a unified Ireland. If at every concert I took ten minutes to explain to people, it would be very thorny.

CL: In any case, even if you did it, do you think that show business, the press, the establishment in general would let you? If one thinks about what John Lennon suffered after “The Luck Of The Irish” and “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”

RG: Yes, the reactions were very bad. Particularly in the rock press which is normally slow to respond to a political song in England. It was because it was done in Ireland and mostly because it was an Englishman who said that Ireland should be reunified… But even the English understand now that Ireland should be reunified. There will be a united Ireland. It’s a question of time. But the songs have been written. By John Lennon, by Paul McCartney, by the Dubliners, by Lindisfarne. We can’t rewrite them forever.

CL: How do you compose a song? On the guitar or on the piano?

RG: On the guitar. I can’t really play the piano very well, which I regret because it’s good to compose on the piano. I use a different methods to compose a song. Sometimes I’m walking in the street and something strikes me, and I take note. Sometimes I sing extemporaneously while I play the guitar.

CL: How do you manage to compose tunes that seem so fresh, so vigorous, without leaving you stifled by this type of fatal repetition or routine that the relatively strict structure of the blues imposes?

RG: I never sit down saying to myself “I have to write a song with a blues structure”… so I never have any difficulty. Ninety percent of the songs I write could be played in different styles and rhythms. I play them as blues because I feel the blues. However, if you play my records for a blues purist, he’ll tell you that it’s not the blues. I never let myself get submerged in a definitive style. I prefer to let the melodies expand.

CL: Do you think we can talk about a type of “white blues” where guys like John Hammond or Johnny Winter or yourself could be simply considered to be passing phenomena?

RG: I don’t like the term “white blues”. I think a white man can play the blues, definitely. But it’s his own blues, his own emotions, his own sentiments. The blues originated with the black people, that’s for sure. Very well. But it’s the same problem as the Japanese violinist playing Austrian music. If we wanted to get into the problem in terms of race… John Hammond has thrown himself into the blues for years, yet strictly speaking, it’s a false base, as he has evolved it into something more clean. The same for Johnny Winter. I have more respect for Muddy Waters myself than many young blacks. Even though a lot of young blacks don’t like the blues. What one wants to call “white blues” is not good music. I think it pulls more strongly towards Rock, because Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly always found their strength in the way that whites could play the blues. The music should be innocent in any case. You play it like you feel it.

CL: What memories do you have of your “Session” last year with Jerry Lee Lewis?

RG: That was great! He is one of my favorites. It was simple: I arrived, the other musicians played, drank… then Jerry Lee said “OK, let’s try Whole Lotta Shakin’ and everyone got down to it. It was really like that. I think there was only one tune where we had to do more than one take. The Muddy Waters session, that proceeded differently, more slowly. We rehearsed a few times together. Jerry Lee is a good guy. He still plays with fire. That’s rare. Most of them have lost their fire.

CL: Other than your world tour, do you have some precise projects in mind?

RG: I’m not really someone who devises grand projects and announces them with fanfare to the press. I know it makes good publicity to announce grand plans that one will never realize, but oh well… the only one I know who keeps his promises is Pete Townsend. We are surely going to record “live” during my upcoming Irish tour in hopes of putting out an album. Maybe “Live in Belfast”? Then we’ll record in the studio in Los Angeles where Phil Spector worked in the old days.

by Christian LEBRUN
translation by Len Trimmer 9/98
typed and reformatted by roryfan 2/9

013 - The Blue Line ( La margue bleue ) by Thierry Chatain 4/82
The following interview was posted to the ‘Bullfrog’ on 9/18/98 by Len Trimmer. Len translated the interview from the French magazine Rock & Folk from the April 1982 issue. As Len stated when he posted the interview, it was really interesting to see Rory’s great knowledge of music and musicians. I have included Len’s notes posted with the interview. The interview, in French, including pictures are available along with a wealth of information at Len’s massive Rory database is available at that location.
On with the interview!
The following material is from the April 1982 edition of the French magazine Rock & Folk. Rory Gallagher appears on the cover.

It is my translation. I tried to just translate the French; I don’t know the exact words Rory may have used as he spoke. There are some passages I have translated at the very beginning where I admit I don’t get the author’s intended meaning and I surely made some mistakes along the way. Len Trimmer, 1014 Allen Ave., Hamilton, OH 45015 USA.

Tour Dates (page 133):

03/20/82 Palais d’Hiver, Lyon, France
03/21/82 Palais d’Hiver, Lyon, France
03/23/82 Halle aux Grains, Toulouse, France
03/25/82 Beaujoire, Nantes, France
03/26/82 Salle Omnisports, Quimper, France
03/27/82 Chapiteau, Le Mans, France
03/28/82 Lille, France

Interview with three full page photos and an 11×17″ photo (pages 78-85):

The Blue Line (“La marque bleue”) by Thierry CHATAIN

Rory is an honest rocker who doesn’t try to pass himself off as anything but that. Rory is also a wise man, and it’s almost as if the winds of all these changes muss up his long hair a bit more as they pass, almost as if all of these waves moisten his chequered shirt just a little bit more as they unfurl.

Near King’s Road where the last of the Blitz Kids are on parade, on a calm provincial street in the heart of Chelsea, is located the office of the manager (and brother) of Rory Gallagher. The secretary, speaking with an accent as thick as a pint of Guinness, asks me to wait a few minutes. I have time to check out the decor. Simple, like Rory. A few gold and silver disks fix the pale beams of London sunlight to the walls. At last he arrives, jovial, smile on his lips, brown leather vest over the necessary chequered shirt, clean blue jeans. A little squinty-eyed, perhaps. Remnants of a short night? No, he hasn’t been at the clubs (he prefers pubs), he has just finished mixing his new album, “Jinx”.

“It took me a long time, but it was worthwhile”, he says with a smile. “I began in late ’81, but I stopped to do a tour of universities in Britain and I revised certain tunes. I prefer to record an album in three weeks but sometimes it drags out. This one is less hard but more powerful than the last few. I used old microphones that give a warmer sound than modern microphones. I think we’ve returned to the feeling of “Tattoo” and “Against the Grain”, which is me at my most natural.”

By the time you read these lines, Rory will have gone back on the road in France, lingering first in the Paris area before taking to the countryside.

“I want to play again at the Olympia, as I did in the early ’70’s. The place is famous. Everyone has played there, from Edith Piaf to the biggest names in rock, and it’s a fairly intimate hall. It has a special atmosphere. It’s my policy now to spend whatever time is necessary wherever I go, even if I play from time to time in big halls. Usually, when I come to Paris, I don’t have time to go out – between the sound check, the interviews and the concert. It’s going to be more humane this time. In France particularly. I love to go to the cafes, have a beer, eat a soft-boiled egg. And I love to browse the record shops; there are mind-boggling folk and blues albums out there. Rock’n’roll too, all those Vince Taylor Lps…”

And so, Rory remains above all a fan, absolutely not focused solely on his own music. What does he think of other’s music, the diverse styles in rock? To know this, nothing is better than a blindfold test. The game consists of having him listen to some different tunes that he has to recognize and comment on, with a glass of white wine in hand. It goes something like this.

TOM VERLAINE (“There’s a Reason”)
RG: That sounds sixties enough (He taps the measure off the top of his head, clearly enjoying). Who is it?
R&F: Tom Verlaine, the former leader of Television.
RG: Good Lord, I should have recognized him, but the voice is mixed backwards. He plays a bit like Neil Young, who I like a lot. Some phrases remind me of the Byrds. But the sound generally makes me think of a cross between Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and something like Them, with an attack and a felling of new wave. The guitar is very acid-rock.
R&F: Television sometimes reminded me of John Cippolina.
RG:: Or Jorma Kaukonen with the Airplane. It’s the whole San Francisco school of guitar, with that eccentric vibrato. I think I read somewhere that Verlaine said that Neil Young is one of the best, and he’s right. I’m not just saying this to be trendy, but when one listens to records like “Tonight’s the Night” or “Zuma”. Neil makes insane sounds and some of his lyrics are fantastic. He’s the Dennis Hopper of rock.

HOUND DOG TAYLOR (“Dust My Broom”)
RG: (Right away) Elmore James
R&F: Sorry, it’s Hound Dog Taylor
RG: An honest mistake. I played with him before his death, in Chicago. Super. It’s one of his albums on Alligator?
R&F: Yes, “Beware of the Dog”.
RG: Hound Dog worked with Elmore James. This type of thing is in George Thorogood’s territory now. I even played his guitar, a Japanese model with the strings very high off the frets. He played slide with a very particular tuning, different than the one used by Earl Hooker, for example. He plugged his microphone into the same amplifier as his guitar, which gave him a very special sound. Obviously it’s one of my favorite types of music. For me, it’s clear, that flows naturally. How to play the slide. He was a disciple of Elmore, but he had a more distorted sound. I should have noticed that. You got me on that one but I think he would have forgiven me.

VAN MORRISON (“Cleaning Windows”)
RG: (In fifteen seconds) It’s Van Morrison, but I don’t know this one.
R&F: It’s off his new album, “Beautiful Vision”
RG: It’s really nice to hear Van come back a bit to rhythm’n’blues. The ambiance is laid back.
R&F: Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits plays on that track.
RG: That’s a guitarist with a lot of good taste, very sensible.
R&F: Van was the father of the rock scene in Ireland.
RG: That’s true. He was an inspiration, since before him it was very difficult for Irish groups to get any recognition in Britain. Them became legendary although they didn’t play very many concerts in Ireland outside the club circuit in Belfast. Before we knew them, they were gone. In fact, the drummer from Taste played on the second album of Them. Nice tune. I hope that Van will continue in this vein.

RG: (Laughs) I know that guy! It’s one of the country songs from my first album. Telecaster, steel guitar and mandolin.
R&F: That’s fairly unusual for you. Do you like country music?
RG: Yes, but not sugar coated country. More like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck, Merle Haggard, the honky-tonk style. Violins and choirs, very few for me. It’s like I just recorded it yesterday. I’ve always had a weakness for that song, which isn’t the case for all I’ve done. I like the mandolin part, it’s an excellent rhythmic instrument that hardly anyone uses. It’s a shame.

TELEPHONE (“Un Peu de Ton Amour”)
RG: I know it’s not that, but the intro seems a bit like “Hot Stuff”. Should I recognize this?
R&F: The guitarist, yes. It’s Telephone.
RG: Of course. I jammed with him last year. This is a different direction than I know of them, more funky and bluesy. I wanted to come see them when they played here opening for Iggy, but I was on the road myself. It’s good to see the R & B feeling coming back. The J. Geils Band is doing better now, for example, and there’s a new generation turned on by that. Nice tune, superb guitar.

RG: It’s played on an Ovation, that’s for sure. I recognize their pickups and the nylon strings. That is exactly Django Reinhardt’s style.
R&F: It is indeed one of his compositions.
RG: Not easy to tell, there are so many jazz and jazz-rock guitarists who admire Django. It could be Lee Ritenour, McLaughlin, or even though I don’t think it’s him, Philip Catherine?
R&F: A winner! He’s playing with Larry Coryell.
RG: I like this style a lot. I played with Coryell some time ago; we shared a good steak. He’s a very versatile player. Catherine has a very inhabitual style, as he doesn’t tune his instrument in (quintes) and in (quartes), and that makes it very personal. Django was a very dangerous guitarist. That makes me jealous.
R&F: Do you have any favorite jazz guitarists?
RG: Django, of course, because he is the father of this style. Barney Kessel, Jim Hall. I have a particular attitude about the guitar in jazz, with highs and lows. I like Kenny Burrell, particularly when he’s in a quartet with an organist like Jackie McDuff. I like this combination of jazz with a little bit of R & B. When it’s too soft, it becomes soporific. In jazz, there is Django on one level and then the others.

LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN (“Heptaparaparshinokh”)
RG: It’s hilarious, this thing. The organ has a sound like Doug Sahm or (?) And The Mysterians. The cat’s got my tongue.
R&F: Robert Fripp with his group of two years ago.
RG: No kidding? It’s nice. It’s very light music from him, normally it’s more complex. It’s good. He’s often too serious, like a professor, too many theories and not enough beer and partying. I know the material he did with King Crimson better. One of their first concerts was with Taste on the same bill, at Birmingham. That doesn’t make us any younger.

STRAY CATS (“Wicked Whiskey”)
RG: Fantastic, this thing. So far, there’s not been a disk I didn’t like. It seems to me that this is played on a Telecaster, but I can’t tell.
R&F: It’s the Stray Cats.
RG: Really? I see that Setzer has taken up the slide. Very good feeling. He should have given up his fat Gretsch for this title (it’s no good for bottleneck) and picked up a Fender. I like this group; I have their first album. This guy Setzer knows the old Scotty Moore and Eddie Cochran school of guitar through and through, but here he is much more R&B. And they have some excellent songs, “Runaway Boys”, “Stray Cat Strut” and the stand up bass is superb. The only little criticism is that it’s time for the drummer to get a complete kit. It was perfect for rockabilly, but we came to understand, and that won’t hurt.

JIMI HENDRIX (“Little Wing”)
RG: (In five seconds) Hendrix playing “Little Wing’, live version. I love Hendrix in this style, cool and bluesy. Without the fuzz and wah-wah, he was a superbly subtle bluesman. I also like his rapid and crazy things. He spoke a universal language. His style was derived from Curtis Mayfield for certain riffs, but he completely liberated the guitar. Clapton worked in a more studied style. Beck was also very important at the time for the psychedelic guitar with “Happening Ten Years Time Ago” or “Shapes of Things”. Each of those merit credit.
R&F: And what do you think of all the guitarists who did not come out of the Hendrix style, like Robin Trower, Randy California, etc…?
RG: Eddie Van Halen too, although he denies it, saying that he was more influenced by Clapton. Rather than trying to revive the spirit of Hendrix or Django, I think it’s better to be oneself, to find one’s own identity. Everyone has his influences, myself included, but there shouldn’t be a dominant one. I’m a fan of Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, etc… I would like that in twenty years someone says to someone, “you sound like Gallagher”. I wouldn’t like to be the imitator of someone else, even if I give credit to everyone I’ve listened to and who have influenced me. On the other hand, it’s easy to criticize Robin Trower though he is really good when he transcends that influence.

JORMA KAUKONEN (“Embryonic Journey”)
RG: Even though it’s not that, that reminds me of certain phrases from the guitar of Brian Jones. Is it Leo Kottke?
R&F: No. But it’s only one aspect of the playing of this guy. He also plays mechanically on the electric guitar.
RG: Jorma! But that doesn’t seem to be a Hot Tuna tune. Is it recent?
R&F: In fact, the original version is on an old Airplane album.
RG: I saw him with the Airplane, they shared the bill with the Doors at the Roadhouse. It was better than the Jefferson Starship in any case. And I’ve seen Jack Cassidy with his group SVT in San Francisco. We were on the same program. It’s curious how he veered off towards new wave.

IRON MAIDEN (“Another Life”)
RG: (Not very enthusiastically) The Scorpions, maybe?
R&F: No, Iron Maiden
RG: It’s easy to get lost among the heavy metal bands. There are too many groups that sound alike. I know it’s like that with The Police [my wife and I believe the writer didn’t catch that Rory was talking about a group and wrote down something phonetic that doesn’t make any sense – “La Palisse” – or maybe it’s part of a French phrase I don’t know]. There are a few that I can identify like UFO in particular when Michael Schenker was in the group. This one (“Another Life”) is not bad; I won’t criticize. But I prefer Whitesnake, who does hard rock with a touch of blues. Some of those groups go right over the line. But it’s always better than Bubblegum music. Still, there’s a lack of personality.

JAMES “BLOOD” ULMER (“Jazz is the Teacher, Funk is the Preacher”)
RG: It’s not James Brown, but it’s someone who must come from the same territory. A clue?
R&F: It’s one of the veterans of the punky-funky-jazzy New York scene.
RG: “Blood” something? To be honest, I don’t know this too well. It’s interesting; Johnny Rotten likes these guys. I’m glad to know that he has good ears. I thought Ulmer had a more free-jazz feel, in the Sonny Sharrock style.
R&F: He says he was profoundly influenced by Ornette Coleman, with whom he’s played a lot.
RG: Really? Ornette rarely plays with guitarists, at least recently. I have a lot of his records up to “Friends & Neighbors” (1970), but he lost me after that. I have all his old stuff with Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell, Elvin Jones. “New York Is Now” is a good album. I’m going to have to look more into Ulmer.

THIN LIZZY (“Whiskey In The Jar”)
RG: (He recognizes immediately and laughs) I can’t criticize these guys. Eric Bell was still playing guitar for them at that time. He and his group just opened for me on my recent university tour. I like Thin Lizzy – some tunes better than others. It was different with this lineup, as a trio. It’s a group that works hard. I think Phil Lynott is more influenced by Van Morrison than I am, or than Bob Geldof is. Good drummer, too.
R&F: What do you think about how they use two guitars?
RG: In harmony? A lot of groups do that. Wishbone Ash, Fleetwood Mac when Peter Green and Danny Kirwan were there. It’s nice, but each group claims to have invented it and in their case I don’t think it’s true.
R&F: “Whiskey In The Jar” is a traditional Irish song.
RG: There are many excellent songs in Ireland! I’d like to find my own “Whiskey in the Jar” but there are very few songs that lend themselves to electrification. Right now, a lot of good groups are flourishing in Ireland in the acoustic domain, and some like Clannad are introducing electric instruments. That works well with a synthesizer or an electric guitar. Moving Hearts, with the old members of the Brothy Band and Planxty, is about to take off. That scene is very vibrant, and I think it’s a good sign for Ireland.

CHUCK BERRY (“Memphis Tennessee”)
RG: (On the second note) Chuck, of course. That’s one of my favorite records, I listened to it constantly when I was fourteen, sixteen, and I’m still listening. He’s the greatest, what can I say? Unfortunately, I’ve seen him three or four times over the past ten years and his concerts aren’t always very good. He doesn’t have a steady band and never rehearses. But he has succeeded, and if I achieve one tenth of his success as a songwriter and performer, I’ll be happy. “Memphis” is one of his best songs, but there are so many others – “Around and Around”, “Nadine”, Mabeline”. Fantastic stuff.

BOW WOW WOW (“Golly Golly Go Buddy”)
RG: (Grimaces) It’s not a record I’d buy. Who is it?
R&F: Bow Wow Wow. I suppose that you’re no too concerned with the new trends that come out every three months on the UK?
RG: No, but it doesn’t bother me. In the end, all those groups are so transitory. It’s hard to know if it’s Bubblegum or Pop. To me, it’s exactly like The Archies or The Monkeys. It’s not because I only appreciate the Blues, I can get pleasure out of anything, but these groups are made for video, screen presence, more than anything else. It’s OK by me, but it doesn’t touch your heart, it’s just music made for… something else. Sorry. Bow Wow Wow… well, you picked them. On to the next one.

RG: Now there’s someone who has assimilated Buddy Guy’s playing very well. I think that must be a European bluesman.
R&F: Yes, a Frenchman. Did you detect his accent?
RG: Yeah, I noticed it right away. But that doesn’t bother me in the least, it sounds good and that’s what counts. The guy sings well, plays well, and seems to feel the music, to live it 100%. I could cite many Englishmen and Americans who would like to do as well.

JEFF BECK GROUP (“Beck’s Bolero”)
RG: (In 1/4 second, laughing) Jimmy Page thinks he wrote it, Beck does too, and so does Ravel! (Laughs some more)
R&F: On this disk, it’s credited to Page. He claims to have played many guitars on it.
RG: That was their point of disagreement. It’s very possible that Page played the slide parts with echo in the background that resembles a steel guitar. It was a good idea at the time, and it’s still listenable today. I wish that Beck would drop jazz-rock, I find that there are too many good rock and blues players caught up in jazz-rock. The trouble for someone as technically accomplished, as Beck is that there isn’t any more territory to explore. And he doesn’t play enough slide anymore, whereas he was excellent. I heard from someone in his entourage that he’s starting to reverse his direction a bit. It’s not easy, when one gets into a traditional area like rock or the blues, to keep hold of one’s roots while still progressing as a musician, to not become one-dimensional. He should maybe try to get together with James “Blood” Ulmer. That could be interesting since there’s a funky side and a bluesy feel of a liberated guitar.
R&F: Very often, jazz-rock is more satisfying for the musician than for the listener.
RG: Yeah, it’s not only a question of speed and technique, like a Formula 1 race. But a majority of musicians end up letting themselves play only one style and resist the need to advance. That’s not the thing to do in Rock. It’s what the Yardbirds did with “Little Games” and “Shapes of Things” – the roots were always there, but they advanced in a very intelligent way. I think that that’s where the challenge lies – you subscribe to all the rock roots, but you embark to make zombie music. That’s what’s happening now, with all of the Gary Numan, David Bowie and Roxy Music clones. It’s industrial music. But I understand that there’s a place for that, even if it doesn’t interest me.
R&F: Black music has also been hit, with some of the disco stuff.
RG: Yes, Rufus Thomas, Joe Tex or Wilson Pickett made records where the soul was missing. But if you say that you prefer their old records, you’re told that you’re living in the past. But I think that in New York, they’re going back to jive, which is the heartbeat of soul. That was true on the last Blondie single, “Rapture”, with that street rap part in it. I’ve spoken with some jazzmen and they all say that you have to move forward, forget traditions, even those of Coltrane. Myself, I believe that you can progress with the traditions. I think there was a peak during the last years of Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Pharoah Sanders and then, with jazz-rock, the anger and playfulness deserted jazz.
R&F: You really like jazz?
RG: Oh yeah, it’s an important form of music, since it’s the most free. But I’ve gotten away from it these past ten years. For me, something like Weather Report is too controlled. In my opinion, there was more anger and playfulness in Archie Shepp or Coltrane than there is in the Sex Pistols. It is the most anarchic music, totally free and crazy, all the while being coherent thanks to musicians like McCoy Tyner or Elvin Jones.

UNDERTONES (“Hannah Doot”)
RG: (Immediately) The Undertones! I don’t dare say anything bad because they’re from Derry. I think they have charm and naivete. They remind me sometimes of Arthur Lee and Love, that type of thing. It’s funny, Alice Cooper came out of nowhere to remake “Seven & Seven Is”. It seems that a lot of young people are rediscovering records like “Da Capo”. To get back to the Undertones, they do a high school, teenage style of music and they do it well. Musically, they’re improving constantly. I have to say that an enormous amount of good musicians come from that part of the world!
R&F: You wouldn’t be a little biased, would you?
RG: Of course! I have a weakness for my countrymen, but if I ever come across an Irish group that’s not good, I’ll say so. The rock scene there is more and more active. And in general, I’m optimistic for the 80’s. I didn’t particularly appreciate the 70’s but I have the impression that the cynicism that’s been around is passing, that people are going to get back to having a good time.

interview by Thierry Chatain 4/82
translation by Len Trimmer 9/98
reformatted by roryfan

014 - Here Comes The Irish Rory Attack by Everynight Charley Crespo
Here Comes The Irish Rory Attack
By Everynight Charley Crespo

“I don’t like to analyze my playing; other people are much better at it than I am”, said Rory Gallagher in a thick Irish accent, while searching for the words to describe his guitar technique and style. He poured himself a glass of red wine and continued, gazing at the bland walls of a rather small New York hotel suite.

“What I try to do is split the difference between having enough technique to go into tight corners musically and having enough primal madness to keep it gritty. I’d like to be known for playing somewhere in between, as a guy who can keep primitive and physical at the guitar. But by the same token, I don’t want to be just an aggressive player. I’d like to be considered a guy who can actually get a little adventurous on the instrument. But I wouldn’t like to become just a technician or just a mad-man,” he concluded, laughing at the thought.

Gallagher’s guitar playing has been noted to be all of the above and more. Now leading a trio consisting of his long-time bassist, Gerry McAvoy, and his new drummer, Ted McKenna (who until a few years ago pounded the skins for Scotland’s Sensational Alex Harvey Band), Gallagher whips each song with relentless guitar wizardry. Rory Gallagher Live is Gallagher’s twelfth solo album since he left his first professional band, Taste, in 1970, and it is a guitar fan’s album. Each selection is loaded with jaw dropping six-string pyrotechnics.

Evident in Gallagher’s playing, whether his fingers are swimming up and down the neck of his 1962 Strat at break-neck speed, or slowing down and digging deep for gut-gripping leads, is that he has an amazing sense of melody. This becomes particularly impressive in concert, where the jamming is spontaneous. Gallagher’s elongated spotlight leads are never harsh, abrupt or awkward. Unlike other guitarists in the spotlight, he neither has every note memorized nor does he riff away aimlessly. Instead, he plays imaginatively, and precisely. Yet, though talent runs high in Gallagher’s corner, he is virtually unsung, having never submitted himself to the starmaking machine.

“I have a hazy ambition,” he explained. “I don’t want to be as big as Kiss. In America, it seems you have to be clear in your mind as to what type of star you want to be. I’ve never consciously laid out a plan of action; I’ve worked by instinct and I’ve tried to just enjoy what I’m playing. I suppose I could be bigger if I sat down, worked on a campaign, went to the right hairdresser and got the right clothes. We do okay in a moderate sort of way, though,” he said. “I mean, everywhere we go, a crowd shows up and knows the records and the songs.”

Gallagher first learned to play guitar in Ireland, while still a child. At the age of nine, he was playing his first real acoustic guitar, one which replaced an earlier plastic one, and sang cowboy tunes and Irish folk songs for the relatives. He joined and toured Europe with the Fontana Show Band at the age of fifteen. He was more interested in playing rock and roll than the show band would play, however, so in 1965, he left that outfit to form Taste, a well received three piece band that disbanded five years and three albums later.

Many years intervened, and a growing popularity began to snowball. By 1972, the readers of the U.K.’s largest music publication, Melody Maker, voted him top guitar player in the annual reader’s poll, a distinction he held onto for a number of years. Among the guitarists he beat out were Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Although the details are not quite clear, Gallagher was also one of the guitarists that the Rolling Stones contacted when they were considering replacements for the departing Mick Taylor in 1974-5. Gallagher jammed with the Stones in what may have been an audition of sorts, but it was clear to all concerned that Gallagher had his own career to look after.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Gallagher has reached the respectability he has is that he is a self admitted guitar fan. He has listened to as much diversified guitar work as possible. He loves to listen as much as he loves to play.

I like Springsteen’s sound actually, though he’s more of a sound really than a lead player as such,” said Gallagher when asked about contemporary guitarists he admires. “He does some nice bits. A lot of the new wave groups, the punk groups, it’s just aggressive rhythm playing, although Wilko Johnson is a nice player. The better guitarists, if you like, are still the people who’ve been around for quite a few years, like John Hammond, Keith Richards, Ry Cooder, Johnny Winter, Doc Watson, Buddy Guy… this list is very long.

“Elvis Costello’s got a nice sort of style. He’s not a lead player as such, either, but he gets a nice strangeness from his guitar. George Thorogood is kicking pretty good guitar, but he’s very much in the tradition of Elmore James and that sort of thing. I think that stuff isn’t really dated, no matter what anyone says. That stuff is still valid and will be valid tomorrow when certain mini-fads have bit and died. It sounds like the old-fashioned thing to say, but you can’t stick Elmore James or Jimi Hendrix in the grave and forget about him. That stuff is too good.” So is Rory Gallagher.

This article was taken from a copy of Relix magazine by Len Trimmer believed to be from about 1979.
reformatted by roryfan

015 - The Rough Guide to Rock: Rory Gallagher

Born Ballyshannon, Ireland, 1948; died 1995.

One of the most respected and able musicians among the blues and rock fraternities, Rory Gallagher managed to maintain both his popularity and his integrity for all of his lengthy career.
Cutting his teeth as a besuited guitarist playing Chuck Berry songs in The Impact and The Fontana Showband, Gallagher formed the original incarnation of Taste in 1965. Extensive gigging around their native Ireland ensured that the trio were soon building a healthy reputation for their pioneering brand of free-form blues-rock. Gallagher would regularly astound audiences by swiftly changing from guitar to saxophone in mid-song. Later on in his career he would show similar dexterity with both the mandolin and harmonica.

Signing to Polydor, Taste, comprising Gallagher plus Richard McCracken (bass) and John Wilson (drums), recorded their eponymous debut in 1969, which featured live favourites such as “Same Old Story”. Both Taste and its follow-up, On The Boards (1970), were well received by the public. However, despite US tours with Blind Faith and Delaney and Bonnie, as well as supporting Cream at their Royal Albert Hall farewell gig, Taste became dogged by management and financial problems, resulting in an acrimonious split in early 1971. They left behind Live Taste (1971 ) which included their set at the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival, surprisingly unaffected by the fact that their equipment had just been stolen.

Always the main attraction at Taste gigs, Gallagher had little trouble launching a solo career. Rory Gallagher (1971) reached the UK Top 40, then Live In Europe (1972) and Blueprint (1973) did even better. A blues purist, admired by rock aristocrats like John Lennon, Gallagher was a
natural choice to join the all-star session band for Muddy Waters’ and Jerry Lee Lewis’s two London Sessions albums (1972 & 1973), which also featured the likes of Steve Winwood, Peter Frampton and Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell. Indeed, Waters was so impressed with Gallagher’s style that he employed him again on his London Revisited album of 1974- the year Gallagher was touted as a replacement for Mick Taylor in The Stones.

But it was for his live shows, with bassist Gerry McAvoy as the only constant fixture of his backing band, that Gallagher was most loved throughouthis lengthy solo career. He would regularly enthral audiences with 150-minute-long sets, featuring impassioned readings of blues standards and Gallagher compositions such as “A Million Miles Away” and “Walk On Hot Coals”. Shunning gimmicky guitar pyrotechnics, Gallagher’s approach was a breath of fresh air compared with the lengthy self-indulgence of acts such as Led Zeppelin.

Capitalizing on his stage reputation, Gallagher released several live recordings over the years, ranging from the raw blues-based hit albums Live In Europe (1972) and Irish Tour ’74 (1974) to the more rock-orientated Stage Struck (1980) -all while keeping up a solid touring schedule.
After 1982’s Jinx , Rory took a five-year recording sabbatical, but Defender (1987) showed he could still deliver the goods. The follow-up, Fresh Evidence (1990), featuring Nine Below Zero harmonica player Mark Feltham, again displayed a refreshing bluesy approach which had been temporarily exchanged for a rockier sound on the previous albums.

In early 1993, first signs of drink-induced ill health occurred during a live set at London’s Town & Country Club venue. Heckling fans made Gallagher curtail his set, vowing that he would never play London agam. His words were to be an all-too-accurate prediction; although he regained his composure for the otherwise unremarkable Portsmouth Blues Weekend later that year, by Christmas 1994 his touring plans had to be shelved.

Contracting pneumonia after a liver transplant, Rory died in June 1995, aged only 47. In true blues tradition, he had already delivered his epitaph twenty years before, on the Irish Tour ’74 album, when he sang J. B. Hutto’s “Too Much Alcohol”.
Irish Tour ’74 (1974; Demon). One of the few artists to regularly play Northern Ireland during the troubles, Rory and the boys were treated like conquering heroes at every appearance. On listening to this album, you can hear why.
Edged In Blue (1992; Demon). Culled from his live and studio albums, this is a good introduction to Gallagher, although his rawer live recordings are sadly missing, as is the exemplary “Bullfrog Blues”. Still, besides his time-honoured blues covers (Muddy Waters’ “I Wonder Who” is particularly outstanding), Gallagher proves he was a sterling songwriter on numbers like “The Loop” and “Loanshark Blues”.
The G Men Bootleg Series VoI. 1 (1992; Castle Communications). A triple-CD compilation, with more volumes apparently in the pipeline, this presents the pick of Rory Gallagher’s live material. Vintage recordings of “Country Mile” and “Bullfrog Blues”, at an affordable price -but the vague, minimal sleeve notes leave a great deal to be desired.
Paul Morris
ROCK HOMEPAGE Taken from the Rough Guide to Rock. @ Rough Guides Ltd. First edition published Aug 96/ Nov 96 (USA). Distributed by Penguin. WEB MASTER: AI Spicer. DESIGN AND SCRIPTING Henry lIes & Ben Rudder.
Thanks to John Spreckley for passing this one along.
Thanks to Dino McGartland
reformatted by roryfan

016 - Rory Gallagher: An Irish Guitarist Traces His Roots in Acoustic & Electric Blues, and Tells how he Plays Them by Stefan Grossman GREAT interview with Rory from Guitar Player 3/78.
An Irish Guitarist Traces His Roots In Acoustic And Electric Blues, And Tells How He Plays Them
Story By Stefan Grossman

Blues is said to be a universal experience—as Albert King once preached. “Everybody understands the blues”—and Rory Gallagher is surely a case in point. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, the first pieces Rory attempted to play were cowboy songs and Irish folk tunes on acoustic guitar, beginning at age nine. American rock and rollers such as Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley, and Chuck Berry had an early impression on Rory, though he discovered blues, a la Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, by way of Lonnie Donegan’s British skiffle hits.

At 15, Gallagher joined the Fontana Show Band, which toured England and Ireland. The constant work helped refine Rory’s playing, but the commercial nature of the repertoire caused him to look elsewhere for artistic satisfaction, jamming with the group’s drummer and bassist in small clubs throughout Europe.

In 1965 Rory formed Taste, the now legendary blues-rock trio, comprised of Eric Kitteringham on bass, Norman Demery on drums, and Gallagher on guitar, vocals, and, occasionally, saxophone. Though the power trio preceded Cream by several years, comparisons with the English supergroup were inevitable.

In 1969, the band signed with Polydor Records, but by 1970, the group had disbanded and Rory pursued a solo career. To date, Gallagher has appeared on over 20 albums, either as leader or sideman, and has graced sessions featuring such notables as Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Albert King. He gave his first performance as a solo acoustic guitarist at the 1976 Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He is currently remixing Photo-Finish, his latest LP for the Chrysalis label, which should be out in early March.

Here. Rory talks about his various musical styles and techniques and the guitars he uses to arrive at his distinctive, energetic sound—an old National resophonic, a Martin D-35, a Fender Telecaster, and his trademark, a battered 1959 Fender Stratocaster. What Gallagher has to say about blues and rock and roll should be required reading for any aspiring guitarists, just as his many records and live performances should be required listening.
— GP

Hypothetically, IF YOU WERE TEACHING blues guitar at a school, how would you go about it?
I’d keep it within a reasonably rigid blues framework, just to keep it on center. A lot of it would depend on what music the student had been exposed to. I mean, if your parents were interested in music anyway—your father, for instance, had a couple of Bill Broonzy or Lonnie Johnson albums—or you were brought up listening to jazz programs on the BBC. where they’d slot in the odd blues thing, you’d obviously have a head start. Otherwise, you’d probably get into blues through rock and roll— through Chuck Berry or maybe “High Heeled Sneakers” by Tommy Tucker. Then with the Rolling Stones era, you could sneak into the blues thing that way. In my case, I started on the proverbial Lonnie Donegan skiffle music trail, where I heard Lonnie doing Leadbelly songs, such as “Rock Island Line” and “Bring Me A Lil’ Water Silvy.” Before I even owned records by Woody Guthrie or Big Bill Broonzy, I used to get library books out in Cork—because you couldn’t buy the albums in Britain—and I’d learn the lyrics to these songs. But at the same time I was interested in rock and roll— such as Buddy Holly. Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino. I was listening to both of these strains, because at lots of points they’d cross. Once you get beyond the Chuck Berry/Eddie Cochran thing, you begin to figure Out that you’ve got Broonzy at one end of the scale—and that goes right back to the old tradition of Charley Patton—then John Lee Hooker has the Detroit electric blues style, which evolved from his acoustic style. And you also get the Josh White sort of folkie style of blues. You just have to listen to a lot of records.

Which records do you think are essential for someone who wants to get into blues?
I suppose you should go out and try to get a good compilation first, like the Paul Oliver selections, The Story Of The Blues. Vols. I & II [Columbia. G 30008 and Columbia (English). 66232, respectively]—which still have a couple of important people missing; for instance. Muddy Waters isn’t on either volume—which is insane. But I suppose you’d have to go back to one of the main sources, say, either Robert Johnson, Lemon Jefferson, Willie McTell, or Leadbelly. The two Robert Johnson records on Columbia [King Of The Delta Blues Singers, Vols. I & IL Columbia, CL 1654 and C 30034, respectively] are obviously cornerstones; you’d have to get at least one of those. Its pretty hard to zone in on it, because some guys mightn’t get into Robert Johnson and might prefer, say. Willie McTell. But if we try to break it down to the key blues albums, I think that either Robert Johnson record would have to be included. Then Blind Boy Fuller is another favorite of mine, especially that album with Bull City Red and Sonny Terry. with “Pistol Slapper Blues” on it [ Blind Boy Fuller. Blues Classics (Box 9195, Berkeley, CA 94709), 11]. 1 think that Broonzy album where he does “Banker’s Blues” [The Young Big Bill Broonzy~ Yazoo, 1011] is an important one, because he was broadening the scale. Its different from the ones he made around 1950, where it was blues plus ballads. The Best Of Muddy Waters [reissued as Sail On, Chess, 1539. and as part of Muddy Waters, Chess, 2ACMB-203] is definitely an archetypal electric blues album.

Do you think albums by people such as Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf are important listening?
Oh yeah. You’d have to get The Real Folk Blues by Wolf, with “Spoonful” and “Shake For Me” [reissued in part on Howlin’ Wolf Chess, 2ACMB-201] for Hubert Sumlin’s electric blues guitar. He’s the great undiscovered, underrated lead player. And Wolf himself harks back vocally to Charley Patton, and, besides, he plays a little bit of slide guitar here and there, too—like on “Down In The Bottom.” And his harmonica playing is important, even though everyone seems to write it off as just, “He plays harmonica.” I think he plays good gut-bucket harmonica.

Which of Elmore James’s albums would you single out?
Its hard to pin down one album for him, because there are so many oddball ones. I’ve got one on Ember Records—just sort of a bargain label—and it was reruns of some of his stuff, like “Sunnyland,” “Standing At The Crossroads.” and “Dust My Broom” yet again. I find that any Elmore James album is good. He played a Kay, I think, with some odd pickup. For electric slide, Earl Hooker is another, favorite of mine. There are three players who use that same famous lick: Earl Hooker used it on “You Shook Me” by Muddy Waters; Muddy uses it all the time; and I think it came from Robert Nighthawk, who did “Sweet Black Angel.” He’s got a very mellow slide sound, but it’s all in standard tuning—nothing’s in open tunings. So lets see: Muddy’s important; Elmore James is important; John Lee Hooker;Hubert Sumlin; and the man, Howlin’ Wolf. I suppose the best thing to do after you get a couple of compilations is to see which person really turns you on, then try to follow that strain.

What about the older country blues players?
In terms of intensity, Son House has to be listened to. Of all the blues players, that’s probably the closest connection with Africa. I’ve got that one album, with “John The Revelator” [Legendary Father Of Folk Blues. Columbia, CS 9217]; that’s an ace album.

If people come to hear you in concert, and they want to learn how to play guitar themselves, do you think it’s more important for them to buy your records or these old records you spoke of?
To learn guitar? Well, I write a lot of my own stuff, so it’s a cross between ego and the heritage thing. If you want to play like Rory Gallagher, I think you’d buy my records. But if you want to pick up on whatever echoes of the bluesmen that I respect and love, certainly go ahead and buy some blues records. In my case, I’d say the obvious influences would be Hubert Sumlin, Earl Hooker, and Buddy Guy, electrically; and, acoustically, Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Blake, though I can’t get anywhere near what Blake does. But you see, I never started out to become a strict recreator of the blues or even a modern young bluesman, as it were. I mean, I wanted to be me. I’m a huge blues fan, but I still have a bit of Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly hovering around in. my head, plus certain folk people, such as Doc Watson—a pretty wide range of listening.

When you’re performing, though, don’t you consider yourself mainly a blues-oriented musician?
Yes, I do, but I think that I’ve always strived to forge ahead. At some point, when I’m forty or fifty. I hope I’ll have a very distinct sound, as Elmore or Muddy did, so that when you turn on the radio—that’s Rory Gallagher. Its a thin line between studying the blues and listening to an awful lot of it on one hand, and loving the stuff and doing some blues numbers in your own style on the other hand. Its hard to break it down into percentages, because some nights we might do something like “Messing With The Kid,” a well-known Junior Wells song, or “Bullfrog Blues.” or “Rag Mama,” the Blind Boy Fuller tune. By the songs I pick to do, you can see the kind of people I like. I like the slightly ragtime-ish blues players, but then again, I like Hooker.

Your changes of style seem to depend in part upon what instrument you are playing; whereas you seem to lean toward a lot of the acoustic ragtime blues people. when you play electric you go into a completely different area of blues music.
Well, I’m a great fan of all the Kings—the Alberts, the B.B.s, and the Freddies. I wouldn’t want to say that these people have been overrated, because that would be an absolute insult; but I think they’ve been recognized to the point where. the Earl Hookers and Hubert Sumlins have been underrated. And the guitar player who was with Wolf before Sumlin, Willie Johnson, was a hot player as well.

What type of instrument would you recommend for an acoustic blues novice to start on?
With acoustic guitar, for the first couple of years at least, I think you should leave a wound third string on and really build up strength in the fingers. In other words, don’t try bending strings the first week you buy the guitar. Kids are lucky nowadays; you can get a Yamaha or something, and the cheaper model guitars are much better quality than they were years ago when you got this stuff with terrible action. The first guitar I got cost just over four pounds, which was about twenty dollars then, in the good old days. After a while you get that urge to say, “To hell with this—I’m going to bend this string,” instead of sliding up. But you have to build that up.

But do you think a student should start out with, say, a wooden Yamaha or a metal-bodied National such as you sometimes play?
Well, lets put it this way: If you’re a kid with ears the size of the moon and an amazing sense of direction, who heard Son House or Blind Boy Fuller or any of the National steel-body players and said, ‘They’re the people I want to play like,” then go ahead and buy the National, because that’s a great place to start. [Ed. Note National-style instruments are manufactured by National’s successor, Original Musical Instruments. 18108 Redondo Cir., Huntington Beach, CA 92648.] But if you start with a National. you’re talking about a guitar that weighs quite a bit.

Do you find that the National has any technical problems or limitations in terms of sound?
Well, on the one I have, the neck joins the body at the twelfth fret, which is unfortunate. I prefer the fourteenth fret, but I can live with that. You just have to ride over the body with the slide. The action on it isn’t bad, and the tuning is good. Obviously, it’s loud and banjo-like, and there’s only a certain amount of sustain in it, but I think that it slightly dictates what you play.

Could you explain that?
For instance, you don’t really bend strings much on a National; you use it more as a straightforward,
heavy-playing ragtime guitar, or you play in the Son House bottleneck school.

Do you have any problems miking that guitar onstage, or do you use a contact pickup?
I’ve tried everything on it. I’ve tried contact mikes, and they just don’t work. You have to use the resonator as the microphone. I think Bill Lawrence is making a new pickup that fits onto five-string banjos—you just clamp it onto the end of the neck—so something like that might work. But it’s debatable whether you’d be getting a true reproduction of that resophonic sound. I just put a microphone in front of the resonator and hope for the best. I use sort of medium-gauge bronze strings—I float around between Earth-wood, Darco, Guild, and D’Merle—and you just build up power and volume yourself.

Do you use a wound or an unwound third string on the National?
A wound third, because the numbers I happen to play need that fairly stiff action. I don’t do any Broonzy-type bending with light strings on the National, whereas on a Martin acoustic I probably would.

Do you use an acoustic onstage?
I do; I play a Martin D-35. I use the National for things like “Pistol Slapper Blues,” which I play faster than Blind Boy Fuller did, and a J.B. Hutto song called “Too Much Alcohol,” which he plays electric, of course. There’s always the nature of the banjo in the National, I find, and you have to play it sort of like that. I do anyway.

Do you play acoustic with a plectrum or your fingers?
With a plectrum and the fingers. I fool around with National metal fingerpicks and the plastic ones sometimes.

How is your Martin set up?
Well, that’s set up with the same strings, because at present I’m doing numbers like Leadbelly’s “Out On The Western Plain,” where the tuning is D. A, D. G. A, D [low to high]. Its a D tuning, except that the G remains a G.

That’s a very English, folk, Baroque tuning ala Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. How do you use that playing the blues?
Yeah, that’s right. Well, I’m a fan of that school. “Out On The Western Plain” was always one of my schoolboy favorites, because of the lyrics. I thought, “Here’s Leadbelly singing a song about cowboys,” and it didn’t seem to be a part of the black culture. But as it turns Out, there were black cowboys. So I was fiddling around with slack D, or whatever they call it, and I found that there’s an instant unison. If you use a two-fret interval on the second and third strings, you can go up like a dulcimer or a sitar. At any point up the neck, if you hit the second string at a certain fret and hit the third string two frets up. then those notes are the same. You get a kind of raga, dulcimer type of thing. So it seemed such a nice idea to do the Leadbelly song in that semi-Celtic-cum-whatever style. Its never quite major or minor, so you can do tricks with it.

That particular tuning is from the English folk guitar school, isn’t it?
Right. You can stick the Irish in there as well, because I’m sure bagpipe music had something to do with all of that, somewhere along the way. But that was what you could call a happy accident— getting that Celtic, British Isles, Baroque thing clashing with a blues song.

How do you have your Martin miked onstage?
I’ve got one of those little lbanez bolt things. I find that the Ibanez has a bit more bite than the Barcus-Berry. If the place is small enough. I skip the pickup and play straight through the house microphone. I prefer to do that, because you can control the volume yourself. And when I use the contact pickup, I use the mike as well, so it’s a blend of the two.

By controlling the sound with your hands, do you mean damping the strings?
Pressure on the strings, with your left or right hand. You can move slightly off mike or into the mike. You can just use yourself as a volume control.

How is that sound different from the contact mike?
Well, it’s a fairly one-dimensional, compressed sound with a pickup, because, although it’s as true as you can get to the natural acoustic sound, I don’t think it’s exactly there. But I can live with it. Ideally, what I’d like to have is another, lighter f-hole guitar onstage, with light-gauge strings for string-bending styles, but in the present repertoire I don’t have any songs for that sort of thing.

What other acoustic things do you do?
I sometimes do this instrumental of my own called “Unmilitary Two-Step” [see p. 871—it’s a cakewalk type of thing in C. I find that dreadnoughts need more medium-gauge strings, whereas the OM or f-hole models, the smaller ones, would obviously have to have light-gauge.

What do you use for an electric guitar?
I have two different electrics. I have a [Fender] Stratocaster with Fender light gauge Rock And Roll strings, which I use for basic playing and some slide work in straight tuning. I also have a [Fender] Telecaster for A tuning and other open tunings, for songs like “Bullfrog Blues.”

Why the Stratocaster?
Well, that’s the eternal argument among Fender fans. Buddy Holly had a Strat, and as a child you go after the appearance of a guitar; I don’t care what anyone says. You look at the shape of the thing, and that’s it. I’ve tried Gibsons, but I’m not a great fan of humbucking pickups.

Why is that?
Because as you bring down the volume from 10 to 9 to 8, after that—forget it; the guitar loses its sensitivity and drive. Whereas with the single-coil or P-90 pickups— one of the old Gibson units with the black or white plastic covers—the volume control goes down nice and gradually, and even at 6 the guitar is still doing something. I like a good bright tone, and I like the out- of-phase sound you can get with the switch set between the normal positions on a Strat. Its comfortable, the scale seems right, and I like having the machine heads on one side—it just seems to make sense. But if you want, say, a more luxurious, fatter sound, the Gibson guitar certainly would do the job, and it’s got an extra fret—if anybody ever touches that fret; I’m sure they don’t.

Is your Strat modified in any way?
Its practically straight off the rack; the only modification is that the tone control for the middle pickup is now a master volume control, because over the years I’ve found that when you jump from the middle pickup to the lead, or treble, pickup you couldn’t adjust it.

Why do you usually switch to the Telecaster for slide?
I thought it had a certain steel guitar type of tone which would work well with slide, but I was frustrated with the rhythm pickup—I thought it was too thin. So I put a Strat pickup there, and it remained that way for a year; then I said, “To hell with it —I’ll do the Telecaster a la Strat,” so now I’ve got two Strat pickups and a Tele lead pickup and a five-way Strat toggle switch. Its like the best of both worlds with the Telecaster lead pickup, which is slightly hotter than a Stratocaster’s.

Is it strung the same as the Stratocaster?
No, it’s kind of a blend; it’s more like medium-gauge. I have something like an .013 for the first, then .015, an unwound .018, and so on. On the Strat, it’s as they come Out of the packet—I think it’s .010, .012, .015, .026. .032, .038. That seems to be about the most balanced set I could find. I would prefer something like an .040 on the bottom—which I sometimes stick on if I have it handy—because I think the bottom end is a little too light for me.

Is the action higher on the Telecaster for the slide work?
The action on the Strat is quite high as well. I like high action, like on an acoustic. The heavier-gauge strings on the Telecaster are a bit more taut anyway, so I don’t have to raise the bridge. You can play not only slide, but regular guitar on it.

What do you use for a slide?
It depends; I shift around. I sometimes use a bottleneck on my ring finger for electric stuff; otherwise I’ve got two stainless steel tubes, which I sometimes use on my small finger or the ring finger. They get a more stinging, Muddy Waters sound. You get a different sound depending on what slide you use. For instance, if you’re playing slide on a National with a glass slide, forget it. You have to have something like steel or, even better, copper. Son House used copper, and I’ve got one of those as well.

Were these slides store-bought items, or you just go to a hardware shop?
I went to a hardware shop and got the proverbial bit of piping chopped up and got a Brillo pad out and shone it up. There’s a bit of surface noise there, but Son House has that sound; it’s best, because it clings to the strings. I used to use copper on electric as well, but I found that the stainless steel was a pretty good compromise between the copper or bronze and the glass. Glass is nice, because it works a little more like a Hawaiian or lap steel guitar; it’s sweeter and softer. I change my mind every couple of gigs.

With four guitars onstage—the Strat, the Tele ,the Martin, and the National—is it difficult to adapt from one to another in terms of each instrument’s feel?
I think you probably do it subconsciously if you play an awful lot. It never troubles me particularly; I just get ready for it. I know it’s going to be slightly heavier strings or whatever. For instance, on the National the neck joins the body at the twelfth fret; but even though you have medium strings, you might be in D tuning, which is kind of slack anyway, so you’re not called upon to bend the string up two tones or something. The only thing that throws me is moving from plectrum and fingers, which I use on the electric, to the thumbpick and fingerpicks. After doing, say, an hour of electric stuff, then switching to acoustic and putting on fingerpicks, I cant quite do it. If I were playing a straight folk club gig 1 could probably manage it. When I’m playing around at home I just use my bare fingers, even on electric. Just the thumb and first finger, because that’s another sound as well; there’s a different arch involved in the hand. Once in a blue moon all the odd tunings throw me, but I’m crazy about tunings. There’s a lot that can still be done there. in the rock and roll field I don’t think that that’s been truly tapped yet.

Playing rock and roll in open tunings?
Well, not so much open tunings, but the odd tunings like D. A, D, G, A, D, or that kind of Celtic one Davy Graham was using—E, A. D. E, A. E—it’s another bagpipe one.

What type of amplification do you use?
For years I used a Vox AC-30, which is the best all-around European amp I’ve ever come across. I still have it. The Shadows used to use them, and the Beatles used them, so you know it was the popular amp. But I found that when using the treble booster, that along with the treble boost you got a built-in gain, because the transistors were fairly primitive. If I used the normal input—which was very bassy, as opposed to the brilliant input—I could get that nice rough edge without getting into a very fuzzy sound. I used that for years, and I’ve had odds and sods in between, but then I moved on to an old Fifties tweed Fender Twin. which I still have. Then I got into a tweed Fender Bassman, and recently I got a Fender Concert, which is an old brown one, from around 1959, with four 10” speakers. I use a Hawk booster through that just to roughen it up a bit, or if it’s a quiet number I plug straight in and keep the guitar clean sounding.

Do you feel that the old Fender amps are better than the newer Fenders?
They seem to warm up sooner. They wouldn’t have the wide tonal range that the new Fenders have —particularly the new Fender Super Twin. which has a graphic equalizer, a master volume control, overdrive, and all that—but I probably have some interest in old amps over and above the actual music because of their appearance and because the guys in the Fifties used them. But I do find that they really have an atmospheric sound. I’ve never been a fan of the hundred-watt stacks; that just hasn’t appealed to me. I always like a Twin or a 4x 10 speaker setup. And some of those hundred-watt stacks really only give you about fifty watts, while an AC-30 is a genuine thirty watts. Instead of a wall of sound, where you lose your song because it’s spread Out among eight speakers, I’d rather see a small amp turned to 8 or 9 and really hopping off the chair.

Do you use the same setup in the studio?
Yes, same thing, plus I have an old Magnatone, which went out through Sears, Roebuck in the States. Generally, I end up using the AC-30 or one of the old Fenders. I like to do lead parts live, so you obviously have to have an amp that will be fairly loud, so the other guys in the studio can hear you.

Do you think it’s advantageous to learn acoustic before moving on to electric?
Well, I played acoustic for two or three years before I bought an electric. I wasn’t particularly interested in electric for the first couple of years, because I was a Lonnie Donegan fan. I think it’s better to start on acoustic and then get into electric, but you could get into a fistfight over that. I mean, some people would say, “To hell with acoustic guitar; it never existed. You’ve got to get a solidbody right away.” Fair enough, but I think they’re missing Out. Even if you’re going to become the consummate 1978 electric guitarist, I think you’re missing out on an awful lot, if only for the fun of playing an acoustic guitar at home as a hobby. And it’s nice to go from the acoustic, where even at the best of times the action is fairly taut, to the electric with light strings, where you float around like jelly. If you’re always playing on light-gauge strings, you’ll never really build up strength and subsequently real volume without turning up your amp yet again.

Are there any other techniques that you can adapt from acoustic to electric?
If you never played acoustic the odds would probably be three-to-one that you might never get into, say. playing with a plectrum and fingers or ever get interested in the various acoustic right-hand things. I think if you’re just playing with a flatpick full-time, you’re only half playing the guitar.

When you use both the flatpick and your fingers. are you fingerpicking with the middle and ring fingers?
Yes, sort of a James Burton type of thing. Obviously, if you’re just chopping chords you don’t use the fingers. Sometimes you might do the little harmonic tricks where you clip the string and get a squeal, but if you want to get a jingly jangly thing, use your fingers.

Where did you pick that up?
I began playing just straightforward plectrum style, but as things went along it just seemed to fall into place. Besides, I played in some dance bands and show bands in Ireland, where as often as not we didn’t have a rhythm guitarist, so you’d play the rhythm part as well as the lead. Say you were doing a Shadows song—they were like the English Ventures—you’d have to fit in the melody and a form of rhythm. That’s probably where I got it from, plus Ricky Nelson records with James Burton on guitar. He was obviously using his thumb and fingers or a pick and fingers.

So would you advise learning to finger-pick with bare fingers, with fingerpicks, or with a plectrum and the fingers?
Well, if you could wave a magic wand, you should tell the person to try all forms and be familiar with them all—anything instead of just using the plectrum alone. I think at some point in every song you’re going to need the fingers. If you’re interested in classical guitar, it’s nice to get a couple of years training at that, and then you ‘d have very strong hands, and you could skip thumbpicks and metal picks or whatever.

Do you use fingerpicks mainly for volume, or do you use them for a specific sound?
I would use them for volume, you know, and to save wear and tear. If I were a highly developed thumb-and-fingers person I’d just use the bare skin, but you do get the real sharp, biting sound with the metal claws. Gary Davis just used the one plastic fingerpick, and he seemed to make great sense out of that.

Do you see any advantage to the plectrum and fingers over thumbpick and fingerpicks?
The advantage of the plectrum and fingers is that you can forget about the fingers at certain points where, say, you’re doing a Buddy Holly number or an Eddie Cochran thing or a modern blues, where the fingers don’t really come in, where you really have to sledgehammer the guitar. If you were trying to play -.electric blues thing. fingerpicks might become a little bit cumbersome—although they never seemed to get in Freddie King’s way; he only used the thumbpick and one metal fingerpick. which surprised me. Then there’s an English guitarist, Tony McPhee, who plays with the thumb and one finger. I think John Hammond does it as well, although he picks, too. Johnny Winter plays with a thumbpick and his bare finger, kind of like Muddy Waters, although Muddy uses a pick on his index finger. Let’s put it this way: If you want to play a lot of electric blues or electric blues-cumrock or whatever, the plectrum plus the fingers is probably the best common denominator. Then acoustically you can imitate the Doc Watson style. But to be true to the old ethnic folk and blues traditions I guess you really should be at least familiar with using your thumb and fingers, because there are certain numbers where the plectrum is a hindrance.

Would a plectrum be a hindrance when you’re slapping the string on some tunes?
I can get away with that, oddly enough, but that depends on how difficult the piece is. For instance, I don’t think you could do a Blind Blake piece with plectrum and fingers, but you’d at least manage a version of it. It depends on how true to the old version you’re trying to get. Maybe you’re Just playing it for fun; maybe you’re doing it for very aesthetic reasons. Most young guitar players nowadays, even if they’ve only been listening to people like the Beatles, must know that they couldn’t do all those things with just a plectrum. Even like “Dear Prudence” on the Beatles’ “white album” [The Beatles, Apple, SWBO-lOl] —that’s a D tuning or something, and Lennon is playing with his fingers —he’s always been quite fond of that.

So you think it’s very important for a student to learn to use his fingers as well as a pick.
Yeah, even if he never touches folk or blues music. Of course, the sky’s the limit nowadays, and I suppose for Chuck Berry rock and roll it doesn’t matter too much, but even Keith Richard uses his fingers on things like “Honky Tonk Woman.”

Do you use any effects devices?
Well, there are a million and one pedals around, and I have a phase shifter I use once in a blue moon in the studio, but I think that’s been sort of overused. My favorite of all the gimmicks is the vibrato or tremolo—that old Bo Diddley sound. That’s fantastic with distortion, because it really plays tricks with the rhythm and it foxes the player. I like to overdrive the amp, as opposed to using a fuzz box. Better still, get a dirty Fender Champ and play the lead on that through a bigger amp. And I still prefer to get a wah-wah effect by working the guitar’s tone control manually. I think it’s more fun, and that’s where the Fender guitar comes in and has a slight advantage over most Gibsons. Most Gibsons have two volume controls and two tone controls, and they’re too far away to reach, and that’s a bit of a drag. The Strat is ideal, because you can get the crying sound with the volume and tone controls.

Do you thInk it’s important for a guitarist to learn to read music?
I did it by ear, listening to records. I never had a teacher, and I regret that I cant read music. I went into the library once and got Teach Yourself How To Read Music or something, and it said, “Sit down at your piano.” We didn’t have a piano, so that went down the chute. Then I worked out F, A, and C and gave up, because I was too impulsive, and I was already delighted that I could play “Lost John” and a couple of other songs. Then, next thing, I was playing blues and rock and roll, which is fairly instinctive and primitive stuff anyway. But later on you start getting beyond the open tunings and ragtime blues, you know, and you’re listening to someone like Diango Reinhardt or modern jazz guitarists, even bossa nova stuff like Charlie Byrd, and you begin to feel a little inadequate if you’re an all-around guitar fan. So you get a couple of books on chords and try to make sense of that. That’s where the reading would probably come in; it would help if you were a bit of a jazz fan.

When recording with other musicians, do you find that not knowing written music limits your ability to communicate ideas in the studio?
No, that’s no problem. because you can hum it to them or play it on the guitar. I don’t think that’s the drawback; the only drawback is if you were interested in playing a classical piece verbatim, or you wanted to play a Charlie Christian solo and really wanted to find out all the notes that he played and the harmony and theory thing behind it. Sometimes you say. “To hell with it; it doesn’t matter anyway,” but it kind of does matter. I’d say a year or two of just learning a little bit of theory wouldn’t do any harm. Even tablature foxes me; I have no head for mathematics.

What advice could you give in terms of practicing the guitar?
Well, it’s like the old cliché: You have to love the instrument and the idea of the instrument and the whole aura of the thing, and that will dictate how much you practice, really. I don’t think you have to sit down for eight hours a day or anything, but if you’re really interested you’ll probably do that anyway in the early stages—and even after that, between trying to write songs and experimenting with notes and loosening your fingers. I think you’re bound to get in an hour or two a day anyway, although some guys say they only play five minutes a day outside the gig.

Do you find yourself playing a lot during the day?
Quite a lot, yeah, in fits and starts. If I have a complete day off I play a bit after breakfast, for fifteen minutes or so, to begin with.

Are there any specific exercises you play?
Nothing specific, no. I just try to get the old muscles loosened. Sometimes I’m working on a song, or I might play along with a record for the hell of it. You try not to be lazy; you try to do something that’s a step ahead. The best all-around thing is a ragtime piece or a classical piece. Even if you’re the hammiest classical player in the world—which I am—it’s very good exercise.

On acoustic guitar?
On acoustic, yeah. Of course, on electric this is where the famous fingers and plectrum come in. See, if you’re playing electric guitar on your own, and the guys in the band aren’t around, it’s very hard to just play notes. You’re bound to start sticking in a chord and keeping the A string going while you’re doing a bit of lead. It seems inevitable, you know.

Could you offer any advice for guitarists wanting to become professionals?
If you wanted to get into, say. electric blues. I’d get into a band as soon as possible, no matter how bad it is. Donut be too proud—get into some kind of band; get playing with a drummer. That’s essential for electric blues. If you want to play acoustic music on your own, just hurry up and get a gig if you can; get out there and play in front of people.

You feel that playing in front of people is an important thing to do as soon as possible?
Yes, it brings something out. I know for a fact that if I’m off the road for a long spell, even if I’m rehearsing like mad and playing a lot at home, the real crunch comes when I get out in front of people. The things you thought were really hot in rehearsal don’t make any sense, because quite often you’ve forgotten the basic drive. In rehearsals sometimes the basics get glossed over, because you’re fooling around too much with the frilly stuff. If you get out there in front of an audience. drop your pick or break a string, that toughens you up, and it brings out projection in your playing. You have to direct your playing somewhere—unless you want to sit in a room like the painter looking at the painting he’s just done, and he won’t show it to anybody. You do get people like that, who think there’s no one in the city who’s good enough to play with. But even acoustic players should get to a folk club and listen to other people, play with other people. There’s always a thin line between studying the old records by the old masters and trying to develop yourself. I think both can be done at the same time, because if you forget the old masters you miss out on a whole heritage and a whole world, really. But you shouldn’t get too clogged up with the old stuff to the point where you won’t be moving on yourself, because you won’t end up like an old master yourself anyway, you know.

This article comes from the March 1978 issue of Guitar Player
reformatted by roryfan

017 - Creem Profile

(Pronounced “Boy Howdy”


HOME: The emerald-tiled swimming pools of Les Paul’s mind.

AGE: Still needs help dressing. photo by Bob Alford

PROFESSION: Composing soundtracks for such unproduced, but much awaited screenplays as I Am Johnny’s Small Intestine, A Bucket Of Bologna and The Poltergeist of Flannel Fiord.

HOBBIES: Bottlenecking in the back seat; playing every bingo benefit and Saturday Night social from Dublin to Des Moines; perfecting Cheetah Chrome’s mating call; helping his Stratocaster adjust to a different hotel room every night.

LAST BOOK READ: Seven Wacky Accents From Detroit’s Lower East Side by Tyrone “Hot Foot” Jaroswewicz.

LAST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Focusing both eyes on a tangible object after a show.

QUOTE: “I’m Pisces- I like my women tall with a twist of lime.”

PROFILE: As a young lad in Eire, Rory first realized his calling in life when he inadvertently drummed out “Peggy Sue” on the back of his brother’s head: leaving his happy home, he set out in search of life, which showed up in the form of a shapely Strat with a hot pick-up. The lad was smitten and the sordid affair eventually gained worldwide recognition as throngs of youthful voyeurs traveled miles nightly to witness the onstage surrender of molten metal to human flesh. Rory never returned home, and his mother’s plaintive cries still echo among the hills of County Cork….”Fix your brother’s head!”

BEER: Boy Howdy

This humorous profile was from Creem magazine in May 1979
typed and reformatted by roryfan
article supplied by catfish

018 - Interview with Brendan O'Neil by Shiv Cariappa 3/26/97
Shiv Cariappa interviews Brendan O’Neil

Shiv Cariappa: When did you first pick up the drums?

Brendan O’Neill: I first picked up the drums when I was about eleven or twelve years old. I used to watch marching bands …Scottish bagpipe bands, and I found the drums exciting in that situation, and it really drew me to them.

SC: Did you take drum lessons or are you mostly self-taught?

Brendan:I am mostly self-taught, but I did take lessons from a couple of reputable drummers. I took lessons with one of them in Belfast, and lessons in London with a guy from Miami.

SC: Who were your influences growing up?

Brendan: I liked the Kinks, the Beatles, a lot of blues, and R&B type music. Then I got into a lot of jazz. I loved Miles Davis and Tony Williams in particular. I also loved Elvin Jones, who was with John Coltrane, and his approach to drumming. Then I started listening to people like Mitch Mitchell, who was with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. You could tell that he was obviously very influenced by Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, and all those jazz drummers of that time, you know. I think a lot of that jazz music spilled over to rock music then. With strict blues music, well, I listened back to all those 50s sessions that Howlin’ Wolf did, and also much of Muddy Waters’ early stuff. There was a lot of jazz influence with what those drummers did. I think a thread runs through all of that music.

SC: Did you play in a band from a young age?

Brendan: Gerry McAvoy and I actually formed our first band together when we were about late 14 early 15-years-old.

SC: I didn’t know that the two of you went back that long ago. How did you come about playing with Rory?

Brendan: Yeah, we were separated for a long time. I think Gerry and I had split for about 12 years. I went off and played a lot more R&B and jazz-type music. Through the 1970s I was living in London and was playing with a fusion band. We did quite well while we were in London, and in the clubs around England. We were sponsored here by the Greater London Arts Association for a number of years, and we were just slowly forging ahead and forging ahead a little. We were doing a number of R&B and blues gigs as well, and unfortunately things began taking a bit of a turn for the worse. When a job with Rory came up, I auditioned. I had known Rory through Gerry over the years, and fortunately got the job, you know.

SC: When you came into the band that was in the early 80s — I guess that was right after Ted McKenna left.

Brendan: Yes, that was 1981 when Ted McKenna left, and Jinx was the first record I did.

SC: Did you immediately start recording or did you go on the road?

Brendan: We immediately began recording. I recorded with Rory even before we did any gigs.

SC: You were on the last three albums, but you obviously played from Rory’s entire catalogue.

Brendan: Oh yes, on stage, yes.

SC: Perhaps this is a bit of a tough question, but what were some of your favourite songs of Rory’s, considering there were about 14 or 15 albums?

Brendan: Yeah (laughs), there’s a lot of music in there.

SC: I mean, were there any songs that really stood out for you, or those that you never grew tired of playing live?

Brendan: I really liked a lot of the slow blues he did, something like “Off the Handle”. On certain nights that song was magic. On most nights that song was great, but when it really took off, it was somewhere else. I loved songs like “Philby”.

SC: That song is one of my favourites. Did you play “Philby” live regularly?

Brendan: Oh yes. When I first joined the band we were doing that quite a lot. I mean when Rory did songs in a live situation, he brought so much more to his songs. I am sure you have seen Rory.

SC: Oh yes, I have.

Brendan: All his songs took on a very different atmosphere and meaning live than what they did in a studio recording. So the live set was very exciting. I also loved the “Continental Op”, that was a great song. “I Ain’t no Saint,” that was another one. From Rory’s catalogue, as much I liked the rockers, some of the ballads he wrote were great. In particular on Jinx, he wrote that lovely ballad “Easy Come, Easy Go”, you know. That was a gorgeous song. Lots of songs like that we rarely did live or never did live, but were wonderful songs, I thought.

SC: You decided to leave the band around the same time as Gerry, right?

Brendan:Yes, it was a very difficult decision. I had played with Rory for 10 years, and Gerry had been there for 20 years. We just wanted to do something slightly different from what we were playing with Rory. We wanted to be more involved with writing and production. That last time [1991] we all played together was a great tour, with some great nights on that tour.

SC: You know during your recordings, what you did in the studio, especially on drums, was it live, or did you ever use drum machines, sequencers, and those kinds of things?

Brendan: Never, never. With Rory it was all live. We never even used the click-track. He didn’t believe in all those sorts of stuff. It had to be all off the floor and live. Rory was also very analog-oriented.

SC: When you started recording together, like Jinx for instance, did Rory come with new songs to the studio with a tape, or were they basically created in the studio itself?

Brendan: No, Rory actually did a quite a bit of pre-production on those songs. We would then go into rehearsals with those songs. We would do quite a bit of rehearsal. He would tape the rehearsals and then take it home to analyze, and the next time he would adjust it and rectify things he thought needed to be done.

SC: On Fresh Evidence didn’t you record more tracks than what wound up on the album?

Brendan: Yes there were quite a few good tracks that were left off. I’ve even got some rehearsal tapes of songs that never saw the light of day. Those were songs he probably would have used at another time. I’m not really sure how advanced they got in recording — I really don’t know.

SC: Right now in your career is there a big difference with what you do now with Nine Below Zero than with Rory?

Brendan:Not really, no. The first couple of records, albums with Nine Below, were done in the exact same fashion as Rory’s approach. Everything was live. It was only until the record we released in America, Hot Music for a Cold Night, we played everything through live. On that album, instead of directly putting the tracks down on tape, we recorded through the computer. We used triggers to make the album I suppose more contemporary. Oddly enough we have now come full circle. On Covers, the last album we did, seven of the tracks were done in the last session, and were all recorded in three days. It was mostly first takes. We wanted to get back to more of a blues feel and theme.

SC: Now with Nine Below, do all three of you share equally in the songwriting? I mean the four of you — you also have a harmonica player [Billy Boy Miskimmen].

Brendan: Each of us comes along with ideas for songs to the studio. In a pre-production situation we would work on the ideas that may sometimes be just a riff or a lyric. The songs are developed that way. I mean we have a few situations where the songs have actually happened in the studio, particularly on Covers there is a track that we had an idea, but we had never rehearsed it. It worked very well in studio and it was allowed to grow in the studio. It is more of a mood track that just came together live. It is a song called”The Love you Bring”.

SC: Is the new album only available through the fan club?

Brendan: Yes it is only available through the information service — Supporters Club. We are putting this one out on our own label. At the moment we are at negotiations with people to distribute it in Europe.

SC: Are you planning to record yet another album this summer?

Brendan: We have actually started on the next album already. We have been doing pre-production. We have some songs ready to record. We hopefully should start on that at the end of April.

SC: You are in the midst of a tour right now, aren’t you, how are you doing?

Brendan: Yes indeed we are. It is really going very, very well. We are having lots of sold-out gigs.

SC: Now that you have been with Nine Below since the early 1990s, do you feel that the band has been progressing and developing, and that you are playing to larger audiences?

Brendan: We joined the band directly after we left Rory in 1991. I think the band is playing better than it ever has. This young harmonica player we have at the moment — he has a lot of fire, a lot of passion playing. It actually helps stimulate the whole thing a bit, you know. It’s not like the band was not stimulated before, but sometimes when you bring in a new component to the situation, it just brings a different perspective to it all. Things are going very well as far as audiences go, especially in Europe at the moment, particularly in Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Right after this current British leg of the tour we should be going to Scandinavia and then again through Europe. We should be doing quite a few festivals in the summer. Towards the end of the year, we will be in Ireland, then back to Britain, and onto Europe again. That should conclude the year.

SC: On the road, especially with Rory, were there any sites or audiences that you particularly enjoyed playing to?

BO’N: I particularly liked touring the US and Germany with Rory, especially with the way the audiences reacted right from the first few chords to a song. I really enjoyed touring Ireland with Rory, because it was always very, very special.

SC: Did you find the American audiences different compared to crowds in Europe or elsewhere, and are the crowds who come to your shows now different from the ones when you toured with Rory?

Brendan:Yes, when I first went to America I found it a bit different getting used to. With American audiences particularly, when they pay their $15 or $20 at a club, they expect value for their money. They want to have a good time right from the very first chord. They are very keen in participating and getting into the show in a big way. Oddly enough, the audiences were very similar and common. There’s a oneness. Maybe Rory’s audiences were a little more flamboyant. The difference for Nine Below Zero now is that when the band first came together it brought their brand of R&B to the clubs around London. The big music of that time was punk. The original band had a real punk edge to it. The blues, and rhythm and blues, were played like something through a punk eyeglass. Nine Below Zero made a big impression at that time. With Rory the music was much more blues-rock, whereas Nine Below had a more R&B, blues, and punk approach. Our audiences right now are very varied. There’s a lot of young people coming to our shows. We also have the older fans of the original band joining in.

SC: Your previous album Ice Station Zebra, it seems so varied. I mean you hit a variety of music styles on it. There’s some Motown sounds in there too.

Brendan: Yeah, that’s true, yeah (laughs). Actually a lot of those songs came to life with what we had done on pre-production. Your musical influences start coming out sometimes, and you really can’t stop it. Sometimes there is a really good song, and you think that’s what we really are and how we have been affected by what we have been listening to over the years. The unfortunate thing about that record, it was affected by the record company and by people who thought Nine Below Zero was something different or who had a much different perception of the band. There were a few problems in the making of that record.

SC: Well, I’m very glad that I got to see both you and Gerry play in Boston before you left Rory in 1991. I remember you had come in quite late from some place in New Jersey, and immediately after the show you were leaving for New York.

Brendan:Yes, New York was our final gig, but oh yes, I remember that show [Paradise Club near Boston], it was a nightmare, that one. We had a lot of problems on stage. Maybe…hopefully it wasn’t too obvious.

SC: Well, I thought the band was in excellent form — in top form. There was nothing wrong with the sound. Once in a while there was little bit of feedback. It was an excellent show.

Brendan: I remember particularly what happened was that the rostrum was too small for the drum kit. There was a lot of cymbal movement, and things fell off.

SC: I remember a guy coming on and putting the cymbals back on a couple of times, but it didn’t really distract from the show. After your last show together in New York, did you ever get to see Rory’s new lineup play?

Brendan: We (Nine Below Zero) played a festival with Rory, I think it was in early 1994 in Germany, I can’t remember the date. I met the drummer (Richard Newman) on occasions. He used to play with Steve Marriott.

SC: You are talking about [the late] Steve Marriott of Small Faces fame?

Brendan: Yes, and Humble Pie fame, yeah. I knew Steve very very well, and I used to go to London for some of his gigs, and Richard was playing drums with him then. To be honest, the last time I heard Rory with anybody else was with Ted McKenna and Rod De’Ath, both of whom I respected immensely. We played this festival with Rory, and he was headlining the show, and we (Nine Below Zero) were third on the bill. We only heard a part with his new band. We didn’t really get to see the whole show, but we saw snippets of it.

SC: This is perhaps an unfair question, but how did you think the new lineup did?

Brendan: It was fine, it was fine. Rory wasn’t that well at that time, but he was playing all the old songs, he was playing all the old favourites. He was doing his thing.
Copyright 1997. Shiv Cariappa
Shiv Cariappa interviewed guitarist Rory Gallagher for the Christian Science Monitor in 1992. His article and conversation with Rory, and an interview with bassist Gerry McAvoy and another with Mark Feltham appear elsewhere on RoryWeb

019 - Interview with Gerry McAvoy by Shiv Cariappa 1/8/97
Interview with Gerry McAvoy
by Shiv Cariappa
January 8, 1997

In the late 1960’s, two music groups, Taste and Cream, blazed trails as definitive examples of rock’s power-trios. Cream featured Eric Clapton on guitar, Jack Bruce on bass and Ginger Baker behind the drums. Taste was fronted by Irish guitar-virtuoso Rory Gallagher. When Taste formally disbanded after their appearance at the legendary Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, Rory Gallagher embarked on a solo quest and soon began earning a reputation as a pioneering blues-rocker. For the next 25 years, the Rory Gallagher Band would go through several incarnations of personnel that would end with the untimely passing of its guitar whiz in 1995. For most of Mr. Gallagher’s career, however, one man would remain a constant fixture by his side — Gerry McAvoy.

To most fans of Rory Gallagher, Gerry McAvoy perhaps is best remembered as that man who — with unbridled fervour — faithfully fretted the bass for the late guitarist. He accompanied Rory for more than two decades incessantly touring with him and providing solid support on a wide repertoire of music — consisting of more than a dozen albums — beginning with the first self-titled disc Rory Gallagher in 1971 to Fresh Evidence in 1990. Mr. McAvoy’s presence on stage with Rory also lent credence to the belief that the late guitarist was perhaps one of rock and roll’s finest live performers.

Now the bassist, alongside another alumnus of the Rory Gallagher band, drummer Brendan O’Neil, form an incendiary rhythm tandem for the band Nine Below Zero. The band, founded in South London in 1977, features singer-guitarist Dennis Greaves. Nine Below Zero has released several albums, and notably the last three — On the Road Again, Hot Music for a Cold Night, and Ice Station Zebro — with Mr. McAvoy and Mr. O’Neil. Both contribute to the band’s songwriting and provide vocal backup in an eclectic mix of vintage r&b, rock and blues-influenced ballads. The duo was introduced to Nine Below Zero by harmonica player Mark Feltham, a one-time member of that band. (Mr. Feltham, many of Rory’s fans will recall, provided an outstanding foil to the guitarist’s solos and accompanied Rory on his last American and Australian tours in 1991. Mr. Feltham’s harmonica also spices several tracks on Fresh Evidence.)

A native of Belfast, Ireland, Mr. McAvoy spoke by phone from London where he is now based. Nine Below Zero is currently putting together a limited-edition album of blues covers.

Thanks to Sally Stokes for arranging the interview with Mr. Gerry McAvoy.

Shiv Cariappa, Natick, Massachusetts E-mail

January 8, 1997

Shiv Cariappa: When was the first time you and Rory crossed paths?

Gerry McAvoy: The first time we crossed paths was probably about ’68 or ’69 in Belfast. I actually met him when he was with Taste.

SC: You used to be with a group, Deep Joy was that it?

GM: Yes, that’s right, Deep Joy was the name.

SC: What kind of music did the group play?

GM: It was everything, it was a mixture of everything. In those days in the 60’s it didn’t seem to matter. You did everything, there were no set rules. In fact, we actually did quite a few gigs in Ireland with Taste.

SC: You were playing on the same bill with Taste?

GM: On the same bill, yes, and also when Deep Joy went to England — when we crossed over to England, we did quite a few shows with Taste. That’s how the connection came about really, you know.

SC: He (Rory) recruited you out of Deep Joy, then?

GM: That’s right. Both bands split up the same time, weeks apart. He called me up a couple of months later.

SC: When did you first pick up the bass guitar?

GM: Actually I was a guitar player to start with, and it was the old story: the bass player left and there was nobody else around, so I started playing bass. It was a dual guitar thing in the band so we had another guitar player.

SC: Did you grow up in a musical family?

GM: More or less, yeah, my father played harmonica. My mother sang. My grandfather was on the road in the 30’s. He was a mandolin player, and he played around with a pickup band and would go around Ireland playing different circus halls.

SC: What kind of music were you listening to growing up?

GM: I grew up in the 60’s and was so influenced with everything happening in the 60’s. I liked the Beatles, I listened to Jimi Hendrix, American music, west-coast music — Jefferson Airplane. I eventually got into the blues, you know, via John Mayall, really — John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. Then I traced that back and got heavily into Muddy Waters. That was a big influence on me — Muddy Waters.

SC: You know the Rory Gallagher band went through several changes of personnel, but you were one who really stuck it out for twenty years. How did you manage that?

GM: I think it was just a bond between Rory and me, you know. It was a musical bond and also a friendship.

SC: What was it like recording with Rory, was it very intense? What I gather from even his own interviews is that he was a bit of a perfectionist.

GM: He was very much of a perfectionist. Intense? Yeah, at times, even a sound-check with Rory could be intense or a rehearsal could be intense. We would rehearse through two hours you know, maybe three hours. Those three hours were like a full day — rehearsing with Rory, because they were very intense.

SC: If you had to look back on all those albums you did with Rory, maybe about 15 of them you did, what would you say were your favourite albums and songs?

GM: Oh, that’s difficult. Many people ask me that question and it’s very difficult to answer. I like the early stuff. Live in EuropeTop Priority, and Fresh Evidence, in a lot of ways. There’s some outstanding stuff on Fresh Evidence, and (the track) Heaven’s Gate, I mean Rory’s guitar solo on that is quite frightening. is one of my favourites. That album really captured the whole live thing in the 70’s. I do like the first album — the first Rory Gallagher album — the one with the black cover. The later stuff, I liked

SC: You know on some of the long solos you performed with Rory, was it — not something scripted in rehearsal?

GM: Oh no, no. That just happened when it happened.

SC: You seemed to have quite a bond. I mean you knew exactly where you were going with all your solos.

GM: Yeah, yeah. I mean between Rory and me, there was something that just sort of came naturally.

SC: A chemistry you would say?

GM: A chemistry, yeah absolutely, plus the fact the early Rory Gallagher Band from 1971 — I mean the amount of gigs we were doing. We were doing over 200 gigs a year. A lot of work in the States as well. A lot of work through ’72, ’73, ’74. I mean when you do that, you learn a lot about each other musically — especially when you are playing like two to three-hour sets as well. It actually becomes easy, you know. Sometimes I knew what Rory was going to play before he played it and vice versa.

SC: After Calling Card, Rory decided to go three-piece. You dropped the keyboard player, we are talking about Lou Martin. Was that a big transition?

GM: Lou Martin and Rod De’Ath, actually the drummer went as well.

SC: Did that change the dynamics of the band much?

GM: In some ways it did, the original band as you know was a three-piece. Taste was a three-piece and Rory liked playing in a three-piece idiom. I mean, that band was together for seven years with Rod De’Ath and Lou Martin, and we actually made an album after that.

SC: Was that album supposed to be called Torch?

GM: It was meant to be called Torch. It was recorded in San Francisco. It actually became Photofinish. Some of the same songs were re-recorded.

SC: The album (Photofinish) is yet to come out on CD.

GM: Yeah, that’s correct. I think you’ll find this year it will come out on CD.

SC: Did you have to go back to the studio and work on it again?

GM: No, no. It will be just remastered you know — digitally done.

SC: Between Jinx and Defender there really was a long gap. What were you doing during that time?

GM: There was yeah. We were actually doing a lot of work in strange places. Rory wanted to play behind the Iron Curtain, this is just before the Berlin Wall came down. We were in Hungary and Yugoslavia, and did a lot of work in the Far East. Jinx came out around 1981, and we actually did a couple of tours of America. In fact, we did one tour with Rush.

SC: Yeah, how did that go? I mean that was something of a different combination wasn’t it?

GM: It didn’t really work as far as I could see.

SC: They are really a big arena-rock band.

GM: They are, plus the fact in the first tour, they actually supported Rory — in the 70’s. I mean they are great guys — a lovely bunch of guys, there are no two ways about it. They were respectful in the situation. Being a support act is not easy, when you plan those arena gigs. I think Rory would have had more fun playing in clubs on a particular tour. Plus it was a long tour — it was three-and-a-half to four months long.

SC: Was the last American tour in 1991 the last time you played with Rory?

GM: That was the last time, in fact the one in New York was the last gig.

SC: Was it really a difficult decision to leave the band?

GM: Yeah, it was actually a decision I made a couple of years previous. I think I had done about everything I could within the limitations of the band. I would have loved to have kept on playing with Rory. You know it was just a different direction for me because I had always written music.

SC: You write with your new band?

GM: Yes I do, with Nine Below Zero.

SC: You surprised me on that show on video at Cork (Rory Gallagher Live in Cork), you did some back up vocals on Follow Me, perhaps in jest?

GM: That was really a bit of fun. But the thing about playing with Rory, he was Rory Gallagher and you had to accept that, you know, which I did accept. He was the main man, and there were no two-ways about it, and there was no other way it would work. So I knew I had to move along and do my own thing. It wasn’t easy. It was a situation where I didn’t want to leave Rory, but I knew I had to do it, you know.

SC: Was it a difficult way of making of living playing with Rory? I mean especially in the 80’s it wasn’t really a climate for blues music.

GM: Not really, because Rory, he was still strong in Europe. I mean Rory could still go out and play to 4,000 or 5,000 people a night in Germany or France.

SC: Unfortunately, you didn’t make too many tours of the US in the 80’s. The last one in 1991 was really a short tour.

GM: It was a short tour, yeah. It was a very good tour, and I thought he would have gone back in ’92 and ’93 with a new band and capitalized on it, you know, but he didn’t.

SC: You do more songwriting and vocals now.

GM: Yeah, with Nine Below . . .

SC: How’s that coming along?

GM: It’s going great, we are actually working on our fourth album now. What we are doing, at the moment, is a special-edition CD. Just a straight blues CD with covers. There should be 11 or 12 songs, and the next one should be out about September — that will be the fourth album.

SC: I did pick up Ice Station Zebro. There is quite a variety of musical styles on that album. I mean if someone listened to that album for the first time, it would be really difficult to pin down the band’s signature as such.

GM: Yeah, it was our last album and that was one of the criticisms of Ice Station Zebro. The first album we made, called On the Road Again, was a blues album, the second album Off the Hook was also fairly blues-based, but we started to move away, and the last album, yes, it was very diverse. That was one of the major criticisms, plus there were too many people involved. Miles Copeland was involved in it and he wanted hit material, which most record company bosses do want, you know. So we tried our best. We wrote what we thought were a couple of good, possibly radio-friendly songs. Like Down by the River, and a couple of other songs.

SC: What are your plans for the year then, after recording the (limited edition) album, are you going back on the road?

GM: Yeah, the main album we won’t record until the summer. We are doing this blues CD in the meantime. We start at the end of this month spending a week recording our favourite blues songs. We start work in the beginning of February starting in Europe, and then we get back and do an English tour in March and then back to Europe in April.

SC: Can we expect you in the States?

GM: Fingers crossed, hopefully. We just did a track on an album. It should come out very soon in the States. It is a tribute album to Cyril Davis. I am not too sure what the album is called, but it is on Viceroy Records. We actually did (the song) Nine Below Zero. I think Jimmy Page is on that album with a couple of other people. Jack Bruce is on it. We did tour the States with Alvin Lee a couple of years ago.

SC: How successful was the tour, and how did the album do in general, Ice Station Zebro?

GM: That (tour) went very well. The band was very well accepted, very well received. Ice Station Zebro has been put on the shelf, because we ended up with an argument with the record company (I.R.S.). We’ll have a new label the next time around.

SC: Isn’t there a tribute album coming out for Rory, and will Nine Below Zero be on it?

GM: There is (tribute album), yeah, but not with Nine Below Zero on it. Apparently the rhythm section will be me and Brendan (O’Neil), I don’t quite know yet. It is something Donal (Gallagher) is putting in the pipeline, you know. I haven’t really had a chance to speak to him since before Christmas, so I will probably get a chance now that I have some time.

SC: Do you enjoy touring as much as you did, say 25 years ago?

GM: I don’t know whether I enjoy touring. It is difficult. I mean the travel is difficult, but that is one of the sacrifices you make, but on the other side of it you do meet different people and do see different places. You see people in odd situations and then you go, “Well, maybe I am lucky,” you know. But then you get the chance to do what you do best, you get on stage and play your gig at night, and that is fun. The thing about Nine Below Zero, it is not far removed from what Rory was doing. It is all r&b based. It is a blues band.

Copyright 1997. Shiv Cariappa

reformatted by roryfan

020 - Mark Feltham: Maestro on Harmonica by Shiv Cariappa 9/13/98
Mark Feltham: Maestro on Harmonica
December 26, 1998
Interview date: September 13, 1998
Mark Feltham may be considered one of the pre-eminent harmonica players in the world. He has lent his instrument to many sessions for a range of musicians spanning various musical styles. His music also appears on film and television. For more than a decade he accompanied the late guitarist Rory Gallagher on several tours. His harmonica was an outstanding foil to Rory’s guitars and graced Rory’s last two studio albums, Defender and Fresh Evidence on several tracks. Outside his reputation with Rory, Mark Feltham is best known for stints with the British group Nine Below Zero which currently consist of Rory’s former rhythm section Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O’Neill.

Shiv Cariappa: How did you come about playing the harmonica?

Mark Feltham: From listening to session musicians in Nashville. I come from a country background, perhaps more so than a blues background. I was about sixteen when I did pick it up. I started getting into Charlie McCoy and those Nashville session players much later around 1971 via the Monument record label in Nashville. I was listening to bands around that time who were uniquely country.

SC: You grew up in England, I guess.

MF. I did, but grew up listening to American country music. I stumbled into it via a program we used to have here called The Old Grey-Whistle Test, which was one of the only good rock programs, and the signature tune they used was a Nashville country song – a harmonica instrumental. I became interested in it very much. So, I decided to write to the BBC to find out where it came from, and that’s where I discovered it and went on from there. That was about 1972.

SC: How did you wind up doing so much of session work on harmonica?

MF: I am purely a session player these days. Well, I was a session player since the demise of the first lineup on Nine Below Zero, and even during my time with Rory, I was still doing session work. I felt it was the healthy thing for me to do personally without getting bogged down with one style of music too much. I had always wanted to become a session musician.

SC: Would you then say that right now your music preferences are basically country-western?

MF: Yes, very much so. I am a big country-western fan. We [harmonica players] are all very different. Some of us go down the blues avenue and some of us go country. I am unique in the UK, because I am probably the only professional country harmonica player. However, I don’t play country here because no one here really plays country professionally. We only have a few professional country bands who do the circuit, but none of them use a harmonica. And of course, all the sessions I do are normally pop, blues standards, or just straight standards and ballads, and they have allowed me to play across the whole spectrum. With Rory asking me to play with him, I obviously had the blues touch with me anyway because from country I moved on to listen to the blues. I was able to adapt very easily and play foil to him.

SC: You know, when I sat to talk to you, the last thing I expected to hear from you was that you had a country background and influence.

MF: [Laughs] Is that right?

SC: How did you come about playing with Rory?

MF: Well, with Nine Below Zero, we used to play at a club in the East end of London called the Bridge House that was one of the big, big clubs at that time. Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O’Neill, who were the rhythm section for Rory, used to come down and watch us play. What happened was that when Nine Below Zero split around 1982, Gerry approached me. By then he had become a friend. He asked me whether he could introduce me to Rory and what I thought about doing a blow with Rory at rehearsals. I said that I would love to. Rory’s brother and manager Donal called me and said the band was doing a show in Pistoia in Italy. By this time it was 1984 and two years had elapsed since the break up of Nine Below Zero. He said that they were doing a tribute show for Alexis Korner in Pistoia with Ginger Baker, Jimmy Page, and others, and whether I would like to come down and be part of the setup purely as a sideman. I went down and stayed with Rory from 1984 up to 1995. I was actually with Rory when he passed on. It was eleven years, but it still enabled me to do session work. Rory was completely cool about that. So, I carried on doing session, TV, and film music during that time.

SC: Say, with much of the music you played with Rory, and I can think of specific songs, “Off the Handle” for instance, did Rory give you free rein to improvise?

MF: Yes, totally, and yet strangely enough we did tend to get into areas between us where things were set. Rory was never one for keeping things that tight. He was never one for even having a set list. No, never ever did the man have a set list during the entire time I knew him. Because I think, his idea was very much like a Bob Dylan thing. mark He believed very much about keeping things on edge. That was spontaneity. He would call out a song and bang, you had to be ready [Laughs]. For Gerry and Brendan it was something else because they had to have a repertoire of 60 to 70 songs. And sometimes Rory would call out a weird one that had not been done for years. He would just throw one in and Gerry and Brendan had to be there on the spot. That’s how it worked.

SC: Were there any particular Rory songs that were your favorites?

MF: Oh, I liked “Big Guns.” I liked them all. I actually preferred Rory’s own songs to the blues covers he did. I wasn’t really on stage with him, I actually came on just for the covers that he did of course in Rory’s fashion. I liked Rory’s writing very much. I thought he was very underrated as a songwriter. I loved just being on the side of the stage watching his own set.

SC: Once Gerry and Brendan left the band, you had a new lineup. Did you have a different set of dynamics with the new band?

MF: Yes, it was completely different. We had Richard Newman playing drums. Richard is the son of Tony Newman who used to play with Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers. His father is now working in Nashville as a session musician. Richard the son is a rock drummer, and we used him along with David Levy on bass. David is now working with Chris DeBurgh.

SC: How was the sound? I never had the opportunity to hear the new lineup and was always curious how they sounded.

MF: Well, I actually did like the new sound. I don’t think the players were competent musically as the old players. You know Gerry and Brendan were there for a long time. But the last lineup did lend itself to such a way that you heard the old songs in a different way. It was certainly different. It was great for me to work with both sets of players. David was a very musical bass player, and Gerry was very much in the pocket with Brendan. David was perhaps freer in his playing. Both bands had their good and bad points.

SC: With Rory’s health going down, did you see this coming?

MF: Yes. Yes I did?

SC: And there was nothing anyone could do about this?

MF: Nothing at all. His brother tried, but Rory was absolutely not one who was keen on people telling him what to do.

SC: Was it difficult the last few days? You did visit him at the hospital.

MF: Yes I did. Tom Driscoll [Rory equipment manager] and myself outside the close family were allowed in. Rory’s brother asked me to play for him when he was in a coma. Rory had slipped into a coma the last week or so, and they asked me to play a few songs. Perhaps in a way to pull him out, but he never did.

SC: If I may ask, do you remember what you played?

MF: I just played a couple of country tunes, a couple of blues, and a few older songs.

SC: You did attend the funeral and played there didn’t you?

MF: I played “Amazing Grace” at the funeral. His brother wanted me to play there.

SC: What was the atmosphere like? It was obviously a very sad event.

MF: It was a fantastic turnout, if anything good can be said about a funeral. It was the whole Cork City that came out to bid him farewell. It was very moving, you know, but it was pretty awful, really.

SC: Obviously Rory has had quite an impact on your life.

MF: Personally yes. I love the man. I miss him terribly. I haven’t really worked since he died. Gerry and Brendan have gone onto doing the Nine Below Zero thing. I have stepped back into session work. I’ve done a few live bits as a guest. I did Oasis last year. That was a great experience. I loved doing that.

SC: That is a different kind of music.

MF: Yes, it is different kind of music, but I was playing a lot of country things with Oasis. When Rory left, I thought I would slip back into country and film music and not miss this live thing because I had done it for a long time. I thought I would enjoy going back into session music, but in fact I do miss it terribly now. I really didn’t think I would, but I am missing it.

SC: Speaking about live, I remember seeing a video footage with you, Rory and the band with Jack Bruce in a concert during 1990 at Cologne, Germany. Towards the end of the set Jack Bruce came on stage — was the performance all spontaneous?

MF: Yes, totally. I think that Donal had asked Jack, in the bar previously, if he would like to come and jam with Rory. He said that it was no problem, and so he came on stage.

SC: What seemed interesting about the jam on some of the songs was that it seemed that you all had been playing regularly together previously.

MF: Well, Jack is a blues man, isn’t he. It was straight in the pocket right away. It wasn’t at all rehearsed.

SC: Do you find enough work these days as a session musician?

MF: It can be difficult. I am one of only three professional harmonica players doing what I do here. But in saying that, this is not Nashville and so there is not that great a demand and certainly not for country music over here. I just about break even. It is tough, yeah.

SC: But you do get enough offers?

MF: Oh yes. What’s around I normally get asked to do. In this country the harmonica is perceived as being a toy instrument. Whereas in America, it is a more serious proposition. In fact there has been many occasions where I have thought of moving to Nashville and trying to make a living there. But you’ve got more competition there.

SC: You have enough of a name and reputation to make it, I believe.

MF: Thank you.

SC: Won’t moving from England to the U.S. become a bit of a personal transition for you?

MF: Yes, yes it would be, but I am not sure I am prepared for it. I have given it thought before. I have been lucky enough to work with some big film producers. I just finished the new Sharon Stone film. It is called “The Mighty.” It’s been done with Harry Dean Stanton and Gillian Anderson from the X-Files [TV show]. I think that it is coming out there very shortly. I actually played the lead on that. I am hoping to do things like that — film work, especially for American TV and American film would be good for me. I did “Judge Dredd” as well, the Sly [Sylvester] Stallone movie. I’ve done a couple of things like that for American TV, but it is difficult.

SC: At least there is no threat of you ever having to starve or anything like that?

MF: Oh no, no, but if I had been a guitarist with the same reputation, I would be working constantly day in and day out. But like I said, the harmonica is very much perceived as a toy instrument here. Most harmonica players in England are doing it with blues bands and working at that for a living. I am the only one earning a living out of sessions and TV. I haven’t got a live gig, you see. So I don’t even have the tour to do anymore. With Rory it was fine, I had Rory and the sessions. I do practice every day about 90 minutes. I am quite disciplined about that.

SC: Do you have anything coming out right now?

MF: I just finished Zuccero’s new album. He’s a big star in Italy. He did a big single here with Paul Young, and has also performed with Pavarotti and Placido Domingo. He is really a big star who does 80-90,000 sports-arena-type audiences in Italy. He’s trying to break into the rest of Europe now. I’ve also just finished another film as well. I’ve done lots of things going back over five years, bits of George Michael, bits of Deacon Blue, the Christians, and Texas.

SC: I think the first time your music really struck me was from Fresh Evidence. You know that song “Middle Name,” I thought harmonica really came across beautifully.

MF: Thank you very much. That was a lovely song. There was also “Ghost Blues.” I also liked “Alexis” too, because that was unusual for me to play because it was kind of a jazz thing on that. I am proud of the stuff I did with Rory. “The Loop” and all those songs.

SC: You know hopefully we could hear some of those live recordings come out. I know Rory did record some of that. The good news is that some of the catalog is being released slowly. Did you record anything in the studio after Fresh Evidence?

MF: No we didn’t, but we also has some great outtakes on some of the Redan stuff we did on the second to last album Defender. We did some of that down at Redan Recorders, which is now closed in the West end of London. I remember going on for hours at night doing different things, and I am sure it is all on tape. Whether Donal still has any of that I don’t know.

SC: How would you describe Rory? He had such a contrasting public persona from his private side.

MF: Yes. He was an angel – an angel. He was a fantastic, beautiful person. A wonderful human being. He was one of the most wonderful men I ever met in my life. I can say that honestly and openly. He was a gentleman as in the words gentle man, you know.

SC: I believe everyone who encountered him, even briefly, would absolutely agree with you. They took that feeling away with them. You don’t normally see those kinds of qualities in a lot of rock musicians. He was extremely humble, and that is the one thing that struck a lot of people.

MF: That’s right, but he could also be tough on stage. It was very much ‘keep your eyes on my back, and don’t wander farther on stage than me. I am very much the governor,’ which he was. You had to have a leader out there. But in saying that, you could go to him before a show or after and everything was forgotten if you made a fluff or an error in some way. It was all forgotten after the show. He was never a man to hold grudges. I think he was deeply religious, deeply superstitious, and very humble, extremely humble. He was a very kind man as well. I remember once towards the end of his life when he was unwell and sinking, we were playing at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. I remember him distinctly walking a long way across the road to purposely throw money into a busker’s hand – a guy there who had no money sitting in the sidewalk. He would do that often. He was always a man for the underdog.

Shiv Cariappa interviewed Rory Gallagher for the Christian Science Monitor in 1991. Mr. Feltham spoke by phone from his home in London. The interview appeared in the Rory fanzine Stagestruck, issue No:5, edited by Dino McGartland Copyright 1998

reformatted by roryfan

021 - Rory Gallagher; One of a kind
Rory Gallagher; One of a Kind
Posted to newsgroup in 7/98
by Peter Dellys of Perth, Australia. Great Rory story!!!
I’ve just discovered this ng (newsgroup) and thought some of you other Rory fans might find my story interesting. I first heard Rory in 1972 when I was at high school. I was heavily into Clapton, Hendrix and all that, and a school friend suggested I listen to this Rory Gallagher guy. The album was ‘Live in Europe’. I sat in the music room with a set of headphones, and was utterly flabbergasted. What were those sounds ( pinch harmonics) that he was getting? How did he make guitar and voice sound almost identical? My guitar education was just beginning.

In 1975, Rory came to Australia, and my friends and i got down to the stage and were just blown away. We managed to run into some people later that week who recorded the gig. I still have the tape – and it has some of the most amazing guitar work I have ever heard.

The years rolled by, and I bought every Rory album religiously. As I think of it now, his music was the single most significant influence on my playing. In 1986, I decided to travel the world, and with a backpack and a bag full of music tapes( with quite a bit of Rory), off I went. About six months into my travels, I was in a little seaside town called Doolin, in County Clare in Ireland. One night i was walking back to the youth hostel when i heard some great playing coming from the common room (there was an old, battered acoustic in there). No, it wasn’t Rory, but a Polish-American guitar teacher who was also traveling the world.

He was a very good player, and I asked him if he could help me out with a few difficult pieces – Barley and Grape Rag was the piece. He listened to it and together we sort of nutted it out. I thanked him and we called it a night.

The next morning, I woke up keen to try and master the piece. I wandered up the road to the little pub (Doolin is *really* small, about 6 houses and three pubs, seriously) and sat down with a pint of Guinness and the battered old acoustic. So, I’m sitting there struggling to get it down, and I hear a soft voice say to me “Can i sit down and play along, too? Yep, I’m looking up at Rory Gallagher! I think I said something like “Sure, it’s your song” and so we sit down and played Barley and Grape Rag together! My lifelong dream was coming true – in a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere – just Rory and me.

As the morning wore on, other musicians came into the pub. The story is that there is an annual Irish music festival in a town called Lisdoonvarna, a short way from Doolin. Rory was there to get back to his roots; he had only a Martin acoustic. I stepped back from my ‘monopoly’ on Rory as musicians with tin whistles and other, strange Irish percussion instruments wandered in, also having attended the festival. They played all day, and into the night, with the publican cooking up portions of fish and chips for everyone.

I crashed about 2 AM, exhausted and exhilarated. When I awoke the next morning, Rory had gone, leaving an indelible impression on all who saw him and played with him. For me, it was the greatest musical experience I could ever hope for.

With Rory’s passing, we have lost a true rustic; an original who also never lost sight of his roots. Like most great artists, he lives on through his musical legacy, which is fortunately extensive. Vale Rory Gallagher – you are one of a kind.

reformatted by roryfan

022 - The Wearing of the Blues by Vivian Campbell
by Vivian Campbell

With 14 albums out, including his latest, Fresh Evidence, Rory Gallagher is a blues legend in Europe. In an age when the custom pedal board is standard equipment on any rock stage, Rory’s raw, gutsy, seemingly acoustic approach to the electric guitar has inspired may a player to start learning their way around the instrument. Among them is fellow Irishman Vivian Campbell. On a break from his newest project, with ex-Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm, Vivian was glad to sit down for an interview with one of his early heroes.

VIVIAN: You started me wanting to play guitar, so, where did you pick it up, and who were you listening to?

RORY: As an absolute youngster, I liked the guitar-cowboy pictures: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry. But then I heard Elvis Presley, Lonnie Donnegan and Chuck Berry, almost all at the same time on the radio, and was I keen to get an acoustic. The songs Lonnie Donnegan was singing were Woodie Guthrie songs and Leadbelly songs, so it was like a back door into blues stuff. At the same time, I liked what Eddie Cochran played on the guitar. I didn’t even have a record player then. I would just listen to Radio Luxembourg, AFN, and BBC jazz programs, because in those days they wouldn’t play a blues record on a pop program. But, you can imagine in Ireland at that time, just any American guitar freaked me out, regardless of who it was. There was no guitar player in Cork, where I come from. I had seen a friend of my father’s who was a guitar player, and he left the guitar in the house one night, and I just sat there looking at it. I was afraid to touch it. I was just fascinated by it. I started playing electric when I was around 12.

VIVIAN: How did you learn?

RORY: Just out of books for chords. At first you worked out what chord symbols were, and the boxes. Its as simple as that. No one showed me anything. One or two other fellows in Cork started playing guitar. They might discover a chord and then show it to you, but no one was good enough to give you a lesson. There was one guitar teacher, but he was a classical player, and he wouldn’t teach any other kind of guitar.

VIVIAN: That’s snooty!

RORY: Oh, very snooty, yeah. So that’s how I started The first electric I had was called a “Solid 7.” A Rosetti Solid 7; Italian made, I think, and a little four-watt Sunn amplifier called a “Little Giant,” which I wish I had now, ‘cause it used to distort like mad, It would be the equivalent now to sort of a good Pignose.

VIVIAN: At what point did you get into playing slide guitar? Was that later on?

RORY: Later on. I started when I was in a dance band for a while, and I started messing around with Hawaiian guitar. The first slide player I saw was Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones Other than hearing what it was on the radio, I never saw anybody until later on. I remember Alexis Korner played slide, and I saw Jeff Beck play a bit of slide. He doesn’t do that much anymore. I suppose Brian Jones really opened the door there. The dance band allowed me to do a slide instrumental. A blues thing.

VIVIAN: How did you learn the slide tunings? You told me about the DADGAD tuning. Is that a standard slide tuning?

RORY: Well, I doubt t. No, the first tuning was a peculiar form of A tuning, which I worked up myself and I used on the first Taste album. I used the D tuning for a song we did, ‘Leaving Blues,” which s a Leadbelly song that Davey Graham had done. So we used his arrangement. I was playing slide, but not in a proper open tuning. Later on I discovered G tuning, as related to A tuning, and D as in E, which remain the standard, Elmore James-type slide, or open G, which I use most of the time, The strange thing is that I cant remember what that original A tuning was. I’d like to go back and try to find it. It must have been close enough to the G tuning, but I think these are the good accidents that you’d love to find out again. At the time, you don’t sit down and say, “Well, I’m gonna write this out.” You didn’t have Walkman’s or anything like that. So, sometimes, when you’re kind of undernourished, you make do. You get things done just as well, you know?

VIVIAN: I remember you played mostly slide on your Telecaster, and last night, at the show, you played all the slide on your Strat.

RORY: Yeah. I used to have the Tele strung completely with medium strings. And even in the early days I used to use the rhythm pickup, mainly, for slide, cause the Tele lead pickup used to feed-back. Eventually I got that rectified. But then I got the Telecaster as a string-bending guitar as well and developed a style of playing slide on regular, standard tuning, so I only play open tuning now when I play that red Gretsch guitar at the end. That’s n open G and I use a capo, although we do a song called “Ghost Blues” and I de-tune the Strat to G, even though the strings are a bit slack. But it’s quite okay for that song. Oddly enough, 60% of the time I play slide in ordinary tuning. It gives you the option of slipping it into your back pocket and going back to normal guitar.

VIVIAN: And most of the time on your pinky?

RORY: Most of the time. I do have it on my ring finger, and still do. For certain blues tunes, you’re playing a very traditional kind of blues, and you need your small finger for slapping the first two strings for a riff. Then I put the capo on or the bottleneck on my ring finger. Either glass or steel, but I have a brass one as well for different attacks to the songs

VIVIAN: Last night you seemed to be using the bottleneck, the glass only, on the acoustic
RORY: That’s right.

VIVIAN: Do you ever use the steel on the acoustic? Or is it too harsh.

RORY: It’s a bit harsh, actually If I was playing the dobro, the National, I would use a metal, either the copper or the steel. The glass one’s a bit light, although in a quiet studio situation, the glass is okay on the National. It’s quite soft and Hawaiian, but I like to keep the option open. Some slide players just stick with one particular slide and that’s that. I actually vary it to the circumstance of the song.

VIVIAN: Being Irish, do you think there’s an Irish blues sound that might encompass you and Gary Moore? Would you think there’s any of that jig music coming across?

RORY: I think so, in solos. Gary has the speed of an Irish mandolin player. And I think Gary and myself play quite aggressively, but we’re very different players in lots of other respects. He works from a very formal scale point of view and he’s got great speed and technique. I think with the plectrum approach, the picking approach, even when I’m playing a fairly straight blues kind of number, or a rock number, that jig thing will creep in. Or, you might use an oblique kind of suspended chord, or a modal chord that would be very Celtic, and then blues music and Irish music has a lot of singing, a lot of wailing. There’s a lot of bending of notes in the singing, and when the girls are playing the uileann pipes, that’s not that far from bending notes on a slide or something. And the fact that they’re both folk music’s. There’s a lot of stories in the songs, and there’s a lot of melancholy, a lot of minor key things, so there is a parallel. But I wouldn’t want to say that we’ve all suffered as much as each other, and all of that trivia. Some people will say, “Well, why don’t you just become a complete, bona fide American and just play in the tradition?

VIVIAN: Chicago blues?

RORY: Yeah, but I can do that, and I do that all night, but I think, in the end, nobody’s gonna thank you if you don’t develop your own style. Playing for two hours onstage there’s some numbers where we play very close to traditional, Chicago style of blues, or the country blues. It’s very hard not to try to put your own little thing on it, really.
VIVIAN: One thing I’ve noticed as a guitar player are the habits that I’ve had to try and accommodate that I learned from you and from Gary, particularly from you. You do a lot of the split harmonics, the squealing, where you play at different points below or over the pickups, or below the lower part of the neck. Gary does that a lot, too, As a guitar player I developed playing very, very heavy with my right hand. I guess that’s pretty much a blues thing. Blues players have a lot more attack. Stevie Ray Vaughan had an incredible attack.

RORY: Well, what Stevie also had with his attack on the right hand would be instantaneous with his left-hand vibrato. It was very, very sturdy, as was another great, Mike Bloomfield, who had that as well. And certainly early Eric Clapton had that attack. One noticeable thing about Stevie was the first note was extremely powerful and intense. I sometimes like to sneak into a solo and then go for the intense note a little bit in, and not try and vibrate every note. That’s important—it’s more like a jazz player’s approach. I know you don’t like that kind of vibrato. I think you can overdo the string vibrato. There’s plenty of room for playing straight notes and then coming in with the funny note, or, obviously, if it calls for it, the first one has to be the big note.

VIVIAN: When you say that, it almost sounds like “Voodoo Chile,” where the solo ends with a pretty ripping note.

RORY: It has to be. That one, and a few others, just call out for it to be that way. If you’ve got that note down, the rest just follows. That’s the beauty of the instrument. You can approach it lots of different ways. I also like to do triplets with the plectrum, which is corny, I know, but it’s a mandolin technique. If you move your left hand around the guitar at the same time, you get what is a jazz technique, but it doesn’t sound like jazz. It gives you a bit of freedom
VIVIAN: How do you change, as a guitarist, from record to record?

RORY: I think it’s depending on the songs, obviously, and depending on how happy you are with your amplifiers and the band and the studio and all these other factors. In the last couple of years, I’ve got a bit of a dimension on myself, on my playing. I can also see the strengths I had 20-odd years ago, and I can see the strengths I have now, and what I have to learn and what I have to improve. Sometimes, if you’re touring like mad and flying all the time, you assume you’re a fairly good player, but it’s nice to get to the point where no matter how mad the show looks you can actually have composure inside your brain to enjoy playing, as well as just to do a show.

VIVIAN: Do you get nervous?

RORY: I do, yeah.

VIVIAN: What do you get nervous about, singing or playing, or both?

RORY: I’ve always gotten nervous about everything. The monitors, the band, myself, the heat, the length of the show, what to play, what not to play. I’ve tried to train myself, to give myself pep talks and say, ‘What is this, you’ve been playing 20-odd years. You know enough tricks now to get through it. You know how to play. You know they’re good players. You know you’ve played this gig before.’ All those factors just go out the window when I’m in the dressing room. I just get wired up, and it’s probably a good thing, because when you hit the stage it sort of ignites. I wouldn’t mind being a little bit cooler and calmer, but I’m still as nervous as I was when I was 18.

VIVIAN: When you improvise from night to night do you play different solos in the same songs, or do you pretty much work around a structure?

RORY: I’d say about 75% improvised. There’d be 10% that are worth re-doing every night, ‘cause they’re pretty or they work well. There’s always that 5% of things that you have to include every night because they’re nice, but they might not always be in the same part of the solo. It depends on how hot you are as a player that night. It’s not that you dodge anything, but you’re not gonna foul up something. There are certain nights that we all have, where you know that, ‘God, these hands will do anything tonight!’ You know, and you take yourself right to the edge, the limit. And then other nights where, subconsciously, you know that you’re playing okay and think, ‘Make a good job of this, be tidy.’ But then, even on a bad night, you might play badly for a number or two, but then make up for it in some other. I don’t have any formal technique. I’ve developed quasi-kinds of techniques. I still can play very primitive and brutal, which is just as important to me as being super-clever on the guitar.

VIVIAN: How do you prepare for a gig? Do you warm up, do you practice?

RORY: I play the guitar in the hotels and at home all the time. I did go through a phase where I didn’t practice enough, and oddly enough, when I’m recording, I actually practice less, which is bad, because you’re concentrating on the material. But the last year or so I’ve got back to that teenage thing of playing after breakfast. I’ll play the guitar. I’ll play it in the afternoon and the evening and I always have the cassette kind of handy, not just for writing songs.

VIVIAN: So, it still excites you?

RORY: Oh it does, and it’s Linus with his security blanket. Like, on this tour, all the equipment, including my ‘hotel guitar,’ had to go and I was stuck in Tokyo or somewhere without the guitar for the day.

VIVIAN: Oh, that’s dreadful. I’ve been in the same predicament myself.

RORY: And it’s like your twin brother is missing.

VIVIAN: Especially in a town like Tokyo.

RORY: I’ve made a point of playing more, because you turn the television on and it’s a distraction. You go to the bar; it’s another distraction. And you walk so much. I’ve turned the guitar into therapy. So you just play without concentrating on it too much. I wish I had some formal training that I could go through certain routines and scales, but my personality doesn’t go hand in hand with that. I think in my own hodgepodge way I can get there.

VIVIAN: Do you play with your pinky much?

RORY: Yeah, an awful lot.

VIVIAN: But you do actually fingerpick with your right hand?

RORY: I use my nails, too, for certain chords. You get a nice little kind of ‘jang’ But on my left hand, I made a point, early on, of using my small finger, ‘cause I remember one time talking with Peter Green and he never used his small finger. He said he knew it was a lazy habit. And even Eric Clapton doesn’t use his small finger much.

VIVIAN: Well, most guitar players don’t. Gary Moore seldom will use it ‘cause he wants the speed for hammer-ons. Michael Schenker’s another one who hardly plays with his little finger. Most modern guitarists will use it maybe for the occasional chord, but when it comes to their lead work, they mostly rely on their third finger to carry all the weight. What do you think of today’s guitar players? What do you think is happening to guitar playing, and where do you see it going in the future? Can people play any faster? Is there any point in it? Does it do anything for you personally or musically?

RORY: Well, speed is impressive. There was a time when I thought, who was the fastest? I mean, Beck seemed to me as fast as you wanted to be. Clapton never made a point of playing fast. Django Reinhardt is probably the best, fastest guitar player in the world, even to this day. Then look at what Eddie Van Halen has done. I do sense it’s getting further and further away from where a lead guitar player is also a rhythm player, has knowledge of chops and riffs, and also the speed and the technical knowledge. It’s almost getting into the violin-type theories, like Paganini. I mean, it’s impressive to listen to, and it’s a credit to that young generation.

VIVIAN: Do you think a lot of them are missing the point?

RORY: I think so. Obviously, there’s a point in what they’re doing, and someone like Steve Morse plays very fast, which is very impressive. You could say Albert Lee plays fast country guitar. There’s different kinds of speed. I would hate to be a super-duper speed merchant guitar player and still not enjoy John Lee Hooker’s weird chords, and slowness, and Keith Richards’ kind of primitive playing. It’s like a lot of these hammering tricks and harmonic tricks, and the whammy bars been used. It all had to be done. I’d love to have a lot of those qualities, but I wouldn’t take them to give away whatever I have in other things. Personally, I would love all these rock players to be blues fans. But I don’t
think you have to.

VIVIAN: You mentioned Eddie Van Halen a while ago. To me, he was a very, very influential guitar player, and it was from the period of the first Van Halen record on that a lot of guitar players really started to develop monstrous chops, as far as speed and technique go. But I personally consider Eddie Van Halen to be a great blues player. I don’t consider him to be one of the faster guitar players. I think he’s slow in comparison to Yngwie Malmsteen or Vinnie Moore, but his phrasing and his vibrato make him a beautiful player. He’s very, very musical.

RORY: Well I suppose he was the borderline case, because he claims he was influenced by Eric Clapton’s tone, and that he was also influenced by Hendrix, which surprises me. I mean, Hendrix was the guy that brought the vibrato arm back. Hendrix had great speed as well, but Hendrix’s speed was just that he’d go off on an adventure on the neck, and had no technical bearing a lot of the time. It was exciting. So it depends on what you want. With a lot of the speed players, if you’ve got a good ear as a musician you can predict where they’re going, and where they’re coming back. It’s like a foregone conclusion, in the same way that if you listen to classical music, and you hear the violin section doing something. I really prefer what Hendrix was doing, going down a different avenue every night on the guitar, and seeing where he came out.

VIVIAN: My personal opinion is that a lot of modern music has become very formulated.

RORY: Gary made a conscious attempt, when Van Halen and the new breed came, to catch up with them and be as fast and all that, as well as having all the 010 things. Now he’s gone full-circle again, but Gary initially wasn’t a blues player, because I saw Gary when he was literally a kid. Well, he was a blues player in the Jeff Beck/Yardbirds type of thing. And he was great at it, too. The first time I saw him play a Telecaster, it was with Taste, and his band was called Platform 3, at Betty Stark’s club in Belfast, a dance club. We did a couple of gigs together. He’s very good as a ‘Jeff Beck’ player, but obviously, in the intervening years, he’s cut up with Albert King, and he doesn’t go very far back into country blues, though, which would be nice if he did.

VIVIAN: You have a lot of country influences. Is that because you played with a show band, or is that because that kind of music naturally appealed to you?

RORY: I like country music. I hope show band didn’t do it to me, I like steel guitar, and I like players like James Burton, and ordinary country-pickin’ licks.

VIVIAN: So you’d also pluck as well as fingerpick when you play electric. That’s an interesting approach. While on the subject of blues, every now and again it seems to come around, and some people have had phenomenal success. You mentioned John Lee Hooker; Bonnie Raitt is winning Grammies and selling millions of records, and Gary Moore has had the biggest record of his career, playing what is essentially Chicago-style blues. Why do you think that is?

RORY: I never thought it would happen again on this scale, to be honest with you, so I’m delighted. I could see the buildup of interest in roots music. The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan helped a lot, then you had people like George Thorogood, who brought barroom blues back into the picture. I thought they’d ail do well and so on, but I’m surprised because of au the other music’s hold, gripping the media, because of videos, because of rap, disco techno-pop and because a lot of the younger journalists had no interest in the blues, or no feeling for it. I knew the music would survive, but I’m pleasantly surprised, in 1990 onto 1991, that John Lee Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, and Jeff Healey are happening. But I think this time, in the ‘90s. it’s gonna be a deeper interest, and it’s not gonna be a blues boom from Britain, which was a great thing in itself. I think it’s gonna be a different kind of blues boom. A lot of the young kids into rock got fed up with drum machines and synthesizers. Even ex-punks are looking for something raw and honest. I don’t like doing the Professor on the blues, but it deserves to come back, if nothing else. There’s nothing else like it.

VIVIAN: The snare drum sounds a mile wide, billions of reverb, and every track just sounds so lush and so produced. Everything is so formulated in this era of the professional songwriter. The whole industry has kind of created this monster. Maybe that’s why people genuinely want to feel something that’s a lot more honest, or a lot more down to earth.

RORY: Let’s say anybody turns the car radio on one night at two in the morning, and they heard Guitar S in or a Howlin’ Wolf track out of nowhere, just breaking through the airwaves out of all this other stuff. I defy them not to be affected by it, because it has a primitive thing. Also, blues lyrics are great. There’s a lot of humor in them. There’s lots of guitar playing in the blues. I mean, you could get piano players, you get unusual drummers, you get great harp players, plus the blues life and the blues. Robert Cray’s the only young black guy who’s kind of breaking through, but there are other guys coming through now.

VIVIAN: On that subject, L.A. is a very trendy place and The Los Angeles Times here was touting your appearances in the L.A. area as ‘Must See’ performances, as if you were a debut artist that no one had heard of. They were saying that ‘this guy is an authentic blues guy, much in the mold of Stevie Ray Vaughan.’ It seems kind of ironic to me, because 12 years ago or so I was going to your concerts and I’d never heard of Stevie Ray Vaughan. It’s funny how things become in vogue, and now you’re actually sitting right here in L.A., in 1991, very, very much in vogue, and its very hip to know who Rory Gallagher is!

RORY: Well, I’m persona-non-grata sometimes. The same happens, more so in England, which is very trend con-scious. I’d say, around the new wave thing there, artists like myself were hammered. The fans will stick with you and all that but it’s ironic in 1991, given the last couple years I had away from America and with flying problems as well, I thought I’d never get back to the states. It’s great to be back now, but there were certain tours where I was happy to go back to Europe at the time. You know, playing guest to some of these huge, mega-acts who wouldn’t be too kind to you with very basic things like monitors for the stage, and things like that. Even though we did have good peaks of success here ourselves. Sometimes I get depressed about staying away from the states for so long, and not having records out here and stuff like that. But now the gap has been so long, I feel like 20% newcomer here, which s good for me, because I haven’t been in people’s hair for the last seven years, so now they can either like me or not like me.

VIVIAN: What’s changed since then?

RORY: I still play rock, but I think that the blues arm is a lot stronger the last couple of years in what we do. Even my own compositions. That’s been a bog plus. Since Defender, I think I’ve, if I may say so, improved as a songwriter. There are a lot of new themes and ideas and I’ve been able to match the music with the lyrics with more artistry in song writing. I’ve written good songs before, but some would bee by accident or some would be a lot of hard work. I’m not saying I have any formulas now or anything, but I have certain chords, certain lyric things, certain hidden subconsiousness in songs. But with everyone, regardless of what age you are, certain months of the year, or certain years, all of a sudden you get a very illuminated look at what you can do, what’s happening and you have a level-headed attitude about success, commercially or otherwise. Even at the moment, my priority is just to exist to play and if I can have an audience, great, but I’m not going to behead myself for the music business. So that’s what makes these gigs great; they’ve all been on our terms.

VIVIAN: How do you write songs? Do you write melodies first, lyrics first, music first, all together?

RORY: I have to use percentages. About 60% would be riffs, nice rhythm patterns or phrases. The rest would be inspired by a definite thing. It would be a hitting my head all day kind of line, an unusual phrase, or a little story that suggests a phrase. Then I build up the thing or something that happened to me and I just readjust it to make it about somebody else. I get inspired by al. of it: the topics in my songs are everything from cinema type tunes, like “Kid Gloves,” where it’s a boxer in trouble, to a song like “A Million Miles Away,” which would be a more personal sort of introspective idea. Then you get songs like “Philby.,” which is about a mental parallel with the British spy who went to Russia. “Shadow Play” is semi-extraterrestrial, semi-what am I doing in this place? What is show business?’ That’s more of a rock song really. “Bad Pennies” s a very traditional thing. “Off the Handle” is a classic blues-type tense thing. “Big Guns” is about a gangster. I’m inspired a lot by crime fiction. “King of Zydeco” is about a road movie. Some guy gets totally fed up with the big city, and wants to hit this musical juke-joint and see somebody like Clifton Chenier playing, away from the commercial pressures. You break any song down and it sounds like a cliché.

VIVIAN: On the subject of record production there’s only one guy I can ever remember who’s produced one of your records. That’s Roger Glover, who produced Calling Card. Aside from that you’ve produced everything yourself?

RORY: Yeah, I co-produced a few with Alan O’Duffy, if you know him at all. He worked with the band Horselips, oddly enough, Paul McCartney and the Kinks. He’s an Irish guy. To be honest, it’s not that I want my name ‘Produced by, written by.’ I was considering Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, fairly obvious people like that, I once asked Glynn Johns and he was already working on an album. He would have been glad to do it. The first thing I find hard is to fit into somebody else’s working pattern, or if they show up with their briefcase and they lay down the law. I think I have a few ideas, but I’m not against the help another pair of hands and ears, providing it clicked.

VIVIAN: With Nick Lowe or Dave Edmunds, I can see their rockabilly sensibilities work-ing well with your kind of music.

RORY: They’d be casual people. I admire other people. There was one idea of using Jimmy Page as a producer once, oddly enough.


RORY: Knowing his ears for sound and production, it would be great, because I imagine he’s the kind of a guy that you could say, “Okay, we’re finished playing, you mix it.” I’ve never had that trust in anyone to leave the mixes to them. Any time I’ve tried it, I’ve come back a bit unhappy with what they’ve done. In the next couple of albums, if I come across some producer who just clicks, it would be great. There’d be a lot less pressure on me, plus it would help the record.

VIVIAN: Don’t you find it hard when you’re producing, because you write all the material, you sing, and you play lead guitar. That’s an awful lot of hats to wear. Do you ever find that you lose perspective on any one of those things, by doing them all?

RORY: Well, when I was co-producing with Allen O’Duffy, I don’t think I lost too much perspective. I produced the last two myself. I’m sure it could have been better with the help of somebody else, but I don’t know how much better. It’s very hard for me to say. I’m sure if I had another producer you might have more echo on the records, or for sure more editing, or all kinds of adventurous things.

VIVIAN: I was thinking more specifically in terms of performances. When do you feel you know yourself well enough?

RORY: I’m fairly convinced that you can usually tell. The outside producer would have to get the band up if you’re repeating a performance. That’s where the advantage is, but as a rule, we either have it in the first two or three takes, or we don’t and we leave it and move on to another song.

VIVIAN: You don’t sing live when you make records, do you? I mean, for keeps?

RORY: I did on the earlier albums, which was ridiculous, That’s where a producer would have said to me. “Look, give yourself a chance, just concentrate on rhythm guitar, and then lead.” That was this blues ethic. I assumed all blues records were recorded like that. Even when we were doing rock songs I was using a kind of a blues mentality, or a reggae mentality. It all had to be as nature intended. Subsequently, we ended up with a couple of tracks where we left on feedback. But then I started getting a different attitude to overdubbing vocals, and getting more time for phrasing, and singing better, and so on. We’re talking about a long time ago. I thought the performance of singing would have that spirit of the moment. even if you weren’t singing as well as you would if you were overdubbing. I was trying to do the live lead guitar as well. Even if it was mistakes and all.

VIVIAN: Earlier you were saying about how you sometimes feel in your hotel room, you get those performances, and you put them on cassette. Then you want to put them on your record, so obviously feel and performance is a lot more important to you than it is, seemingly, to most people who make records these days. Seriously, it distresses me when I talk to young musicians, and they talk about finding a producer to do their record, and their primary focus is the sounds. They talk about drum sounds and guitar sounds. They think of producers in the role of engineers, or getting a good sound for a record, but obviously your approach is much more on getting the heart and soul of the performance.

RORY: Its, yeah. If I look back on some of the albums, if there was a weak point, we certainly could have gotten better sounds, concentrated more on sounds. But we didn’t know. We could have spent more days on guitar sounds, drum sounds, bass sounds, to go with the performances, But by nature, as whatever kind of unit we were, we would try to get the first take or second take, and patch it up later, We’d already be playing by the time the guy was plugging the mikes in. That was our fault. We were a bit impulsive. Whereas, all this business of, “Hey, Mel, we’re gonna take three weeks to get the snare drum sound,” seemed grandiose to me. I’m hoping to beat the system by just getting things on cassette, or on DAT. Or getting the drummer to play in mono with me and the rhythm guitar in a hotel. I know it sounds a bit daft, but I think that might do it just so that the feel is never lost. I can refer back to cassettes of my own, and I don’t call it self-indulgence. I think if the muse is there that night, whether the guitar’s in tune or not, or whether you’re plugged through a transistor amp, or whether you’re plugged into the gadget or whatever, you can never get that again. You can try and you do get it sometimes, I know in a few months, when I get back, I’m gonna spend some time working at that.

VIVIAN: Are you going to do anything radical? Is the next Rory Gallagher record going to have big snare drum sounds? Are you going to do anything particularly different from what you’ve done in the past, with regards to recording or sounds, or do you feel you’ll pretty much just concentrate on performance?

RORY: I’ve got three projects on hand. I can either do a live album during this tour, which would be an exciting, well recorded thing. There’s an acoustic album that I’m always talking about, or let’s go back into the studio and try to get a new album. I’ve been aiming at all three.

VIVIAN: I think you should do the live album. You’re a great live performer, and you’ve got an exceptional band at the moment. That harp player is outrageous, so you gotta capture that guy live. The stuff you were playing with him last night where you were trading off licks, and then you’d do a harmony to him, was pretty hot. I’d like to hear some of that live.

RORY: It would be nice, actually, ‘cause we haven’t had a live one for a long time, and if anything else, people know, when we do a live album, it’s not just fulfilling the contract ‘cause we’ve no new songs. Most of our live albums have been unrecorded songs. But, going back to the studio thing, I’ll try to leave enough time next time to look at the big drum sounds, and all these other things, as well as performance, but some of our records haven’t been as shoddy as the way I’ve been speaking of them. Some have been worked on, songwise, a lot. We’ve always probably been a bit conservative in terms of what the sonic possibilities were. You see, I can be impressed by a big-sounding metal record, or a big rock record, and then I can also be astounded by a guy with an acoustic, or an African record. I’m absolutely caught between that. I feel lots of possibilities, and I feel I’ve gotta spend some time in the studio on my own, rather than going in with a project on hand. The problem is you get these Porta-studios and you stay at home. What you should do is save up your money and book some studio time with nothing on the agenda. Just go in and relax and lay down sounds, and call the band in if necessary, but instead of this business of, ‘Oh, it’s January the first, we’re starting the album now.’ With all this talk, why I haven’t got my own studio by now is the key question. I should have done it years ago.

VIVIAN: But you don’t have an effects rack. Why would you want a studio?

RORY: Simply because, if you’re up late at night, you could have the desk on and get it on tape. Something happens to you when you go into recording stu-dios quite often. A lot of song writing ideas hit you, because the equipment’s set up, the tapes are hot, the lights are on, you’re in the mood, and it’s like you’re in a factory.

VIVIAN: Is the Strat a ‘63?

RORY: ‘61.

VIVIAN: You’ve changed the frets on them, right?

RORY: Yeah, I’ve got jumbo frets and a 5-way switch.

VIVIAN: I noticed last night that you play most of the time on position two. You don’t play on the back pickup, right?

RORY: Oh, I do, I do. I use the rhythm pickup for certain things as well. If I find the acoustics of the room are too harsh with the Strat, I don’t use the lead pickup quite as much. I’ve got a master tone control on the Strat. There’s only one tone control working on that guitar. So that on the lead pickup, I can back-off the treble.

VIVIAN: Is that knob #2?

RORY: Number 2, yeah, ‘cause the middle one is super glued in so it doesn’t do anything. I did that ‘cause I always liked the idea, on the Telecaster, that you could adjust the tone on the lead pickup. That’s the only modification.

VIVIAN: What’s position four? Is that the single, the back and the middle?

RORY: I use that a lot, obviously. I don’t use the middle pickup that much, but I do for slide. It’s quite okay for slide. I rarely use the second position, but it has been known to happen.

VIVIAN: That’s both neck and middle?

RORY: Yes, and I use the neck one a bit.

VIVIAN: I know it’s a tremolo guitar. Did you ever use the bar on it?

RORY: On the short one I used to use it now and then. If you had to play an instrumental, there are advantages to playing “Walk. Don’t Run,” by the Ventures with that. I just lopped it off, eventually.

VIVIAN: So, did your bridge rest right on the wood?

RORY: Yes.

VIVIAN: So you don’t lean on it? It doesn’t pull up?

RORY: In the Taste days I hadn’t lopped it off. In fact, quite often the pitch would go up. I’d notice I’d be pressing and eventually somebody told me to put a block of wood in the back, and that would be that. The machine heads have been changed. I have got five Sperzels and one Gotah on it. I know the sixth one broke at one date, and I just stuck another one on and I left that on, just as a gypsy thing. The pickups have been rewound.

VIVIAN: You get a tremendous tone for a single-coil Strat. Are you using any kind of distortion device between the guitar and the amp?

RORY: I’ve got a Boss Graphic EQ.

VIVIAN: Is that a little 6 band?

RORY: Yeah, one of the real old green ones. And I’ve got a DOD analog. They’re back on the amps, and that’s set at the minimum setting, just for a little bit of slap-back. I’ve got a Dyna-comp, which is on all the time, to drive the songs from the leads. It’s not for effect. It’s a form of compression and I have it at a setting where the compression’s really low on it. I usually use a Tube Screamer, which broke down on me. Last night I was using a Boss overdrive. I use them for some solos, not all solos. I was against using them for years. If I was doing a solo, I had to look at the monitor guy to turn it up and all this. So I keep close to the natural sound. I have a brown Boss octave thing.

VIVIAN: I heard that last night. You sounded like Prince! He uses that a lot.

RORY: I’ve got a Boss flanger, as opposed to a chorus, which I use sparingly, I use that only in “Shadow Play” and “Moon Child,” and one other song. That’s my talk on technology. I have a Vox wah-wah which I did use for one or two gigs, but purely to click it on for slide solos. I used it in the studio, for some solos as well. I don’t use it on-stage, because even as it is, I try to keep it simple, within reason.

VIVIAN: I’ll show you my rack some day. I’m a slave to technology.

RORY: Well, even Eric Clapton is now. For years, Eric was the paragon of direct into the amp. Now he’s using different amps. He’s using Soldanos. He’s got all these other racks as well. He’s got some echo and chorus.

VIVIAN: He’s been heavily chorused. I personally don’t like that. His last couple of records he’s had way too much chorus on his tone. It’s really watered it down, taken the edge off it. So, what about amps? What did you start using, and what have been your mainstays through the years?

RORY: I used the Vox AC-30 for years and years, and I used to use a Rangemaster treble booster on it, which was great. I still have one at home. Very primitive, but I used to use the normal input in the Vox, which was not known as the brilliance input. It wouldn’t be bright enough; therefore I used the Rangemaster. Then I went to a Fender Twin, a Tweed Twin, and I had a Deluxe which I bought for the studio. Then I had a Fender Bassman linked with the Twin for a long time. I used to use these boosters made by DiMarzio. They were treble boosters with kind of a graphic on them. Then I moved to Ampeg VT-22 linked with VT-44. Then I moved to Marshall 50 watt combo, and then I had two combos. Presently, in England. I was using a 50 watt Marshall with an AC-30 amp, and then an optional 4×12 Marshall which I use for big halls. This American tour, I’m using a Fender Twin Tweed, ‘55 model, with the Marshall 50 watt linked together, and a third one just for extra volume if needed.

VIVIAN: If they’re linked together, which one do you mike? Or do you mike both?

RORY: You mike them all, but you let the sound man know that the Fender’s more for tone character, rather than volume and the Marshall’s for the direct. It’s a schizophrenic setup. I’d rather just use one amp. There was a time when one Vox would do me, or one Fender, but our volumes crept up, like all the bands. A lot of it’s insecurity, too, with amplifiers blowing up on you in the past. You’re always needing a spare amp nearby.

VIVIAN: Strings are Fender .10 gauge?

RORY: Yeah. I just changed the fourth string to a .44. It’s the same on the Telecaster. On the Gretsch that would be something like .12.

VIVIAN: That’s heavy, but that’s only for slide playing, right?

RORY: Only slide. And acoustic would be medium gauge Martin strings.

VIVIAN: What kind of picks do you use?

RORY: Charcoal Herco grey picks. I guess they’re called 75 or something.

VIVIAN: I thought you always used heavier picks to get all those split harmonics.

RORY: Yeah, well I would use a slightly thicker one than that. They’ve actually gone down in quality. They used to be thicker, or at least there was a thicker version of them, but that’s all you can get now, at the moment. I do a lot of the split harmonic stuff, too, and I use harder Tortex picks. This would be too soft for me.

RORY: I must investigate that. Also, there’s a trick that Schenker used to do, you probably do yourself, to use that end.

VIVIAN: No, I never tried that.

RORY: It’s very scrapey, but you get that “cshshh” every time you hit the note.

VIVIAN: Oh yeah! I remember, as a kid, I used to have this one pick, and it was the only one I could ever find. I realized later it was a Marlin pick. It was a regular heart-shaped pick, but it had a grip on the bottom half. It was really thick. It was hard plastic and blue colored. It was chopped off on the bottom, so it didn’t have the bottom v, and it just had like little teeth and stuff, and I used to be able to just wander across the string, go “rrrrddd,” and get all sorts of sounds because it was a really, really hard pick. I remember the night I lost my pick; I was heartbroken. I thought I’d never be able to play again.

RORY: Oh. Yeah. The first time you break a guitar string, it’s like aaahg! That happened to me, and I thought, God almighty, is this the end of the world’?’ You panic.

VIVIAN: How many other guitars do you have? You used to use Martin acoustics, which sounded glorious. Do you still have them?

RORY: I do.

VIVIAN: Last night you were using a Takamine?

RORY: It’s as close to the Martin as I’ve heard. I got it on this Japanese trip. I’m impressed with it. When you plug it in, there’s no great volume drop when you go to acoustic. You’ve got to keep the pressure up there. I’m impressed from the volume point of view. It plays well, and it doesn’t sound synthetic, like some electro-acoustics sound.

VIVIAN: Do you have any other old Strats lying under your bed at home?

RORY: No. I have a ‘57 with me on the road, which is a three-color sunburst I got in Memphis off a guy named Robert Johnson, of all names. He’s an incredi-ble guitar player. I use that in the studio sometimes. It’s a round neck. I’ve got a couple Danelectros and a Supro. I’ve got this Diatone which is a weird one. I’ve got that Melodymaker that I was using last night. A white ‘63 Telecaster. The lead pickup was rewound. It was repainted; I stripped it down to its natural wood, and then I tried to get the natural creme finish that I could get, but it turned out kind of white. I used that with Taste as well. It’s a very good Tele. I have a black Esquire, with a maple neck, and the extra pickups, so it’s like a Tele, I didn’t bring that one over. And I have a red Junior that I got off Jeff, you know, the SG Junior. I used that on the record, on “Kid Gloves.” for the rhythm and the intro, for the opening, on the chords on “Walking Wounded.” The oth-er odd man out, on the record, is a Chet Atkins Gretsch, a small bodied one, Les Paul shaped. I used that on “Middle Name” for rhythm, and for the rhythm on “King Zydeco.” I have an anniversary Strat, too, which Fender gave me.

VIVIAN: One of those silver ones?

RORY: Yeah, but mine is more white than silver. I took the skin off the neck ‘cause it was a little bit hard to play. It’s down to the wood now, and I put big frets in. It’s a bit flashy looking for me, but I use it in the studio. It’s very good. The pickups are all flat pole pieces. They’re not staggered, so it’s a smoother sound. The body either looks bigger or is bigger or deeper than the other Strats. But I’ve gotten very fond of it, and it’s also got a 3-spring tremolo on it. I haven’t lopped it off. I use it for a little bit of tremolo. I don’t use tremolo much, but on the odd track that I would use it, it’s quite effective. I like the feel of bending the string behind the note.

VIVIAN: Has Fender ever gotten in contact with you? Have they tried to talk you into playing their new Jeff Beck model, or this new Eric Clapton model with the Lace-sensor pickups?

RORY: Yes, well, there was a plan for me to go to the factory on this visit. They were going to do a Rory Gallagher signature model.

VIVIAN: Excellent!

RORY: So that’s in the pipeline.

VIVIAN: I’ll buy one of those (laughs)

This interview was from guitar for the practicing musician, August 1991 issue.
Vivian Campbell went on to play for Def Leppard.
The article was reformatted by roryfan

023 - Rory Gallagher Rock Musician Award
Edge Wins 1st Annual Rory Gallagher Rock Musician Award
excerpt from Hot Press, April 3, 1996

In his acceptance speech, Edge explained how much the award meant to him, as Rory was an inspiration that helped him to choose music as his path, as he described how he was “aged 15, at his first major rock ‘n’ roll show, down in Macroom, seeing what three guys could do with a couple of guitars and a set of drums. With that in mind, I want to accept the award on behalf of all the young men and women in bedsits and bedrooms all over the country trying to work out how to do that first Bar A chord, and dreaming of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, up there on stage making a lot of noise. In 1966, that would have been Rory at home in Cork, and about ten years later that would have been me in Malahide doing exactly the same thing.”

Backstage, Edge paid tribute to the pioneering work of Rory Gallagher as Ireland’s first rock star. “In terms of his contribution to rock ‘n’ roll in this country, he will always be remembered. He was the first. He was the guy that did it when it was unheard of in Ireland. A lot of the bands and artists that came after him really should thank him for preparing the way.

“Rory was an inspiration on a number of levels, firstly, because he was Irish. That was a huge thing for me as a guitar player of 15 or 16. I took great pride in the fact that he was doing well. Seeing what Rory and his band could do on stage was an absolute eye-opener, a mind-blower. I had already started working with the four members of the band, because at that stage my brother Dick was with us as well, and it was a very critical point in my own life as a musician. It was a boost to my morale, and it gave me a new lease of determination and energy.”

So what did it mean to Edge to lift this award, having won practically everything else worth winning throughout his career? For the first time all night, Edge’s eloquence lets him down slightly, as he seems genuinely emotive and even choked up.

“There are awards and there are awards,” he says slowly. “This is really special because it is the first time this award has been given to anyone. Particularly under the circumstances of Rory passing away last year. I just think it has extra significance for me. It is an incredible honour and great pleasure to be recognised with this award. But also, it brings it home in a very real way that Rory is gone now, so it brings mixed feelings.”

© Hot Press, April 3, 1996

024 - Interview with Johnny Campbell
Interview with Johnny Campbell
A member of the Impact Showband with Rory.
Made by Swedish journalist Mats Karlsson at Clancy’s Pub, Cork Sep 8 1995

Both our fathers came from Derry, they were in the Irish army. Rory’s family used to have a pub in Cork and my father went there regularly, about 8-10 years. When we were young teenagers, he was already an amazing player. I played the drums. We played Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee, rock’n’roll stuff.

The Impact Show Band made some gigs in Germany. It was Rory, myself and a bass player who wasn’t very good. But if he started at the right time, he played well. It was exciting in Hamburg. England was 20 years behind at the time. There were lots of English bands and German around.

When I went to college, he formed Taste 1. They all came from Cork, but then he moved to Belfast fairly soon afterwards and found Richie McCracken and John Wilson. That was the best band he’s ever had. Second Taste was absolutely amazing. We remained friends over the years, played together a few times. I changed from drums to bass and then I couldn’t go back. Eddie Kennedy from Belfast managed Taste and they broke up because of him. After Isle of Wight 1970, and then British and European tours, he threw Kennedy out. Donal became his personal manager.

Rory wanted to take control and after Taste 2 all were backing bands. Before that they were all a band. They used 300 watts PA, now it’s an absolute minimum to have 1000 W. They had two Philips amps, and that was it, quite enough. He was more interested in jazz in those days. He played sax on the second Taste album. He also did it some times on stage, in Denmark. But he quit, after Taste he never did it again. He was a quite accomplished sax player, influenced by John Coltrane. But Muddy came first however. He was the biggest influence. Rory spoke of him as a

During the last couple of years – and it’s a tragedy it didn’t happen – he wanted to record an acoustic album. And his last gig in Cork was an acoustic one, with Lou Martin on grand piano and Mark Feltham on harp. It was at the technical college, where his uncle was principal. They had been talking about it a long time. He brought a lot of stacks and guitars, but he never set it up. He was a bit nervous about doing it, so just in case… He was always nervous, edgy. I would say he was his own hardest critic, always afraid he wouldn’t match up to the demands he put on himself. In the early seventies, when he was very big, he could have released a couple of singles in America and cracked it there, but he regarded singles as being pop music. He always made the distinction between pop and blues. But even Led Zeppelin had singles out in America. Anyone could if it was standing out from everything else.

Did he find the new blues boom too commercial?

I think so. He never talked about this, he was a very private person. He felt that he had to move on, that he couldn’t keep on doing what he was doing. That’s how I feel. He had songs written for an acoustic album and an electric one. He wrote this after his last gig in Cork, but he never started recording. The band had just changed and that was something he wasn’t happy about. He had a new drummer and a new bass player. That was holding up the recording a bit. But he was making up big things for both, but it was tough. “Unplugged” would have been totally opposite to Rory’s ethic. If he wanted to play an acoustic gig, fine, it didn’t have to be labeled as “unplugged” or whatever.

He was very pleased to have achieved success by doing what he wanted to do. His biggest kick was when he was voted the world’s number one guitar player in Melody Maker. He was happy that he made it on his own, building up the crowds. Now, it’s all PR and marketing.

Was he annoyed that he didn’t get enough credit for paving the way for Irish rock?

Certainly he was. Of course, there was Van in Northern Ireland, and there wasn’t any visible friction between north and south then. He would always play Cork, Dublin and Belfast. In 1978-81 he toured Japan, Australia, Italy, Europe, USA. He was working non stop. From 1967 and on he made about 200 gigs a year… you count! He’d go into the studio, have the songs recorded and then back on the road.

Where did he get the 1961 Strat?

He bought it in Cork in 1963 or something. The story is that it was owned by Jim Connolly of the Irish Showband and it was the biggest thing in the country at the time. It was a pink one and he wanted it. He kept the colours all over the years – certainly it was never painted over. My guess is that he wanted the same as Buddy Holly, he had a pink one, and that’s the reason why he bought it. He was absolutely attached to it. He was very true to his music. From the start he didn’t even want to play a Gibson, but then later he obviously did. He didn’t want to use Marshalls, but then he did. He certainly didn’t like modern technology, digital recording. He bought a CD player and a few CDs of his favourite albums, but he never liked it. It didn’t have the depth of the records.

When did he start doing the duckwalk?

When I first saw him on stage he had a six or seven minute guitar lead and jumped all around the stage. The band leader Bernie played a sax and there was a venue here in Cork with a stage as a balcony over the audience. Bernie used to hang from the railings of the stage backwards by his legs, playing the sax. Rory was so full of action, jumping and… so I can’t say exactly when it started, but he did it from the very beginning.

Which song was his favourite?

The song “On the boards”. They recorded it in a small room, playing tightly. They were very close to each other, musically and otherwise. They used to rehearse in a church room in London and they wanted that sound.

What about the fame?

He was quietly pleased to be recognized, but not more. And he wanted to do it on his terms, not to sell out. Not do a commercial thing as the Stones.

Is that why he didn’t want to join them?

Probably. Then they spoke to Ronnie Wood and asked What do you want? – Half a million – OK, and that was it. That’s the way the story goes anyway. It wouldn’t have lasted – Ronnie was perfect, behaviourwise and otherwise. And the Stones wasn’t doing much at the time – this was probably during one of Keith Richards less comfortable times.

The funeral?

There was the removal on Saturday, outside town in the afternoon. They didn’t want to go through the city centre to avoid disrupting traffic. There were grandparents, kids, teenagers, all ages – astonishing! Even people who were impeding on his career in the beginning. The musicians union was very powerful in the sixties. They were dictating the minimum number of people in a band for venues of different sizes. So at the Arcadia, here in Cork, there had to be six people on stage. So Taste brought three people who just sat on the stage in chairs. So people in the union were there. I found it uplifting, people were showing respect, solidarity and concern. The 1961 Strat was carried along at the removal. Then it was put on display in the church. Lou and Mark played in church. An Irish fiddler played “Slow Air”. Then Lou and Mark played “Slow Blues” and “A Million Miles Away”. It was very spiritual, the whole thing. And then the priest sang a hymn, hopelessly out of tune all the way through, which was a very good thing, because it took away all of the tension and everyone felt relieved. It was somehow uplifting at the end, it was actually fitting.

Wilgar Campbell died about five years ago, suddenly. It was the liver. I met Gerry McAvoy last week, he was a bit scared because both the others in the band are dead now from liver problems.

reformatted by roryfan

025 - Rory Gallagher in Ireland: The Flannel Banshee Breaks out by Bill Holdship
by Bill Holdship

Six IRA bombs went off in Belfast the day of Rory Gallagher’s second sold-out show at Ulster Hall, including one in the middle of the city’s main shopping center. Add to this the numerous bomb threats and explosive dismantled beneath the car of a newly-appointed Irish high court judge, and you realize that- although it’s truly a beautiful country- Ireland isn’t exactly the safest place to visit these days.

The morning newspapers greet you with the heading: “MURDER-If you know anything about terrorist activities, murders. threats or explosives, please speak now to the Belfast Confidential Telephone, ” and the stories of how “children in Northern Ireland ghettos have ben adversely affected by the violence they grew up with, becoming less friendly and more aggressive to each other.” There are security posts throughout the city where citizens are frisked and searched ( the same takes place at the airport, and no part is left untouched), not to mention the helicopters overhead and numerous military trucks patrolling the city with machine guns protruding from the back.

If this isn’t enough for one country to endure, Ireland is currently in a state of economic collapse with as much as 40 percent unemployment. There is a heroin epidemic (plus the crime that goes with it) as well, with more registered addicts in Dublin than in the whole of New York City. And although the Irish are some of the kindest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met, I’m informed that the British view them in much the same way that Americans might tell Polish jokes or ridicule Canadians. It’s all extremely sad.

Also sad for Irish youth is that following the Christmas season IRA bombing of Harrods, a London department store where six people were killed, most rock bands have refused to tour Ireland. An occasional band might pass through, but they play only the major cities ( the Clash were scheduled to play both Belfast and Dublin when I was there), totally missing the rural areas. As a result, Irish kids are starved for rock n’ roll.

This was Rory Gallagher’s first Irish tour in four years. His Christmas tours were once an annual Irish event (’73-’74’s one resulted in both a live album and a documentary film by Tony Palmer), but recording schedules and other tours have interfered over the last several years. Rory returned in ’84, providing a valuable service by playing those rural areas ( I saw him do one show in a room that resembled an American wedding reception hall) as well as the major venues. Just how much of a service can’t be fully appreciated until you hear the story of how, following a New Year’s Eve concert in Galway, there was a black-out in the band’s hotel, and everyone was certain that it was going to be an assassination attempt on Irish President Patrick Hillery, who was hosting a ball in the same hotel. ( it turned out to be a power failure,) Or how everyone’s heart seemed to momentarily stop, mine included- when three men came out of the woods pointing double -barrel shotguns, shortly after the band drove across the Southern Irish border. (They turned out to be hunters)

As Phil McDonnell, Rory’s very likable road manager, told me : “There’s an Irish saying that goes ” First there was Jesus Christ, and then there was Rory Gallagher.” He’s a national hero here because he’s out there playing for the farmers and people who don’t normally get to here live rock music.” So it’s little wonder that Rory has often been dubbed ” the people’s guitarist”, playing up to three hours night after night (never the same show twice- which totally befuddled the cue-minded BBC crew filming the Belfast concerts for a a TV special) in his lumberjack shirt, faded jeans and battered ’61 Stratoccaster, his primary guitar since 1963.

Not only that, but Rory never distances himself from his fans. There’s no ” superstar” garbage backstage, and it takes someone approaching him in a bar for an autograph or a custom official recognizing him at the border to remember that he is a rock star. A nice guy himself, he surrounds himself with only the nicest. How nice? Following an alcohol induced brawl at a concert in Sligo, one victim discovered he was missing a contact lens. Rory’s brother-manager, Donal, was immediately out in the lobby with a flashlight helping the kid look for his lens. I mean can you imagine Colonel Tom Parker, Peter Grant, Jake Riviera, etc. on their hands and knees looking for a fans lost contact lens? Like I said, nice-very nice.

Still, Rory doesn’t see what he’s doing in Ireland as any kind of “service.”

” The press about what’s going on over here has frightened people, ” he explains,
“and I suppose if I was English or American, I’d think twice about coming here. The sad fact is that there are new rock fans fans growing up, and they need to hear live stuff. So I suppose you could call it a service in a very small way, but I feel it’s the least you could do if you grew up playing in theses areas and you have a sort of following here. You can’t ostracize them all of a sudden because of this or that.”

Rory first gained fame in Ireland at the age of 17 when he formed the blues-based trio Taste in 1965. He has spent time at Marquee in London, watching acts like the Yardbirds and the Spencer Davis Group, and when he took Taste to London in 1969, they became along with Cream- one of the pioneer power blues trios. Taste toured America with Blind Faith in 1970, before disbanding the following year. He soon formed his own band with bassist Gerry McAvoy, who’s presently still at his side, and today, with Clapton transformed into J.J Cale, Beck off into his jazz tangents and Page in semi retirement- Rory Gallagher is probably the last of the great British blues guitarists still going strong.

No less a blues critic than Ed Ward has called him one of the the best: a traditionalist at heart, Gallagher cites as primary influences Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells ( R.G’.s a great harpist as well), John Hammond, Hubert Sumlin, Rudy Johnson (the latter two guitarists with Howlin’ Wolf), Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Link Wray. They should build a statue to that man-you can hear the roots of the Who and the Kinks in all his early recordings”), Chuck Berry, Elvis (“Even when he was terrible, he was still the greatest”) and Lonnie Mack.

He’s a walking encyclopedia of rock n’ roll (not to mention an expert film buff) and, with his time and experience in the ” business, ” could fill a book with hilarious personal anecdotes about people like Ginger Baker, Janis Joplin, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Captain Beefheart (“a psychedelic Howlin’ Wolf ), David Crosby & the Byrds, Elvis P ( brother Donal has a strong theory the the King was actually assassinated) and Bob Dylan. ( Regarding the latter, he says he’d love to see Zimmy record Highway 61 for the 80’s and let him recreate the Michael Bloomfield role). He was on of the top contenders to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones. He’s recorded sessions with Muddy Waters ( “That was the Holy Grail”), Lonnie Donegan ( the skiffle star who was a major influence on the early British Invasion) and Jerry Lee Lewis ( he taught the Killer the words and music to ” Satisfaction” and the unreleased track is hiding in a record company vault somewhere ). And just so you don’t think he’s some old fogey, it should be noted that amid his tapes of James Brown, Elvis, Bo Diddley, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, the Stones, Johnny Paycheck(?!) and Chuck Berry, he found time to also play Big Country and Elvis Costello, the latter who he lists as the contemporary artist he most admires. He can discuss the Clash or ” new music ” with the best of them.

In fact, part of Rory’s Irish audience wear punk haircuts and wear Clash T-shirts, but most of those chanting “RO-RY” ( reminiscent of those chanting “BROOCE” in America) are your typical heavy metal army in spiked wristbands, leather or denim and the archetypal devil/demon T-shirts. Rory- who resembles a softer Richie Blackmore or harder Jimmy Page onstage- works those kids into a frenzy: I never really understood the term ” headbanging” until I saw this crew. It looks like they’re about to whip their heads out of their sockets, They play air guitars, they dance manically together in what resembles some tribal ritual of male bonding, and even lie on the floor, rolling and convulsing. Actually, the Rory Gallagher concerts I saw reminded me of the melodic, blues-based “heavy metal” I liked when I was younger, and it gave me a new respect and appreciation for hard rock again- although Rory is one of the few ( ZZ Top also immediately come to mind) playing the real stuff.

” Well, that’s a very tender spot with me, ” says Rory. ” I’m terrified of becoming a heavy metal act. I don’t ever want to be that. By the same token, I don’t mind HM fans coming to our shows because I’d rather listen to metal than disco or pop. At least there’s some connection with the organic nut case element of rock n’ roll. I suppose that between Hendrix, Cream, Mountain, Vanilla Fudge and the Yardbirds- they sort of set rock on the road to heavy metal, but I thinks it’s nice if it stops somewhere around ultra hard rock. It wasn’t leather and chains, all that sort of uniform of heavy metal, which all sounds the same to me. I still regard myself as a blues player – rock n’ roll cum R&Bish. It just so happens that – even going back to Taste- we’ve always rocked hard on the rock numbers. I’d rather be known as an R&B player, but if you play with a lot of drive and grit, it’s very hard not to attract some heavy metal fans. I’m sure that Eddie Cochran or Chuck Berry wouldn’t have kicked them out of the hall because they liked metal.”

What makes Rory unique as a guitarist is not only his knowledge of the blues and the fact that he’s one of the greatest slide players alive, but that he also refrains from the
” excess is best” garbage that most of today’s soloists love to play. He creates incredible sounds with no special effects except for feedback.

“The trouble with a lot of rock players is all they listen to is rock, ” he explains. “They should listen to a little jazz and folk music as well. Not that there’s any rule, but it’s fun to play a solo that’s actually more like a jig or jazz phrasing. And no rock fan in the front row is going to say ” What’s this? Jazz?!? Too many guys just play on the beat, on the bar, straight on the line – and that’s all they do. You have to have a sense of rhythm – not rhythm as in bash, bash- but rhythm as in fooling around with it, playing against the time, in independent time, or in mandolin strokes.

” I love to play rhythm guitar as well as lead guitar in the same way as Mick Green, who used to play with the Pirates. I think a lot of today’s lead guitarists just get off on playing a lot of notes over the other players, whereas I love to play with them as well. The solo should primarily bleed out of the rhythm parts, like Townsend or Hendrix used to do. There’s plenty of guys who can play a lot of lead fills, but they can’t be interesting in a rhythmic way. Someone like Keith Richards is really more of a rhythm player than a lead. I love playing chords and inversions and checking around, even when the solo is going on. That’s the interesting part.”

A little known fact is that Rory is also a big Ornette Coleman fan, and an accomplished horn player. He played saxophone on some of his earlier LP’s, but the horn hasn’t been heard in awhile.

” I just got lazy with it, and concentrated more on other things. The trouble with saxophone is if you don’t practice every day – literally every day – you get very rusty. And that’s more or less what happened. I still drag it out now and then and kind of blast on it, so it might resurrect itself again. At one point in my life, Ornette Coleman was like my hero. I just admire his free spirit, his sound and his ideas. You can apply some of it to the guitar to an extent. James Blood Ulmer does some of that. And the Byrds, of course, used a Coltrane riff for “Eight Miles High”. Chris Hillman used to play Coltrane on a mandolin, and I guess McGuinn took it and wrote the song from that. That sort of thing’s crept into a lot of rock, but Coltrane was really more of an influence on rock than Ornette Coleman.

Considering his extraordinary talents, it’s hard to understand why Rory isn’t huge in America. Song’s like “Shadow Play”, “Philby”, “Bad Penny”, and ” Moonchild” are terrific rock compositions, although they may be too melodic for your standard American hard rock fan. Rory says the band is planning to ” make America our natural habitat for awhile”

” I think we’re going to have to commit ourselves to America at this point because we’d probably have done better there if we hadn’t concentrated on Europe, Australia and Japan so much. With the exception of certain Irish roots attitudes, American music is pretty much all my main influence. So I’d like to get something going over there, rather than just going in and out on a tour. It would be good to do a couple of nine month tours, and just get around to every corner”

“We’re not looking for insane success in America. We just want to be a proud act going around, doing it mainly for the fun of it. Well, I guess it would be masochistic not to want to be as big as Springsteen or Seger. They come to mind because they still have credibility and success didn’t ruin them. It just amplified what they’ve been doing. And they’re still pretty much bar bands, which is my highest compliment. Rock n’ roll should remain not too far from a bar band element – because I don’t like what you might call Hollywood rock. Some players just don’t want to be involved in this hyped, supermarket attitude of rock n’ roll, where it becomes a product. So I wouldn’t say no to that kind of success, although whether I want to cope with the pressure or not is another story.”

Would he consider the video route?

“We’ll do a video, but the only videos we’ve done have been live performances, and that’s just fine. I’m not into this giving rock musicians the excuse to fantasize some Disney-like thing, falling into swimming pools and play acting. So much of it is just gaudy excess, and it has nothing to do with, say, Little Richard or Eddie Cochran.”

I think part of the problem regarding Rory’s lack of American success may be that his self produced records fail to capture the excitement and intensity of his live performances, Dave DiMartino has pointed out that a good producer like ” Mutt” Lange can take Def Leppard, a band that previously recorded sludge, and give them a distinctive, unique sound, so I ask Rory if he’s ever considered working with an outside producer.

“Yes, I would if the right accident occurred. If I bumped into someone. I wouldn’t mind working with Dave Edmonds. I admire him a lot. We’ve never worked together, but it could really be a good merger at some point. Or Nick Lowe. Maybe Glyn Johns. I’m not anti producer. It’s just when I worked with a few producers, it’s been counter-productive in the end. We end up locking heads, not over egos or anything like that. It’s usually over the feel. I’d like to have someone with ideas that co-exist with mine.”

Ireland is a country where politics seem to underlie almost everything, so it seems a bit surprising that Rory doesn’t deal more with politics or the Irish issue in his music.

“I think it’s alright, but it shouldn’t be a thing to write whole albums about. It depends on how it’s done. I greatly admire Woody Guthrie, but I suppose his politicizing would seem fairly naive and simplistic in this day and age. Maybe an odd song that sort of fires up a new angle or something is acceptable, but it’s not that easy. And it’s even worse the more you read and check into things. I think it really takes a special kind of talent. Otherwise, it’s just songs like a newspaper headline. It doesn’t mean if you don’t do that kind of thing that you’re apolitical, but sometimes it’s hard to express it musically.”

“In the 60’d and 70’s, rock n’ rollers started reading lot of books, getting very intelligent, getting very Marxist or this and that. That’s fine, too, because you can’t be a numbskull. But it became very political and very aware, and that can infringe on the music- as well as the spirit and naiveté, which I think is really the first commandment of rock n’ roll. Aside from the music, if you listen to the old blues records, they were all fairly right wing performers. Survival was the matter in most of those songs. Now you can have the Clash trying to deal with a capitalist circle on one hand, and still trying to be true red or true blue, which ever you call it. Then again, the Clash have a lot of the French rock n’ roll type thing in them – where rock is seen from the continental viewpoint or image. Vince Taylor was an English singer who went to France to live. He influenced Bowie. In fact, he’s supposed to be Ziggy Stardust- Vince Taylor & the Playboys. He freaked out one night in France, held out his hands, and told the audience ” I am the Lord. I am Jesus Christ, ” And he was serious. He vanished for awhile, and when he resurfaced, he was not unlike the old Gene Vincent. A lot of that thing is in the Clash as opposed to American rock n’ roll. It’s the French continental rock n’ roll, almost like that book Rock Dreams. But then it’s really hard to stay away from show biz when show biz encourages the whole rock n’ roll thing”

I tell him that U2 are viewed as an overtly political band in America.

” Actually, they’re almost radically apolitical from an Irish viewpoint. I admire them as a group, musically and so on. But that “white flag’ thing – that radical peace sort of thing is troublesome because the whole Irish issue is just so complex. They’re all genuine about it. They’re into the better nature of humanity and genuinely very nice people. I don’t want you to think I’m being catty and talking about them, because I admire them greatly as a group. But I tend to be a bit more gritty about the way things really are over here.”

Ireland, like a lot of Europe, is a country that combines established traditions and history with modern lifestyles. It is a combination of the new and old. ( Cattle still have the right of way on Irish roads, and a major newspaper story while I was there concerned a nanny who set fire to her employer’s home – and the court had to decide whether she had “paranormal” fire-starting powers or not. Shades of Stephen King!) Rory Gallagher is a part of this traditionalism merged with the modern, and this may be why he never seems to date or age, remaining fresh and vital as he was when he started performing nearly 20 years ago. As an Irish photographer told me at one of his shows: ” This reminds me of the old days, when he first started playing with Taste.” Yet Rory was overwhelming an audience full of kids who weren’t even born when Taste disbanded.

” I wouldn’t get away with it if I just went on and said it all ended with the death of Buddy Holly, or something like that, ” he explains. ” I try to be vital and modern, but put it this way _ certain things have happened in pop that influenced the media to think that it’s the new thing, the new order of things. I don’t think so. If you go back through funk and soul, back to the blues, there’s a certain point where some things just didn’t make sense anymore. Certain things were just media fodder controlled by the producers.”

“So I’m a traditionalist, but I hate the word ‘traditionalist’. I do think that the less you trick around with certain things, the better. Just because you’re standing there in front of three synthesizers doesn’t make it any better. I mean, that’s so dated already anyway. It’s the human factor that keeps coming back into it. So a computer can talk to you or add and subtract. So what? It doesn’t have the brilliance of some guy sitting on a street corner playing an instrument. I don’t believe in computer glorification the electronic age because, in the end, it’s going to be out source of destruction. I don’t mean you should go back and be like the Stray Cats, sort of wallowing in the golden age of rock n’ roll. I like the Stray Cats- don’t get me wrong- but I don’t see myself like that. I try to move ahead always. But I’m still studying and working on the roots of all this.”

“I’d like to last as long as Muddy Waters. I have great admiration for guys who aren’t just in it for a quick kill. They’re basically folk musicians who play electric instruments, and they do it for a lifetime. And the basic grit of the whole thing is, I bet the day before Muddy died, he was still foxed over what this whole mysterious thing was all about. If you cant’ put your finger on it, that’s when it’s really good.”
This article came from the July 1984 issue of CREEM
typed and reformatted by roryfan
Thanks to catfish for supplying this article
Thanks to Craig Stamm for sending the magazine after the article was posted.

026 - Still Roring After All This Time by Neil Jeffries
This article was from the 8/83 edition of Kerrang

“I still like to think that rock’n’roll is a thing that just grew out of the clubs and into
the theatres. Where it still has that slightly unruly touch to it!”- Rory Gallagher

Any of the 800 ecstatic Rory Gallagher fans crammed into his two sell-out nights at the Marquee about a month back, probably left wondering why rock’n’roll ever bothered to make that step. Although club land in Britain had long since waved a sad farewell to the mild-mannered Irishman, those dates were a superb opportunity to capture the magic of the man and his band in that environment once again. Rory has, of course, long been renowned for reproducing that environment and atmosphere wherever he plays -theatres large or small, even huge open air venues – but you never can beat the real thing! A chance to see close up that now world-famous battered Strat ‘trademark’. The very same one that’s been screaming electric blues and shooting sweat-soaked rockers to packed houses since the late Sixties.

In those early days he was fronting one of the original blues-rock power trios, Taste, with whom he cut five albums. He made his first solo album back in 1971 beginning a string of 10 studio and three live records that bear his name – excluding compilations. Those records have featured a variety of sidemen but his last, ‘Jinx’ (released in ’82), was recorded by the same line-up that exists today – Rory himself, bassman Gerry McAvoy (who has been on every one of Rory’s solo LPs) and newest recruit, with nearly two years service, drummer Brendan O’Neill.

The uncomplicated, though very proficient, brand of high energy rock they produce is amongst the most exciting I’ve watched in the past five years. It was only in l978, that I first witnessed the phenomenon of Gallagher, dragged along by a friend who’d been permanently converted on the previous tour. I’ve never regretted the tip, (thanks, lan!), and although thoroughly modern bands, such as Rush are just as likely to be in my playlist, there’s no way that could ever undermine the personal importance of Rory Gallagher’s music. An entertaining and totally convincing reminder of all that the basics of rock should be about – energy, songs and musicianship.

The importance of those basics (and keeping a link with the roots) kept cropping up when I spoke to him recently at his London flat. He was the quietly spoken, modest purist I had expected. Politely unable to apologize because he wasn’t a subscriber to the rigidly planned, big production ethics of modem rock. A logo’d back drop on his last UK tour was the closest he’s come to to Cecil B De Mille tactics (!) Usually just a handful of lights and audience – inspired adrenaline is enough. As he said: ‘You have to play what you feel. If something feels stagey or made up, or too tricky, I don’t like it. With a lot of bands the whole thing’s too much like a military operation. Obviously, you get the other end of the scale where everything’s totally disorganized and being messed up – but I think there’s a happy medium where it still feels semi- natural. Just grooving along. We’ve toured with some of those big, sort of ‘programmed rock bands’ and I don’t envy the people in them. I don’t like the heaviness, the pressure about them.”

No such pressure exists on Rory. Not even the numbers he plays at each gig are fixed beforehand. How on earth does he manage never to repeat the same set two nights running? “I’d say that there are certain songs I’ve never done early in the set and certain songs that are usually kept towards the end. That’s about it really. Like every outfit, we’ve got about three songs in the repertoire that make a potentially good opening number. Naturally enough, if you’re doing a long tour, a kind of programme evolves – but it’s never that strict with us. We never have a list on stage. I just start a number and mouth it to the boys – or perhaps they’ll recognize the intro -or perhaps we’ll blend out of one song into another. Even in America, for example, where you’re obliged to do two shows at some of the club dates, we never do the same songs in the second set.

‘It’s nice to be able to draw off the audience. If you had a piece of paper saying number four song is such-and-such’ when, in fact, you feel you should be playing number seven because the audience is flagging, or the song is too fast or too slow for them, then your repertoire would be too rigid. It should be more flexible.”

So between numbers something just comes to you..?

“Yeah – on the last chord of the previous number, or when I walk up to the microphone I just have to, (snaps his fingers), think quickly y’know!!”

Presumably, that kind of spontaneity must be built upon an incredible understanding
with Gerry?

“Yeah, it’s great. Most nights you get a good bit of ESP going so you don’t have to have big long discussions – it just feels right. Occasionally, I might say: ‘Oh, the first number will be ‘Shinkicker’ ‘ or whatever, but when you plug in, the first chord you play might turn you on to something else! It’s healthier that way.”

I gather you included ‘Knock On Wood’ at the second Marquee show…

“We just improvised it, (smiles), we’d never rehearsed it. We’ve a few songs, standards like that one, that we’ll just blend into the end of a particular tune if the chording is similar. Silly things like a couple of verses of a Four Tops number, or The Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’. Those things are really just for the fun of it. They’re semi-tongue-in cheek!”

What about the acoustic numbers you do mid-set. This section seems to have shortened?

“First of all, good acoustic material is not that easy to come by, believe it or not. It’s hard to find songs that are ‘gritty’ enough to stand up with the audience in a set like ours. I can’t do very soft ballads or very, very quiet acoustic stuff.. . unless it’s a really attentive audience and the acoustics of the hall are perfect. Then I’ll go for four or five numbers. But I do love to play at least a couple of those songs because they show the other side of the coin.

“I’d love to do a whole album of acoustic material, actually – I’m always scouring around for it – that would be great. Then I could cover everything from folky things right across to rag time and country blues. I wouldn’t want it to be just ‘Rory Doing A Bunch of Acoustics’, though. It would have to be a strong, valid album. I imagine even the better acoustic artists – Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch or Davey Graham- as great as they are, have trouble finding 10 or 12 pieces of music that really do ‘hold up in court’!

“Sometimes I’ll write a song on acoustic and say ‘Oh that’s great! That’s for the album!’ Then I’ll try it out on electric with the band and it takes on another dimension. ‘Ride On Red’ (although I didn’t write that) and ‘Who’s That Comin” were examples of that. Certain songs could have been left as acoustics – but we’ll see next time around… “Between 12-string, mandolin, mandola and the dulcimer – you could get a very interesting album. You could listen and it wouldn’t reek of being just one wooden box – it could have lots of colours in there… I’ll have to drink a few gallons of cider and see what comes out!!”

Fans of that acoustic side of Rory will probably have to wait awhile for that particular album- unless there are any generous scrumpy barons reading and willing to lend a hand in the creative process. Top Priority now is another Rory Gallagher Band album. This has been in the proverbial pipeline for some time now, but the trio have found themselves so busy on the Continent and in the States (their last visit – something like the 20th tour! – lasted about four- and-a-half months), that the project has got increasingly overdue. Currently, it has a “late October/early November” release schedule. After that Rory hopes to do an extensive tour of these Isles, including Scottish dates, to make up for his virtual absence since the ‘Jinx’ dates of over a year ago.

If you’ve yet to see him, set aside space in your diary for a baptism you’ll never regret. If you’ve already got the bug, then you won’t be needing any prompting, will you?
article passed along be Michael D. Young
article reformatted by roryfan

027 - Rory Gallagher: Still valid after all these years by David M. Gotz
Rory Gallagher:
Still valid after all these years
by David M. Gotz

This article is from Record Review April 1980

Photo supplied by Keith Whalen

When one speaks of veteran rockers, few fit the term better than guitarist Rory Gallagher, who has been playing professionally since 1965 when he was 16 years old. His first four records were done with a three-piece band called Taste. He continued the three-piece set-up under his own name for another three records, then added keyboards for four more recordings. In 1978 he returned to the power trio stance for Photofinish and this year’s Top Priority. Gallagher’s new record is solid blues- rock with few surprises, but what is clear throughout is his energy and commitment to this musical style. His performance is familiar; fine solo breaks, some good hooks – basic and effective.

Sometimes referred to as “the people’s guitarist”, ‘ Gallagher has hung on to his lumberjack shirts and Levi’s, his battered 1963 Fender Stratocaster and rockin’ blues. Although he has also been the butt of cynics over the years, Rory has maintained his musical integrity and kept a loyal following through the many pop music trends. and has every chance of doing so for years to come. It was a pleasure to chat with this soft spoken Irishman. His awareness and sensitivity was captivating and quite a contrast to the explosive energy he generates on stage

So tell me about your new album.

We used the same engineer and studio as Photo Finish, so we were able to settle in quickly and move on. We did four-track demos of some of the songs beforehand which helped the other musicians to ready themselves for recording. But even with all that planning, some songs were still written in the studio. There’s a very creative atmosphere in the studio: writing songs in the studio isn’t as tacky as it sounds. When you go into the studio – the factory- the working atmosphere is very stimulating. I’ve written some good songs in the studio. ‘When I say written that’s not really true, it’s completed, there’s always a seed of the songs which was created some weeks before,

We used to go into the studio between tours and bash it out for two or three weeks. I’d do live vocals and live lead guitar, it was very spontaneous. That’s fine for straight blues albums. but recently I’ve tried to be a bit more systematic, we use the studio more. Not to make the sound more sophisticated, but to give ourselves every break possible.

How have the new songs come out on tour?

I was slightly worried that we wouldn’t be able to reproduce the songs live, which is a strange situation for me. Several of the songs were heavily overdubbed, but they were fine live. “Wayward Child” has three guitars on the album. but on stage it blossomed into something else, thank heavens. The only song that might have been odd would be “Philby” because of the electric sitar.

You know, that’s my favorite song on the album. How did it come about?

I was reading a lot about Kim Philby, the British spy. I read three books on the trot because I love that whole espionage thing. I guess during the past year I had picked up on a sort of a harassed situation, like he had: I thought there were some parallels to the rock world. It’s a spy song, and he’s the ultimate spy. I added the electric sitar to give it a slightly exotic feel, there’s some electronic mandolin on it also. I hope to do more songs like that, using more unusual themes.

Is there any Irish melody in it?

Not really, but the solo playing on it is kind of Irish all right, sort of a jig style of playing. It sounds great with the sitar. I must get to do more of that too. The funny thing is that I had to rent the sitar, there are only four of them in Britain. The one I used was rented from Pete Townshend’s company. They used to sell sitars over here in America for $80 or $90 and now you can’t find one. When I get back I intend to have a double necked guitar made with a sitar and a six string together. Then I’ll have it made.

Over the years you’ve been criticized for not moving on out of the blues-rock style. How do you react to that?

What’s moving on? I wonder what they mean: go this way, go that way, play electronic music. play reggae, play this. play that. Well I just go on doing my own thing, whatever that is. I think it’s modern and valid and moves on in its own way. The next thing you get is new wave, and that’s not that different, it’s back to the basics, which is where I’ve been all along. If moving on means getting an orchestra in or painting your face, I don’t want to know. I think good rock n’ roll and blues are timeless, it’s not a fad.

We’re not working by any rules or restrictions, the new songs we’ve got have plenty of power and pepper. When you’ve got that power and the zing, that’s the important thing, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, where you started or how long you’ve been doing it. My music is still vital.

How do you feel about being in a three piece situation again?

There’s something about a three-piece, you’re really back to the essentials, it’s very rhythmic and aggressive, and I like that. With keyboards you’ve got extra texture and all that, but it cuts down the free-form style. I’m happier in a three-piece band.

Could you see yourself as a guitarist in another person’s band?

I could, yeah. If somebody needed a guitar player for a tour, and I was free and it was the right situation, I’d do it and it would be good fun. There would be so much less pressure if I just had to stand there and play leads, yeah it would be good fun. But to do it in the long term, I think not. I like singing too much.

There have been many rumors that you might play with the Rolling Stones. What’s the true story?

I played with them for two nights in a studio over in Europe, there was no sort of audition in the air, it was just sort of a loose jam situation. With Mick Taylor leaving and Keith Richards getting into trouble, my name tends to crop up.

You’ve done a lot of grueling tours over past 15 years. Do you ever wonder how you made it?

We did a lot of scatter-brained tours all right. Sometimes I’m rather proud of myself for getting through it all. It was quite a physical ordeal at points, but I was able for it. We enjoyed it though – we wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t enjoy it. I don’t regret it at all. Why should I?

article supplied by Michael Young
reformatted by roryfan

028 - RORY GALLAGHER: THE RETURN OF THE WORLDS BEST NORMAL GUITARIST The Boy Next Door with The Funny Accent by Susan Whitall
The Boy Next Door the Funny Accent
by Susan Whitall
This article is from CREEM Magazine, March 1979 edition

Simon Frith wrote in a recent Melody Maker, that he reckoned rock’s best moments were live, not recorded: The lowliest band can, on the right night, achieve the impossible.” Probably the best way to introduce someone to Rory Gallagher would be to handcuff them, haul (their) ass to wherever in the world he’s playing and sit back—Rory’ll do all the work, and then some. Failing that, you’ll have to bear with me as I try to coax description out of words (troublesome) and images (subjective).

It’s not to denigrate his recorded product, but something happens between Rory and an audience that makes the live dates magic. The audience seems to pick up immediately that he’s not holding back, which in turn induces Wild In The Streets up and down the auditorium aisles. As Rory remarked, “If I was a punk, I’d kill myself.” No doubt sometimes he comes close. I watched him do a Chuck Berry duckwalk clean into an amp at the Bottom Line without serious repercussions, and I don’t think Guinness is a general anesthetic. A serious student of Rory’s (and friend of Gerry McAvoy’s) I met in Toronto told me about the time he saw Rory do a backwards duckwalk onstage in Montreal, slip on some mystery fluid (extrait de amp cord?) and lay himself out flat on his back. What is strange is that he doesn’t always remember afterwards, not the New York crash, anyway. Tom from Toronto theorized that he almost puts himself into a trance … Look how macho he is onstage,”—we were watching Rory pace the stage like a thing possessed at the El Mocambo “and then look at how gentle he is offstage. Typical Pisces”… Wait a minute, I’m a Virgo. and we don’t believe in astrology. Tough enough to stave off mysticism when you’ve got that to deal with.

OK, so I know I’m Scottish, but I don’t think about it every day. Covering Rory, with his Irish bassist, Scottish drummer and roadeyes consisting mostly of one or the other of those persuasions, really drove it home. Dining at the Tiffany just off Gramercy Park in N.Y. with Rory’s brother/manager Donal and drummer Ted Mckenna (ex of the Sensational Alex Harvey band and yeah, Alex was some crazy guy), not surprisingly weirdness was the prevailing conversational topic and we covered it all, from occult religions to numerology to just-plain-insanity and back. Nothing like three morbid Celts, and it set me counting tableware and hearing voices for the next few days. Donal of course (being Irish) topped both of us when he related how he’d found himself in L.A. on August 9th. 1969. the day Sharon Tate was killed and his birthday. and he was with a band called Taste (S.Tate. .) OK. so maybe you have to have it in your genes . . . but Rory wasn’t too interested in such things. In fact, at first impression it’s ah—Donal’s the business brother and Rory’s the wacked-out musician brother. but not so. Rory’s the friendly advice-giving sort. Not eating: bad for you. Canadian beer: Try Labatt’s Blue. He dispensed cold medicine with the authority of the afflicted (the Coricidin bottles he uses later bottlenecks) and dosed himself gamely with honey when his throat gave out. That’s offstage. of course. Onstage: wacko nutso.

Donal of course, being a rock n’ roll manager, must deal with the day-to-day problems of a band on the road. Like when some bouncers in Scotland decided that Rory’d played long enough, and they were going to go home. They got up from their chairs and slammed them up onto the stage, enraging Donal, who proceeded to bash one of the offenders over the head with one of the chairs in question, starting a general riot and getting himself banned from that particular Scottish city (no mean trick). One guy Donal bounced unsuccessfully: seems in Los Angeles after a show Rory didn’t feel like seeing anybody in the dressing room—nobody. so Donal was put in charge of keeping them all out. This guy comes slinking up, shades just so. hair askew, leather zipped tight against his skinny bod…and Donal thinks “Oh yeah?” Hustles the guy out, in a friendly way, of course, the guy all the while mumbling “I’d just like to see him for a minute.” it isn’t until he’s turned to leave, in profile, that he is recognized as old Stoneface—Bobby Zimmerman himself. Donal hastens to apologize: Dylan is cool. Donal says OK but do me one favor . . . let me shake your hand. Dylan complies, and is dragged into the dressing room by said hand to a surprised Rory.


I was an unwitting spectator, in London. to the last gig Rory did with the band he’d had for six years: Rod de’Ath on drums. Lou Martin on keyboards. and (the only carryover besides Rory of course, Gerry on bass. Of course, the band didn’t know it was their last live date as a unit. As Rory explained it, he simply felt the need for a change, after six years with the same line-up. That change turned out to be a return to the three-piece setup he’d first had with Taste in the late 60’s. As a last gig it was a scorcher, complete with beflanneled boys throwing their bodies against each other for joy. and ripping out their seats as an afterthought.

I made a big hit with everybody by losing our tickets in the haIl bar (kulchur shock: bars in concert halls!) after a scant two drinks, but we only got bounced from the place when the show was almost over.

After Hammersmith the band disappeared, and the most stalwart of Chrysalis pressmen shrugged helplessly in response to queries.

Even when the ‘new” band was beginning to record (having added Ted McKenna after extensive auditions), things didn’t go smoothly. Recording in London was abruptly stopped (there was a news flash about Rory having cut a finger), and suddenly they were in a German studio. When I questioned him about it. Rory was sheepish. There’d been too many traffic lights on the way to the studio, he explained, (Neil Young take note!), hastening to add that it was just one small part of the general problem of too many distractions in a London studio. The German studio had a hotel right on the premises: no fooling around.

So as I caught up with the band on the fall/winter part of their ‘78 U.S. tour (a return promised in early spring), Photofinish was finally out, to become the topmost of a formidable stack of discs a kid staggered into Rory’s Toronto dressing room with, hoping for autographs. Kid had every official album. every bootleg you could imagine. every K-Tel rip-off and then some. He got his autographs


Although Rory’s tour-opening show in Detroit was great—almost on the strength of the sweaty vibes set off by fans starved for years (two, to be exact)—he’d had to overcome several technical mishaps; strings popping and his guitar strap giving out totally and for all time (at least that night). In New York I opined that the Bottom Line shows had been much better, but Rory disagreed, claiming that the Detroit had had its good points. It was an emotional defense, based more on his feeling for Detroit as an “unpretentious city (as opposed to “John Denver cities.” he explained). New York did present Rory with an un-precedented opportunity to play as long as he wanted: a truly mind-boggling proposition to those who know him. Rory first played the same set he’d done in Detroit, mixing songs from the new album with old favorites, ending with “Sea Cruise.” Then the encores.

It struck me, watching from beside the stage, that the Rorymania I saw in New York, in Detroit, in London, and in Toronto was curiously similar to Springsteenmania. Who else puts on 3-hour-plus shows, apologizes to the audience for technical snafus (as opposed to the Todd Rundgren school of thought: Find a roadie and kill him), and generally lays his heart bare for the fans, who repay him in turn with unabashed adoration…

As the audience surged forward for each encore, a strapping brunette sitting in front of my stageside perch would leap to her feet, slam her chair into my midsection and scream “Gerry! Gerry! Over here!” Which -brings me to my “What is it about bass players?” question … a Circus writer brought his girlfriend backstage because she “thought Gerry was sexy, and wanted to make his acquaintance (awwww). Gerry does, like Rory, become a whirling dervish—well more dervish than whirling—onstage, perfecting Bass Playing as Your Basic Kinda Bliss and all, but also like Rory he’s relatively shy offstage. So go figure.

Of course, the New York show was also attended by a well-known or two; after the show I spotted Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye standing with a group of people, looking tall. He’d spoken to Charlie, our art director, right after the set and said of the show (it was the first time he’d seen Rory): “It changed my life.”


My first sight of Toronto’s El Mocambo en route to Rory’s show in November made me shudder: people were lined up and down Spadina Street two hours before showtime, and it was an eerie flashback to March ‘77 and the whole Stones melodrama. The wolf packs of people who’d been standing outside, with no hope of getting inside to see the Stones and pretty pissed off. We’d had a verbal promise from Jagger (who’d thought us a likely looking bunch of kids and who knows—maybe one of them even does work for CREEM) —that he’d let us in the front door at 9:30 sharp, but there was no chance in hell of us getting our bodies to the door as not one stalwart Canadian believed us and would make way. (Rory asked me if I really believed Jagger. Wot, me gullible?) Ah well.

You’ll hear no Canadian jokes, though, out of me; I’d just as soon hear a band in Toronto, at the El Mocambo, as anywhere. You can’t see perfectly from every seat (the Bottom Line’s better for that), but the ambiance is pleasantly low-key, much as Rory described Detroit, None of the terminal chic of the big American cities. A lotta hair, though. It was like when we took a visiting Simon Firth to a Detroit punk show—he thought it looked like a Ted Nugent audience, for hair.

And the heavenly Canadian beer, in enormous bottles and yours for the Canadian buck. I had forgotten to eat as usual and was feeling disoriented on a few other counts, so I gratefully sunk my body down at a table, anticipating a good show to drive the mental clouds away.

Which is what happened—fourth show of Rory’s I’d seen in the space of a few weeks, but it was spirit-lifting, and different enough so that I heard new things. (Gerry remarked that he and Ted were often surprised when Rory would start improvising on a set tune.. only thing to do, he said, was try to follow wherever he was going. From some of the looks on Rory’s face, it looked like he was surprising himself.)

The people at the Mocambo were refreshingly hearty, after New York. Two cheerful girls in the ladies room offered me—a stranger and a foreigner to boot—a whiff of their smoke and chatted amiably. “I’ve never seen Rory,” the tall blonde said. “but I hear he puts on a good show. But why’s he only playing one set? We c’d hardly get in here, for the crowd.”

Even the girl from the record company (Capitol, in Canada) was friendly. I remarked that the crowd hadn’t donned flannels in homage to Rory—”they dress like this every day,” at which she smacked me on the arm:”You know, you really are a wiseass.”

A member of the sister-hood, wearing a brand spanking new “Rory Gallagher” T-shirt tucked into her jeans, came bouncing up to our table. “Do you know Gerry McAvoy?” she asked everybody and nobody. So do I exaggerate? Guys: pick up a bass guitar and clean up. The thing must be sending out some kind of weird intersexual vibes—enough to make that girl’s G-string sing, anyway. Whew.

But (as always) I digress. Without even realizing it, there I sat in the same club, at the same table, with the number one honcho in the Brother-hood. The main guy. His name is John McDermid, and he’s seen Rory play 19 or 20 times around the world, from Vancouver to Amsterdam and back again. He’s worn out four copies of Tattoo (one of Rory’s best albums for Polydor)—and was currently working on the fifth. He works for Ontario Telephone as a lineman and listens to Rory in his off-hours,

This guy was heavy. He was beyond clapping for songs, and probably even more intense a critic of Rory’s shows than R.G. himself, Clapping was too trivial—he was into it.

The handful of acoustic numbers Rory does to give the band a mid-set break was unexpectedly extended that night, due to Gerry McAvoy slipping in a puddle of water and plummeting down a flight of stairs. Donal Gallagher looked white: “I thought he was done in,” But Gerry recovered to take the stage again, if shakily, and even had a patient word or two afterwards for his excitable girl fan, although he sighed a bit longer than usual when she’d gone.

I asked John McDermid just what it was that had hooked him on Rory. He looked at me intensely and smacked his beer on the table. “First, I don’t have to pay seven dollars for 15 minutes; Second, he’s not gonna come out looking like he came from outerspace”

I dunno—did you look into his eyes tonight? Kind of spacey , , , I ducked. Don’t mess with these guys…

The boys—John and a couple of friends—quizzed me on my job (I’m not sure they believed a frail girl could be trusted to write about their Rory), and even told me I shouldn’t write the story, as I liked the band. Not objective enough! Purists, all of them.

Back to John’s proud “doesn’t look like he comes from outer space” comment. It is interesting that Rory has many new wave (no wave?) people numbering among his fans: on a recent tour of France with the English band Penetration, he was bewildered to discover great globs of phlegm winging their way towards him from the crowd. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to get mad or what until somebody assured him it was a sign of respect (albeit disgusting) from the French punks, who, strangely, didn’t give the more avant Penetration a very warm reception.

There’s no doubt Rory has mastered the fine art of bringing an audience to its knees; what he seems to be pondering now is expanding the audience for his recorded product. He’s had a few acknowledged jazz periods (in fact, he played saxophone on Tattoo, “A Million Miles Away”—check me out. I wouldn’t lie—and is an intense Ornette Coleman fan which I forgot to ask him about—kill me) you can hear a bit of this on Calling Card, too- Then a record like Against The Grain, heavy on the rave-ups so at my house it’s in an ‘advanced state of vinyl rot.

The new album isn’t a radical departure from the standard Rory mixture of folk-tinged ballads and rave-ups, except for the elimination of keyboards, but it’s obvious Rory’s been thinking change for the past year, and it won’t stop at a line-up shuffle.

It’s easy to see how punk fans would plug into Rory’s intensity and the sheer wall of sound riffs he’s capable of. Peter Laughner was a fan of Rory’s very much into the new wave; in between raving to me about Television over the phone once, he said he’d love to write a story on Rory Gallagher, and the November ‘76 story was the result. I had to break the news to Rory and the band about Peter’s death, which happened the summer after he was on the road with them; difficult when you haven’t accepted the fact more than a year afterwards. There couldn’t have been anybody more diametrically opposed in personality to Rory than Peter, but Rory liked him (read Peter’s story if you haven’t), was visibly distressed when I told him the news, and wondered what could be at the root of such excess.

Which would seem odd considering the ocean of beer, whiskey and other potables that supposedly keeps the band afloat, right? Not really. I was counting drinks consumed one night that started out at the hotel bar, continued to the Johnny Thunders/ Mitch Ryder/Blondie show and ended up at the Abbey Tavern, and I officially ingested one more drink than Rory had—he left his final brandy at the table – And I’m no match for any serious drinker. Rory told me rather bemusedly how, reading a story on himself in the French rock magazine Rock & Folk, he’d found all kinds of foul language coming out of his mouth- Not too startling, except that he really doesn’t talk like that. It’s like the writer had such a vivid image of Rory as a hard-drinking, hard-living bluesman that he hallucinated him cussing like that. That and the language barrier, I guess.

Not that things aren’t colorful enough on the road with the boys. A goodly percentage of Donal’s stories ended up ” and then we got drunk and they kicked us out.” The ones that didn’t, ended up with Rory missing a plane. New alcoholic vices were forthcoming every day for this writer (No, writers aren’t obsessed with drink—this business just forces us into bars for our livelihood); I started the tour on Black Velvets (Guinness and champagne), progressed to a port wine and brandy mixture touted by both brothers, then onto good old Canadian beer and VO -for Toronto.

The El Mocambo had just hosted ‘Elvis Costello a few weeks earlier, hot on his “Wake Up Canada” tour (although a club bouncer, when pressed for a review, solemnly shook his head). Rory perked up when the subject of El’ came up, proclaiming himself a fan. “He’s actually the most traditional kind of artist, you know ,“ he said. And the Blondie/Mitch/Johnny Thunders show in NYC: it was Johnny Thunders, the show opener, that Rory was most intent on seeing (forcing him to hustle the rest of the party over there) – his no-holds-barred corny to say it but I found it pleasant to see a musician so interested in other musicians: at one point backstage I counted four guitarists nattering away (not counting Sid Vicious, lurking elsewhere, and Robert Fripp who nobody could find), and the talk was pretty thick, what with Esquire bridge necks and all. (I amused myself making faces at old friend Mitch-)

Possibly the difficulty in writing about Rory is, you can write a technical piece to throw musicians into frenzied orgasms over harmonics and arcane tunings, and every cut-of-the-way guitar shop Rory’s found. As Tom in Toronto said, “What it is about Rory – he’s intelligent – He’s a student of music, not a guitar-twanger.” (And a student of anything else you’d care to discuss with him: I chose movies as he’s full of information, general and obscure. You want to talk Polanski? This is your man.)

Or you can try to capture the madness, the crazy rave-up guy who, looking at him onstage in Toronto in a pretty messed up green T-shirt (even for him), spinning around onstage, I didn’t recognize at all the person I’d sipped brandy and discussed German decadence with.

But besides being a quiz to journalists, his unpredictability is probably a clue to Rory’s longevity with his fans: he never bores them.

article from Creem 3/79
reformatted by roryfan
Thanks to Michael Young for supplying this article

029 - RORY GALLAGHER: soft spoken guitar warrior from county cork by Tom Dupree A nice article/ interview published just prior to the release of Tattoo. From the 12/6/73 issue of ZOO WORLD
Soft Spoken Guitar Warrior…..from County Cork
By Tom Dupree

Clubs? I love ‘em. The beer, the smoke.” Rory Gallagher is leaning against the dressing room wall at Richards’ in Atlanta, towel in one hand and beer bottle in the other. He’s just finished his first set of a week long engagement, and it’s gone extremely well: the Georgia audience had leaped to its feet halfway through Rory’s opener, “Messin’ With The Kid,” and didn’t even try to conceal its excitement and delight as Rory steamed through an hour’s worth of their music, acknowledging cries of “Awright!” with a grin and an uplifted thumb.
Ten minutes ago, Rory had charged the microphone to scream, “I’m BACK IN YOUR TOWN!!!”—and though it’s only a song lyric and Rory’s never been to Atlanta before, the burly Southern audience had made it plain that he can have their city just by putting that Telecaster through as many changes as it’ll take. Pretty good, really, for a guitar warrior bred and buttered in County Cork, a lad who refuses to release singles and who still can’t headline big halls safely in the States. But Rory Gallagher intends to change that.

It’s the third week of a six-week American tour that will split the Gallagher band’s time about halfway between club dates and big halls (as the bottom half of the Faces show). During the tour, Rory’s new album is due for American release; it’ll be the first one that America gets before Europe, which will see it during Rory’s tour there in October and November. The band has so far found their Southern swing—which takes them to spots like Louisville, New Orleans and Tuscaloosa—comprised of excited houses which may or may not know Rory’s recorded work but will certainly take the trouble to investigate now.

The new album, Tattoo, is on Rory’s mind right now. “I wish I had a copy here to play for you, because it’ll sound so boastful to talk about it otherwise.” The person who accuses Rory Gallagher of braggadocio couldn’t have spent any time with him; bystanders during all his shows are constantly amazed at the Jekyll~ Hyde transmogrification that takes place when Rory mounts the stage. From an impeccably polite, considerate, soft-spoken Irish gentleman, Rory gains what must be ten feet in height as he makes for the platform: his soft, boyish features take on a hard, guttural quality as he powers out a guitar introduction, and five minutes later he has one wondering if maybe a surrogate hasn’t slipped up to take the place of the quiet Irish lad backstage.

“Any time now, Rory, it’ll be out,” says a Polydor promotion man, who has made a cassette tape of Tattoo for Rory’s use. “There’s some delay on the sleeve,” says Rory, “but then, there’s always a delay on something, isn’t there?”

“I’m anxious to have this record out,” he says, “because the people we’re playing to think Blueprint is the ‘new album.’ That’s older stuff to us. The new one was rehearsed and written in Ireland and recorded in London. as opposed to doing everything in London. ..which seems to have made some difference, really. I haven’t done that since the Taste days. Living in London, working in rehearsal studios and the like, sometimes makes you get ahead of yourself. You have things forced on you.

“I’m very proud of it; I think it’s the most vibrant of the albums. There’s a mixture of forms on it, but it’s less diverse than Blueprint. There’s not so much a common lyrical feel going through it, but a rhythmic one. It does slow down here and there, but even the slow ones have a slight.. .click to them, you know?” There’ll be nine tunes, including one of Rory’s best melodies ever, “A Million Miles Away”—which some of the Richards’ people who were solid Gallagher fans before they walked in found. .different. But there’s a slight click to it, you know?

Rory is still unshakable on the singles question. “I don’t care to make myself as rigid as I would were I to set out for a single on the radio. I have never thought in terms of singles, but in terms of albums. And I understand that I could probably find a tune that might see some success in that direction, but I’m just not interested. For example, take Blueprint. I could play something like ‘Hot Coals’ all day—I could fill up an album with ‘Hot Coals’ stuff—but my interests aren’t limited to that form. I like blues, surely, but I like folk, jazz—I think Taste made some progress in that direction—and even ragtime. I’ve wanted to do something like Scott Joplin’s stuff for a long time, and that’s where the acoustic piece on Blueprint (“Unmilitary Two-Step”) came in, I guess.”

(Rory’s manager-brother, Donald, is more blunt when asked about Rory’s predilection against singles. “He thinks they’re Mickey Mouse,” Donald says, and the brogue makes a writer hear it as “Mickie Most.” ‘.‘Same thing, isn’t it?” snorts Donald.)

“We like to play,” Rory is saying. “We love the small clubs, and we even like the big halls—because even though you may be intimidated by the size of the hall and the loss of intimacy, when it happens at a concert like that, it really happens. And if it came down to a choice, I’d rather play and not be ‘successful’ than have tons of singles and not be able to play. But I don’t think we’re doing too poorly.”

Rory has little use for glitter, and to anyone watching his show it’s obvious that it would be superfluous:the Rory Gallagher Checked Shirt is as much a trademark as the thundering riff that opens “Laundromat.” “I’d rather not have to come out on stage wearing something outrageous. It’s funny, but some people find it odd for a performer to come out wearing precisely what anyone else might wear. But that’s how I do it.”

Rory leans back and grins as drummer Rod De’Ath tries to find out how to pronounce the name of the funny Southern town Tuscaloosa. “Just say University of Alabama and you’ll get by,” says Rory. De’Ath, bassist Gerry McAvoy, and keyboard man Lou Mar-tin, the Blueprint personnel, are intact for the tour and the new album, and Rory calls them “the best lads ever.” A few Southern polysyllabic town names later, Rory muses about the region.

“I don’t think I would say I was influenced by Southern music as a whole, as much as I was by Southern musicians. Though I’ve never sat down and figured it out, I think it’d be fair to say 70 percent of my favorite bluesmen come from the South.” There’s a possibility, Rory says, that he may be recording a live album in the South sometime in the future. “This would be a nice place right here,” he says.

“I like some of your Southern bands,” he says, “and though European blues has been influenced by American—and particularly Southern—-styles, I get the feeling some of your newer bands, like the AlIman Brothers, have borrowed from the British as far as.. .the act goes. The stage, you know. The music is different slightly from British to American bands, of course, hut then, in Britain we’re considered ‘slightly different’!”

Rory fits a guitar slide onto his finger and starts warming up for the second set. McAvoy has been tuning, and the two break into a Duane AlIman / Furry Lewis / Leadbelly melange than ends, laughing, as abruptly as it began. “Ah. Your official patented Hollywood Sound,” says Rory. A few minutes later, they’re on, they’re into the first tune, they’re through, and the crowd is roaring again. “A very warm welcome indeed,” Rory says.

The Polydor promotion man sits in the house, beaming. “There are guys from three other record companies here tonight: they just came to watch. I’m walking around saying to myself, ‘He’s mine, you sonofabitches! He’s mine’!”–TOM DUPREE

This article was taken from the December 6, 1973 issue of ZOO WORLD. Mark Stevens passed on through Shiv Cariappa to me. THANK YOU BOTH!!
reformatted by roryfan
You probably noticed that Rory’s brother was ‘Donald’ above. That was the way it was published. I’m told that Donal is short for Donald in Ireland.

030 - The Outsiders by Jeff Ward A brief article from 11/73 Melody Maker about Rory's status.

RORY GALLAGHER is no apologist for anybody, most of all himself. Yet he quietly confesses with a wry shrug and acquiescent grin, that he is an “outsider looking in” on today’s happenings in rock.

Hotfoot from the US on completion of six weeks of gigs — part of the current six-month world tour — MM managed to sandwich in a chat with Rory before he set off again for Germany. He’s in Germany now for another ten days or so, and then will be back for an extensive tour in November/December.

“Music is something that grows, it’s not something that you have to keep shocking the public with or shocking newspapers with, or thinking it’s time you changed the style of dress. It just doesn’t show progression and progression is something that you feel yourself, and the audience can feel it. It’s not when it’s up to your manager or your make-up artist to make it look like you’re sounding new. I keep touring and writing songs and working on sessions and unless I’m very unlucky I’m sure I’ll hardly digress.”

“I have ideas though to make, let’s say, off-the-beaten-track albums — an acoustic album is one thing I’d like to do — and maybe do an album with off-the-beaten-track instruments. But I see doing albums in terms of the stage and the band. I rarely use guys who aren’t in the band at the time. If people come and see a concert there’s no point not being able to do something you’ve recorded.”

And so Rory was feeling like the outsider of rock? “I guess I am really. But I don’t want to be a cynical outsider. I just seem to be a little bit uninvolved with it. I seem to be too hung up and worried about this song or that song, which may be a deficiency and maybe I should get more involved with the glamour side, but I don’t think so.

“Some people think you could easily be a bigger star.”

Further, everybody seemed to think that Rory was anti-single.” It was tending to become a trademark of his but it was not intended to be that way.

image captured by donman

He wasn’t specially interested in them, but in his own words, not false enough to say he didn’t buy singles himself. And in any case be reckoned that a piece of plastic with two of an artist’s songs on it was healthy.

“But it’s all the baloney that goes with it. Name me any artist that hasn’t gone through the whole schemozzle, It’s the pop image I don’t like.”

The forthcoming five-week tour of England, Scotland and Wales should prove as popular as any past, perhaps even more so.

Rory’s new album “Tattoo,” now being released, should get things cooking and Rory stresses how much he and the band, — Lou Martin, Gerry McAvoy, Rod de’Ath — are in good shape and “tight condition “ after America.

A new departure for Rory in the long term would be the achievement of his ambition to write a film soundtrack, and he has made one or two contacts in the field who may help him later on — “not a Hollywood picture” he emphasizes.

“The music from ‘State of Siege’ by Miklos Theodorakis: it’s not beyond me to do something like that. “And for instance the music from ‘Little Big Man’ was all John Hammond, just harmonica and guitar. I’d prefer to write something for a film that would involve guitar — just get somebody to put it together and so on.

Obviously you’d have to involve yourself with it completely and I guess it would be quite time-consuming You might write the incidental music, a few songs or something, but I’d like to get into something a bit stronger than that.
This article is from Melody Maker November 3, 1973
reformatted by roryfan
Thanks to Mark Stevens for passing this article along.

031 - Rory Gallagher by Steve Rosen Another great article dealing with the technical aspects of Rory's playing. This one comes from Guitar Player (73/74?)
Rory Gallagher by Steve Rosen

Rory Gallagher was mentor and founding member of Taste, a pre-Cream trio which pioneered the way for the so-called “heavy” bands. With his Irish trio he laid down the foundation upon which many groups subsequently were built: Passionate guitar, thundering drums, and throaty vocals. But what set Rory apart (and still does) was his ability to draw a screaming guitar sound from a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier turned up half-way when everyone else was rocking the world with banks of Marshalls. His first consideration was always the music, which he ternpered with the right amount of volume and tone.

Gallagher’s trademark is his battered sunburst Stratocaster which has seen him through countless festivals, concerts, and albums. Long before the days he ever plugged in an instrument, the Irishman practiced and toyed with various inexpensive acoustic instruments. and it was at the age of nine that be first set finger to string. “I was playing before that actually,” he says, “but it was with an Elvis Presley ukulele I got at Woolworth’s.’’

Completely self taught, Rory learned chords and fingerings by buying tutorial books and ‘‘seeing where they put their fingers.” He has some regret for never having taken any classical training, but feels there is still a straight “classical type” approach to his playing. In any event, Rory prefers an instinctive style as opposed to a structured one.
It was three-and-a-half years later, when he was thirteen years old, that this guitarist picked up his first electric instrument. At that time, when he was still experimenting with acoustic guitars, he had no interest in electric six-strings. His main concern was with skiffle music, a popular English / Irish term put on the music of performers like Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie played on combs, wash-tub basses, etc.), and it wasn’t until he actually had his first non acoustic instrument that he realized the potential of rock and roll. A Rosetti Solid 7 plugged into a Little Giant amplifier (with an output of four-watts) was the first electric setup, but after that thirteenth year guitars and amplifiers were changed annually.

The infamous Stratocaster came into Rory’s hands when he was fifteen, after it had been in the possession of another player for about three months. This Fender Sunburst is a late 1959 model with new machine heads, new frets, and a new pickguard. “In all those hot gigs in Taste the pickguard just folded up one night,” Gallagher explains, “just came up off the guitar.” Other minor alterations include the changing of the bridge to enhance string/neck action, and the discarding of the tremolo arm after it fell off. To accommodate the loss of the vibrato, Rory has slipped a small wedge inside the bridge to keep the tailpiece from moving and to keep the other strings in tune if one breaks. “I never put the vibrato back on, because I don’t particularly like it,” he says ’l like the Clarence White attachment [Evans Pull String. See Alembic Report mfgr. address) where you can bend up a second or third string a tone. But as to the tremolo arm, I try to get the vibrato with my fingers, though it was fun in the early days with the dance bands, when you’d be playing a guitar boogie shuffle, and go wooo [imitates the sound of bending guitar string]”

Because Rory has brandished a Fender for so many years he obviously feels compatible with that make of guitar, though there have been several occasions when he has substituted his Strat with a Gibson, Taste bass player Richard McCracken would loan Rory a red Gibson if his Stratocaster was in the shop for a refretting or if he needed a particularly different sound for a studio recording. As for Gibsons in general, Gallagher says, “I don’t feel that at home with them. I’m obviously so much a Fender musician. I can’t get the clarity from a Gibson, the metallic clarity you can get from a Strat. You cant get syncopated rhythmic things with most of the Gibsons. There’s a few odd Gibsons which are beautiful. But then again you can get a beautiful big fuzzy chord from the Gibson that on a Fender can be sometimes difficult to get. I don’t think it travels as far as a Fender either :a Fender will hit the back wall. Even playing with a small amp in a huge band with brass, though a Fender might not be loud enough, it always peaks through. That’s the main difference.” Rory also contends that you “cant get away with as much” on a Fender as you can with a Gibson because of the former’s clarity.

As for boosters, fuzzes, wah-wahs. and boxes, the only time Gallagher ever used any was in his first pickup dance bands and the early days of Taste when he used a fuzztone. Now, he stays away from external devices because he sees them as crutches and not as creative embellishments. ‘‘I’m a little bit old-fashioned about boxes and effects. I mean I’m not narrow-minded. I’ve heard a lot of great songs from them, but I like the old wah-wah effect with the tone control a little more, I don’t know, I’ve just seen so many guys playing boring guitar breaks with them, I’ve seen guys play a nice interesting solo, and they get bored, and they go over to it and say ‘Oh to hell with it,’ and bam _waaaaah waaaaach. It’s too much of a getaway- I like naked guitar.”

For amplification Rory plugs into a Fender Twin tweed amplifier which was pre-dated in the primal days of Taste by an AC-30 Vox. To this day he still uses the standard Vox on stage after being introduced to it years ago when he saw the legendary Shadows [ early British rock group] using them. Gallagher used his for ten years, and even during the Cream / Hendrix period when everybody was rushing to Marshall he stuck with the relatively unknown amplifier, he describes the tubed setup as having a ‘‘loud throaty sound, though he feels that the American versions built between 1963 and 1965 leaned to the flimsy side and were weak in the treble department” The ‘fawn” box with his amp had numerous click switches, which according to Rory, meant nothing, but did ‘weird’’ things. “I think they just made them to change the design each week. Every time you opened it up, it had different tubes in it.”

As with his guitars, Rory prefers not to tamper with the basic structure of his amplifiers. ‘You might stick in a different resistor or you might try that wire there,” he says, but I’ve never had them doctored.’ He isn’t entirely against modifications, but believes that guitarists who place Gibson pickups on Fender instruments completely destroy the unique qualities of that brand of guitar.

The different sounds Gallagher achieves are strictly created by hand, guitar, and amplifier. One technique he uses to great effect is that of harmonics. The Fender neck creates overtones up and down its entire length and lends itself particularly well to this style of muffling flutes. On its lower reaches Rory’s use of finger/pick muffling causes the notes to sound like a synthesizer, while notes pinged” higher up the neck sound like they’re in a tape loop and are coming out backwards.

When asked how he manages to extract such a clean, ringing sound Gallagher hems and haws and finally just chalks it up to experience. “I’ve been doing it for years.” he says. “It depends on the tone, and how much you really want to get them out. You can get a lot of interesting effects from it. Mind you, you wear your nail down to a shred though.” The pinging is achieved by the combined use of the pick, thumbnail. and the first finger ; and to add to the basic difficulty of this technique. Gallagher caught his thumbnail in a car door some nine years ago, and since that time, it has never grown back normally.

To facilitate the crisp tones of the harmonized notes, Rory sets the treble control on his Fender Twin just about full up he likes a “stinging” sound without it being too trebly: I like it clangy,” he states, “clangy is the word.” he plugs into the normal input of the amp, though there is a “brilliant” input which would make the guitar even sharper sounding than it is. He sets the amp volume on seven which in the case of his amp is a little over half-full (this particular year of amplifier ranges to number twelve). When he uses the AC-30 it, too, is placed at this point, and then miked naturally through whatever public address system is being used. Above this range the amp is sending out more distortion than tone, though Rory has talked with guitarists who recommend playing an amplifier from the seven to ten or twelve range.

To control his sound for a particular passage and to make a solo clean, Gallagher can lower his volume on his guitar. Then, for chording, he turns the guitar volume back up full to achieve a fuzzy tone.

While Rory has stuck with Fender and Vox he has experimented and tested several makes of amplifiers. Some of the more interesting makes he ran across were Stramp (a clean-sounding German amp which Leslie West used), Magnatone, Burns, and Vincent (an Italian brand). For studio work Rory also uses Fender — a small Deluxe which sounds rather fuzzy at the time of recording, but which comes across very clean on record.

Rory strings his Fenders with Fender Rock & Roll ordinary light gauge strings, but (in the past has used Clifford Essex (which he found to be temperamental in the heat). Gibson Sonomatics and Showboat. Strings are changed every two nights on the Strat and every fourth or fifth night with the Telly.

For picking Gallagher uses a Herco Heavy which gives a flexible attack because of its nylon makeup. Fender heavy and medium picks were too brittle, he explains and didn’t allow him to do things with the strings” as he’s able to do with the Hercos.

Another side of Rory Gallagher is his ability as a slide guitarist, a technique which came in part from listening to the old masters like Muddy Waters. Howlin Wolf (though Wolf seldom played slide on records) and the more modern players like Jeff Beck and Duane Allman. Rory alternates from metal tube to bottle for slide work, usually using the latter in the studio to achieve a softer sound. The action has been raised considerably on the Telecaster (though Gallagher normally plays his guitars with high action) and sports medium gauge strings with a wound third. He tunes the Fender to open E or ( his singing range) and employs a capo to get a G. B. or C tuning. He also uses a Martin D-35 and a National steel guitar for slide.

“I just try and get a volume whereby the guitar is still almost of an acoustic nature.” Rory states. ‘You know, if you just hit that a little harder you can get a hard note, and if you hit quite soft sound. I still like to get that acoustic feel about the guitar, does that sound crazy? I don’t like to see a guy hit a note and let that do the work .I just like to go woomph and really dig the note. For an introduction or solo, I have guitar up to ten or maybe nine-and-a-half to give myself a little room, and then for the rhythm guitar I’d have it about seven-and-a-half or eight. Rory adds that with a Strat there is a different nature and volume for the separate pickups, and that in a certain position you can get away with less volume for a particular passage, because of the pickup setting.

“I like to keep that acoustic approach” he reiterates. “I mean I like to have electronics, sure, but I’m just into the guitar. I don’t want to get into the so-called popular blues style – playing single notes and then turning your guitar down and singing. I’m into getting as much as out of the guitar as possible, which was the original idea of the guitar. I’m almost, if you will, into the classical approach to the guitar like Segovia had of getting everything you can out of the guitar by the use of all the fingers and all the means you can get. There’s a million things in there to come out. Sometimes you can get them out with an electronic device, but that’s the beauty of the instrument.”

This article comes from Guitar Player (July 1974)
article reformatted by roryfan
background made by roryfan from a picture
thanks AGAIN to Mark Stevens for sharing this article

032 - Rory Gallagher: One Pink Jacket Don't Make No Show by Steve Rosen A brief article from around 1973 discussing Rory's musical direction.
Rory Gallagher: One Pink Jacket Don’t Make No Show
by Steve Rosen

Images captured by donman
from “Rory at Midnite”
at the Ulster Hall
The Irish have a fetish for fast, frenzied music. Musicians hailing from this British isle attack their instruments with a passion, and in the case of Rory Gallagher, his much-abused Fender Stratocaster is a singing example of this axiom. His whisky-salted voice, blues-spiced music and leather-coated playing have made him a legend in his homeland and, via the vehicles of Taste and his current band, have spread his name across the European and North American continents. Founding member of the pre-Cream trio, Taste, Rory’s early visions helped to create the blueprint for how exciting an instrumental trio can be. “I’ve always played as seriously as I could, but Taste was the first thing that I was into 100 per cent”

Taste was an Ireland-based trio which first found Norman Damery and Eric Kitteringham in the line-up; they were later replaced by John Wilson and Richard McCracken on drums and bass respectively. After several auditioning performances in London, the band was signed to The Robert Stigwood Organization for management and the Polydor record label; this caused them some problems, as Cream was also with both companies. “Oh yeah, it was hard,” admitted Rory, “but it didn’t bother me; the only annoying thing was that if somebody was writing an article about you they’d invariably mention Cream or Jimi Hendrix. But to me now I admired them but I had a three-piece before Cream was formed – – – for what it’s worth.”

Besides the fact that Rory was around before Cream, the Irish player never considered Taste (or anything he’s ever done) as “heavy” or “power rock.” “Well all this talk about the heavy bands, the Cream, the Who, we weren’t into heavy amplification, we weren’t into metallic rock at all, we were more into blues as such. We were more into progressing on a melodic and rhythmic level as opposed to a power level, even though we were loud; we weren’t into the power thing or the double drum kit. We were more interested in being a little trio moving on from our influences into new stuff.

Growing pressures on the group (which resulted from the popularity of their second and last album titled On The Boards) caused Rory to break up the band in 1970. “That thing, that reason for playing was gone.” After the split Rory joined with Wilgar Campbell and Gerry McAvoy (from a band called Deep Joy) and in February of ‘71 recorded his first album away from Taste. That album (simply titled Rory Gallagher) was released in March of 1971 and was followed about six months later by a second effort called Deuce. Blueprint, his third album, revealed a member change: Wilgar Campbell left the group because of an inability to cope with the strain of touring and was replaced by Rod de’Ath. The biggest change, however, came with the addition of keyboard man Lou Martin; it was the first time Rory had worked with ivories (though Atomic Rooster keyboardist Vincent Crane played on two songs on Gallagher’s first solo album).

“It’s been good working with keyboards but it’s a question of either you get a guy who can add and also vanish when you want him to vanish within the music so it’s not pounding all the time. Working with just guitar for so long I just wasn’t sure, but he’s so versatile, he can play ragtime blues, flues, he’s a Jerry Lee Lewis fan and he’s got classical training.” Martin, as Rory described, provides a solid chordal element to his playing, so that the guitarist doesn’t have to imagine the chords while he’s playing a solo or play the rhythm during his soloing phrases. It also gives the Irishman a chance to play a sort of second semi-lead/semi-rhythm line behind Lou’s piano.

But Gallagher is the first to admit that there really hasn’t been any tampering with the basic flavor of his music. “It hasn’t changed anything, I still play the same way; it’s just an addition. I wouldn’t say it’s taken any pressure off me, but it’s given me a little more room; you know with one guitar in the band you have to be sure and play certain chords and hold it together on a rhythmic side of things.” There is a slim possibility of adding a “friend” here and there for various tours, but he’s reasonably sure that the four-piece is what he’ll be sticking with.

“Ooh, I don’t know, I might add some brass, whatever’s cool. But I think what I’ll do is keep the four-piece thing together and add for a tour or a half a tour this friend of mine or that friend of mine; but you never know what’s going to happen.”

With the new outfit, Rory has been anxious to get out on the road and do some touring (they just recently finished a large-scale program with the played a series of shows at various local U.S. clubs). A newly-released album called Tattoo reflects some of Rory’s experiences here in the States; he feels that, like anything else, lengthy exposure to any element is bound to affect you in some way. “The touring probably added a certain wash to it but I don’t think it changed it drastically; it might have made it a bit slicker, you know, it might have tapered it down and made it a bit more sharp, but I don’t know; that might have been the case. [Tattoo] is more satisfying [for me] to listen to than Blueprint; it’s a little less diverse in styles and a little more of a theme running through it. It’s a bit more electric but it has certain resemblance’s in sound and style.”

Rory Gallagher’s only concern in playing music is a desire to achieve a sense of fulfillment in himself and in his audiences. His biggest problems in playing live are a lack of time to introduce new material, and difficulties in designing a varied and interesting program. “See, the thing that’s so annoying is I don’t care if I’m 15th on the bill so long as I get to play all my stuff; I never have time to play acoustic guitar or mandolin or anything.” He senses that since the recording of Blueprint he has started in a new direction which will hopefully land him headlining spots for his next tour. “I think that was a new direction, Blueprint; a slightly new approach that I’m working on at the moment. It’s more chords and I think some of the songs are developing more than they used to and I’m getting a definite style of writing. I’ve reached a recognizable type of approach; I’ve always worked as hard as I could on the songs but it’s coming together now. Maybe because of the addition of Rod (De’Ath drummer] because he’s such a good recording drummer, but I don’t know. What I’m trying to say is I don’t think I have to wear a pink jacket to be popular.”

Need help on identifying this article. It refers to ” A newly-released album called Tattoo”, so I’ll place it in 1973. The article appeared in a newspaper type publication. It says
page17/ROCK at the top. I’d appreciate any help in identifying this article.

Thanks to Mark Stevens & Shiv Cariappa for supplying this article.
reformatted by roryfan

033 - String Bustin: Rory from Taste From Rolling Stone in 5/25/1972 by Mick Rock. Coincided with the release of Live in Europe.
rom Evansville, Indiana 1974
thanks to Mark Stevens
String Bustin’
Rory from Taste
LUTON— It’s a dreary town; a dead one, some might say. But even lost little towns like this one, 30 miles off the northwest tip of London, have their events. The event this night is at the local polytechnic college. At the door it was the usual scene: grab the money, pack ‘em in fast and tight.
Throughout the supporting act the impatient shouts rise and fall: “Rory, Rory, Rory.” Rory Gallagher has come to Luton. His name is Scottish, hut he’s the biggest thing to come out of Ireland since Van Morrison. “It’s a strange town, this,” he muses, slowly crinkling his eyes. “Haven’t been here since the early days with the Taste.”
That was more than five years ago. For four years he led Taste, one of the tightest, bluesiest units around, building a solid following in Britain and Europe. Taste’s one visit to the US was as a supporting act for Blind Faith. When Taste split up last year, a lot of people were surprised. But it had to be. “Me and the boys just wanted to play different things. They wanted to write their own music; a kind of Lifetime thing. They formed a group the week after we split. They obviously wanted to do something very quickly. They took the manager. I didn’t, and went out on my own.”

Earlier this year, Gallagher toured the States with two new sidemen. The trip put his name in the big lights, and solidified the new lineup. “It’s a 24-hour music thing while you’re there. Wracks your nerves a bit, but it stirs your energy. It’s just what we needed.”

He’s wary of his surge in popularity. “Imagine being last year’s superstar,” he grimaces. “It seems a waste to me to work and work for years, really gettin’ your music together; then to make it big, as some people do, and just turn into some sort of personality. You play less, you perform less, you circulate less. It becomes something completely different. That young retired musician bit doesn’t interest me.”

Gallagher, 23, is a serious man, some-how older, wiser than his years. He knows his business well, and, not surprisingly, finds it lacking. “The thing is to organize as much as you can yourself, to stay outside the system as much as you can, while still being part enough to organize your gigs and records. Sometimes I’ve waited too long for other people to organize things. Then I’ve had to go ahead and do it anyway.”

On stage Gallagher stomps and shakes and sweats. Suddenly during a number, he’ll leap right up close to his bassman, Gerry McAvoy, or drummer, Wilgar Campbell, and pound his guitar at them, yowling and spitting, urging them on. “It just happens like that. I mean, it’s jungle music, isn’t it? If there’s a beat there, it wasn’t intended so that you’d stand there with a straight face.” Rory’s face muscles twist in time with his guitar. “If I’m doin’ something slow, then I don’t move much. But some nights I get out there and there’s so much excitement I’ve got to move a bit. I wouldn’t like people to hold it against me. I wouldn’t like to get into that showman first, musician second thing.”

Still, he is a showman, good value for the money by any standards. He played for two and a half hours that night in Luton after being booked for one. It cost Rory six broken strings. “I’ve never done that many before,” he says, puzzled. “A strange night.”
He sits backstage, after the show, staring out in front of him. He looks tired. The sweat has dried on his face. He pulls the hair off his face. “I love playing to people. It means a lot to me, the audience.” He talks quietly, but with emphasis. Rory can’t remember what stage-fright means. “I get a little nervy, tense sometimes, but that’s all. I’ve been playin’ in front of people since I was nine, you see. I was playin’ before that even. I mean I had a wooden guitar at nine, but I had a couple of ukuleles before that. Not that I could really play them. But it was a start.”

Gently, he rubs a cloth over his battered guitar, a companion for eight years. He lifts it to his ear, testing the strings.

“You’ve got to respect your audience. I played in Irish showbands years ago; you’d be playing for five hours at a time and never get a clap. It was all dancing. I was 15 when I first started with one. I only joined a showband ‘cause there was no other place to go with an electric guitar. We’d have to play all the Top 20 stuff. You learn a lot of basic stuff. Mostly you learn what sort of music you don’t want to play.”

Rory works hard. He travels a lot and plays a lot of live shows. He’s not the sort to be found lying about in Ibiza. That’s a way of life he can’t understand. “Let’s put it this way. In 50 years’ time, I’d like to be respected the way I dig any of the travelin’ guitar pickers like Leadbelly, or the more recent ones like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jack Elliott. There’s no crap about these guys”

In the car on the road back to London, Rory has mellowed a lot. He has reason for feeling good. He has recorded the first tracks for his live album. He’s in a mood to talk. “There will be one or two standards, maybe, ‘Sinner Boy,’ a lot of current songs, and one or two entirely new ones. So it’ll be about 90 percent unrecorded material.”

Rory has always been known as a bluesman, but nowadays the blues have become basically a stabilizer. “Sometimes I’m much closer to people like Hank Snow or Hank William’s. Basically I’m interested in what used to be known as ‘down-home’ music. Something that’s closer to the ground. Obviously I do it my way, but that’s the kind of feel I’m after.”

For all his respect for the older musicians, Gallagher considers some contemporary figures just as important, maybe more so. “There are the few who are showing where it’s all goin’. I really dig Ry Cooder and John Hammond. They’re much more important than the guitar superstars. They explore much more deeply. And I really liked Al Wilson with Canned Heat. It’s a pity he never did an album of his own. His slide playin’ and his harp playin’ were very special. I met him once. We didn’t talk a lot. But he’s really stuck in my mind. You see, I like people who write songs, and maybe collect them. I’m not too knocked out by a guy who just plays a good guitar, you see. It has to go beyond that.”

Until now Rory has probably been best known for his guitar playing, but now his singing and song writing are moving up on a par with his guitar work. “It’s difficult for me to tell, you know, livin’ it all the time. I don’t really stop long enough to compare myself to myself. But I’d like to think it was all getting better and better.

“Some people get all concerned about this fantasy and reality thing, you know, the stage only being the fantasy. I don’t see it like that. It makes things easier if you treat the stage as reality. Reality is doing the thing you’re best at.”

As the car speeds into the heart of London, Rory hunches deeper into his seat. He turns to his driver: “That was a strange town, you know. When did I ever bust six strings in a night before?”

This article was from Rolling Stone, 5/25/1972 by photographer and journalist, Mick Rock.
Thanks again to Mark Stevens for passing it along.
reformatted by roryfan

034 - TOTP meets Mr. Gallagher THE STORY ON RORY written by Dave Schulps and Ira Robbins from Trouser Press , April/ May 1976 This is a don't miss article. Some history, some touring insights, some musical insights
TOTP meets Mr. Gallagher
The Story on Rory
By Dave Schulps and Ira Robbins
Captured from Loreley 82

by donman
TP: Let’s start at the beginning. Your first band was the Fontana Showband. What exactly is a showband?

RG It’s an Irish dance band. During the early sixties, the dance bands became mare showy the musicians stood up instead of sitting down, began reading music; they were supposed to put on a show as well. Very few of them actually did put on a show. The music you’d play would be rock and roll, a bit of country and western, a bit of Irish music, a little comedy —— that was a showband. You played in large dance halls the average dance hall in Ireland holds 2000 people.

TP: Did most Irish musicians get their start in showbands?

RG Not so much nowadays because it’s feasible to put together groups now. In the early sixties, a young guy couldn’t — I couldn’t form a group I had groups after school all right, but I couldn’t get a bass player, or something else, so eventually, I just joined the Showband, and played with them two years. It was a way of constant work, even though I was still in school, a way of getting a guitar and an amplifier. I learned a lot about being on the road, and playing. I was only about fifteen, but it was great – I got to tour in England.

TP When was this?

RG ‘64 and ‘65.

TP Were you a big music fan then?

RG At that point, I’d already had my ears open for years, ‘cause I started listening as a wee toddler. I was playing acoustic when I was nine. At that point, I was a Buddy Holly fan, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed. I was aware of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly through a singer called Lonnie Donegan, who used to do skiffle. I got into blues the normal second—hand way. I was interested in everything that was going on —- the Stones, Spencer Davis, Kinks…

TB: When you quit the Showband, did you immediately form your own group?

RG: Yeah. I was fed up with showbands. I enjoyed it, playing half an hour of Chuck Berry, but then you had to stand back and let someone do Jim Reeves imitations. I left the Showband and for six months nothing happened, I just sat in with all kinds of people in Ireland, and then I went hack to England, went to Germany with the drummer and bass player from the Showband, who’d split up by this time.

TP: Who wore they?

RG John Campbell and Oliver Talbot. We went over and played in the clubs in Hamburg for a while on a temporary basis.

TP Was there a name?

RG No, but there was a band celled the Fendermen who were booked in the club. They didn’t show up, so we kind of snuck in the back door. I had no intention of staying with that particular bass player. The drummer was great though. That ended after a few weeks, and then I formed a three piece, because I liked the idea. In August ‘65, I went back to Ireland. That Christmas, I formed the first Taste, with Eric Kitteringham on bass and Norman Damery on drums. By this time, the group scene had really developed in Cork the way it had in Belfast and Dublin in the two years I had been in the Showband, and there was a group called the Axels, which had split up, which is where I got these two guys. I’d known them for a while —— I’d stood in with them when their guitar player was ill. We just played around Ireland, then we went back to Germany in January of 1966. We did the clubs there again, it’s the ideal place for to a band to play.

TP What sort of music did the early Taste play?

RG Early Taste was a weird mixture of R&B-type stuff, a couple of instrumentals; ‘Green Onions; Booker T, and a couple of things that we’d all inherited from other bands. Even as a group, we had to play really long sets, particularly in Germany, we’d do seven hours a night so anything we remembered, “Midnight Hour”, anything… Then, as the months went by, we moved to Belfast and worked out of Belfast instead of Cork because it’s a better place for groups. Eventually, we supported a lot of bands: Mayall, Cream, Anysley Dunbar so the word got back to England that we were a good group. We got a couple of odd gigs in London and people saw us. We went back and forth between London and Ireland, getting what gigs we could, particularly at the Marquee. The next thing, Polydor were interested so we decided to move to England which we did, in ’68 by which time we had a record contract and gigs lined up, an agency, Robert Stigwood, and that was it. We were ready for action.

TP Then did the other two members of Taste change?

RG August 1968. The band just fell apart after two years. It’s a sad thing you work and strive to get to a point and then just when the band is on the curve towards making it, it falls apart. I suppose musically it was better to change at that point. After John (Wilson – drums) and Richard (McCracken -bass) joined, we did the first album. That was the autumn of ’68, and we stayed together until the autumn of ’70.

TP What was the first thing you recorded?

RG: We did some recording with the early Taste in Belfast. They came out on an album recently, totally without permission. But officially, there was a renegade single from the earlier Taste called “Blister On the Moon”, an earlier version of this song, with “Born on the Wrong Side of Time” on the B-side. It was on Major Minor, which is an Irish branch of Decca.

TP: You toured with some big names … When was the first U.S. tour?

RG: We did the Blind Faith tour here in ‘69, we spent five weeks with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends.

TP Was that before the second Taste album?

RG I Think it had already been recorded, but not released.

TP, Did you tour a lot with Cream?

RG We did the farewell concert in London and a couple of Irish gigs. We never did an extended tour with them.

TP Weren’t Taste compared with Cream quite a bit? Do you the comparison had any validity?

RG We were a three piece and we had the same agency —that’s about it. We all liked the Cream, but our lineup was formed before the Cream. We were more influenced by the earlier three-piece like the Big Three, and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, which had three instruments and a singer. We didn’t do the extended numbers like Cream did, we weren’t as loud…

TP: Also, you were more jazz oriented

PC: Not taking anything from Cream, there were more elements in our music. I’m just pointing out differences.

TP What happened to your saxophone playing? There was a lot of it on the second Taste album, some on your first solo album., but then …

RG I still play bits and pieces. On Tattoo, it’s on “A Million Miles Away.” There’s a little hit on “Hands Off,” and “Seventh Son of The Seventh Son.” When I started playing it, I was going to play actively on stage; two guitar to one sax number, about that, but my interest in sax ebbed a bit. I was going through a jazz phase, very fanatical, back in ’69-’70.. I’m going to resurrect it one of these days. Playing sax with just bass and drums; it’s alright if you’re Ornette Coleman, but when you’ve got to take your guitar off and pick up a sax … I’ve so many plans I want to learn classical guitar, and learn to road music, and learn the piano.

TP: How long have you been playing harmonica?

RG: Since about ‘63.

TP: you give the impression that you play every night of the year. One gets the feeling that you’ve never sat down, put your feet up, and watched television. What’s the reality of your life?

RG: First of all, I don’t play every night of the year, so I’m not killing myself. We end up working an awful lot. I don’t know why. There’s a very strong demand for us to play in various countries. If we didn’t do well in the States, we wouldn’t have to play here so much, but as it happens, thank God, everybody has us booked up all the time. We get breaks —— it’s not as terrifying as it right seem. This summer we had it reasonably easy, but we never take off months and months at a time.

TP: So you like being on the road?

RG: I don’t like every aspect of it —— getting up in the morning and stuff. It’s pretty hard and tedious sometimes, but I hate being in one city. I like moving on all the time.

TP: Do you have a family?

RG: Well, I’m not married.

TP: What are your present tour plans?

RG: After this U.S. tour, which is five weeks, we have two weeks off, then we do a month in Europe, then we record an album. In the summer we’ll be back over here sometime. The road doesn’t kill me the way it might a lot of people. The band seems to enjoy it. I’m not one of those guys who freaks out on the third night of a tour and says ‘I can’t take this.’

TP: Where and when do you write?

RG I write between tours. I wish I could write on tour; I write odd bit, and pieces, but I could never do the Paul McCartney six—songs-in-a-hotel~room. I usually write in Ireland when I go back home, or sometimes in London. I usually write in bulk three or four nights in a fit of insomnia.

TP After Taste split where did you get your new band?

RG I knew Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Wilgar Campbell (drums) from a band called Deep Joy which had also moved from Belfast to London. They toured with Taste on a few occasions. After Taste split up, there were a lot of contractual problems, so that took me a couple of months to get solved. Gerry and Wilgar were ideal, and I knew them as people, so it was great.

TP Where did Wilgar get that Donald Duck drum?
(Ed note: memories of the first solo tour)

RG: He painted it himself, he’s got a lot more interests than the normal guy — he builds tables and chairs. He’s also a soccer fanatic. He can tell you what jerseys a certain team wore in 1935 in a fourth division game. He can tell you, too, that it was the only time that the tear had worn that color, he’s playing with a group called Dogs which is kind of the old John Dummer band reformed. He also spent some time with Mick Abrahams in his band. He doesn’t like to tour. He’d rather stay in London and do the pub-rock scene.

TP How did you come to meet up with Rod de’Ath and Lou Martin?

RG: Gerry got to know Rod first. He rented a room off him. He used to hang out and catch the Killing Floor gigs ( Rod and Lou were both in KF ) . I used to see them at the Marquee, and they used to come to the odd gig ‘cause Gerry was in the band, so I got to know them that way. Once, Wilgar got ill and couldn’t fly over for an Irish tour, so on literally hours notice, I rang up Rod cause he was the only man who had any vague idea what the songs were. He did that tour. Then Wilgar didn’t turn up for a Swiss tour so Rod was brought in again. Wilgar eventually left after that, so Rod just stayed on as Killing Floor were just splitting up. I said “bring Lou down some night to jam,’ cause he’ s just too good a keyboard player not to get hold of.

TP Did you add Lou just because he was both good and available, or because you’d gone as far as you wanted as a three piece?

RG: I’m still happy with a three piece, but you get the old hankering to play with another instrument on stage —— for harmonies, a little bit of cross-play. Some of the songs needed that extra instrument. It’s spread out the sound a bit and it gives the bass and drums a little more room -— everyone takes on a slightly looser form as a result. It’s nice to hear chords coming over from the other side of the stage that you can work with.

TP: to you have more electric guitars than just the Strat and Telecaster you use on stage?

RG: I’ve got a couple of other ones. I don’t have any kind of great collection, they’re all unusual, pawnshop things. I got a Silvertone for $15 once, and I used it on “Cradle Rock.” I have a Japanese guitar that was a gift, and a spare Strat for when this one dies, and a couple of odds and ends —— a twelve—string Harmony, but I don’t have a glass cage for a collection. But I have gotten a couple of odd ones over the years.

TP: You must be pretty happy with the Strat.

RG I am. It’s playing really good now.

TP: You ought to threaten Fender with an ad campaign showing year guitar and saying “I’ve only had this for three weeks…”

RG: Fender, I swear to God, I never got a set of strings from them. I have a Telecaster that once fell off the truck that brings baggage from the plane to the terminal, the wheel of the truck went over the guitar. The case was ruined, and there was some wearing off the side of the guitar, the bridge was broken, and all the strings, but that’s it. I got new bridges, and filed down the bit that was gone, and it was all right. They’re really indestructible. I saw Townshend play once with a Telecaster, and he tried to break it, but it wouldn’t break. It was breaking the amplifier, but not the guitar. He got a great sound with a Telecaster, although he always used it for “My Generation.” The Rickenbackers give great sound —— I don’t know why he doesn’t use these again. I suppose they don’t have the fat sound that Gibson has. He used to stuff up the hollow parts with cotton wool to make them solid. It’s very difficult to get the right guitar for Townshend. On one hand he wants the clear crisp chording sound, but on the other… Maybe he should try the solid Rickenbacker, but they don’t sustain enough.

TP: Do you have plans for the future? You seem to be learning about studios more.

RG: The music’s not going to get any fancier just because we’re getting mere relaxed in the studio. I never think in terms of projects, I think projects are just to please the critics. Most musicians would rather try and improve their songs, and progress in their own way. I don’t consider myself a pop artist. A true pop artist is always thinking of making a musical version of the Bible or something. My idea of a concept album would be about some character that you knew of. Mine would be too corny anyway. It would be about Jesse James or something like that.

TP: Have you ever considered doing an acoustic album?

RG: That’s in the cards. It wouldn’t be all straight blues. It’s like the way I did “Out On the Western Plain” with a Celtic feel, a Celtic tuning. Aping old blues things doesn’t do anything for the blues legacy at all, you have to try and reinterpret the thing and bring it up to date without put-ting a varnish over it. There’s so much you could do on an acoustic album —— you could have everyone playing on it — mandolin, mandola, National steel. You could really dig deep in the acoustic, which you can’t really do on an electric album with one or two acoustic numbers. In Europe, a lot of people ask me because they’ve heard a lot more acoustic playing from me than over here.

TP: What do you think of singles? Did you ever try to have a hit?

RG: No. We don’t release singles. Singles are an age-old hang-up with me. A couple of early Taste things were released kind of against my will in Europe. One did very well — ‘What’s Going On —-in Belgium and Holland and so on. There was a time when I thought singles were all right, but as the years go by, I’d hate to have to perform a single over and over, and on TV, dress up, and really crawl to make it a hit. I could have brought out Tattooed Lady or Cradle Rock,’ not to be hits, but for radio exposure, but I never got the enthusiasm up for it. Then people suggest that you cut three minutes off here, and I’d never do that. LP’s though, that’s more my kind of thing. I’d hate to be battling up the charts with John Denver and Helen Reddy. And then if you don’t have a hit with your second, everyone thinks you’re finished.

TP: What do you think about the chart bands these days?

RG: There was a time when I liked a lot of what was in the charts, but now I like less and less. That mock soul, that disco, it’s an insult.

This from TOTP. Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press. America’s Only British Rock Magazine
from the April / May 1976 issue.
Thanks to Michael Young for passing it along.
reformatted by roryfan

035 - Rory before Taste
Rory before Taste
When did Rory Gallagher write ” I Could’ve Had Religion “ and “In Your Town” and why?
What make of mouth-organ does he play and where does he live in Cork?
— (Bernadette Taylor, London)

What strings does he use on his mandolin and how does he tune it?
(Terry Tomlin, Romford)

What type of treble booster does he use and what strings
does he put on his Stratocaster?
(S.M.Pearce, Middlesbrough)

What was he doing before he formed Taste and did he make any records then?
(Terry Kettle, Colchester).

I didn’t write “I Could’ve Had Religion.” It is a traditional number, an old blues song, which has been recorded by Junior Wells, and by Muddy Waters as “She’s Alright,” which is almost the same. I wrote “In Your Town” in 1971 and the reason is quite simply that I had an urge to write a song about a jail break, which it describes. I play a Kohner Echo Super Vamper harmonica. My home is in York City, but when not touring I spend most of my time at my pad in West London. I use whatever strings I can get — any standard set —for the mandolin, but usually Clifford Essex. I use normal mandolin tuning of EADG. My treble booster is a Dallas Rangemaster, which is now out of production, but I still see them in shops second hand as I tour around. However, I only use it with my Vox amplifier and at the moment I’m using an old Fender Twin Reverb amp. The strings on my Stratocaster are Fender rock ‘n roll. Before I formed Taste, I was with the Fontana Irish Showband, which I left to go to Hamburg with a three-piece band without a name. I didn’t record with these bands. —RORY GALLAGHER

Ok, historians…time for some help. Mark Stevens passed this one along, but no information is included. Judging by the addresses of the questioners, it looks like a publication from the UK. Any help appreciated!

reformatted by roryfan

036 - RORY GALLAGHER Pluck of the Irish by Tom Nolan A short article from Fender Frontline, early 1995.
Rory Gallagher
Pluck of the Irish By Tom Nolan
THE DATE: late 1961. THE PLACE: Crowley’s Music Shop in Cork, Southern Ireland. A young teenage boy stops by to look in the windows as he has done so many times before. This time, there in the window is a beautiful sunburst Fender Stratocaster. The boy goes in. He already has a hire purchase agreement on a cheap guitar, and he has kept up the payments, so Mr. Crowley agrees to let him take the Strat and extend the deal. The guitar was the first Strat to be imported into Ireland, and had been ordered for a local Cork player, who had changed his mind when the guitar arrived, because he didn’t like the colour. The boy takes the guitar home, and being a little bit worried what his mother will say, hides it under his bed. That boy and his Strat were to carve an unforgettable niche in rock legend. His name was Rory Gallagher.

Rory was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal in March 1948, but when he was quite young the family moved down to Cork, and he regards Cork as his home town. Like many youngsters brought up in the 1950’s, Rory became interested in rock and roll after seeing Elvis Presley on television. He persuaded his parents to buy him a guitar, and began to copy the music of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. As the skiffle boom took hold, Rory started to imitate the same blues-influenced sounds which would eventually spawn the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. By the age of 9 he had acquired his first proper guitar, and he began to immerse himself more and more in the exciting music that he loved.

In his early teens he joined up with various local musicians, but it soon became obvious that his was a talent which could not be confined by the general “middle of the road” music on which his early bands existed. Joining the popular Fontana Showband, Rory toured all over Ireland, but soon became disillusioned by the musical formulas which were demanded of the group. He recalls that promoters at the time preferred the big lineups. “Promoters thought you had to have at least 15 members before you were a proper group, he wryly comments.

By ‘65, Rory had outgrown the showbands, and he moved to Hamburg with a 6-piece R&B band, which gradually became trimmed down to a trio. On his return to Ireland in ‘67, Rory formed the band which was to catapult him into the rock limelight, the 3-piece Taste. Taste was a more or less instant success, and they quickly made the move over to London, which was right at the cutting edge of the popular music of the time. In London, Rory was playing gigs alongside Cream, the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, who had just burst like a bombshell on the club scene. Taste soon began attracting round-the-block queues at London’s famous Marquee Club, where they still hold the attendance record, and they were signed to Polydor Records. Two hugely successful albums followed: Taste and On The Boards, the second being totally written by Rory. Already he was attracting the attention of the rock media and both John Lennon and Mick Jagger had professed themselves fans. By 1970, Rory decided to take a further major step forward, to disband Taste, and go out simply as The Rory Gallagher Band.

With the familiar guitar, bass and drums lineup that Rory favoured, he now began the programme of constant touring and recording which was to establish him as one of rock’s greatest and best-loved artists during the 70s. His Live in Europe album in 1972 gave him the first of many gold discs, and in the same year he was voted Musician of the Year in the prestigious Melody Maker poll.

Rory’s image, or lack of one, was as endearing to his fans as it was bemusing to the critics. At a time of supergroups and scandal, Rory cut a strangely heroic figure, with his battered Strat, check “lumberjack” shirt, and his ancient 30-watt combo resting on a folding chair. His fans loved him, and remained fiercely loyal, as album sales and attendance figures have shown.

During the 80s Rory formed his own record label, label and released the big-selling Defender and Fresh Evidence albums. In early ‘91, he embarked on a US tour, and was feted by Guns and Roses guitarist Slash, who joined him on stage at the Hollywood concert. In ‘92 he returned to Ireland for a triumphant open-air concert in the centre of Dublin city, which had to be closed off for the day. More recently he has shared the billing at several European festivals with one of his great heroes, Bob Dylan.

Throughout his career Rory has relied on his favourite guitar, his ‘61 Strat. Apart from the obvious disappearance of most of the finish, the Strat remains pretty well unchanged from the day he bought it. (Contrary to speculation, the wearing of the sunburst finish was caused not by abuse, or as some wilder stories go, by burying the guitar in the garden, but by plain old fashioned sweat.)

“This guitar is a part of me. I mean, B.B. King might have several Lucille’s, but I’ve only the one Strat. I don’t even call it a woman’s name. It’s what it is. I still play it every day. I just love playing it.”

Rory has guested on numerous albums by top artists like the Rolling Stones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Albert King and Muddy Waters.

Who are his favourite players? “I suppose—to be fair—as a child it would probably be Buddy Holly. Then later on I got into some of the great bluesy players like Hubert Sumlin with Howling Wolf; Buddy Guy of course, Jimi Hendrix. I played quite a few gigs with him. We never met unfortunately. He was superb. I’ve borrowed bits from some of the folk people like Davey Graham and Bert Jansch, plus some slide things from people like Tampa Red and Muddy Waters. Sometimes I’ll inject a little Celtic feel into it, maybe like folk player Martin Carthy would do.”

Truly one of the ultimate guitar heroes, Rory is still out there playing his beloved Strat. Later in ‘95 there will be a new album release, and plans are afoot for an American tour, his first for some time. And through it all, Rory’s conviction and sincerity have survived intact, and his basic philosophy remains unchanged: “I just love singing and playing my guitar.”

This article comes from a 1995 issue of Fender Frontline.
Thanks to shinkicker for passing it on.
reformatted by roryfan

037 - Rory Gallagher 1948-1995 by Colin Harper From Mojo 8/95 Nice article
Rory Gallagher
by Colin Harper

RORY GALLAGHER died in London of liver failure on June 14.1995. A UK resident for many years, he was born in Ballyshannon in the Northwest of Ireland, on March 2,1948. His funeral took place at St. Oliver’s Cemetery on the outskirts of Cork five days after his death, and was attended by thousands of friends, colleagues and admirers. Amoung them were guitarists Gary Moore and The Edge, along with Gallagher’s longtime bassplayer, Gerry McAvoy. Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners read words from the Book of Wisdom, and messages of sympathy were acknowledged from Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and John Mayall among many.

Gallagher’s career began in showbands, an Irish phenomenon of the 60s wherein touring groups would emulate the sounds of the British hit parade on a thriving ballroom circuit.. When Gallagher left the Impact Showband to form a three—piece in 1965 it was, even within the beat scene, a bridge too far. The story goes that a friend had to to pose for a photograph with a Vox Continental and fill the stereotypical fourth place for the group to gain a residency in Hamburg. A second lineup of the group was formed in 1966 and called Taste. They were always best received in the blues clubs of Northern Ireland, meeting their manager Eddie Kennedy in Belfast and, with a third lineup, moving to London in May ’68. Gallagher’s reputation for hard gigging and 100 percent performances began at this point.

Taste’s career was as brief and dynamic as that of Cream, with whom they were oft compared. Their first, eponymous album reputedly sold 175,000 in its first year (1969); their second, On The Boards, remains as powerful and assured as any other rock album of the period, containing the core elements of style, technique and soul that Gallagher would develop as a solo artist. He shared with Alvin Lee a breathless, soulful urgency in his vocal phrasing, words spilling out like flurries of notes from a guitar — Americanised to a degree but never mid Atlantic. In terms of the crushing intensity and the voice/guitar chemistry of his finest heavy blues recordings – Sinner Boy and Whole Lot of People among them — he was a one man Led Zeppelin.There were also occasional echos of Van Morrison in his work, shimmering acoustic masterpieces such as his perennially crowd-pleasing arrangement of Leadbelly’s When I Was A Cowboy never jarred with the harder blues or rock elements of his repertoire. The albums he made for Polydor between 1971 and 1974 – Rory Gallagher, Deuce, Live In Europe, Blueprint, Tattoo and Irish Tour ‘74 – remain a definitive testament to this musical spirit.

It is true to say that his star seemed to have faded in recent years — even in Ireland, where he remained an icon and a pioneer to those of his own generation. Business problems going back to the days of Taste and the late Eddie Kennedy had, friends admit off the record, triggered an alcohol problem for a period. Fluctuating health followed, with a large percentage of his income being swallowed up in legal affairs. His last Dublin show (like his last London one) was in 1992, although there were further concerts in Europe and America. Only two albums had appeared since 1982, although he’d made frequent and increasingly low-key guest appearances on albums by Irish artists including Dave Spillane, The Dubliners and Phil Coulter.

The last recordings Gallagher made were for a forthcoming Peter Green tribute album. In this respect and in others, there was a sense in which Gallagher’s life was coming full circle. Fans remember fondly the tangible emotion of BBC Television concerts in the ’70s, but almost certainly his final TV moment was an appearance in an Ulster Television documentary on the history of Northern Irish rock’n’roll, filmed in May ‘94. He sat on the edge of his bed in the London hotel room he’d made his home, talking simply and unpretentiously about the path he’d forged between the deep blues and modal scales of Irish music: about Davey Graham and Martin Carthy: and about the old days in Belfast.

As a wonderful musician, and as a wonderful human being, the loss of Rory Gallagher has engendered a genuine sorrow rare amoung rock musicians. He is already greatly missed.

Thanks to shinkicker for passing it along
reformatted by roryfan
This article comes from Mojo 8/95
Thanks to Janet for identifying.

038 - Rory on the Road by Mark Plummer From Melody Maker 7/72 Excellent!
Rory On The Road
Mark PlummerRORY GALLAGHER changes out of his striped tee shirt, folds it neatly and places it in his zipper case, exchanging it for an equally familiar lumberjack shirt.
Two seats away, his new drummer Rod de Ath looks embarrassed ducking behind a couple of guitar cases as he changes from one pair of leather patched Levi’s into another sweaty pair of jeans. His skinny arms are covered in an orange tee shirt and then look like they’re never going to be able to keep the beat going.

Two hours earlier, Rory had been sitting in the same Maidstone technical college dressing room re-stringing his Fender guitar from a pile of crumpled guitar string packets, while the guitarist from one of the support bands had sat tuning and gently playing to himself through a small practice amp.

Now that same guitarist offers Rory the use of the amp, as he stands up against tile wall tuning his battered old Fender and blowing in a harp.

Rory declines, with thanks, explaining that he’s been doing it that way since he came to Britain from Ireland a few years back now to launch Taste , and he’s not going to change his ways now.

It’s the same old Rory. Affable, easy going, the one rock and roller in Britain with a right to he called the people’s guitarist.

In a nearby pub, people are tucking away pints while the little support band blows away. People make their way over to Rory, offer him the customary pint of Guinness, perhaps ask him to play one of their favourite numbers. Some hand him scruffy pieces of paper for his autograph.

He sits down at a table and talks about the problems in Ulster in his slow friendly Irish accent, often turning down the offer of a pint, but more often getting it anyway to add to the tidy collection of jars on the windowsill.

Back in the dressing room, Rory is ready to go on; guitars in tune, Gerry McAvoy slicked up in green trews, tee-shirt and patch leather waistcoat, with his bass slung over his shoulder with an old leather belt….

A great cheer breaks the air as Gerry and Rod dart through the doors and scramble their way through the packed hall towards the makeshift stage. Rory follows on behind, gets up on stage, quickly retunes to make up for the intense heat that has altered pitching, and lurches into “Cant Get Used To Being, My Used To Be.”

Gallagher and his band work hard on an audience, playing blues in the tradition of the music as an entertainment rather than an artform. Rory is not much interested in being flash and showy, but just in laying it down the line and turning people on; playing his Fender guitar to the best of his ability.

His stage strength is that he knows he can play as good as the best, and the people know it too. They don t go along to watch the speed he plays the notes, and they certainly don’t go along to see him because of his stage gear.

“This is a working band,” says Rory. You just know exactly what he means, watching him standing on stage, sweating and playing, hardly taking a break from song to song unless it is to get the guitar back into tune as the heat stretches the strings.

The audience are enjoying themselves. Around the stage a hardcore of fans stands clapping along with the beat, but a far larger crew dance, wildly flapping across the floor in temperatures more fitted to a fiesta in Mexico.

The show stopper in the act is definitely the mandolin stomper, “Going To My Home Town,” a number which is stabbed home by Gerry and Rod beating one hell of a rhythm. It could almost be a Ray Dorset-Mungo Jerry hit tune, and if Rory was to cut it down to three minutes and release it as a single he would have a hit on his hands. But although Polydor in Germany have asked him to release it as a single, he is adamant and won’t do it.

Later in the car on the way home, he explained that although a hit single would bring him a whole new audience, having to compete to get into the singles charts with all the other three minute ditties is not really his scene. Anyway, he doesn’t need a hit single to make him more popular, for he and promoters know that Rory is always going to sell out a hall by pure hard graft.

The following night in one of the bars in the beer-orientated entertainment complex at Dagenham’s Village Roundhouse, Rory stands at the bar explaining what he means by Port wine to the barmaid while he signs autographs and declines numerous pints of Guinness. Kids crowd around him.

We retire to a smaller public bar to talk, but people still try to talk to him. One reminds him that they were at the same school together offers him a pint and asks if he may sit with us to listen to the interview.

Gallagher’s music is mostly blues-based but, he says: “ I’ve never pigeon-holed myself into blues. I don’t consider all my material is blues. Let’s say I’m a blend of blues, rock, and folk music. The blues has its influence on me: some nights I’ll feel more of a jazz thing. For the last few months I’ve been into blues. Blues is simple music but complex soul-wise. I like a lot of the old rock and roll things, but while Cochran Is simple, it doesn’t have that same complexity in the feeling.

“I’ve done things that might get me classified as a folk singer. It doesn’t really worry me what I’m playing, it’s just the emotional hold the blues has. Then I can get the same thing off a white folk singer like Jack Elliott.”

What about the set structures of the blues. I suggested that maybe he found limitations in the music?

“Occasionally if I happen to be listening to something that uses orchestras, It’s only very occasionally I get that feeling, but there would be something wrong with me if trying something with an orchestra had never occurred to me. I used to listen to people like Fats Domino and people with small groups; occasionally they came up with things with orchestras for the commercial market.

“At the time I resented them doing it. I think it was the Beatles who were the of first people to do things that I enjoyed with strings.

“I wouldn’t mind experimenting with things like that on the next album, perhaps some brass or strings.

It’s been said that Rory picked Gerry and Wilgar Campbell, now replaced by Rod deAth, because they were not that good as musicians so that Rory’s talent would shine through. But after watching them numerous occasions it obvious they both compliment Rory’s playing perfectly. I asked Rory how much say they had In band’s musical policy and how replaceable they are him.

“They’re definitely indispensable; they’re very important. How can I confirm that? Just listen to the way they affect my playing. I don’t play acoustic guitar on my own throughout the set so the musicians have a lot effect on me. If they’re enjoying themselves I can feel it.

“People are always saying to me that I could have any sidemen, Buddy Holly needed the Crickets more than anybody. Musicians aren’t cartridges you plug in.”

Gallagher is probably of the few artists in Britain at the top of the pile who continues working all the time, going back to the little Village Roundhouse rather than concentrating on concert halls.

He says he wouldn’t be satisfied with just playing a few concerts every so often or doing two British tours a year. His music needs smoky rooms and poky little dressing rooms to get over that working man’s feel that is so important to Gallagher.

“Sometimes I feel like taking a break for a while, maybe just stopping and taking it easy for a couple of months. Sometimes l feel like I just have to stay bed the next day, but think in my whole career there have only been a couple of gigs I haven’t turned up for.

“I just like working a lot. Obviously you can’t always keep going like a machine. But the thing is, If you’re sitting at home you pickup an acoustic guitar, if you pick up an electric one it doesn’t mean anything without musicians and people around you.

“Some people seem to think I work 365 days a year, I suppose, come to think of it, I do work a lot more than some of the other artists in the charts. Perhaps working so much helps to sell my albums. if I wasn’t working and I’m not making singles to keep my name around. I wouldn’t be selling so much.”

Always talking to people about anything that they happen to want to talk about, it’s rare to pin him down and get him talking about himself. He’s aware of his image of being a friendly sort of fellow who usually dresses kind of rough.

“I suppose that’s a big obsession with people. I wouldn’t really enjoy doing a gig if I was rushed from the car straight into the dressing room. I don’t think it hurts your image to sit at the bar and have a drink. Some people would say that it makes you more of a human. “Mostly people come up and shake your hand and ask you if you would play a song for them. It means you have an idea of how people are reacting to certain songs. If you hear how things are going down first hand it’s better than having a manager telling you how you’re going to down in Dagenham.”

Back in the dressing room, gig over, Rory, Gerry and especially Rod look completely wasted. Outside in the hall the last of the people are slowly going home talking about the set. They’re dripping with sweat, too, from dancing and clapping. One set that I passed fighting through to the bar to get a beer to cool off with, were singing along With “Going Back To My Home Town.”

They knew every word, every chord, right to the way he phrases it. Rory noticed that too, little batches of people standing by the stage singing every word with him, and then throwing themselves completely when he changes the way he sings a word.

Tonight it’s hot, even hotter than the night before. Rod sits in the corner saying that he’s certain he’s lost two stone, wringing his teeshirt until the sweat drips off it onto the floor The tap doesn’t work and everybody could do with a good wash down.

Never mind, the next night he’s playing in France.

This article comes from Melody Maker July8, 1972 issue.
Supplied by shinkicker & moonchild
reformatted by roryfan

039 - The Guitar Collectors No.1 Rory Gallagher by Eamonn Percival From International Musician and Recording World May 1977. Great article with Rory talking about his guitars from the technical side.
The Guitar Collectors No.1
This is the first in a new series in which we speak to some of the world’s top guitarists and ask them to describe, in detail, the various instruments in their collection. We begin the series by talking to ace axeman Rory Gallagher. Rory isn’t a collector in the true sense of the word — he hasn’t got a house in the country with wall to wall guitars but he uses a total of five very different instruments on stage.

Rory Gallagher by Eamonn Percival
A personal guide to guitars in his collection

Thanks to ‘Superfan” for loaning this image from
his eBay auction for this magazine. Look for his other
Rory and various rock auctions on eBay .
Fender Stratocaster
“I got it for about £100 give or take a fiver. It was second-hand. In fact, it was purported to be the first or second Strat in Ireland. The guy who had it before was a showband player who ordered a red one like Hank Marvin’s and they sent a sunburst one, so he used the one I have now for a while until the red one arrived and then sold this sunburst one, so that’s how I got it. I think I got it in 1962. That was two years after the guy bought it, so it must be a ‘60 model. I use the ordinary light-gauge Fender rock’n’roll strings —.010, .012, .015 etc. — the standard set.

You’ve had it re-wired as well?
Yeah, but the only change I’ve made is to the tone control. The bottom one —the one that’s normally used for the tone of the middle pick-up — that’s now a master tone control. I didn’t want to change anything on it for years but, two years ago, I got fed up with clicking on the treble pick-up and not being able to adjust the tone. The idea of the Strat, I suppose, is that you’re able to adjust the tone on the bass and middle pick-ups and play rhythm on those and then swop over to the treble pick-up and do a solo —like Buddy Holly. The other tone control doesn’t do anything, so I’ve just got master tone and master volume — it suits me fine.

Any other changes over the years?
I changed the machine heads — from the old Klusons to the small Schallers, but I’d like to change back now. I don’t think they’re that much better. The problem is that the holes for the string, on the Schaller, is kinda high and it means you’ve got to wind on quite a distance to get a good angle to the nut, for sustain. I cant change back very easily ‘though, because I’ve had bigger holes drilled at the top of the guitar. I’m hoping that Schaller or Grover or somebody will come up with small machine heads with a lower hole. With the Klusons, you could just stick the string in and wind it about twice, and it had a nice sharp angle. I suppose you get a little bit more a grip on the string with the Schallers.

I’ve got the normal Fender frets on. I never bothered with the wide frets. What else is new? I still keep hunting down the old Fender bridges. They’re better than the new ones which are very light and the strings cut through.

You appear to have a fairly high action on the Strat.
Yeah, it’s not very low. It’s similar to the action on an acoustic guitar. I’ve always had a high action. You bend a string and the pressure’s against the finger and you can bend it up a tone or whatever a lot better. Considering I’m using light strings — by “old” standards — it’s better. If you hit a real power chord and you’ve got real thin, wispy strings on, you re gonna get a buzzy nothing. Even if you’re using my strings with a low action, you’re not gonna get a chord with real conviction. I’m still not 100% happy with the gauges that come out of the packets, but it’s as close as I’ll get, probably. I like the first four — I like the .015 for the 3rd. I’d like the bottom end a little heavier, but then you try the Ernie Ball sets and there’s a .009 on top which is too light. It’s strange — if I put a .009 on top, it’s too light and if I put a .011 on top, it’s too heavy and I’ll miss the .010. That’s not to say that if I was stuck, I couldn’t plough away on something else. There’s another thing —on a Gibson guitar, which is a 23~1/2” or 24” scale, you’d probably need a .009 on top — if you had my hands — because the action is a little stiffer with the longer scale length. Nobody’s ever confirmed that, but I think so. I think the Fender scale is just right. I think the low action thing was really something to do with jazz guitar or when we had to play with thick strings, before the unwound 3rd came. You couldn’t suffer a night with the action I had nowadays with the old strings.

Changes over the years would include the pick-ups — the treble and bass pick-ups blew within a week of each other, so the middle pick-up is the only original one. The bridges, the frets and the nut have been changed a few times — that’s just wear and tear. The tone pots as well, but that’s just normal. The basic chassis is the same. For years, I kept thinking I’d change things, but I never did. The tone control thing is the only major change. It’s just that I’ll be playing slide on the Tele and go into the treble position and you can adjust it nicely. Quite often, on a Strat, you jump between the middle Position and the treble and the change can be . . . crazy. But, I’m as happy as Larry now. I cant see the point of having tone controls on the bass and middle positions and not on the treble. I asked the guy who did my modifications to have, say, the middle tone pot to control the treble and middle pick-ups and the other one to control the bass, but it couldn’t be done without a whole new “carry-on” inside.

You use the “in-between “positions quite a lot. Have you thought of having the selector switch re-wired?
I use those positions quite a lot. It’s a bit clumsy to have two extra switches added like a lot of people do. But, in the States, you can get a toggle switch with five positions instead of the three. The nice thing about it is that the bass position is no problem — it hits the plastic at the end — and the next little groove isn’t as evident as the middle position but it does sit in nicely. I didn’t bother to get one of those fitted because mine just sticks nicely in those positions anyway because of the wear and tear. You can always bend the thing to that position anyway. It’s a great Sound ‘though. It’s the original funky soul sound. Buddy Guy lives with that tone. It’s great clean or even with distortion. I like to, halfway through a solo, go from one pick-up to one of those positions. That out-of-phase sound, which is technically not out-of-phase, is really good for rhythm — it’s a nice jingly-jangly sound.

Oh, yeah, another thing I haven’t done is to put another stud on the top near the machine heads. On the newer Fenders, they’ve got an extra stay there and that’s basically to get a nice angle on the nut. I like that 3rd string really open up there because I do a trick with it where you pick a note or hit a harmonic and bend the string behind the nut. It’s better than using a tremolo arm — it’s more of an eerie sound

Why did you dispense with the tremolo arm?
Well, I did have one when I got the Strat but it broke off with rust one day. I used to use it in the showbands in Ireland — if we were doing something like “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures or something. I used to see pictures of Buddy Holly and he didn’t use it, so I used to take it off. In those days, of course, everyone used to leave all the springs on the back so the action was . . – you’d only get a semi-tone of a drop, or maybe a tone at the best. But by and large. it’s still the best tremolo arm. It’s better than the Bigsby. But now, you see fellas using only two or three springs so you can take it right down. I had the arm but I found I wasn’t using it. Give or take a few songs. Like in those days you might be doing Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat” and there’s a nice little quiver in the solo on that but in the main, I wasn’t using it much. It also started getting a bit loose and clattery. I had to stick bits of paper down with it. A lot of blues guys like Otis Rush and Buddy Guy and Earl Hooker used to use them. It seems, from the Beatles and the Stones era until recently, it was the thing not to use. But it’s quite a decent effect.

I was thinking for a while of getting another tremolo arm put back on, but getting it so you could only bend the 2nd or 3rd string a Ia Clarence White. The way I was gonna do that was to design some kind of second bridge and have one or two strings overlapping it. Maybe the 2nd and 3rd. Then, only those would be affected by the operation. Not only that, but you could bend a string down as well as up. With the usual string benders, you can only take the string up. Carl Perkins used to have a trick like that and I remember one or two showband guys used to use a six-inch nail. They used to take a nail to a foundry and have it twisted and bent and it used to go into the guitar up near the nut, and curl in behind the 3rd string. The only thing with that was you would have to be playing way down near the nut to be able to use it. If you look at some of the early Carl Perkins pictures, you’ll see a little wire thing coming out.

Fender Telecaster
In fact. I’ve got two Teles. The one I use mainly is the black one with the maple neck. It used to be cream coloured. The other one is a sort of whitey-cream one with a rosewood neck which I’ve left straight, with the two normal pick-ups. I used that for ages, but then I got this one — the black one — which is an Esquire. A guy rung up and said he had a ‘53 Esquire and was I interested? I had a look at it and it was real hooky-looking. It was great — all dirty and all that. So I cleaned it up and painted it black. That had the standard pick-up procedure which was fine but I got fed up with playing slide mainly on that rhythm position, which is a bit thin. It’s a fine country and western or soul sound but then you’d go into the middle position and it’s a sound I detest. It’s two pick-ups on together — on most guitars it’s too artificial sounding, which is why I love the middle pick-up on the Strat.

The treble position is fantastic ‘cos it’s really twangy but it’s sometimes a little too strong for slide, so I stuck a Strat pick-up on the neck position and that was great. But still the middle position sounded a bit James Brown tone, which is fine for James Brown so I said, “Here we go” and I stuck another Strat pick-up in the middle and then I changed the toggle switch so it’s now a Tele with the features of a Strat which is great. I’ve got all five positions, but the out-of-phase between the Tele treble and the middle position is really righteous. Lowell George, for instance, he’s got a Tele pick-up on his Strat in the treble position, so I’ve got something like that. Oddly enough, the Tele body gives the Strat pick-ups a more hard-nosed sound, so you don’t automatically get the Strat sound. The maple neck has a lovely feel to it as well.

Do you use a heavier gauge string for slide?
Well, I use a mixture of Fender Rock’n’ Rolls. The first is a .013. the second is a .015, and I used to buy wound .020 strings for the 3rd, but I found it was best to stick to unwounds for tuning and so I use an .018 for a 3rd. Then the 4th is a standard 4th, as is the 5th and 6th. I’d put heavier on if I was tuning down, but I generally tune the Tele to A or E and use a capo. Whereas, if I was playing in D, like Ry Cooder does a lot, I use acoustic. D is a bit low on electric sometimes. I could always get another guitar and have it tuned down, whereupon you would need heavier strings.

The Tele still has the Klusons and the bridge all the same. The treble pick-up has changed because the other one blew, but I was lucky enough to get an old one to replace it. A guy had a ‘56 Tele pick-up which I’m inclined to believe now —it’s a really hot pick-up. I had it dipped in petroleum wax to stop the feedback but I don’t have to do that with the Strat pick-ups because they seem to be OK. So, it’s grown from an Esquire to a Tele to a Tele-Strat

Martin D35
I got the Martin in 1969, second-hand. A guy traded it in for a banjo or something and he claimed he picked it off the line at the Martin factory in Nazareth —whether that was a sales pitch or not, I don’t know, but it’s a good Martin. It’s not outrageous, but it’s getting better. I had to get the whole bridge re-made because the intonation was bad when I bought it — other than that it’s fine. I use Earthwood bronze medium gauge strings which are great — as opposed to the mandolin strings which snap like mad — and I have an lbanez bug on the bridge. I’ve tried it in other positions but it seems to be best on the bridge. That goes into a Barcus Berry pre amp — a standard one — I’ve tried the Mk. II with the tone and boost on, and I’ll probably get one of those. I like the lbanez just as much as the Barcus Berry, but the one advantage of the Barcus Berry is there’s a guy in Belgium who has a Barcus Berry on his Gibson but he’s got it underneath the soundhole, right under the bridge. It’s screwed in so it’s literally moulded into the bridge. The pressure of the screw is probably better than glue. The best thing about it is that you cant see it and you can also run a lead in and fix in a jack socket. Oddly enough, if you remember Lonnie Donegan years ago, he used to actually plug his guitar in and that was a Martin, so he must have had a De Armond or a microphone built in or something like that, and that was before any of us were doing these things! Maybe he had some kind of violin contact mike or something. My only crib with the D-35 is that the neck is a bit round as opposed to the V-shape like the D-28, but it does have a lot of bottom response I’ve heard better Martins but I’ve heard a lot worse.

Do you straightforward tuning on the Martin?
Yeah, mostly. Unless I’m playing bottle-neck, in which case it goes down to D. On record, I use all kinds of oddities. The only current odd tuning I use is on “Western Plain”, a Leadbelly tune which is DADGAG. It’s a D-tuning, but the G string stays at C instead of going down to F sharp. Bert Jansch uses it a lot too. You get your major by hitting the second fret, 3rd string. It’s really a beautiful tuning and it’s a little more adventurous than the straight D tuning. Another tuning I use is the Skip James tuning which is E minor or D minor, depending. The thing is, you have to open up that extra cavity in the brain to remember to keep the finger on the major or the minor, but you end up with some beautiful chords.

Davey Graham invented a tuning recently and I saw him using it. He puts the B string to A and the G string to E. It’s not a major tuning but he can play in three different keys then. He can use the E root bottom, the A root bottom or the D root bottom. The fingerwork is very difficult but you can get some really nice things from it. The problem with these tunings is that, for instance, if you’re in – an A tuning, it’s nice to do a song in B, so you’re barring up at the 7th fret. That works really well — I used that on a song called “Stomping Ground” on the live album.

Are you happy with the medium gauge strings on the Martin?
I like them because the numbers I play need the mediums. I’d like to have lighter strings on for Broonzy-style guitar — for the more bending type of thing, but I’ve got an old Bjarton guitar and it’s beautiful. It’s a very small guitar like the small Martins. Blind Blake used to use one — it’s like a ragtime guitar. The neck joins the body at the 12th fret. I got that in a pawn shop in Denmark in about ‘67 for about £4. I’ve been playing that a lot lately, and that’s got the light strings —being a small scale guitar, the light strings don’t buzz or anything — it’s just right. I used it on the first Taste album and I used to use it on stage. In fact, I was thinking of pulling it out one night and sticking an lbanez or something on it. I was looking at an ad the other day, and I saw that De Armond were bringing out a new transducer so I might try that —they, up until recently, used to be the real kings of the acoustic pick-up. The trouble with De Armonds was that they either sounded like a cheap electric guitar or a cello guitar — it wasn’t a natural acoustic sound. Mind you, people used to like that sound — Lightning Hopkins and Brownie McGhee used to use that pick-up for years.

Martin Mandolin
That was another lucky find. It’s an OM model — the orchestra model. Stefan Grossman had the guitar version and it’s a gorgeous-looking instrument. It’s a small folk-size mandolin but it joins at the 14th fret. It’s got a mahogany finish and I have an lbanez pick-up underneath the strings between the soundhole and the bridge. It works best there for me. It’s got an extra pickguard on top because I was wearing it away too quickly. I was putting Gaffa tape on and it was getting a bit rough and ready looking. I just use standard mandolin strings.

When did you first start playing mandolin?
I got the mandolin sometime in late 1970, just before Taste broke up. I got a mandolin from Clifford Essex and it was a beautiful round body thing. I started working on that then, but I didn’t play it until I started in ‘71 with this band. Unfortunately. I took it to the States on tour and the heat made the glue come apart and the neck folded up. It probably could be repaired. It’s laziness or lack of time or something that I never got it repaired, but I liked the sound of it. It had a nice deep body and extra volume. Then I got another in this shop down in Victoria, it’s a very unusual looking mandolin. It had an intricate design around the soundhole — like a kind of cover which I took off and it’s like a cross between a round body and a Martin, and I had that done up and used it for a while. I still have it but it got a bit buzzy but it’s not too bad.

I moved from that to electric mandola. Chris Eccleshall made me an acoustic mandola and I used to play that with a pick-up. I’ve been thinking of using that again recently. I had the top string tuned to A for a while and then to B but then we used to do some numbers a bit deeper and it used to sound like a cross between a 12-string and a mandolin. I haven’t used
the acoustic mandola at all yet, apart from at home, but it’s a nice round feel to it. When I got the Martin mandolin. I dropped the mandola, at least for a while. The difference in sound between the electric mandola and acoustic mandolin is fairly extreme for what we were doing. I’ve been writing some songs on the mandola now so I might be using it in the future.

I got it from a guy in the States. You get these traveling guitar salesman going round there. I got it for a very reasonable price — about £100 or something. I feel it sounds better than the steel-fronted model. The only disadvantage is that the Dobros and the Nationals with the two or three resonators join at the 14th fret and mine joins at the 12th, but it’s something that you can live with. It’s got more of a banjo sound and it’s got the old classical machine heads. It had the old wooden bridge so I had that changed to an ivory or some other kind of bridge by Chris Eccleshall. The resonator caved in, believe it or not, so I had that beaten out again. I’ve got another one on order just in case, but it’s the old problem — of wanting to play slide whereupon you need heavy strings and then you get the urge to play something different and you want to use lighter strings. But I never worry because it’s very rarely that you find a number when you want to play that bendy. The National is really good ‘though, even for a beginner to pick it up and play it, it almost plays you.

That’s just miked up straight?
Yeah, I tried an Ibanez and all sorts of things but the trouble is you just pick up the sound of the neck vibrating on the body, which is defeating the object. I can tell you, it brings power to your hands, you move from that neck to the Strat and it’s like running your hand across a jelly.

This article comes from the April 1977, issue of International Musician.
reformatted by roryfan
supplied by moonchild & shinkicker..THANKS!

040 - RORY GALLAGHER 1948-1995 by Bob Hewitt
Rory Gallagher 1948-1995 by Bob Hewitt

Ten thousand people turned out to line the streets of Cork on June 19th, and more than 4000 filled St. Oliver’s Church and grounds as an Irish blues legend was laid to rest in his home soil. Alongside church mourners, the famous battered Fender Stratocaster joined the world to say farewell to a charming, modest man who spent more than 25 years delighting audiences everywhere- Rory Gallagher.

Born 47 years ago in Ballyshannon and raised in Cork, Rory died on June 14th suffering from pneumonia following a liver transplant operation. He had battled against illness for some years and was touring Europe up until January when his health problem became acute. He worked until the very end and was writing for a new album and had a UK tour planned for this summer.

Photo by Bob Hewitt

As a soft Irish rain fell during the funeral service, Rory’s long time harmonica sideman, Mark Feltham, played Amazing Grace accompanied by Gallagher’s former keyboard player, Lou Martin , who also played one of Rory’s own compositions, A Million Miles Away. Amongst mourners at the service were U2’s The Edge and Adam Clayton, Martin Carthy, members of the Dubliners, Clannad, and Gary Moore. Pallbearers were members of the Gallagher family, Rory’s devoted brother and lifelong companion/manager Donal, Mark Feltham, drummer Brendan O’Neil and Rory’s bass player for more than 20 years, Gerry McAvoy.

Tributes from the music world have poured into Rory’s London offices- Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, and his close friend, Van Morrison being amoungst those who have sent personal messages of condolence. A memorial service is being planned in London for early September.

Rory Gallagher first shot to fame with the band, Taste in the late 1960’s and made an impact on the European and UK circuit as well as cutting come memorable albums. Perhaps the best ” On the Boards:, showed Rory’s talent not only with a guitar, but on the saxophone as well. One of the bands highlights was the 1970 Isle of Wight festival which the BBC will screen this month as a tribute to Rory. Taste were also chosen to support the The Cream farewell concert at London’s Albert Hall.

With the demise of Taste in 1971, Rory teamed up with Belfast bassman Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell to strike out on a career of rocking electric blues and create one of the hottest, hardest working trios of the past two and a half decades. I was a fan of his music in the 70s and we became friends in the 80s, which gave me the opportunity to write my first interview for Guitarist in 1985. Over a couple of beers by the pool of a Spanish hotel awaiting his turn to play the Calpe Rock Festival, Rory told me how his childhood influences were cowboys who played the guitar- Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He got his first chance with a ukelele before moving on to an acoustic guitar at the age of nine. Although he was listening to Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and The Shadows, it was the likes of Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly, Blind Boy Fuller and Muddy Waters who would leave a lasting impression.

Having tussled with skiffle hits chord books, Rory became self- taught and progressed to giddy heights of a Rosetti Solid Seven guitar with a Selmar Little Giant amplifier before moving up to a Hofner Colorama. His most famous purchase happened when an Irish showband guitarist wanted a red Fender Stratocaster just like Hank Marvin’s. A sunburst model arrived in the store- the showband man insisted on waiting for a red one, so Rory snapped up the sunburst and the rest is history- especially the sunburst finish!

At the age of 15, Rory was playing in, then popular, Irish showbands performing cover tunes of the day. A chance to break away and play the music he loved led him to poaching a couple of fellow showband musicians and branching off to tour Europe’s steamy clubs- this was the beginning of Taste. Sucees in his own right came in the early 70s when Polydor released ‘Rory Gallagher’ followed by ‘Deuce’ quickly followed by 1972’s “Live in Europe’ – a classic featuring many future favorites, such as Messin with the Kid and Bullfrog Blues. 1972 was also a red letter year for Gallagher when Melody Maker readers polled him the no.1 guitarist – beating Eric Clapton into second place! By now Gallagher was big news on the UK scene and immensely popular at European festivals – something he would continue to enjoy throughout his career. His reputation as the live act was embellished by his image – long streaming locks, tartan shirt, Levi’s and of course his well worn Strat. Rory’s great strength was the live performance and few could match his incredible fire and enthusiasm when he hit the stage. The first time I saw Rory perform was in 1973 at the Liverpool Empire. He menaced across the stage, Strat tucked into his shoulder like an AK47, and proceeded to ‘machine gun’ the audience before bursting into the opening number. I was hooked, and bought a tartan shirt the very next day.

Throughout the 1970s, Rory’s career blossomed – success in America meant a greuling schedule of three tours a year. Japan was another hot spot and the UK and Europe were just as popular. During this period Gallagher had a succession of drummers, but the one constant was bassman Gerry McAvoy who would stay with him for 20 years and develop an almost sixth sense for Gallagher’s mid song diversions and improvisations.

World wide acclaim created the opportunity to guest on recordings of many of Rory’s peers, among them Chris Barbar, skiffle king Lonnie Donnegan and blues greats like Muddy Waters and Albert King. Rory also recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, a man whom he often spoke of with great affection.

Throughout this “Strat storm,’ it should rightly be mentioned that Rory’s other great love was acoustic guitar – mid set he would take a solo spot with his trusty Martin and no one could forget his famous renditions of Leadbelly’s Out On The Western Plain or other favorites like Pistol Slapper Blues and Walking Blues. Rory would later prefer the versatility of a Takamine for live work and always recommended to students that they should ‘toughen up’ and train on an acoustic. Gallagher always wanted to release an album of acoustic music – not the MTV unplugged type, but folk/blues inspired by Celtic influences.

For essential Rory listening – 1980s live recording ‘Stage Struck’ rates very highly for sheer electric power. Look out for the tracks Follow Me and Brute Force and Ignorance. The whole album is penned by Gallagher and also features his slide playing at which he excelled. Other classic albums include Rory’s own favourite, “Top Priority” from 1979.

That 1961 Strat was, of course, Rory’s first love but he often used and preferred Telecasters and Esquires for their lead pickup sound. In the studio he would have an arsenal of instruments from Fenders through to Gibson Juniors, Gretsch Corvettes for slide – even a Supro and a metal bodied Tokai Talbo. His on stage setup was low tech by todays’s standards – no racks, stacks, or wireless transmitters. Rory preferred his faithful old Vox AC30 linked to a 50 watt Marshall with a delay pedal between the two. There would be a few battery powered pedals scattered on the floor -mainly an octave divider and a Tube Screamer. A signature effect was to frantically roll the tone control on the guitar to obtain a wah-wah.

Between gigs, Rory would frequently change the neck on his Strat because the bare wood became impregnated with perspiration, often remaining damp for days.

I remember arriving at his Fullham office one day from Chandler Guitars in Kew. I had just picked up one of Fender’s “The Strat’ models, resplendent in Lake Placid Blue with gold hardware. In retrospect, it looked like a tart’s handbag, but I thought it was cool at the time. Rory opened the case, took one look and said “you know, Bob, that could be a really nice guitar if you took off all that gold stuff and scuffed the paintwork up a bit!” Enough said, I was put off using it for life!

Rory’s quiet, unassuming lifestyle was reflected in his working environment: there were no extravagant suites, touring entourages or technicians running all over the stage. Instead, his business was handled by his brother, Donal, assisted for many years by secretary, Diana Worthy from a small office off the Fullham Road. On occasions, Rory would have the company of Arthur Cookson – a genial Geordie giant. But Rory’s main man for taking care of equipment both on and off stage for so many years was Tom O’Driscoll – a softly spoken Irishman with a look of Santa Claus. It would have been Tom who would oversee everything from driving the truck to the venue, setting up the rig and taking care of any onstage problems.

There is a substantial back catalogue of recordings and videos to keep Rory’s work alive. Although the man may have moved on to join ‘heaven’s house band’ with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters and Elmore James, the music he has left for all of us to enjoy will last forever.. Rory was never a man of many words on stage- he often introduced a song by saying modestly, “Here’s a tune you may like”…..and when he finished it it would be “Thanks a million” From all of us , Rory, Thank you a million.
This article comes from Guitarist magazine, Aug.1995
Article supplied by shinkicker and moonchild.
Reformatted by roryfan

041 - Music for Belfast by Rory Hollingworth
Roy Hollingworth

Belfast got a rock-‘n’-roll concert on New Year’s Day in the City’s notorious Ulster Hall.

Heading the bill was Rory Gallagher. It was the first public rock concert there since early last summer. The show was sold out weeks before. Sources close to the underground promised the IRA would “leave it alone.”

Two thousand people were overjoyed as Gallagher – a native of Cork, Southern Ireland – took the stage, just 24 hours after the city had witnessed its biggest bomb blast during a night of at least 10 explosions.

“I see no reason for not playing Belfast. Kids still live here,” said Gallagher.

It was an emotional affair, considering the total neglect Belfast has suffered as far as live music is concerned. The authorities were pleased to let the concert go on – but more concerts depend on the willingness of the big British groups to travel there.

Belfast, NEW YEARS DAY. You don’t see many people on the streets this Saturday afternoon. This very grey, very cold afternoon. The street we walk down is well shattered as though some lumbering, blind giant had pressed buildings flat with his boots and then wiped the rubble from his heels off on the roof tops. He frequents the city often.

The dank, almost mildewed atmosphere is so unreal that the first emotion is one of
fear, or maybe suspicion. For God’s sake, where are the people? There are none to be seen. There is little to come into town for these days. And yet today is a very special day. There’s a rock ‘n ‘ roll concert at the Ulster Hall.

You can hear every step you take, for there’s little other noise to cut the air. Just one car flits quickly out of a street and makes off at high speed. Belfast is like some car, one that is burnt out, but re-ignited each night. The shell is very thin, and the engine don’t work anymore.

“You’re a martyr, Gallagher, you know that” says big Jim Aikin, Belfast’s biggest promoter (with little, if anything to promote these days). “Oh no, for God’s sake, don’t say martyr” retorts Rory Gallagher. ” I don’t see any reason for not playing Belfast. Kids still live here. They can get tired of records.” Gallagher is the anti-star of all time.

We are sitting in this lounge. We managed to find it because Aikin knew it. The doors were locked, they search you on entry. “You can’t be too careful” says the “sentry”. Inside the bar is totally empty. It’s about 3 PM, but it’s like drinking after hours. It’s cold.

Yesterday was amazing. “They” blew 100 lbs. of gelignite outside a kid’s cinema and then blew the old year out with nigh on a dozen other bombs. We spent New Year’s Eve in the comparative safety of a guest house in Cromwell Road, and then at a wild, zany ball in the Queen’s University.

Gallagher gigged there, at this “penguins” ball, where about 4000 people got so drunk they lay around getting sick. But it was a great night, like some Roman orgy. Gallagher went on at around 12:30. As he was tuning up, with ten minutes of the old year to run, there were some glorious explosions about a half-mile away. Gallagher grinned, everyone grinned. Some of us felt scared, but you tend to admit it in a joking fashion. Bombs bang very loudly, you know. And they rattle things.

The kids in the University had a load of jokes about the bombs.

There was one girl who giggled, and told us that she had two brothers, one in the I.R.A., the other a doctor. ” One blows them up, the other patches them up” she said. It was funny at the time.

I was asked if I was going to write about the riot-torn Belfast, with citizens cowering in corners or just rock music. Do they go together? ” Why don’t you write something political?” asks one guy. “I mean do you agree with the internment? Do you like the bombs? Bombs are a gas actually, especially when you see one go off. Music? Well, it’s bloody great Gallagher coming. We haven’t had a big name for ages. We heard he wanted to play Belfast, and we heard that his band were a little scared about it. I suppose it’s only right to be scared.” This student was well drunk.

Gallagher is from Cork, Wilgar Campbell and Gerry McAvoy are natives of Belfast. The town was on the gig list. They could have pulled out, and nobody would have asked them why.

As the university rocks and rolls, and blesses the New Year, people start to talk of the Ulster Hall gig. It’s planned for the afternoon. The buses stop running at 8 p.m. All the tickets have been sold.

Somebody very close to the I.R.A. has said that the concert will be left alone. The Queen’s dies at around 5 a.m. and as we travel back to Cromwell Road there’s just one ferret car ferreting around the streets. The soldiers look gaunt as they peer through the post-box slits.

An extract from Take One, a local underground newsheet, printed by The Tribe.

” Rory Gallagher has once again returned to Belfast, at least he came, and for that we must thank him”.

Belfast has now become a graveyard for music. Concerts and big groups are a thing of the past.

Why should we take it? Why must we take it? We have taken enough apathetic shit for too long, the time has come to launch the MUSIC TO BELFAST CAMPAIGN. We must create enough noise in order that the hypocrites in England ( the capitalist agents groups who think nothing other than pulling in a lot of bread) become aware that they are most needed in this torn city.

We want action now, for too long the groups in England haven’t given music where it can give the most help. Lennon tells us to give peace a chance, but has he visited us? All we want John ,baby, is the truth. Perhaps he is furthering the peace movements somewhere in Hyde Park.

Perhaps the groups don’t want to make any sacrifices, maybe they are afraid, maybe they cannot stir themselves to help the people who need it most, who have no power to speak of. Well, we want to try and make groups aware that Belfast needs them here.


You know they are so absolutely right. When you see the kids there, and they are such great kids, you know it’s right.

Imagine no concerts. Imagine no transport at night. Imagine reading about brilliant performances by bands just over the water and those bands never coming to Ulster. What do you do? Do you sit at home?

No. Just off Cromwell Road they sit in a lounge. And one guy with a beaten up guitar sings a bit, and the kids are so together. It’s great being together. There is no sign outside this pub and the windows are either blacked out or there’s wire mesh about. It’s real, it’s very real. So you don’t care. And that’s what they feel, believe me, they know you don’t care. They know that you care about Banglia Desh, and they know that you must care about that. But is there not time to care about Belfast?

Now we are right back on New Year’s Day, right back in this empty bar. Gallagher is itching to play. You can tell when he is. But today he itches more than usual. The only things Rory talks about is music. He keeps his mouth shut on issues. He just goes out and plays music.

“I had no trouble putting the concert on” says Aikin, with his orange juice. An Irishman who doesn’t drink. “You see, they were only too pleased to let me put a concert on. They like you to try and make things look as though they were normal.”

When was the last concert, Jim?

“Oh God, it was ages ago. Nobody will come now, it’s impossible. There’s only Gallagher here who’ll do it. Some strange things have happened when people gather you know. We have a wee dance occasionally, and people come out to it. It took a long while to get them dancing when there was no trouble. Now they are on the floor as soon as the music starts. It’s very emotional when you see them all together. Maybe it’s like England during the War. People make the most of the few occasions. It’s like a country at war”.

There are a lot of kids in Belfast. There are as many kids in Belfast as, say, Birmingham. Can you understand that? There’s nothing different about them. They have long hair and they’re hip.

We finish the beer. The “sentry” closes and locks the bar door after us. Still no people on the streets. We walk towards the Ulster Hall. That’s where Paisley used to do his thing, you know.

The back doors are reached . They face a building that’s been blown into some awful shape. It’s been torn inside out. I meet a lad who used to work there. He hasn’t got a job now.

As soon as we are in the Ulster Hall, there’s the sound of live music, and an immediate change of atmosphere. Even in the basement, there’s warmth in the air. We walk upstairs, and it gets even warmer. We peep through a window and there are people. People, 2000 or so of them. Young and bopping in their seats.

The band playing is Fruup. They are a Belfast band, who’ve recently returned to their hometown after several months in London. They are playing their hearts out, and the audience is giving them such good things.

Gallagher walks into the dressing room, and there are so many people who want to shake his hand. You hear a dozen or more ” thanks for coming.” Gallagher is very modest, he’s almost embarrassed. McAvoy and Campbell are already there, with some of their friends. Wilgar mutters something about a bridge being blown up. For some reason he’s really annoyed about this bridge; “It’s gone too bloody far.”

I take a walk around the hall. It’s well full, with beautiful vibes about. There seem to be more girls than fellas. They don’t look any different from any rock audience anywhere, they just seem more eager to make the afternoon last. They’re getting every ounce of pleasure they can from it. It’s very hard to explain just how emotional, how delightful this whole thing is. You’ve got to be in Belfast, and then see the youth, all together there, all happy.

Fruup finish playing to loud cheers and applause.

Back in Gallagher’s dressing room there’s a fresh batch of people coming in to shake his hand. I bump into one whose just come out. He’s all sweaty, and shouts at me “Isn’t he the bloody best! Isn’t it bloody great that he’s here! Isn’t it?” Why yes , I suppose there is a need to get emotional about it.

I’ve never seen anything quite so wonderful, so stirring, so uplifting, so joyous as when Gallagher and the band walked on stage. The whole place erupted, they all stood and they cheered and they yelled, and screamed, and they put their arms up, and they embraced. Then as one unit they put their arms into the air and gave peace signs. Without being silly, or overemotional, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. It all meant something, it meant more than just rock n’ roll, it was something bigger, something more valid than just that.

You just wanted to take the lid off the walls from around this hall and put it on a huge platform, raise it above the city and let just everyone see it, and hear it. Two thousand people together as one, with no minority, no troublemakers, no inhibitions. Believe me, this isn’t over dramatic.

And Gallagher stood there for a while, and feigned not to look, and then he plugged in, swiveled round, said a quick hello, burned his bumpers into the stage, got down low and played his guitar loud and tight.

“Gigs are A, B, and C on a sheet, Belfast may be a B, I saw no reason to think it any different than from A or C” – Gallagher

It went on for a long time. the best audience anybody could ever wish to see. Towards the end everyone got up, rushed to the front, and grabbed up to touch him and the band. And he came back, and played more boogie.

Nobody wanted it to end. There are tears in the eyes of some kids, not just girls flipped on Rory, but guys as well. There’s the best audience in the World in Belfast. The whole point of entertaining PEOPLE reaches a very valid level.

So you can understand bands who won’t play Belfast. Yes, you can understand that. But can you really neglect it? You’ve got to start pricking your conscience a little if you’re supposedly playing music for people. Or is it money first, people next. Nobody wants unnecessary trouble, so cancel the Belfast date. Nobody’s going to come back on you if that’s your action.

But let me tell you they feel very neglected in Belfast. Most of the shine, most of the honesty that was apparently connected with rock can be seen in it’s true light in Belfast. And that shine, that honesty just doesn’t exist. Heroes of the people? Well, Gallagher is, although all he did was honour his date sheet.

This girl in the dressing room must be about 18/19. She’s very pretty. It’s the first time she’s been out anywhere for three weeks. And maybe it’s going to be a long, long time before there’s another concert for her to go to.

“Nobody wants to come. It’s an impossible situation” Jim Aikin.
Was it worth it Rory? He peels off a sweaty checked shirt. ” Yes, oh, yes, I think it was.”

Are we attaching too much importance to rock?
“No, it does do something which nothing else can do. If we can still hold a concert, then it can only be doing good” – Aikin

“Once it got over the feeling that they were thanking me for coming. Once they’d got over that, they were into just the music. Then it was darned marvelous. They’re wonderful kids you know.” – Gallagher

“Yes, that was good. Oh yes” – Wilgar Campbell

If the gig was on his datesheet, then Gallagher would play this town again.

“The outcome of what is being experienced by EVERYONE in this city is leading to the fragmentation of the people into vastly differing states and levels of mind, depending on how much of the truth they can grasp………. To restore equilibrium each one of us must persevere at helping others, and ourselves to be more harmonious. We need each other to save ourselves” – Jim Andrews, writing in the Belfast underground paper, Ego.

” I wish Marc Bolan would come” – girl, about 15.

Concerts are possible. It is possible to travel to Belfast, and to stay the night. Don’t just wipe it away. If money’s the point, well you’ll pack a hall.

So, we come out of the Ulster hall now, and it’s dark. There is nobody left on the streets. Those 2000 have all vanished, managed to get a bus home. It’s all over. A fire engine, or maybe it’s an ambulance questions the silence. It’s like 4 a.m. in the morning. But it’s 7 p.m. and it’s Saturday night.

This article comes from Melody Maker, January 8, 1972 .
Thanks to shinkicker for passing in on.
Reformatted by roryfan.

042 - RORY GALLAGHER Colin Harper Pays Tribute to the Irish Guitarist Who Died in June Nice obit / article from August 1995 RECORD COLLECTOR


With the passing of Rory Gallagher, on June 14th 1995, aged 47, the second of Irish rock music’s three great pioneers has been lost before his time. In the wake of U2, it’s difficult to imagine a time when Ireland was not only a non-player in the world of rock’n’roll, but actively scorned and patronized home-grown original talent in favour of showband imitations.

Gallagher’s contribution to music is impressive enough, but in professional terms he should be remembered along with Van Morrison and the late Phil Lynott as an artist who broke through the confines of his place and time to succeed massively and consistently on an international level, offering inspiration to thousands who came after.

On a personal level, Gallagher will be remembered by those who knew him as one of
the real gentlemen in the business. U2’s office was quick to back this up in statements to the
press, Bono referring to Gallagher as “one of the top 10 guitar players of all time, but more
importantly one of the top 10 good guys”. Adam Clayton and The Edge were among thousands who attended Gallagher’s funeral in his Cork hometown, on the southern tip of Ireland — The Edge was quoted as saying it was “the saddest day of my life”. Messages of sympathy were received from dozens of the music world’s biggest names — among them Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi, Rod Stewart, John Mayall, Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Dubliner Ronnie Drew read the lesson from ‘The Book Of Wisdom’, and carried the coffin with Gallagher’s brother and manager Donal.

Glowing tributes are par for the course with the loss of the famous, but the sheer quantity
and warmth of the tributes paid to Rory since his death of liver failure reveals a man who was genuinely loved and respected by his peers, for his down-to-earth manners, personality and integrity in a profession too often dominated by the shallow and self-righteous.

Eric Wrixon, a founder member of both Them and Thin Lizzy, and someone familiar with the German blues circuit where Rory remained a demi-God to the end, summed it up perfectly: “The only important thing as far as I’m concerned was how he was as a person: he was a nice guy 30 years ago and he didn’t change. He’s a loss as a human being, and that’s more important than his music.” Even Van Morrison responded willingly to the request for a statement, saying that “Rory was a close personal friend, and it’s a tragic and premature loss to everyone involved in music.”

On a musical level, aside from the man’s personal qualities, Gallagher’s contribution to rock history has been immense. But sadly, until the shock of his passing, he had become a marginalized figure, certainly within the British Isles. He still played fairly regularly on the continent, where he was a five-figure drawing power at festivals, but his final concert in Ireland took place in 1992, as had his last London show — a now infamous gig at the Town & Country Club where he was rendered incapable of finishing more than a few numbers by what was described as a reaction of prescribed medication with a single whiskey he’d taken to loosen up his voice before the show.

Alan Robinson, now press officer at Demon Records (who’ve issued several of Rory’s albums on CD), promoted that show: “The next night,” he recalls, “the T&C opened their venue in Leeds and Rory was the headline act. There were worries that he wasn’t going to make it. In fact, the next day, I had to book Dr. Feelgood in — had them on the way up to Leeds within half-an-hour — but as it turned out, Rory was fine. I don’t think he managed his normal, full set but he did an hour plus, which was great. It’s just a shame that a lot of people’s last memories will be from that gig the night before — a real drag.”


One of the things that marked Rory out from the crowd in his 70s heyday was his focus on the music and not the excesses associated with it. Eric Wrixon recalls Rory fondly as someone who “drank cokes on stage, didn’t womanize, didn’t touch drugs and would get happy after two glasses of wine”. Likewise, Henry McCullough — one of Rory’s contemporaries who went on to fame with Joe Cocker and Wings — recalls the man’s prudence: “I think Rory liked a pint alright,” he says, “but the sort of rock’n’roll lifestyle that went along with, say, Thin Lizzy, would have been unknown in my day and Rory’s day. Anything to excess was just something you read about, like in the context of jazz musicians.”

Unfortunately, there had, in recent times, been stories of Rory having an alcohol problem, always denied by his family. Friends agree, off the record, that while there was a brief period in the 80s where there was a problem, it was a temporary situation brought on by the stresses of business problems haunting him from the days of Taste in the late-60s, and his dealings with a previous manager. Bootlegs had started to swamp the European CD market, Taste royalties were being paid by Polygram — but not to any ex-members of the band — and so on. One source estimated that 70% of Gallagher’s income in recent years was used up in fighting court cases.

Joe Jackson, writing in ‘The Irish Times during the week of his death, offered revealing indications of Rory’s philosophy on all this, taken from one of his final interviews. He quoted Rory as saying “the idea that you can’t play the blues unless you’re an alcoholic is nonsense and, potentially a lethal notion to be selling to young musicians . . . But blues or no blues, there is a strong Celtic, pagan element within the Irish which I don’t think we’ve ever completely shaken off. So, as a superstitious Catholic, I never really was tempted to try those excesses. Sure, I drink, but not to excess. And the key reason was the absolute fear of the darkness taking over. . . You have to step over a certain line, not necessarily to connect with evil, but to take yourself as close to the brink as you can to give your music that essential edge. It’s a dangerous balance you have to try to maintain…”

Gallagher maintained that balance with amazing success for years — keeping his feet on the ground while still producing some of rock’s most exhilarating music. His pastoral, Catholic background may be some explanation. He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, in 1947 and brought up in rural West Cork, where he heard Elvis and Leadbelly on the radio, consequently, and in a manner very similar to many other future pioneers of his generation, he became besotted with the guitar.

The whole era and culture of Ireland in the 60s was simply miles away and light years removed from the rarefied atmosphere of rock’n’roll in America or even England. After years of domination by clean-cut showbands, with suits and brass sections, Ireland only really started to catch up with the advances in popular music towards the end of the decade. “At that stage in Dublin,” says Pat Egan, a promoter and manager then writing a beat group column in Ireland’s ‘Spotlight’ magazine, “it was Henry McCullough and the People (later Eire Apparent). Henry would have been the main opposition to Rory at that stage —the other guitar player. It was all a good bit before Thin Lizzy and only much later that Gary Moore came into the picture.”

“Well, that would be true alright,” says McCullough, “but Rory went on to do more his own thing than I did. I think I was probably in showbands longer than Rory — he was probably the first to get out of all that. Even when I was in the People, we were still playing covers of Wilson Pickett and so on. Rory, by that time, had got himself on the first rung of the rock’n’roll ladder with Taste and consequently went on to much better things.”

Rory joined the Fontana Showband at 16, simply to be out playing, but formed his first blues-based three-piece in 1965. Mark Prendergast, in his excellent book ‘Irish Rock’, describes how the very idea of a three-piece in the beat era — let alone Ireland — was so bizarre that a friend had to pose with a Vox Continental organ in publicity photos in order for the group to get a Hamburg residency.

The original trio fizzled out in a fit of poverty in 1966, but Rory tried to resurrect the idea that year with Eric Kitteringham and Norman D’Amery from the Axles Showband. This was the first real version of Taste, which even at the height of the beat boom, was still making only a fiver a night in Ireland.

Best reactions were always in Belfast, where the group enjoyed a residency at the Maritime Club — counting Van Morrison as one of their regular fans — and where they were taken under the wing of manager Eddie Kennedy, who secured Taste a deal with Polydor on the proviso that the rhythm section be changed. John Wilson and Richie McCracken, two more showband survivors, were brought in and the group relocated to England in May ‘68, where a career, as brief but as dynamic as Cream’s — with whom they were often compared — ensued, peaking with the pyrrhic heights of the August 1970 Isle Of Wight festival. The group were, literally, falling apart on stage, with personality conflicts exacerbated by business situations and the sheer burn-out stress of constant gigging. A live album was recorded at the festival and issued without the group’s knowledge, though by that time, they’d already split.


All four Taste albums — two low quality concert sets and two excellent studio offerings— are available on CD. 1969’s “Taste”, which includes “Born On The Wrong Side Of Town” and “Blister On The Moon”, stands up well to the Cream comparisons, but it’s 1970’s “On The Boards” which remains definitive. Displaying all the maturity, variety and power of early Led Zeppelin, it shows the breadth of Gallagher’s capabilities, from open-tuned acoustic material to blistering hard-rock anthems and slide-drenched heavy blues. A further title, “In The Beginning”, made up of lo-fi recordings made by the early version of Taste during their Belfast days in July 1967, appeared semi-legally in 1974.

Gallagher remained with Polydor as a solo artist (with bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell — later replaced by Rod De’Ath — in support), and between 1971 and 1974, he released six solo albums of enduring quality — “Rory Gallagher”, “Deuce”, “Live In Europe”, “Blueprint” ,“Tattoo” and “Irish Tour ‘74 — all featuring a wider variety of musical expression than some may have given him credit for. “Can’t Believe It’s True”, on his 1971 self-titled solo debut, features the guitarist playing alto sax, in musical territory closer to Van Morrison and the jazzier aspects of Ten Years After. Other tracks from this era reflect his interest in acoustic music and open tunings, particularly the work of Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy; and the relationship between the modal scales found in Irish traditional music and blues scales.

What was probably his last television performance, on a 1994 Ulster TV documentary on Northern Irish music called ‘Rock’n The North’, focused on his exploration of the blues/Irish crossover. It featured Gallagher filmed in his London home explaining his style and his fond memories of Belfast to interviewer Terri Hooley, and performing a suitably cross-cultural rendition of “That’s All Right, Mama”.

Rory’s reclusiveness was well-known by this stage, although he appeared forthcoming and in reasonable health on the programme. “Rory canceled the interview at short notice,” says Hooley, best known as the Godfather of Irish punk and founder of the Good Vibrations label “But we tracked him down. It was very important to us to have Rory in the programme. I always thought he was a very shy and wonderful guy —definitely a big hero of mine.”
From 1975 to 1982, Gallagher released a series of albums with Chrysalis, after which he fell silent until 1988’s “Defender” and “Fresh Evidence” two years later, issued on his own Capo label via Demon and Castle respectively. This was the period of Gallagher’s health and business problems at their worst, and Alan Robinson recalls that after suffering the consequences of bad deals, he now preferred the option of one-off arrangements while retaining ownership of the work himself. Various back catalogue titles were also acquired and licensed to Demon.

Throughout the ‘quiet years’, however, Gallagher had happily been contributing as a guest guitarist to all manner of relatively low-key albums by Irish artists — including easy listening pianist Phil Coulter, folk group the Dubliners, and a particularly memorable contribution to “Out Of The Air” (1988) by jazz/rock/traditional uillean piper, Davy Spillane. The record featured a particularly mesmerizing instrumental tribute to Phil Lynott, which in itself stands as a tribute to Gallagher. “It was really good of him to take part, and I was fond of him,” says Spillane. “He was very good to me. I didn’t know him particularly well, but he was a very generous, personable man and I greatly enjoyed his company.


Although they never recorded together, Andy Irvine — a man who had a parallel degree of influence on the direction of Irish music, coming from the traditional standpoint, with bands like Sweeney’s Men and Planxty — echoes these sentiments: “I only met him twice, I think, but I remember the first time in London, about 12, 15 years ago. He was just sitting there, and I had to look at him three times and think, ‘that’s not Rory Gallagher, is it?’ I mean, there was absolutely no kind of ‘I am Rory Gallagher’ vibe out of him. He came over and got talking to me, and I was incredibly flattered that he knew who I was and knew my music. And I just thought he was like an ordinary bloke. There’s no reason why people who are big stars shouldn’t be like that, but very often they’re not. He was a really nice guy and when I heard he’d died, I just couldn’t believe it — I didn’t even know he was ill.”

The ups and downs of Gallagher’s health had been largely kept from the press in recent years, although he was still playing occasional gigs in Europe and regularly turning up on other people’s albums. Aside from his contributions to a forthcoming Peter Green tribute album, the last of these, released only recently, was by Irish blues artist Samuel Eddy, and by coincidence also features Jan Akkerman, former guitarist with Dutch progressive outfit, Focus, and a man with whom Gallagher regularly rubbed shoulders in the ‘Best Guitarist’ category of early 70s popularity polls. Both were also united by the fact that they were outsiders in the British/American-dominated world of music at that time.

“Yeah, you may have a point there,” says Akkerman. “I think we had that in common. If there’s anything chauvinistic it’s the British music press trying to protect their marketplace like nobody else. But we always passed each other like ships in the night. We played at the same festivals all the time, particularly in the ‘70s. I never had the pleasure to meet him, but I know his style of playing and I admired it. I think he stayed true to his beliefs. He was the king of the white blues players as far as I was concerned.”

Many others would agree with this, although there is a feeling that he should have
— could have — been bigger than he was. The story persists that he turned down the chance to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones, but then the same story is told of Ry Cooder too, and he’s always denied it. Even if it were true, Rory was simply too good a player to be lumbering around with Keith Richards’ riffs. ‘It’s hard to know, really, whether he went for the big time and never achieved it,” says Pat Egan, ‘or whether he was just happy to stick with the blues thing. He did go over to the States and tried really hard for a while, in the mid-70s, playing long tours. And at that stage, he really appeared to be trying to break bigger ground.”

Others remain of the opinion that he was happy with what he had: “I think he had the amount of success that he really wanted and then rode the rest of it out,” says Henry McCullough. Dave Pegg, bass player with Jethro Tull and an old friend of the guitarist, recalls a perfect illustration of this when he, Gallagher and various other musicians, including Ric Parfitt of Status Quo, were chatting at an after-show party in Germany a few years ago: ‘Ric was praising Rory and offering to write and produce a hit single for him,” says Pegg. ‘Gallagher politely replied, ‘What would I be wanting one of those for?’ Ric then said, ‘Well, alright — how would you like to meet Charles and Di?’ The look on Rory’s face said it all — and so did his music.” He’ll be greatly missed.

This article is from the August 1995 issue of Record Collector.
Reformatted by roryfan
Supplied by moonchild and shinkicker

043 - Blues Rocker Rory Gallagher's Unique Sound Bridges the Atlantic by Shiv Cariappa 7/29/91 from the Christian Science Monitor A reflection on Rory's career as it was taking another turn.
July 29, 1991
Blues Rocker Rory Gallagher’s Unique Sound Bridges the Atlantic

Shiv Cariappa, Special to The Christian Science Monitor

RORY GALLAGHER: The Irish musician returns to American shores in the midst of a

(BOSTON) FEW rock’n’roll artists have managed to weather the self-indulgence endemic to the pop music industry, and many have waded unashamedly into commercial compromise. But Irish blues-rocker Rory Gallagher, to borrow the title of his 1975 release on vinyl, has been going “Against the Grain” for almost his entire career

Mr. Gallagher is no journeyman guitar-basher. He brings a distinctive personal and virtuosic expression to his music by blending roots-blues elements and Celtic and zydeco sounds with driving rock and slow ballads. After a six-year hiatus – long by rock-music standards – the guitarist this spring made a brief swing through the United States, playing to packed houses. Gallagher returns later this fall to the American touring circuit with a new band.

Best known in Europe and more a cult favorite on American shores, Gallagher is a pioneering blues rocker with a legendary career.

In 1969, he fronted the power trio “Taste,” which opened the American tour for the supergroup “Blind Faith” featuring Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Gallagher was on bluesman Muddy Waters’ “London Sessions” and performed with such notables as Albert King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Rolling Stones. While many of his contemporaries – Jimi Hendrix and Clapton – immersed themselves in the psychedelic imagery of the ‘60s, Gallagher shied away from its excesses.

“When you are touring a lot, you can take any road you like, but you won’t last if you burn yourself with drugs and alcohol. Some musicians seem indestructible, but even they have to pay a price for it,” said Gallagher in interviews from London, where he is currently auditioning new band members and remixing two previous albums for reissue on compact disc, and before he went on stage this spring at Boston’s Paradise Club.

As a solo act, Gallagher was like a Gaelic troubadour who went against the style, paint, and glitter of the early ‘70s, with his checked work shirt, jeans, and scruffy guitar. And unlike his peers Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Clapton, commercial success eluded him – in part because of his unwillingness to release single hits, and his strict eschewal of self promotion. I’ve had too many opportunities to sell out,” Gallagher says. “Obviously, I would like to play to bigger audiences and have a bit more success, but not if I have to commercialize.

“I won’t squander my credibility, whatever that is, just for one silly song,” Gallagher says. “At this point, if I had a very good song that I believed in, I might consider it for radio play, but I tend to find many good rock musicians come out with very trivial songs as hits.”

Like many blues rockers whose careers were derailed in the 1 980s, Gallagher had to contend with the eras synthetic sounds and techno-pop, which featured video dance divas and a few lip-synching frauds. Gallagher returns in the midst of a blues revival that has rejuvenated the careers of John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt. This is also the year where the music recording industry was surprised by the strong sales of the Robert Johnson compact disc set, which features 50-year-old blues recordings.

To Gallagher, all musical roads lead back to the 1 930s and earlier. Although mindful of his Celtic heritage, Gallagher turned to those roots and country blues of the Mississippi delta for inspiration – music that he has an undisguised passion for, and sounds he discovered on radio programs while growing up in West Cork, Ireland. Gallagher says he found the “raw and rhythmic qualities,” especially on acoustic guitar, to be “a deeper kind of music.”

The singer-songwriter, who first picked up acoustic guitar when he was nine, has made 14 solo albums, almost all of which include at least one track written by pioneers such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Bill Broonzy. His surprise visit to the US this spring coincided with the well received release of “Fresh Evidence” (IRS Records) – Gallagher’s first American album in almost a decade. On tour, the guitarist frequently had to explain his absence from North America.

“Some of the tours we were offered in America just did not appeal to us, because it meant going around stadiums playing in front of some other huge group which had an audience not sympathetic to blues or rock’n’roll,” he says.

It is as a live performer that the 42-year-old Gallagher has few peers. He approaches the guitar with such passion, and critics say his improvisational journeys with the stratocaster actually go somewhere without getting lost in transit. On stage, he coaxes a whirlwind of deft harmonics and feedbacks from his open-chorded guitars in a sweat-drenched workout.

In 1978, Guitar Player magazine wrote, “What Gallagher has to say about blues and rock’n’roll should be required reading for any aspiring guitarist, just as his many records and live performances should be required listening.”

Besides putting a new band together, the next several months will be busy for Gallagher. A film score may be in the works; the Celtic group the Chieftains have invited him to appear with them on television in Dublin; a new boxed CD set is planned; plus a world tour is in the offing. Gallagher also expects to complete several songs. And as an avid reader of mystery books and biographies, he often spices his lyrics with references to characters he finds from his books.

“After writing quite a few songs now, I have not a method but a way of being patient with a couple of verses or a certain set of chords. I can match them up quicker now than I used to,” he says. “The one thing you do improve is songwriting.”

And he has been asked by both Irish and Welsh television separately to do a video documentary on his career.

“It is something I wouldn’t mind doing – not for ego’s sake- but for the sake of covering 20-odd years of music,” says the soft-spoken Gallagher.

reformatted by roryfan

044 - Rory Gallagher Against The Grain

” When I listen to something, I like to be taken out of my seat and thrown across the room. I like guts, a good drive, which can include gentle stuff too. If it sounds good and feels good, that’s it.” Rory Gallagher

Quotes like that, and a close listen to most of his music, might lead one to think Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher is some kind of fierce character, a mean ball of energy likely to explode into malevolent action at a moment’s notice. The truth is, Gallagher, the person, is almost the complete antithesis of his aggressive music. He’s quiet, friendly, soft-spoken, eager to please. But don’t stand in the way of the man or his guitar.
Born in Ballyshannon, County Donnegal, Rory, moved at an early age to Cork. He bought his first real guitar at nine, replacing an earlier plastic model on which he’d entertained relatives and socials with the hits of Gene Autry. At 15, though he had no particular fondness for the form, he joined the full-scale Fontana Showband ( later renamed the Impact ), with whom he spent two and a half crowd-pleasing years.

“We played all over Ireland, toured Spain and did a couple of English gigs,” Gallagher explains. “It turned out to be great fun. We were luckier than most showbands: the drummer wanted to do Jim Reeves stuff, but the rest of us wanted to play “Nadine” and ” A Shot of Rhythm and Blues.” Rory’s rock & roll heroes had been Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly; when the showband broke up, he found himself freed to play his favorite hard rock exclusively. With the showband’s drummer and bassist, he visited Hamburg in 1965, returning to England some months later and forming the nucleus of Taste, the band with which he was to enjoy his first success. ” We played around Ireland, went to Germany again, then finally made the big step over to London in 1969.”

Taste made two critically acclaimed albums, Taste and On the Boards ( both on Atlantic in the U.S.) and built up a considerable reputation on the strength of volcanic live appearances. Late in 1970, however, Taste broke up and Gallagher again found himself with time on his hands. He spent the early months of 1971 laying the foundations for a new band that would continue where Taste left off. With fellow Irishman Wilgar Campbell on drums and Gerry McAvoy on bass backing him, Rory cut his first solo album, Rory Gallagher, released on Polydor. The set furnished a more in-depth portrait of the artist; where Taste’s assets lay in the band’s ability to generate enormous physical excitement, the new album disclosed Rory as a powerful performer, even subtle, musical sides.
Around the same time, one of Rory’s early idols- Muddy Waters- visited London to cut his London Sessions album and Rory was one of the first sidemen the veteran bluesman chose.

Gallagher recorded two more solo albums with Wilgar and Gerry: Deuce in November of 1971 and Live In Europe in spring of 1972, the latter being the record that brought his giant breakthrough in sales. The band had first visited America in the fall of ’71, and made considerable impression on hard rock-hungry audiences across the country.
Asked recently if his music had changed since the days of Taste, Gallagher explained, “I’m still recognizable, even if the line-up has changed. As far as style goes, I don’t like playing twelve bars all the time; the blues field goes right from Charlie Patton to Lowell Fulson and my aim has been to play the blues properly and feel them. Basically, I like anything with guts: Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, The Stones, Johnny Winter.”

Gallagher released three more albums with Polydor ( Blueprint, Tattoo and the devastating live set, Irish Tour ’74 ) before signing with Chrysalis in 1975. His first album with the label , Against the Grain, was released in the fall of the year, coinciding with a favorably received American tour.

” I’m pleased with the new album,” Rory admits. “It’s the first studio album in two years: we recorded at Wessex, a studio I hadn’t used before in London, but it had a nice feel to it. There are seven new songs which I’ve written over a period of a year. Apart from those, there’s a Leadbelly number, ‘Out On the Western Plain,’ and James and Bobby Purify’s ‘I Take What I Want.’ It’s a good record.”

This article comes from a promotional booklet for Against The Grain in 1975.
reformatted by roryfan

045 - Rory Gallagher UK Tour 78/79



Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, he was playing his first real acoustic guitar (it replaced an earlier plastic one) by the time he was nine, regaling relatives with cowboy tunes and Irish folk songs. He remembers enjoying Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Chuck Berry, and getting into blues the traditional second-hand way; hearing Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie thiough skiffle player Lonnie Donegan. Rory joined an Irish show band at the age of fifteen while attending school because it was the only way at the time to play constantly and keep himself in guitars and amps.

With the Fontana Show Band, Rory was able to tour England and Ireland and attune himself to life on the road (which still doesn’t faze him). After touring Europe with the show band’s bass player and drummer, Rory formed the original Taste in 1965, a legendary Irish blues-based band featuring Eric Kitteringham on bass and Norman Damery on drums.
Now Rory Gallagher is slap bang in the middle of his most traumatic year since he split up Taste as they were on the verge of touching their peak, back in 1970. Striving to realise his vast potential once and for all, Gallagher has decreed that 1978 is to be a year of drastic change.

To measure the meticulous with which Rory has been re-plotting his career, you have only to consider that his last album, ” Calling Card”, which in itself marked a slight change in musical direction, was realized in October 1976, two years ago.

The intervening period has seen Gallagher cut down on touring substantially and return to Ireland for a re-think. The results are now beginning to emerge. He came back to Britain for a brief tour earlier this year, which, in retrospect, can be viewed as a good-bye to a four year period.
Shortly after the final concert of that tour, a raucous event at the London Hammersmith Odeon, Gallagher took time off and made his momentous decision. The time had come, he felt, to make a clean sweep. Drummer Rod DeAth and keyboard player Lou Martin would be departing but bass player, Gerry McAvoy, who has been at Rory’s side since the split with Taste, was to be retained.

The new album, “Photo Finish”, was originally to be released almost a year ago and Rory had spent some time in California recording. Then came the news that the album would be delayed because Rory had damaged his hand in an accident.

© Danny Clifford 1978-2002
In the middle of it all came the news that the band was to split and obviously, there would be no recording until Gallagher had settled for a new combination of backing musicians. Here he caused another surprise. Instead of expanding the band – there was even talk of a brass section at one stage – Rory decided to return to his original format, opting for a three-piece, guitar, bass and drums, which was how his band was in the beginning. To complete the trio, he picked up drummer Ted McKenna, formerly the solid backbone of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Rory’s career was back in full swing again.
The time came to re-record his new album and Rory searched for a producer. Eventually, he wisely decided on an engineer who could double as producer and there was no better man available for the job than fellow Irishman, Alan O’Duffy, who had gained invaluable experience working with Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones. With that, band and producer! engineer, he headed for Germany. At the end of August Rory Gallagher completed recording ‘Photo-Finish” and this time was satisfied with the outcome.

The album is set for release on October 6th. There are nine brand new Rory Gallagher compositions on what will be viewed as a different album. Without shuffling the pack too much, Rory has injected a freshness and vitality in this new album. “Brute Force And Ignorance”, an oddly-twisting rocker that was featured on the last British tour, and the mellow, but forceful, “Fuel To The Fire”, will be seen as Gallagher classics with time.

But really, we shouldn’t be too annoyed that Rory has fused so much over this new collection. He wants to put his recorded work on a par with the brilliance and electricity of his live performances.

He once said that being called “good old hard-working Rory” was nothing more than a back-handed compliment and with “Photo-Finish”, he proves that there is much more to his character than merely being a minstrel on tour for the rest of his life.

Accepting that, however, Gallagher’s past track record shouldn’t be ignored. Each of his albums have offered something new, “Calling Card”, don’t forget, had Rory adventurously drifting into a bit of jazz while “Against The Grain” was a perfectly valid attempt at recreating a live sound in the studio.
Rory Gallagher is a man with history, starting with the pioneering days back in Ireland with Taste. In 1978, he is destined to place himself on a new plateau and “Photo-Finish” could just be the perfect launching pad to open a new era for Gallagher, both as a songwriter and a musician.
This program was provided by a “Continental Op”
THANKS A MILLION my friend!!

046 - Gallagher in Stones Sessions - BRIEF article about Rory playing with the Stones from New Musical Express
Gallagher in Stones Sessions
Rory Gallagher has taken part in hush-hush recording sessions with the Rolling Stones, the NME learned this week. He flew out to Rotterdam with the band and spent 48 hours in the studios, where the Stones were recording another couple of tracks for their next album

David Oddy, Gallagher’s manager, told NME: “Rory has been friendly with Keith Richards for some time, and it was at Keith’s invitation that he joined the Stones in Holland. Of course, this was only a guest appearance, and there is no question of Rory joining the Stones on a permanent basis. In fact, no sooner had he returned to London than he had to fly off to Japan at the start of his own world tour.”

A Stones spokesman commented: “They are not in any hurry to find a permanent replacement for Mick Taylor, and they intend to use various guest guitarists on the new album.” NME understands that ex-Mountain stalwart Leslie West may be another guest to be featured. Jimmy Page and Ron Wood have already contributed to individual tracks.

NME refers to New Musical Express.
Thanks to Patrick Kennedy for passing this article along.
reformatted by roryfan

047 - The World's Best Pop Guitarist - A 1972 article from the Evening Herald right after Rory was named the world's best pop guitarist by Melody Maker
The World’s Best Pop Guitarist:
Cork-born guitarist, Rory Gallagher, was recently voted world’s top guitarist in a pop opinion poll in leading British music weekly. Here he talks, via transatlantic telephone, to Evening Herald pop columnist Tony Wilson about winning the poll and his current tour in America.

RORY GALLAGHER, voted the world’s best pop guitarist, is taking his success very calmly.
“I was surprised by the news,” Cork-born Rory told me on the transatlantic telephone from his hotel in Los Angeles.

“It’s a nice thing to have happen to you, but I’m not worrying about it. It could change next week.”

Rory is on his third tour of America, having previously played there with Taste in 1969, and last year. In 1969 he toured with British group Blind Faith, which included Eric Clapton, one of the guitarists he defeated in taking the world guitar crown, and last year his group shared the bill with American drummer Buddy Miles’ group.

The present tour started out as a normal month’s work – that was nine weeks ago!

So successful has Rory been in America, on the Coast to Coast trail, that this tour will run for another four weeks.

Rory told me that he first knew of his success in the pop opinion poll, conducted by leading British music weekly, Melody Maker, two weeks before the results were officially announced.

Asked what the reaction had been like in American group scene circles about his being voted world’s number one guitarist, Rory said that people had been very kind, and he had received congratulations wherever he played.

This third tour of America could make him the most widely-toured pop musician from this side of the Atlantic. ” Jeff Beck and his group toured here for 10 weeks,” said Rory, ” and that was considered a very long tour.”

The nine week stint has taken Rory and the group all over America, crossing and recrossing the continent playing clubs, concerts, college campuses and festivals.

“It’s the best way of doing it.” commented Rory, who was sounding quite fresh despite the early hour in America. “We’ve completely covered the country, but we can only stay one more month because of the visa.”

Rory has found the American audiences falling into roughly two categories. Those at the concerts are described by Rory as being “pretty wild’ and those at clubs “seem to be a purer audience. They applaud, but they don’t go wild like the concert audiences. They are there more for the music than anything else.”


I asked Rory what effect the touring in America had on him as a musician.

“It has an effect, although I find it hard to put into words. When you’re touring, every night you’re in a new place with a new audience. They expect something from you every time. The competition is fierce here, but it gets you into shape.

“Sometimes on big concerts you only get about 35 minutes to play in, so you must play well from the start. That really trims you right.”

With so much traveling, wasn’t Rory- and the rest of the group- feeling tired?

“Well, it’s not so bad,” he answered. “We fly to a lot of gigs which isn’t so bad as traveling by road. “After the first four or five weeks we’ve got our second wind. It’s a psychological thing really. It’s tiring, but we treat it as if we were touring in Europe.”

Rory feels he would like to have worked more in America. “The general reactions among the promoters have been good, in fact we could stay until Christmas if we wanted to.”I’ve learned a lot working here. But it also gives you an appetite for working in Europe again.”of course, being here gives us a chance to see some of our favourite artistes whom we might not see.”


Despite his success so far in America, and the added accolade of being named top guitarist in the pop world, Rory told me: “It’s strange here because you can be highly rated in Europe and not mean a thing over here. They really look into your gut. You’ve got to fight them physically more than mentally.”

Some groups who have worked in America say that this has had an effect on their music, changing it and improving it. I asked Rory if this was the case with him. Rory thought so.

He said that having a keyboard player, Lou Martin, a 22-year-old Belfast-born musician has made a lot of difference to the group’s sound.

“By the time we get home there will be a fair amount of difference, some new things with the harmonies in the group. There are certainly differences from the old line-up. The sound is funkier, more interesting harmonically and melodically with the keyboards.”

When Rory and the boys come back from America, there will be a short holiday for all of them and then its back to work again and into the studio to start laying down tracks for a new album.

‘We hope to have the album recorded in November,” said Rory, “and we’ll do a few gigs here and there, but the last two months of the year will mainly be given over to working on the L.P.”

Also coming up, in the New Year, visits to Germany, Denmark, Holland , Scandinavia and in March a major UK tour.

Can Irish fans look forward to seeing Rory soon? “Yes, we shall be home for a few days at the end of December and we’ll be playing some shows,” said Rory. ” I’m really looking forward to that.”

This article comes from the Evening Herald 12/14/72
Thanks to Patrick Kennedy for sharing it
reformatted by roryfan

048 - Gallagher- It The Quiet Way by James Johnson - From 12/16/72 issue of New Musical Express. Rory speaks in an insightful manner about touring and the musical scene. Good article.
Gallagher – Doing It The Quiet Way
by James Johnson
JUDGING FROM his alert eyes and firm handshake, it seemed that Rory Gallagher’s
recent four month tour of the States took about as much out of him as a one-nighter down the road.

In a way, it’s no surprise perhaps, because one of the most remarkable things about Gallagher is simply the way he goes about his work. He likes to keep things tight and, to a certain degree, business-like — which means there’s no wasted energy.

His whole set-up is almost a folksy little operation. He doesn’t have a manager, doesn’t employ a press man. His brother drives the van and any hustling that has to be done, Gallagher handles himself he says. “If you’re not careful you can end up with a whole harem of people you don’t need and don’t know what they’re there for except to get you out of bed or something.”

Basically, Gallagher’s into being a musician rather than a star. He cares about music, his own and music in general….and can say without under-valuing his ability that the guitar for him is just a childhood hobby that’s grown.

Naturally, therefore, the stresses of a five week American tour that ended up lasting four mouths didn’t worry him unduly. “There’s no point in letting the sickness get you down,” he explained, “The only thing to do is enjoy it.”

“Probably if a band is at a low ebb socially, or not physically at their best, America could tear them apart. Also I feel there’ s a little bit of laziness there. When guys go out for a four week tour and then their manager or somebody wants then to extend it, everybody tends to feel they ought to collapse at the thought.”

“It’s psychological tiredness, if anything. Obviously all the hotels and planes can tire anybody, but we treated it like a holiday in some ways and made the best of it. Luckily it clicked. There was no sweat and in a way, it had a nice toughening effect on the band.”

Apart from being able to play the concert halls, Gallagher was pleased to get a chance to play in clubs often the same place for several days at a time.

“If you just played concerts month after month, you eventually become a little soulless, I think. When you play clubs for a few nights you get all the local people coming up to talk to you afterwards telling you what happens in the town, and who plays there and it can really invigorate your music. To me that’s what touring’s all about. It’s not performing to people divorced from them all the time; it’s getting to know them, walking up to the bar and having a drink like everybody else.”

He continued. “No matter how mad music gets to me it should be regarded as folk music in a sense. I don’t play folk as such, but I like to keep a folk musician’s attitude towards it, talking to and learning from people.”

“I suppose it depends a bit on the type of music you play. But my style tends to suit that and I’ve seen people play my sort of music, who fall into the trap of just doing performances. To my ears their music takes on a strange sound: the humour goes out of it, y’know, the sharpness, the click.”

Since Gallagher last played in Britain, he’s changed drummers- Rod de Ath for Wilgar Campbell- and added a keyboard player, Lou Martin. Although at first it would seem a fairly drastic switch in lineup, he says the past formula hasn’t really changed. ” I never insisted on just having bass and drums” he explained. ” I was always open, but I wasn’t going to add somebody just for the sake of it. I didn’t want to end up with a big Hammond or with something that would totally change the sound. The important thing with Rod’s that basically he’s a pianist so he’s got all the right rhythmic feel.”

“Essentially I’m a solo artist, but against that the band has an identity of it’s own. The basic act hasn’t changed, but I do feel the music now has somehow become stronger.”

“Lately I’ve felt personally I’ve gone through a kind of new birth. It’s not just the fact of having new musicians… maybe it’s doing such a huge amount of gigs, it’s like a primal experience maybe. You know you get so tired you have to pull out all the stops and start again.”

“Previously I hadn’t lost any enthusiasm, but I felt I’d reached the top peak of energy possible. Now I’ve found there’s even more satisfaction than ever before.”

Talking about America, Gallagher had earlier mentioned he’d seen Albert King. Gallagher, of course, has always been heavily influenced by various blues players, yet, as a guitarist, he’s one of the few British blues players who hasn’t seemed too interested by the King style.

” For me, there’s too much single note playing,” he said. “Rather than say, string bending, I like playing chords and picking as well…perhaps a bit of Eddie Cochran feel.”

“That particular King Style of playing is almost…I don’t know…a bit predictable perhaps. There shouldn’t be one essential style of guitar playing, music has got to move on and it won’t if everybody just plays single string modern blues all the time.”

Since he’s been back from the States, Gallagher’s been recording a new album due out in February. Apart from the live LP released earlier in the year he’s never sold quite as many albums as might have been expected from an artist of his stature Still, he sees no reason why the one shouldn’t do better.

“I don’t think the last one was necessarily a success just because it was live. People automatically assume that — but they forget the side issues like the timing and the number of gigs we’d played before it was released.”

“This new one, I feel, is more accomplished and there’s an excitement in the studio sound. Its worked well in every sense.”

SO, FINALLY, WHAT can audiences expect from the gig he’s playing here before Christmas? Gallagher indirectly states some basic musical beliefs – “it’d be easy to answer that and say: ‘Big surprises. Watch out. I’ll be coming on playing in a pair of skates, but that means nothing to me. Just a new gimmick. I know it sounds unexciting to print, but I’m not coming on stage playing from a trapeze or something.”

“It’s the music that’s important. The new wave of playing, the new feels, what I’ve picked up in all the months of learning since I last played here. You know, that’s really all a musician can ever offer.”

This article come from New Musical Express 12/16/72.
Many thanks to Craig and Kim Stamm for digging out this article through their library sources.
reformatted by roryfan

049 - UP STARTS Rory Gallagher— Irish Flannel and a ‘63 Fender by Richard Gold from the 3/76 issue of Circus. Discusses Against The Grain
Rory Gallagher — Irish Flannel and a ‘63 Fender
by Richard Gold

“Mile High Denver” read the sticker on the plain brown wrapper of the jiffy mailing-bag. It contained a clear plasti-case holding a pale gray cassette with the name ‘Rory Gallagher’ typed neatly on its small white label. I jammed the cassette into the belly of my rickety, ancient mono-Panasonic—and listened transfixed to over 44 minutes of tight-lightning coming down as if sent from over ten miles high.

“Wait until you hear the record on a proper stereo,” enthuses Rory Gallagher one week later on long-distance telephone from Wichita, Kansas. Rory’s been crisscrossing the U.S.A. on a national road tour linked to the release of his dynamic new album, Against The Grain fhis first for Chrysalis Records). His telephone voice is soft and modest, the brogue of his native Cork tempered by years of travel abroad, suggesting more of the gentility of a museum curator than the raw-grit of one of the world’s outstanding bluesmen.

Against The Grain is Rory’s first studio effort in over two years, and it shows all the earmarks of determined conception. “You might say I went into the studio with a vengeance, he says. “I rehearsed the band (Rod’ de Ath, drums; Gerry McAvoy, bass; Lou Martin, keyboards) quite hard, because we wanted to go in with everything pared to the bone.”

Rory and his band deliver their material like a gang of Irish street-fighters: lean, tough and disciplined. “I wrote the tunes during the Winter and Spring of ‘75, with the exception of ‘At The Bottom ’ which is an old one from back in 1970.” And was he feeling a bit down when he wrote that ironic number? “No, not really,” maintains Rory, “it’s supposed to communicate the feeling of walking around on the ocean floor—a bit of a simile, as they say.”

Rory reaches out into the ocean for a superb bit of imagery in “Lost At Sea,” a brilliant celebration of hard-won love with soaring, wailing guitar patterns suggesting the free flight of swirling gulls against a limitless expanse of water and sky. And just how does he pull those lines from the battered, peeling render which put him £100 in debt back in 1963? Rory muses on a question essentially impossible to answer. “Well, you’ve just got to push the strings hard, and try using the fingernail as well as the plectrum to get that extra edge.”

“Lost At Sea” ends on a crying peak and crosses into a macho-savage version of Bo Carter’s “All Around Man” on a harmonic bridge of falsetto scat and starkly isolated Fender solo. “I saw Gary Davis do the number in a hotel dining room in Belgium—I remember it quite well because we had hot whiskey for breakfast. I re-wrote the words for the version I do on Against The Grain, because Bo’s original was slightly pornographic.”

Admiration for black American blues greats like Lemon Jefferson and Huddie Ledbetter has been the cornerstone of Rory’s career, a career which began with Gene Autry tunes at the age of ninematured into a two-year stint with an Irish showband named Fontana, and garnered its first recognition with Taste in the late sixties.

“I’ve been a Leadbelly fan since I was quite young—I used to hear Lonnie Donnegan do his tunes.” Rory interprets a haunting, evocative version of Leadbelly’s “Out On The Western Plain” for one of the album’s most memorable tracks. “This song has always been in my head since childhood,” says Rory. “It’s a bit of an unusual song for Leadbelly to do, since it’s a cowboy song and he was a black man. But historians have discovered that there were black cowboys, so I guess it’s neither here nor there. Anyway, in working out an approach to the tune one night, I started fooling around with a drone tuning, a bagpipe tuning. It produces strange chords—they’re neither major nor minor—but every chord comes out waiting for another to fall on top of it.”

In Ulysses, James Joyce compared the state of Irish art to “the cracked looking glass of a servant.” The phrase suggests the peculiarly filtered perspective through which Irish artists respond to the world, and the island nation’s historical place in the shadow of Mother England. Rory’s treatment of “Out On The Western Plain” derives its uniqueness from a mythic view at twice-remove from the romantic ideal of the American west.

Although he is ambivalent about comparisons to the Clapton-Beck-Hendrix killer guitar-wave of the late sixties, the pure energy of Against The Grain surely represents another link in the chain of power-guitar evolution. “Of course, these were the dominant guitarists of their time, and I listened to all of them with respect. But my own frame of reference goes back to people like Gene Vincent’s guitar player. There were many fine English guitarlists, like Mickey Green, who never achieved the dominance of Clapton with the masses, but who were excelent in their own right. I really can’t analyze my own style—can’t say I woke up one morning and tah-dah, I had it. It’s more of a continual growth. You’ve only got to listen to the old blues masters to realize how long it really takes to achieve greatness.”

Rory’s favorite tune on the new album is the thundering centerpiece, “Souped-Up Ford.” “I had that one in my head for a long while and really wanted to get it out. I don’t like songs that are just ‘he and she and you an me’ and all that. I wanted to get right into that sense of movement and machine-power going off into the horizon.

Rory sets-up “Souped-Up Ford” with wistful, moving number, “Ain’t Too Good” which builds into a tearing, flying climax. “That’s more of a soulful blues,” he says, “but I think there’s a sense of tension in the tune that sustains it.”

Rory’s vocals on tracks like “Cross Me Off Your List ” are at times reminiscent of early Jack Bruce. ‘He’s a Celt like myself, which may account for some similarity. I think my vocals have finally come along to the point where I’m pleased with them. In the past I’d record the guitar and vocals simultaneously live, but for this album I recorded the vocals separately over the guitars.”

Does he have any theory on approaching the blues mold, such as a correlative between suffering dues and conviction in performance. “I’d say you’ve got to maintain a sense of humorous perspective on any situation—like Leadbelly did. Perhaps at times I reach subconsciously into my past, but I think the challenge is more in stepping out into another voice and giving yourself over entirely to it.”

Rory hopes to take his band back into the studio within a few months, and adds that he might well cut his next disc in the U.S.A. Does he have a tentative title for it?

“Well, I don’t know for sure if I’ll be able to write a song around it, but I saw a sign in a Louisville store window that really stuck in my mind.” What did it say?
“SHOTGUNS, GUITARS AND LUGGAGE”, answers Rory with a laugh.

This article comes from the March 1976 issue of Circus.

Thanks to Janet “Calling Card” for sending it.

reformatted by roryfan

050 - The Homespun Hero by Michael Watts - From the 11/25/72 issue of Melody Maker. Excellent article
just music, basic and unadorned
by Michael Watts
He came for just five weeks, and ended up staying three months. If he ever makes it in America, in a big way, which he may well do, that might serve as a kind of testimony to his appeal.

They liked him here. They must have done. But why exactly? He’s not a guitar virtuoso, but then he’s never really said he is. He sings okay, but the voice isn’t memorable.

As for writing ability, he’s composed nothing to stir the mass imagination. He’s not even fashionable: no dramaturgy in his act, no dressing up; just a few puddles of sweat, hair shaking like a tossed salad, and levi from head to toe.

But say what you like about his merits, there’s an unquestionable sense of the unique about Rory Gallagher.

I was sitting in the bar in the Ramada Inn on Eighth Ave. when he entered. He was wearing a vest and a denim shirt, not even faded. He looked just the same as on those occasions I’d seen him at the Marquee. We’d never met before.

“Didn’t I see you at some festival in England?” he inquired straight off. I regretted that he hadn’t. He was just being normal and friendly… After I’d spent a couple of hours with him I figured that was exactly what he was: very normal.

I think Rory, the musician, is inseparable from Rory, the man, and the man represents those qualities, of honesty and straightforwardness, with which show business has never particularly wished to associate itself.

Moreover, in expressing these attitudes, he’s not dogmatic. He’s unpretentious, in fact, to the point where his critics describe him as dull.

Yet his admirers find this air of normally attractive. He gets up on stage and does it, but what’s more he’s seen to be doing it – to be working for his audience without recourse to the props of image, of attitudinizing, and stage theatrics.

He’s a hangover from the heyday of the white English blues bands: little style, but lots of gritty effort and determination.

He draws his following from those who like their music to be basic and unadorned. They probably include a good percentage of those English guitar freaks of the sixties, but there will always be a place for a guy like Gallagher, who wisely never diverges from his audiences expectations of him.

After all, Chuck Berry has succeeded very well on a policy of non adventure.

He understands perfectly the logistics of the business and his own personal appeal. He has no manager, though if it is necessary in the future he’ll hire one, and he has no publicist beyond his record company, Polydor.

He has an agent, of course, in England, and during his period in America he employed one in New York who relayed to him the various offers of gigs. His agency in London is Gaff Masters, who also look after the interests of the Faces.

He had a manager, but there are a variety of reasons why he presently chooses otherwise.

“They always get in the way between musicians,” he explains, ” unless you have a good one. I suppose in a way I’m cutting my own throat… you can’t boast about yourself, can you? I can’t phone up a magazine and say. “Rory went a bomb here.”

“But then there are advantages. If I’m doing a gig in town and they say when will you he back, I can give them an answer there and then. They don’t have to wait about for it to be processed and condensed and analyzed by a manager, and that means something to ordinary people.

“I don’t like that Colonel Tom Parker-type thing, where the artist is hid from humanity. And it makes a musician lazy.

“If you agree to do an interview, for instance, you turn up for it. If you want to give people the run-around being a star, that’s something else.”

In his own homespun way, though, he is a star. How can we refute the evidence of the polls? When pressed, he still rejects the image of stardom, but he admits, quite proudly, to having no illusions about this ability to draw people to his appearances.

He is, he says, “ no social club guitar player.” There would be no point in him saying so.

“But I couldn’t live that star thing 24 hours a day. It’s hard enough just to get onstage and play the music without having to be judged on whether I’m a star or thinking about what tee-shirt to put on.”

He certainly didn’t arrive in the States with a halo of superstardom, greeted at Kennedy Airport by popping flashbulbs.

He and his four-piece group were touring with Savoy Brown, whose lead singer abruptly quit them. Rather than return to England, Gallagher elected to stay on the basis of the reaction he received and the continuing offers he was getting from promoters around the country.

He has a philosophy on how to make it in America. You either spend a million dollars on ads- “Rory Gallagher at Madison Square Gardens” ( where in fact , he played down the bill from Faces) – or you begin in clubs and build from there. But he has no desire, he says, to make one big killing at the Gardens and then return to a mansion with 16 dogs.

That’s being a star. Why should he employ a guy for setting his alarm clock, say, when he can do it perfectly well himself? He would just be embarrassed.

He sighs. We are sitting down over a meal in this modest hotel, for which he subsequently pays. He has an ideal, he explains of what the music business should be; he would dearly like to keep it at the level of the school hop.

“It’s the fun the musicians have. It’s a serious gig, but you don’t take yourself too seriously. I loved that audience thing playing gigs at school hours. It’s before the business sticks its claws in and drags you apart. It sounds kind of pious, but honestly.. .” he trails off.

“I think there are plenty of people who feel like that. I think McCartney, maybe, had that attitude; he wanted that. It’s an anti-space thing, but I don’t think it’s living in the past.

“You see, a lot of people, knowing this attitude, probably don’t think I’m as important as this. I think sometimes writers believe that if a guy isn’t jumping off a chandelier he has nothing to offer.”


The conversation comes around to the subject of singles records. He becomes adamant. He will never make one, he says with finality, and he’ll never be seen on Top of the Pops either.

“I think singles are the start of the end.” “Oh, I know,” he adds hastily, ” all the good points. I know that even Muddy Waters and B.B. King have made good singles, and it would turn on a lot of people who wouldn’t do so otherwise, but it’s just all the stuff that goes with it.

“It’s the Top of the Pops system and I just wouldn’t do that.”

I suspect there’s strong vain of shrewdness behind this attitude as well as a genuine distaste. Led Zeppelin have never done Top of the Pops either, and it’s been a factor that has strengthened the bond of identification between them and their audiences.

Rory says all sorts of people come to see him, from the suits and ties and those interested in in folk music to the 14-year-olds. A proportion of them, he agrees, are probably still hung up on the blues idiom. They come to hear his early songs and some of the Taste numbers.

He smiles. People got very hung-up on the Taste. Critics, especially.

“They thought because I wore a pair of jeans and was a guitarist….ha! But I see the humour of it. I see the everyday sense of humour. There were those who thought we were the new Cream, which we were not.

“If we’d been different people it could’ve been as big. All the same, I think we were bigger than people said we were.”

He seems wary of being labeled a super guitarist: he doesn’t want to be though of primarily as a guy with an axe in his hands. The singing, the writing – they have to merge with that aspect. He doesn’t think of the guitar as totally divorced from the rest of his performance. He wouldn’t be happy just playing the instrument all night.

I ask him, though, who first turned him on to the guitar.

” Lonnie Donegan,” he says swiftly.” You could actually hear him play it. Elvis just had it round his neck.” Ah, the old days.

It’s clear that the plug has been pulled out on all those English blues bands. There are enough guitarists in America to now fit the bill. He’s being practical.

“I don’t think a guy can live off being a guitar star now. Maybe that whole blues thing was overrated and what went before was underrated. Now it’s gone, people are beginning to accept the Shadows for what they are.

“Only a few years ago people laughed at Elvis and Chuck Berry. That’s the good thing about time: it lots the truth back into shape.”

I press him about his interests outside music. He pauses and umms and ahs “I’m not a great golfer!” he answers at last. “I listen to records — a lot of jazz that’s not related to what I do.”

Electronic music? That set look comes over his face again. “I don’t think the synthesizer is really an instrument. I have seen musicians getting songs out of real instruments much better than electronic ones.”

On his next album he will probably use a harpsichord and ‘a bit of organ.’

Strings? “There have been a lot of great records mellowed down to please the producer.”

We’re winding up. Tell me, I say, about your immediate plans. He looks businesslike.

“Well, we’re recording in December, we’re touring Ireland and Germany in January, and then we’re coming back to do a tour of England — that’s on February 1. Then we’re….”

Look out America, next time around.

This article comes from the November 25, 1972 issue of Melody Maker.
Thanks to Janet ( Calling Card) for sending it

051 - The Rory Story by Pete Great interview from a 1971 issue of Zigzag. Part Two of this interview is in Article 137 and is linked with there.
At midnight, Rory Gallagher came off the stage at Wycombe Town Hall, streaming with perspiration and no doubt rippling with pleasure at having sent an over-capacity audience into a riotous frenzy and he found me there, waiting to poke a microphone at his face. But he was charming. . . . nice as pie, and startlingly different from the impression I had of him from the papers — it’s easy to see that he’s only interested in playing his music just as he wants to, and you can sense a strong mutual loyalty between him and his audience. His integrity and ideals aren’t about to be eroded by the lure and sparkle of hit singledom, and he manages to keep the showbiz bullshit that inevitably surrounds a successful ‘star’ to a minimum.
ZZ: As far as I can discover, you got into music through showbands in Cork —is that right?

Rory: Well, if you want to go right back, I actually got my first guitar when I was only 9 .. but even at that age, I used to sing at parties. And around that time I used to hear stuff by Tennessee Ernie Ford, Guy Mitchell and so on, but I was never really struck by music until I first heard Bill Haley and Lonnie Donegan, who was my first real hero because he used to play with such guts. From there I got into Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, then into Chuck Berry and that whole R&B thing. People tend to underestimate old Lonnie…. he wasn’t just doing things like ‘Does your chewing gum lose its flavor’ — he used to do some really nice blues… Leadbelly songs and Woody Guthrie songs — yeah, he was airtight.
Anyway, when I was about 10, I was in a few skiffle groups and I also sang at concerts on my own, and, like I say, I was always being asked to play at parties. Then when I was twelve I got an electric guitar and started a group, but all we ever did was practice, and I think we only ever played one gig — we were just doing rock and roll. Well, I tried to get several bands going over the next three years, but there were all sorts of problems; for instance, at that time, you just couldn’t get a bass guitar in Ireland for love or money, and the only guitars you could get were Rosetti Solid Sevens and Hofners and things like that.
So, as you said, I joined a showband. I answered an ad, and joined the Impact, or the Fontana as it was called then, and I stayed with that for about 2 years. We did all the Irish dancehalls, all the Irish dancehalls in England, played bases in Europe and generally got around quite a bit.

ZZ: What sort of stuff were you playing in that band?

Rory: Well, the top twenty, some Jim Reeves, and a couple of Clancy Brothers songs — that was the staple repertoire of most of the showbands.. . . but we weren’t so tied down…. we were only masquerading as a showband really, and that’s the reason I was able to stick it for so long. I used to sing ‘Nadine’, ‘A shot of rhythm & blues’, ‘Brown eyed handsome man’ and a couple of my own songs, and the rest of the band would do Georgia Fame type stuff — so we were just about as far out as a showband could be, though our drummer used to insist on sticking in the odd Jim Reeves song…, it was a good compromise, and I was able to get out and play rather than sitting around at home.

ZZ: So at that time, the group scene in Ireland was pretty non-existent?

Rory: Well there was a bit of a scene starting in Dublin, and Van Morrison was getting some things together up in Belfast, but when I eventually did leave the Impact, I was doing nothing for six months because there was nothing happening in Cork. I formed a trio with the bass player and drummer from the showband, which had split up, and we went to Hamburg for a couple of weeks in Summer 1965. The promoter over there had asked for a four piece group with an organ, so when we turned up each night, we had to give an excuse — like, “our organist’s got flu” or “he’s got appendicitis”, when we didn’t even have an organist. . . . but we got by, playing Chuck Berry, rock and roll and the usual German club music.

ZZ: How did the first Taste start up?

Rory: When I got back to Cork, the trio that I just told you about split up, and at the same time Norman Damery and Eric Kittringham left a group called the Axels, which was Cork’s big group at the time. So there was a chance to get together with two really good musicians, and I took it. We played all over the place —moved to Belfast for a while, came over to England, went to Hamburg — and we stayed together from around August 66 to Summer 1968. It was very much a case of sleeping in the van, and long hard grinds around the various clubs, but it was pretty enjoyable even so… and then we just broke up — Eric wanted to start his own band and Norman wanted to get off the road for a while, and so we packed it in.

ZZ: By this time, you’d got more into Blues as opposed to Chuck Berry style ……. how did you become influenced in that direction?

Rory: I began to hear people like Buddy Guy, and some of the older acoustic players… it was just a gradual move; for instance I found out about Willie Dixon from Chuck Berry records, and then discovered he also wrote songs that were recorded by Muddy Waters.. . . and so I got into his music. You know how you get interested in something and try to find out more it was like that really.

ZZ: Tell us a bit about Hamburg… was it the usual 5 sets a night scene?

Rory: Yes, we’d play 45 minutes in each hour, and we’d go on stage about four or five times a night — that’s weekdays. . on Saturdays we had to do seven sets. I was never there for months on end, like the Beatles, but it was good hard labour all the same. I wasn’t complaining though, because in the showband it wasn’t unusual to do five hours on your feet without a break… you’d get off the stage and your fingers would be mashed to pieces. I enjoyed every minute of Hamburg though. .. . it was fun unlimited really, because you often shared the bill with another band, and we used to have a lot of good times.

ZZ: Do you remember which other groups were over there when you were?

Rory: Well, you had people who were big heroes in Germany but unheard of over here.. . like Lee Curtis, the Bats a Scottish group called the Live Wires, and a bloke called Johnny Law. .. . and then there were bands like The VIPs, who later became Spooky Tooth, and the Remo 4, who developed into Ashton Gardner & Dyke. It was good fun over there.

ZZ: So when that first Taste split up, you formed the next Taste and came to seek fame and fortune in London — is that right?

Rory: The first Taste had come over in May and split in August…then John and Richard joined and we got the recording contract with Polydor, who’d had their eye on Taste for some time.

ZZ: I read somewhere that you almost signed with Major Minor…

Rory: That’s another story… . a Belfast incident with the first Taste. When we were living there, someone suggested that we do some demos in a certain studio. I don’t really know the full story, but it looks as if they’re going to be released soon….

ZZ: So when Taste 2 came over here, did you have a London base, or were you still living out of a suitcase?

Rory: No — the first time we were over it was guest houses, sleeping in the van and that sort of caper, but this time we had a flat in Earls Court.. . . and by this time we had a record company, and were also looked after by Stigwoods.

ZZ: Did you have all the gear you needed?

Rory: Well, we had a 100 watt p.a. , my Vox AC 30, a kit of drums, a 100 watt Marshall bass amp and speakers, and a couple of guitars. . . . we’d accumulated them over the years, and we haven’t really changed too much since — except for a better p.a.

ZZ: Had you come over thinking that the streets of London were paved with gold?

Rory: Oh no, I knew what it was like. I’d been over with the showband, played the dancehalls and on my nights off I’d go to places like the Marquee — so I was fairly familiar with what was going on and knew what to expect. I knew there would be no sudden rise to fame, as it were, and, sure enough, we’d go to a gig hoping to impress so that they booked us back. We’d go out for ten quid or fifteen quid and hope to get booked back for more and our diary was always quite full because we didn’t mind going up to Inverness one night and Plymouth the next, both for low money…, it was the only way to establish ourselves as far as we were concerned, because people soon forget what they read in a paper but they rarely forget a gig. . . .so we just gradually worked our way up.

ZZ: Looking back, how do you feel about the three Taste albums?

Rory: In what respects?

ZZ: Well, for instance, a lot of people thought the first one was a bit raw..

Rory: Well, around that time, everyone was using reverb echoes on their guitar, and we just wanted to go in a cut an album direct and, as you say, raw. . . we didn’t want all that gimmicky sound of guitars floating in the wilderness. We’ve learnt a lot since then, of course — like you can’t just go in and record it as flat as a pancake, or there won’t be any depth or dimension. . . you’ve got to put a bit of echo on it. Anyway, that first album was a bit raw, yes, but I’m quite happy with it. We’d been playing a lot longer when we came to make ‘On the Boards’, but the approach was still the same – we didn’t want to gimmick it up too much. Obviously we learnt how to enhance the sound a little, but we still steered clear of the multi-multi gimmick thing.

ZZ: I won’t ask about the Taste split up because you must have gone over that enough times already, but I’d be interested to know how you found your present band… like, is there a pool of musicians over in Ireland, or did you go through a big audition number?

Rory: Oh I’d known them for some time —I’d known Wilgar from way, way back… we used to share gigs with his band, the Method — later to become Andwella’s Dream…, and the old Taste also used to play gigs with a group called Deep Joy, who Gerry used to be in. They were the first people I auditioned.

ZZ: And with this band, you’re still doing clubs and things most nights, rather than concerts. Is this by choice, or did you feel you had to start from scratch again?

Rory: No, that’s what I like doing…. couldn’t imagine anything more boring than playing, say, 8 concerts a year or something. The time may come when I want to lay off for a while, but at the moment I want to keep going as I am —it’s good fun apart from anything else. some of the clubs are really fiery, like up in Scotland, or Newcastle, but they don’t really differ much over the country; they’re mostly great. We’re not the sort of band that lock ourselves away for a few months working on an album… we want to be out there.

ZZ: Talking of albums, I see that you produced the last two as opposed to Tony Colton who did the Taste ones. Was it just because you feel you learned enough to have a go yourself?

Rory: Well, Tony was a mediator as much as a producer…. he’d make suggestions to the engineer and the band… like “hey, let’s try it this way” or “that sounds a bit weird, maybe we should do this”. . . .but, let’s put it this way, I almost had as much freedom production wise with Taste anyway. Like you say, I’ve picked up a bit about recording and production and I want to give it a go, though there are always engineers and other people around and they give me lots of help and advice. So, at present, the sort of deal I have with Polydor is just to give them the finished tapes — they don’t interfere with the actual recording, but they could come back at me and say “hey, what the hell have you recorded here?” Fortunately, though, we’ve been very lucky — they haven’t complained yet.

ZZ: How long did it take to record and mix “Deuce”?

Rory: The recording took 4 or 5 days, from eleven in the morning to twelve at night. … it was a pretty relaxing time though, because we’d rehearsed all the material and we did most of it in one take. The mixing took about a day…. I mean, a lot of people think that recording is a big deal; it isn’t really. What happens is that you arrive at the studio and set up, the guy puts some mikes up, and you try out the sound until you get what you want, and off you go.. . . it’s as simple as that really.

ZZ: That album sounds very live – was it done live as opposed to adding the vocal to a finished backing track?

Rory: Oh no, some of the early Taste things had the vocals put on afterwards, but ever since we’ve done it live for the most part… .I don’t like the other way, though sometimes it’s necessary, like when you mess up the vocal, but you like the backing track and want to hang on to it. . .. but I think that the best tracks are the ones done straight, live. We put a second guitar on in places, or the odd maraccas or tambourine, but I always like to keep it as simple and un-gimmicky as possible.

ZZ: Why do you never release singles? I mean, Canned Heat are very sincere bluesers, but they’re not averse to a bit of bending to make a commercial single…

Rory: Yes, we’ve often thought “that’d make a nice single”, and there are gaps when a single would be very handy… not to mention the fact that it could make you overnight — but somehow I just don’t want to get into the singles field. I’m not saying that it’s selling out or anything, because the quality of singles is often very high, but once you have a hit, then the follow-up is the big con…, and you’re on Top of the Pops — it’s just a little too Max Factor for me. …I’ll stick to albums.

ZZ: You don’t fancy being on Top of the Pops then?

Rory: No.

ZZ: Let’s talk about songwriting a bit; how do you do it?

Rory: Well, sometimes I don’t write anything for quite a while, but I still seem to store up little bits and pieces, the odd lines, in my head… .sort of like little bubbles. And then you suddenly write one.., it may be just plucked out of the air, as you might say, and you write the words down in the bus, or you may be tuning your guitar and accidentally hit on something you like. It’s very hard to sit down and write a song mechanically —you can try, but it never happens.. . . but you can often put yourself into a writing frame of mind by playing around on the guitar for a while, so I can’t really say that I write in any particular way. The amount of time you have at hotels and things isn’t really enough to write, so you have to make time, because it’s very often a slogging affair. . . . writing, then rewriting, changing things around.. . you often spend a very long time before you’re satisfied.

ZZ: Now you’re still doing 4, 5 and even 7 gigs a week, but how have things changed? Like have you got more roadies, and better amps and so on?

Rory: We’ve got a better p. a. system -it’s a German firm called Stramp, and the equipment is very powerful and very robust, but it’s compact… you don’t need great walls of speakers. But I still use a Vox AC 30, same as I always have. I got my old one stolen, but I got another second hand for £40.

ZZ: Why do you still use that, when most other guitarists have about a million watts and a couple of dozen speakers?

Rory: Well, it just suits me — but a lot of Americans like Muddy Waters and Mike Bloomfield, they only use small Fender amps. I don’t know why these people have such a lot of gear — a sense of power maybe, or else they argue that you can’t get real volume using the p. a. (because I mike up the Vox and put it through the p.a.). But most of the time I was in Taste, I just used the Vox unmiked — it still had sufficient power….it’s only recently that I’ve put it through the p.a., just to spread it over the speakers and get a rounder sound.

ZZ: Is that Stratocaster the same one you’ve always had?

Rory: Yes, I sunk everything I had into that when I was 15, and I had some very weird weeks paying for it…. but I figured it was worth it. I went straight from a Solid Seven to that, and it’s proved to be a very nice one. The Telecaster is a 1953 Esquire — a guy phoned me up and told me he had one, so I tried it out, and sure enough ~ one of the real McCoys. I had to have new machines on it, and it needs a new scratch plate, but it is a good one – you know that a guy sat there and put a lot of work and craftsmanship into it. You plug in a new Telecaster and you would appreciate the difference – the newer ones are mass produced and they don’t feel the same as far as the neck and the balance are concerned, they don’t sound the same, the paint’s a bit thicker and more synthetic, and so on. I mean, I’m not a fanatical guitar collector or anything, but I’m pleased with the two I’ve got.

ZZ: Don’t you collect guitars at all – not even for amusement?

Rory: Well, I don’t make it a pursuit or a hobby, but I always look around the second hand shops and pawn shops. I got an old Kay in a New York pawn shop —that cost me about £14 — a real gritty old guitar it is, a white one, like .J. B. Hutto uses, and Elmore James used to play.

(To be continued in the next issue) Pete


article reformatted by roryfan

052 - GUNPOWDER, GUINNESS, and GUITARS by Roy Hollingworth from the March, 1975 issue of Hit Parader. Another of account of the Belfast New Year's show in 1971-1972
GUNPOWDER, GUINNESS, and GUITARS by Roy Hollingworth
It was a bleak night, shrouded by freezing drizzle and knife-like gusts of wind, that clawed at your clothes like black gutter rats. On O’Malley Street there was only one light still working. The only sound that met our ears was the clump, clumping of our boots on the cobbles.

Then, as we turned the corner into Blackway Lane, a dazzling searchlight wobbled up the road, and turned its glare upon us. It was a British armoured car. “Where are you going, and where have you come from”? asked a soldier. “We’ve come from the guest house on O’Malley, and we’re going to The Feathers for a drink.” Satisfied, the searchlight wobbled onwards.

The Feathers was built like an ironclad; its windows, except for one, bricked in; the door solid, and locked. We knocked. A minute passed, and then the lock was turned, the door opened, and a gust of cigarette smoke curled out accompanied by the sound of boozy voices. The landlord cast an eye over us, and then broke out into a toothless smile. “Bejesus Rory, get yerself in here, you lads look starved.”

If you’re thinking that his scene is taking place at 3 in the morning in a poorly written espionage novel you’re dead wrong. It is 8 o’clock in the evening, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, New Year’s Eve, 1971-1972.

People often ask me when I was most moved by rock and roll music. I mean, there must have been a time when you got down on your little old knees, and thanked God for rock and roll. Indeed there was, I tell them indeed there was.

I take these people into a corner, and proceed to tell them this extraordinary tale. A few are slightly familiar with this story, but the majority-due to the glamour-come-first attitude of the rock press – were never told. You see it’s not set in Los Angeles, or New York, or London, or Paris. It doesn’t concern the greatest star living; it’s not all high jinks and boogie, and God appearing on stage with a golden Gibson. Nay. It’s a damp, drizzly and dark tale, but one so moving that I shall remember it for the rest of my life.

Shortly after Christmas Day, of 1971, the telephone rang. It cut through my head like a pair of scissors-being confined to bed with the Johnny Walker Black Label syndrome. My tongue felt like a piece of raw fish thrust down my neck, but somehow I struggled for the receiver, and croaked a shark-like greeting down the instrument.

When I put the phone down, I lay prone in my bed, staring at my feet. “They must be joking”, I thought, and turned to enter another coma. Something stopped me, and instead I shakily dialed the number of my dear traveling companion, Barrie “Dancer” Wentzell. The old lad was suffering from a serious bout of Old Highland Scotch. “Do you fancy going to Belfast for the New Year?”, I asked. “Belfast, you must be bloody joking. How about Vietnam?.”

This was what was happening. Rory Gallagher was touring Ireland, and on the date-sheet lay “The Ulster Hall, Belfast, Jan.1, 1972”. It went without saying that Belfast dates were always scrapped-the city being reduced to rubble by bombs; troops on every corner; killings without meaning. There hadn’t been a rock concert in two years; public transportation stopped at 8 p.m. It was a city in turmoil.

But Gallagher had waved this all aside. Like any other city, Belfast had kids, and if kids could live there, why shouldn’t a rock band go there? Gallagher was a long-standing friend of Wentzell and myself, and had invited us to meet him in Belfast.

We twiddled our thumbs over drinks in London. After several we smiled at each other. I picked up the phone, and rang Polydor Records. “Get us on a plane to Belfast for December 30.” We went back to the apartment, and prepared ourselves for war. I can assure you, we were both scared as shit – but something other than ourselves was telling us to go.

Heathrow Airport, London, December 30, 6 a.m.: “I’m sorry sir, but all flights to Belfast have been canceled, The Army has taken temporary control over the airport there.” “Can you fly us to Dublin then?” “I’ll see sir……Yes, we can get you to Dublin, but all return flights from Dublin are fully booked for the next two weeks.” “We have to be back in London on January 2.” “Well sir, we could get you a flight from Cork, County Cork, to Glasgow, Scotland, but then you’d have to fly to Liverpool.” “Would it be any easier to fly us via New York?” “I don’t see why you have to joke sir, we’re doing our best, you know about the trouble in Ireland.”

“It looks like a one way ticket to disaster”, moaned Wentzell. “I think the Gods are trying to tell us something”, I added. “Excuse me sir, but we can fly you back via Limerick-as far as Liverpool.” “Stuff it, that’ll do. To the bar.” “How are we going to get to Limerick” asked Wentzell. “We’ll get a bloody horse if needs be. Southern Comfort? Certainly, make it two very stiff ones we’re going to Belfast.” “I’d rather go to Vietnam sir, if you don’t mind me saying so, that’ll be 80 pence.” “Two more please barman.” “Well I wish you the best of luck sir, keep your head down.” “Thank you, keep the change.”

It was a dreadful flight to Dublin on Aer Lingus. I think we did it upside down, and landed in what appeared to be a cattle field. We staggered down the steps off the plane, were frisked for guns, and made our way to the Airport Bar, and two pints of lush, foaming black Guinness. Frantic telephone calls. We had to fly to Dublin Don (Rory’s brother). Do ye worry, keep drinkin’ and oi’ll have a car there for yer.”

An enormous Irishman fists as big as footballs, approached us at the bar. “Er, a Mista Hollywort and Wentzell, oi have the car fer ye, I’ll be drivin’ you ta Belfast, but I’ll have a glass first if you don’t mind.” “That’s okay with us mate, we’ll join you.” “Well, let me see, it’s about a hundret and fifty moiles, but der’s been some trouble at de border, but don’t worry yerselves about that, there’s a way I know round it.”

We were about three miles from the heavily patrolled border, with rain spitting down, and the clouds as low as buggary, when our driver turned off the road into a dirt track that curled its way into the hills. We arrived at a run-down, sodden farm and stopped. The driver lumbered out. “Now I won’t be a minute, we’re over the border now. I just have to drop off sometin’ at this friend of mine.” He opened the car’s trunk, and lifted a huge bundle, which he carried into the farm house. I think they’re guns Barrie. Shut up, I don’t want to think about this. Huge black hills surrounded us, the rain continued. The dampness seeped through to our bones.

Belfast, grey, cold city. It hadn’t been but a year ago when I was last there, but the bombing had increased. Every now and then, along a line of houses was a plot of bare, scorched earth. It’s where the pubs used to be, they blew them up. These gaps in the lines of houses-like missing teeth in an old man’s mouth. Cobblestone streets, troops with fixed bayonets walking in twos. Night falling, few lights to be seen. Poor sods who live here.

Rory and the band were staying at a small, but cosy little guest house (bed and breakfast 30 shillings). Wiser to stay there-they blew up another hotel the day before. Rory, quiet and smiling. Unmoved, in the television room. Handshakes, laughter. How about a Guinness?

We trudge out into the bleak streets, nobody about. We walk for maybe a quarter of a mile, and enter a dimly lit alley. Half-way down is a pub, with bricked-up windows, and a little lantern over the door. We enter, warm as toast here, full of young people; juke box, somebody playing a guitar too. They all recognize Rory. Thanks for coming Rory, we’re going to the concert. It’s good of you to come, you didn’t forget us. They say the IRA have given the concert the go-ahead. They’ll be no trouble. Who’d want to bomb 2,000 kids? There’s idiots about. Rory smiles, orders Guinness and Irish whiskey. Wet boots on the bar rail, we drink ourselves warm. Bless these kids here, bless them. I think we all felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that just over the water in England we could do anything we wanted to at night. See a couple of concerts a night if we wished. Here there was just the pubs – and they’re blown up at the rate of a couple a week.

New Year’s Eve. We were up at this college, where there was a bit of a drink-up, and Rory decided to play. Just before midnight we were sitting in the dressing room when there was a sickening explosion that shook the windows. Then another “Booooom……… Rattle”. The bombs were exploding about a half-mile away. The IRA’s salute to the New Year-12 bombs at midnight – an empty cinema, and a lot of shops. Gallagher tuned up. We were all a bit shaken.

The conversation has taken on nervous tones. Gallagher reaches down into his traveling bag, pulls out a small bottle, passes it around. It’s an illegal brew called Potcheen. It’s over-proof, and tastes like gasoline, but wraps your body in a steel case, and numbs your head to anything except bliss. Happy New Year.

New Year’s Day. Breakfast at the guest house, about 14 cups of tea, half a pound of fried bacon, fried tomatoes, fried eggy-weggies, fried bread, and then down into the city centre, for a Guinness lunch and a look at the ruins. There’s a buzz about town. Kids are crawling in from the suburbs; best clothes on. Walking in groups, laughing. There’s a rock and roll concert today. Can you believe there’s a concert to see. And it’s Gallagher too!

The kids are outside the Ulster Hall hours before the doors are opened. It’s a proud building is the Ulster Hall, surrounded by bombed out houses, streets barricaded off. But the old hall still stands upright. Inside the equipment is being set up, and the chairs put in order–they haven’t been used for a while.

In Rory’s dressing room is a case of Guinness, and three bottles of Jameson’s whiskey. At the bottle again. The sound of a bomb going off. But it’s only a gentle thud, and must be a mile off. Still tightens the stomach muscles mind. Oh don’t you worry now, says the girl. You have to get used to it, and besides, you won’t be able to hear a thing when Rory plugs in. Good of him to come isn’t it?

By 2pm the hall is packed to the ceiling, and there is this indescribable vibration coming from the place. Despite everything that’s going on outside-the bombing, the shooting, and ceaseless trouble, we have, right in here, a hall full of kids and a rock and roll band, and we could be a million miles from anywhere. Shaking hands with total strangers, smiles, laughs, and the bottle is passed, and the joke goes round, and they wished it was like this every day.

The lights dim, Gallagher walks onto the stage in checked shirt and Levis, plugs in, twists around, and blams out a boogie. Just three seconds pass, and the whole hall is up on its feet. Not just the front rows, but the whole place is thundering away; stomping feet, smacking hands together; singing. Goddamit, I’ve seen wild audiences, but the electricity this one is generating is unbelievable. Like feeding raw meat to starving wolves. They’ve been starved of entertainment for two years. Can you imagine just how much they’re enjoying this? Their joy and emotion takes over my whole body. I swear a tear falls from my eye,. I want to meet them all, every last one of them, and shake their hand, and say “you’re bloody great. Do you know that?”

Gallagher passes over the two hour mark. They don’t want to let him go. He has the feeling too. He doesn’t want to go. The emotion grows like some garden of flowers tearing out of the ruins. “If I’d have missed this I would have kicked myself black and blue” says Wentzell. “We’re stood, looking around us–this hall full of beauty. Godammit Barrie, break loose the Jameson’s. This is the best day of my life. And we’re in the middle of bloody Belfast. Why isn’t the world here to see this?

6 p.m. The Hall is empty, except for the ushers who are sweeping the floor. It’s quiet again now. We walk out slowly, take a last look at the stage, and wonder how long it will be before somebody walks on it again.

Outside it’s dark. There are a few groups of kids hanging around–but most have had to rush to catch the last bus home. We stop into a bar. It’s full of rock and rollers who live in the neighborhood. Godblessyou, Rory. Will you come again? Yes. Tell those other damned groups to come too, will you do that?

We drove back to Dublin that night, flushed with a feeling one gets after witnessing something strangely charismatic. Something good. Something almost religious.

Past the border into the South of Ireland, and the night sky becomes clean, and clearer. The storm clouds persist over The North imprisoning the youth we left behind. Here we are, winging our way back to brighter places-leaving the Belfast kids with their televisions, and maybe a couple of visits to the pub-if it’s still there. You did them proud Rory. It was a gig, he replies.

Hours later our plane lands in London. Bright winter sunshine, a thousand and one things to do. Cinemas, a load of concerts on tonight. Clean streets, no rubble. No tension. But our minds are still back in Belfast. With Jean and Duffy, and Michael, and all the friends we made in a few mad hours.

Footnote: Shortly after Gallagher played Belfast, other bands began to travel across The Irish Sea. In fits and starts some sort of regular live scene came into being. But then the bombing became even worse, and entertainment died again. But one, I remember-between the bombs there was rock and roll.

This article comes from the March,1975 issue of Hit Parader.
Roy Hollinsworth is also the author of MUSIC FOR BELFAST.
reformatted by roryfan

053 - GALLAGHER:THE RORY DETAILS A career and equipment profile by Adam Sweeting From the 3/79 issue of BEAT Instrumental
A career and equipment profile
by Adam Sweeting

I lost count of the number of times men in check shirts spilt beer down me. Elderly blues and rock and roll music thundered over the PA. It got hotter. No, not a lumberjacks’ benefit gig, but Rory Gallagher at the Marquee. There was genuine excitement in the air.
Gallagher must get sick of being called “a trooper” and “a gent’’, but both comments are fair. The bloke always seems to be touring, and he won’t short-change his vociferous following under any circumstances. Take his Birmingham Town Hall gig some three years ago, when his band got stuck in motorway fog at Watford Gap. Rory takes up the story:

“I was panicking at the Hall, or the promoter was, I should say, and we had a choice of sending everyone away or doing something. So I said I’d go on and do a 45 minute acoustic set at least, with an announcement that if the fans came back a couple of weeks later the whole band would be here.”

As luck would have it, a piano-playing mate of Gallagher’s bassist Gerry McAvoy was in the Hall that night, and needed no encouragement to tickle the ivories while Rory played some electric guitar. The further arrival of Rory’s brother — “he can just about keep a beat on the drums” — led to the three playing “a bit of a set”. The incident is typical of Rory Gallagher, and it goes some of the way to explaining the loyalty of his fans. “It’s one of those ‘The show must go on’ things that crop up once in a while”, Rory said. “You have to do that, it’s experience.”

But on top of that, there’s Gallagher’s ability to ignite an audience. The Marquee gig was a case in point. He’d just completed three nights at the Hammersmith Odeon. but showed no sign of metal fatigue. Right from the shriek which launched the opening “Shin Kicker”, Gallagher summoned enough energy to keep him bouncing and strutting across the stage for two hours. Predictably enough, he was dragged back for numerous encores. He seems to regard his prolonged hyper-activity as perfectly normal.


“I’m one of those guys who feels that music gets better for being played live and in front of good audiences, bad audiences, in different cities — not under stress by any means, but it’s not as if we did one gig every year in a very plush hall, this kind of recital attitude. That’s why I like Muddy Waters and people like that. They just go out and they play under odds, inasmuch as they don’t know what the club’s gonna be like or the hall’s gonna be like, they just keep on doing it. But that’s not unusual in rock and roll, I mean I’m against this system that you should be a huge pop star by the age of 25 and then click, that’s it, your retire. it used to be the system that you’d end up at the Talk of the Town or on the Des O’Connor Show or something. I think, particularly anything connected with the blues or rhythm and blues….. gritty music improves with age, it improves by playing it, whittling it down, understanding the music.

So can we expect to see a wizened old Rory Gallagher playing the blues well into the 21st century? I wouldn’t be surprised. On his latest and very listenable Chrysalis album, “Photo-Finish”, he’s written a song called “Last Of The Independents”, and apparently I wasn’t the first person to ask if that’s the way he thinks of himself.

“Last Of The Independents’ isn’t about music. It’s a tongue-in-cheek story about a gangster getting away from the Mafia, cos he was involved in a stick-up 11 years ago and only he knows where the money was stashed. It’s a bit like that movie ‘Charlie Varrick’, with Walter Matthau. Did you see that? Certain people have read some of the lines in the song as autobiographical or something, like ‘I play by my own rules’ and the title. Some people see me as the last of some kind of a breed or something. But I’d hate to have everybody regard me as the last of any breed or the first of any. I’m aware that I’ve gone through the late 60s and through the 70s, doing whatever I do. The point is, if I was to get worried about every fad that comes along, whether it was Bryan Ferry or Gary Glitter or psychedelic or punk or whatever. . . y’ know, they all have their thing to offer, but I just enjoy getting up there and letting the music cook.”

“I just enjoy getting up there and letting the music cook”

Gallagher’s legendary good-nature shows signs of strain when he’s accused of being caught in a hair-and-denims time warp. “I’m not that sensitive about it, but certain writers are inclined to write you away as ‘This guy wears a denim jacket, how dare he wear a denim jacket? ’ I was never into sartorial elegance anyway. Why throw away your love for blues or rhythm and blues just because it’s not in vogue. But then again, all of a sudden now it’s somewhat back in fashion. in the meantime, there’s a good audience out there that follows what I do and 1 just try to enjoy it. But it can be a bit disheartening.

“I just think too many artists are so fashion conscious, so pushed about by what they think the press expects of them. They think ‘progress’ is something to do with changing your clothes in Carnaby Street or buying the latest synthesizer. That’s not progress. Music is playing, getting out there and working at it as often as you can, and enjoying it. You can’t but progress then, it’s an internal progression, and that’s all I try to do.”

But the proof of the pudding..

“The point is, if we were doing the wrong thing, the audience would soon ebb away, and the younger set in the audience would say, ‘Oh this guy, he’s not worth going to see.’ But we’re getting bigger audiences and we’ve been getting bigger audiences in the last 10 years than a lot of the more heralded names.

“But”, he added, “I must stop sounding like a politician.” On “Photo-Finish”, Rory has succumbed to a little more studio wizardry than in the past, but despite this the material translates very well to live use. He still likes to retain an essentially live approach to recording. “Over the years I’ve gone through different attitudes about recording. On a couple of albums I sang live, played live lead guitar and then overdubbed a bit of rhythm. I suppose in retrospect it was a bad idea, but at the time I wanted to get something as truthful as possible, mistakes and all. But with the last three albums I’ve been a bit more intelligent about it. I’m not averse to overdubbing vocals and lead parts if need be, or a rhythm part. But most of the basic things are still live-ish, drums, bass, lead guitar come rhythm guitar, and, there’s usually an attempt at a live vocal. Then after that, if it needs it, we’ll maybe stick on a rhythm guitar or a little bit of percussion or repair a lead line.

“But some of the things on “Photo-Finish’ are a little more produced than others. Let me see, on ‘Overnight Bag’ you’ve got two acoustic guitars doing a bridge part and two electric guitars playing rhythm. Then there’s an old 12 string Vox Phantom going through a flanger giving little kinda organish clips. I think that’s nice on some tracks, you can build up a little guitar orchestra, if you like, but I want to keep it as subtle as possible. I don’t want to go as far as Brian May, who’s a very talented player, but that to me is not my bag, as they say. I prefer it if one guitar does the track, as in ‘Mississippi Sheiks’, though there again I snuck a rhythm guitar in. It only gets a little bit against my code when you end up with three lead guitars wailing away in the background, something I could obviously never do on stage. I’m somewhere in between. I like to more or less let the music cook and try and patch it up and make it sound like we’re having a good time in the studio and gettin’ it on.”

It was convenient that Rory had mentioned “Overnight Bag”, because it led naturally into my clever pre-planned question about his writing style. “Bag” stands out on the new album as a song conspicuously more structured than much of the Cork fellow’s output. Would he agree that a lot of his tunes are custom built for the purposes of guitar wizardry? Perhaps this wasn’t tactful.

“No, never. It’s a constant problem, people sort of think that I write songs as guitar vehicles, which I don’t. Some songs I think could be done by other people with other, y’know …“(I think Rory meant that some of his songs could successfully be given a different treatment to his own by other artists. Sounds feasible).

“They’re not guitar vehicles, but on the other hand I’m proud of being a guitar player and I enjoy having a good bash at the guitar, playing lead guitar, which is a dirty word these days. It’s a part of the appeal — people buy the records to hear the band, to hear the guitar and the voice and the songs. But I certainly never short change myself lyrically, I sweat over the songs to make them as good as possible. If I wanted guitar vehicles I could just do 10 versions of “Rock Me Baby” or something.”

But to revert to the ubiquitous “Bag”, it stands out for its lack of guitar soloing, its subtler-than-the-Gallagher norm textures and mellow changes. No?

“Compared to something like ‘Cloak And Dagger’ it’s very much a song and it’s built up piece by piece and yes, it’s a very textured, coloured tune. That’s the strength of the album, I think. A song like ‘Overnight Bag’ stands up very well in contrast to something like ‘Cruise On Out’ which is a straight, fast rockabilly thing with just a Telecaster and an acoustic guitar. Whatever it takes. Whenever a song needs a certain treatment, you just try and do it.”

The discussion of Rory’s writing led fairly naturally into the more general topic of the Irish rock and roll background. Ireland seems to be going through a renaissance, what with Lizzy, the Boomtown Rats and now the Undertones and a host of others. What would life be without the venerable Peel playing “Teenage Kicks”? First of them all, of course, was Van Morrison.

“He was the first one to make it and he broke a lot of the walls down”, Rory reckons. “But to be fair I never found any animosity over here. You know, being Irish you’d get the odd quip, people didn’t think that you might be able to cut it. The difficulty for the Irish musician was that he had to leave home, come to London and starve —you could predict the starvation — and then y’know, try knocking at the doors of the record companies. Whereas if you were over here, a Londoner or someone from England who knew the set-up and could always take the bus home to your parents for a hot meal, it wasn’t too bad.”

When Rory was a lad, there were precious few outlets budding rockers in Ireland. There were a few beat clubs, and the showband circuit, which is where the 15-year-old Gallagher found himself out of necessity.

“It was fun, but it wasn’t a serious thing. But at 15 just to plug into an AC30 and play for a few nights a week was a dream, you know. It gave me a chance to play in the Irish ballrooms in England, and then on my nights off go to the Marquee and see Steve Winwood, the Yardbirds at all kinds of people. And it gave me a trip to Spain and caused havoc with my schooling.”

Rory is delighted with the amount of music blasting out of his homeland now, though, and cites a couple of band who supported him on his recent Irish tour.

“We had a band called Rule The Roost from Donegal doing semi country-rock stuff, very good. And a group called the Bogey Brothers, a three-piece from Dublin. Both groups were really well up to scratch, and there’s a load of other bands coming up. There’s a real birth of groups now cos the old showband scene has really cooled down an awful lot. With the success of the Irish bands, record companies are taking Irish rock and roll seriously now, it not just sort of, ‘Huh, who are these leprechauns?’, the kind of attitude they used to have.”

What is it that these Irish chaps have got, then? Boomtown Rat Gerry Cott once suggested that it was the old Celtic story-telling tradition manifesting itself in powerchorded format. Take “Rat Trap”, for example —very long for a number one single, but it tells a story which, presumably, people got into. Unless it was just the sax riff. Rory G. tends to agree.

“Lyrically I think there’s a little twist that some of the Irish writers have, like Lynott has, and Van Morrison of course. Some people think that there’s a slightly different sound to the Irish groups. A lot of Irish writers tend to write little stories, it’s a good point actually. Semi-Celtic legendary or mystical things. Van used to write semi-autobiographically in things like ‘Madame George’ or ‘Cypress Avenue’.

“Bob Geldof is a different writer, his writing is more journalistic, more modern. It’s not as unconscious as the way Van would write, Van doesn’t sound like he sat down and worked at it. Bob’s writing is a very structured, methodical kind of writing, but then again, why should he be like Van Morrison by any means? We all write in different ways. That’s where it should end — any more speculation other than the fact that Irish groups are good is just superfluous.”

Rory went on to shed a little light on his own creative processes.

“I’ve written stories, but more like from an American flashpoint. I’ve written things like ‘Last Of The Independents’ as a gangster running away. ‘In Your Town’ is (from the ‘Deuce’ album on Polydor) is about a jailbreak, about a load of gangsters going over the wall. I write other kinds of songs too, I try to keep my writing allied to the actual force of the music as much as possible. ‘Mississippi Sheiks’, that’s about a country blues group that actually existed on the streets of the South called the Mississippi Sheiks. They’re dead now. They were just a fiddle and guitar duo, they used to make some really nice music. In the song I kind of go into a time machine and go back in time. It’s a slow rock song, and I just try and conjure up the atmosphere of the time, y’know. Songs can come in all kinds of ways.”

Rory Gallagher is much better known for his guitar playing than his song-writing, though “Photo-Finish” contains some of the strongest material he’s written. His roots are strictly in blues and old rock and roll. In his early years as a musician, all his exposure to the music he loves was via the records of Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Eddie Cochran and Elmore James — among others. “You find yourself saying if Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley make great rock and roll, then you hear Elmore James and Muddy Waters who are even rougher … it’s just the muscular appeal of the music. And the lyrics, the humour in blues lyrics and the whole tough, unusual way of using words, like in Bo Diddley’s writing for instance, using all these car names and street names. I just love it. There must be something in the sound of it, the wail or the loneliness of the sound or whatever you want to call it. It always sounded better to me than straight pop music.

“It’s hard not to get knocked off your feet by Elmore James or Howlin’ Wolf. For me, Wolf singing ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ or ‘Shake For Me’ has got as much viciousness as ‘Anarchy In The UK’ or any of those things. I mean, they’re just harder, modern Eddie Cochran songs if you ask me, which is allright, y’know, it’s just real hard brute force playing. But Howlin’ Wolf had the benefit of having a ridiculous voice, he was the most dominating singer you could ever hear. Plus the recording sound of the Chess studios, it was just outrageous — amazin’ sound.”


Rory’s first ever gig was with a skiffle group, which included his brother and another friend. Luckily, he started singing before he learned guitar, so he never found any difficulty with playing and singing simultaneously. That makes him one up on B. B. King. Not surprisingly, Rory’s ambition was always to play lead guitar, though he’s keen to point out that he tries to be what he calls a complete guitar player who can play rhythm and fills as well as lead. The old showband training came in handy in that area, since Rory was the only guitar player for most of the time and had to double as lead and rhythm guitarist. As for contemporary guitar players, Rory listens to just about everybody.

“I’m a guitar fan, that’s the problem. Without going into all the bluesmen, I like Keith Richard, Johnny Winter, John Hammond, Lowell George. I like Ry Cooder, I love his experiments with different things. But I’d love once for him to do an album with ‘Smack Dab In The Middle’ and those R&Bish things. He’s inclined to dot his albums with one or two of these tracks and then you have a semi-Hawaiian track or a semi-jazz track or semi-something else. It gets a bit too eclectic, or whatever the word is.

“I’ve always liked people like Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch, too. I always regard myself as a fan of the general scene. That doesn’t mean I like everybody’s records, but there’s a lot of great players around. I’m always ready to enjoy it, even if it’s a punk record. If the guitar’s suitably on the ball, then fine. My main criticism of most punk records is that they’re badly produced. If they used the old blues or rock and roll techniques rather than this 24 track sound, they wouldn’t be gettin’ all these cardboard drums. If they want the big sound, they should go for the Who sound. That’s the model for a punk group, if you like, that sound. Pete Townshend’s playing I like, and Mick Green’s. I’m afraid I’ve got a good word for so many players.”

… Except the new wave, which he evidently regards as a fashion to be viewed with caution. Strange really. But I digress. Currently, Rory is more than happy with his three-piece line-up which is completed by the stalwart Gerry McAvoy on bass and ex-SAHB person Ted McKenna on drums. Having dispensed with keyboards in the summer of ‘78, Rory finds the burden of filling all the available musical spaces resting lightly on the fretboard of his decrepit Strat. “I don’t feel that it’s any more tiring now than when we had the keyboards. The keyboards do their thing and the guitar does its thing. With the keyboards, I never really stopped and played rhythm or took a breather, so I don’t feel any more tired now after a gig than I did before. I suppose it might be different with another guitar, I haven’t worked with another guitarist for a long period of time so it’s probably worth a bash. This is definitely the happiest band I’ve had, though, and I think at present we’ve got enough going for us as a three-piece.”


Gallagher’s essentially earthy approach to his craft is reflected in his equipment. Not for him the exotic customized technology visible onstage with many of the Supertax bands. His battered Strat has become a trademark over the years. Is this because it does everything he wants a guitar to do?

“Almost! Never quite. The Strat for me is just structurally the best guitar you can get. Machine heads all on one side, and the scale being slightly longer than Gibsons, it suits me. You can get more pull on the strings above the l2th fret. Apart from that, my tone control handles all the tones for all three pickups, that’s the only custom thing. I was slow to get that modification done, but I’m glad I did. I actually prefer the lead pickup on a Telecaster, and I’ve often thought of putting that in the lead position on the Strat. On a Fender Esquire I had a Tele lead pickup, and then two Strat pickups and a five-way switch.”

For amplification, Rory has currently abandoned the old Fender gear he used to use in favour of Ampeg. The Fenders were a Concert from 1960, and a really old Bassman from 1954. “With all the wear and tear, it was hard work for them”, he observes. He now has an Ampeg VT 40 which he links up with a VT 22. He finds that the Ampegs give him the mid-range response he’s looking for, which isn’t the case with, say, the Ritzy, but wallet-piercing Music Man units. On top of that, Rory has a treble and bass booster made by a New Jersey company called Hawk. And in addition to the Strat….

© Danny Clifford 1978-2002
“At present I’m using a Gretsch Corvette for slide instead of the Esquire. The Corvette is Gretsch’s attempt at a Les Paul Junior, but I took off the Gretsch pickup because it was too weak and I put on a P90, which is an old black Gibson single coil pickup. For the acoustic number, I have a mandolin, a Martin from the 1930s and a National steel-bodied guitar, also from the 30s. I had a new fretboard put on the National in the States because it was beginning to warp — there’s no truss-rod in those guitars. The Martin’s a D35 with a little Ibanez transducer. I find the Ibanez a little more toppy than, say, a Barcus-Berry Hot Dot. Then I use an Ibanez pre-amp to boost the acoustic guitar. Luckily on the pre-amp I have a little three-way graphic, with which you can cut down the bottom end. On the Dreadnought Martins you get a bit too much of a bass-boom sound, which may be grand for a guy playing in a folk club, but it gets a bit annoying for anyone playing the big shows.”

One of Gallagher’s more unusual stylistic devices is his use of normal tuning to play slide guitar, though he only does this on a couple of tunes. Again, on “Cruise On Out” for example, he’ll drop his top B to D and play in the key of D. But he uses various open tunings too, mainly A or E., which suit his vocal range. For acoustic numbers, he favours a D tuning, “because I tend to be singing country blues type things, so it works.” He also uses a tuning favoured by Bert Jansch, among others, which is (from the top string down) D A G D A D. In other words, a D tuning with the G string remaining at G rather than dropping down to F sharp.

“It’s a sort of Celtic sound, so you get your major chord from your second fret, third string. You get a chord and a half, a modal sort of sound. I think I know most of the main tunings, but a lot of them aren’t practical. B is a lovely tuning for acoustic guitar, it’s the same as C but it’s down
a step. The only trouble is you’d have to be doing Joni Mitchell or Tom Rush stuff.”

Rory says he only gets about two nights’ worth out of a set of strings, because of his aggressive playing style and various re-tunings. “I don’t wanna be too sedate about it, I mean you gotta dig in there”, he says.

Rory Gallagher is one of the most durable artists in rock & roll, and looks like being so for a long time to come. He’s not fashionable, but nor are his fans. He won’t let you down.

This article comes from the March 1979 issue of BEAT Instrumental.
reformatted by roryfan

054 - The Best Normal Guitar Player in the World by Peter Laughner from the 11/76 issue of CREEM. A writer's account of travel with the band.
Rory Gallagher
The Best Normal Guitar Player in the World
by Peter Laughner
It’s an obvious joke that I’m writing this from a rather jaundiced point of view: obvious, that is, if you know that I ended up this four-day junket with Rory Gallagher & company lying in a hospital bed with hepatitis aggravated by heavy abuse of chemicals and spirits. But that’s no fault of Rory’s….though the liquor and stout flowed quite freely during the whole trip, nobody was exactly forcing a funnel down your intrepid reporter’s throat and if Rory Gallagher uses any chemicals, they probably come in bottles sealed by Bayer. I’m just gonna call this story like I saw it, remembering with some amusements how my toes curled up in a cringe when the Chrysalis representatives laid out graphically how they would never trust a story on one of their artists to a certain writer who also happens to be my best friend and something of a mentor. Me, I just sat as cool as Dr. Thompson on the Tom Snyder Show: my baggage had made it through customs…”Uh, scuse me, I gotta go back to my room for a minute….”

Scratch Thursday, I guess, because Rory didn’t show up due to work permit hassles- he was still in Canada. Also, because I spent the night as far away from the airport hotel as one could get by cab: first at CBGB’s in the lower intestines of Manhattan, where I got drunk ( drunker, actually) with John Cale and found myself dancing to a band I didn’t even like, with a chick in black leather who split my lip with her fist during one of our more intricately improvised courting rituals ( OK, ’cause I got one of her dog chains off and whipped her with it). There’s more, but suffice it to say that I blew my first rendezvous with my subject by taking a pre-dawn taxi back to the Sheraton La Guardia and laying comatose until 3 p.m. Shucks, and it was a free lunch at the St. Moritz….

Which puts us halfway through Friday, up to my first meeting with Rory Gallagher. Immediate impression of a really good guy in the old sense: relaxed, friendly, diffident, cooperative with our ace photographer….the exact polar opposite of yours truly, who only through the graces of modern science and Smirnoff’s was maintaining social attitudes. Rory even let me play some on his ancient, beautifully weathered Stratocaster. Most rock guitarists, even on your local bar band level, throw squirm fits if you even go near their precious Les Paul’s ( let alone when you are visibly close to either nodding and dropping the axe to the floor, or grinning like an idiot and methodically pulling each string off while explaining concepts of atonality and absurd uselessness of unpleasant distractions like strings). Most rock guitarists have beasts referred to as ” roadies,” usually two-hundred-plus creatures who’ve exchanged bike colors for band T-shirts and sometimes enjoy snapping your arm at the elbow as you tentatively begin to lift the guitar from its case…. but like I said, Rory’s a nice guy. Even listened with some mixture of attentiveness and puzzlement while I dashed off several ineffectual runs.

We are heading to Shea Stadium, not far from the hotel. It’s raining. The sort of ugly yellow NY summer rain that can he depressing by itself, and makes the prospect of an outdoor concert about as attractive as a shower at Auschwitz. Rory seems very up about the show anyway. This tour is to be his first American exposure on big stages. Anybody who’s followed Gallagher knows that his prime spot is in a small club, where he and the band can really cook over a set about two hours long, mixing acoustic bits on mandolin, steel bodied guitar and harp with the punchy, solidly executed blues rock Rory’s made a staple of. In fact, he’s one of the few people who can still attack that supposedly embalmed genre with any life, the main reason I’m here, when I usually prefer listening to my Eno cassettes or getting drunk with John Cale. But tonight will be a forty minute set, in front of a small crowd who’re waiting most likely for Robin Trower and (if it can be believed) Jethro Tull. Stadium concerts are the path to The Big Time . . ask Aerosmith, ask the Beach Boys. Never mind that they’re one short cut above “rock festivals” which are the absolute dumps … this ain’t the summer of love.

There is no press box. Only a damp dressing room somewhere below the bleachers with a refrigerator full of Guinness, a fifth of Jameson’s Irish and a plate of cold cuts that looks absolutely botulin. Rory works on the Jameson’s pretty steadily while changing strings and warming up with bassist Gerry McAvoy. A Chrysalis rep comes and goes nervously, sheltering his L.A. tan under a yellow rain slicker, and one realizes that everybody is nervous.., this is Shea Stadium after all – . .there are footprints in that muddy field out there. I confess that I spent the most part of Rory’s set in the “press bar” which, for some stupid reason, neither faced nor had video viewers of the stage. I’d been introduced to Rory’s cousin, a plain-looking man in his middle forties who’d grown up with the Gallagher family back in County Cork. He’d agreed with me after trying to see and hear two numbers from the soggy bleachers that Rory had been much better at the Bottom Line,” and the proverbial free lunch drew us up to the bar.

Rory probably wouldn’t remember this,” he confides. “but once when he was just little—oh, about seven—I uncapped a bottle of soda pop and poured vinegar into it. You should’ve seen his face when he came in and took a long drink of that!” A touching anecdote, I think, and slowly through the mud and gathering fog in the brain it starts to come through to me that THERE MAY NOT BE MUCH OF A STORY HERE AT ALL BECAUSE RORY GALLAGHER IS VERY, VERY NORMAL. Sure, he plays the hell out of the guitar, he rocks down audiences everywhere he goes, he knows the blues line right down from Charlie Patton to Kokomo Arnold to Hound Dog Taylor, he even shares my appreciation of one of the great overlooked blues-men of all time., John Hammond Jr. He knows JAZZ too; Coleman, pre-Coleman, post-Coltrane, even digs Cecil Taylor. . – uh . . . uh . . – and he’s totally professional, with years of credentials and experience on the road to back it up. Example: backstage at Shea, he changed strings on his Stratocaster thirty minutes before showtime. Now anyone with a little guitar background knows that (a) this tends to cause out-of-tuneness that is hell to cope with, but (b) On a Strat, even with a locked bridge—no Hendrix twang-bar phalluses for Rory—the breakage of one string is enough to throw the whole guitar off about 3 /4 of a step, and in non musician patois that means it sounds like turtlepuke. However, Rory knows, as Hendrix knew, that a really good musician can actually get up and play a full set with his guitar completely out of tune. It’s a matter of skill and intonation. Django Rheinhardt knew this; he had an axe handmade by his gypsy godfather that NO ONE ELSE could play because no two positions on the thing were in tune with each other . . . and all the stuff for the first ten minutes of those Ravi Shankar sides you waited through for the Owsley to hit: that was just TUNING UP!!!

All this great praiseful stuff is true about Rory Gallagher, including the quite human touch that I’m pretty sure he lost his Jameson’s (although those could be fightin’ words) after the show
because he emerged from the water-closet with a mortuary pallor on his face, picked up the fifth and explained hoarsely, “This … has been the first meal I’ve had in two days,” then slumped against the wall and was not heard from for the rest of the night. So his cousin drove me back to the hotel and we closed the bar to the tune of some Jamaican lounge act who didn’t play reggae. By this time I was up to extra dry Bombay martinis… which should have been a sign to myself in the bar mirror that there was trouble due, but a little sign in the back of my head kept flashing “AMPHETAMINE” and I thought for a moment, “If Rory hasn’t eaten in two days. maybe he’s being just like Lou Reed whenever I’m around and bogarting all his speed or cocaine “‘Then I glanced back at the smiling, if ever blurrier, countenance of his cousin, and realized nothing of the sort was going on. To bed. Goodnight.

Up early. Plane to catch. With a deathwish hangover I find myself stumbling around the lobby, packed and ready, first in line. And the goddamn bar is closed. The breakfast S-H-O-P-P-E was unspeakable. When I am hungover, I either want (a) Lots of Valium and more sleep: (b) More to drink, or (c) Something like anchovy paste on melba toast with steak tartare and two raw eggs drowned in Tabasco sauce. I found a pharmacy and washed down 30 mgs. of Valium with half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. One of Jethro Tull’s roadies is sitting on the fake leather couches playing a Muddy Waters cassette at full blast. I try to settle into the low thump-thump-thump of the music. but two minutes after the desk clerk comes over and tells the guy to turn it down (it did conflict slightly with the Muzak). the entourage is pouring out of the elevators, all full of pep and ready to hit the skies to Toronto.

Rory and I get to settle down and talk They do serve beer on the plane. and Gallagher buys me one (I grabbed two, one of which I was still working on while passing through Canadian customs… nobody seemed to notice) What did we talk about? We talked musician’s talk: that peculiarly tired old rap that goes down whenever two guitar players with the same relative interest or background get thrown together. It’s like shop talk .. . only the most dedicated groupie (a notable absence of that species on the whole trip) would stick around for more than ten minutes of bullshit about switch positions on Stratocaster’s, the relative merits of various age and species: Fender amplifiers, how many Ornette Coleman records A has that B doesn’t and other related trivia, all of which was engrossing (at least to your reporter) but in the hour; worth of air time, nearly succeeded in putting the Chrysalis rep off to nodland. Believe me, it would you too, which is why I don’t waste cassettes on talk like this. But I did find out that yes, Rory was ‘sort of” asked to join the Stones on Mick Taylor’s departure (he went to Germany and did some playing with them): and no, the Stratocaster isn’t one that used to belong to Buddy Holly which is the most persistent Rory Gallagher story I’ve ever encountered. For the rest of this sort of thing, ask Alexis Korner next time you run into him: both he and Rory are equally great guys, but Alexis has been around since Christ last came to Newcastle arid knows more good stories.

Jesus. here we are in Toronto, Ontario which must be one of the most sanitarily entertaining cities to walk the streets of in all the northern hemisphere, and this hotel is so big. so decked. and the rooms (and room service) so fine, that I just sit back with a cold Molson’s. the air-con roaring, watching sailboats and tourist steamers float by on the blue bay under that sweet blue Canadian sky .. but just as one gets into some heavy perusal of the menu (Beluga caviar … filet mignon…Perrier water to mix with Glen Grant’s unblended malt scotch . . . (the phone rings over my cassette blasting the Stooges and it’s Mr. Chrysalis and Concert Time.

A horse of an altogether different shade: this is almost as nice as the hotel. Not only is there cold Molson’s in abundance, there’s not a cloud in the sky. A cool breeze is whipping around, but the sun is in that ‘‘I don’t wanna go down” focus that always stokes a mid-summer Saturday night up with whatever passes for “good vibes” these days. In the house trailer-dressing room, Rory is jamming away and really sounds hot. Everybody looks like the weather, the cold cuts are varied and quite edible, and you just know the concert is going to work. The bill tonight goes: Rory, Henry Gross (big hit about a dead dog), Derringer (ohmygodfiashback: “This guy opened to the Stones at the second rock concert I ever saw in ‘66!!). and Aerosmith (8 track cartridge mentality). Ah, normalcy. Tonight I am going to politely elbow my way up to the very front row of kids sitting on the protective tarp spread over the playing field, plop myself down, and really enjoy Rory Gallagher playing the paint off his Strat….I may even stick around for Derringer, y’know, for old times sake, although during Henry Gross’s set I think I’m going to find that fifth of Jack Daniels – and check out the cassette Talking Heads gave me way back in the jungle.

Looking over the audience, they seem so calm (there s an estimated 50000 of ’em). Canada always hits me this way— the people. the architecture, the TV shows. (the idea of the Olympics. even). Normalcy. Completely outside the stench of American grease, NYC speedsweat and hustle, LA amyl nitrate fistfucks, Cleveland tuinol consciousness. These kids in Toronto are going to BOOGIE NORMALLY. I’m in a foreign country, humming to myself; I don’t need a press box. Just a pair of shades and a beer and I can walk OUT THERE without fear of getting trampled, knifed, dosed with horse tranquilizer …. a big good-vibes grin starts to spread over the face. I’m grinning at Lou Martin, the keyboard player, at Rod deAth, drummer, at Gerry McAvoy, the bass player and at Rory Gallagher as we pass the Jack Daniels bottle.

Whaddya want, a review? Rory got a standing ovation just for walking onstage. Aerosmith didn’t get one when they went on. The PA. system was as crisp as the air. Rory closed with “Souped Up Ford” from his latest LP, Against The Grain, a pure hotrod bottleneck raver that owes a lot to Little Feat’s “Tripe Face Boogie.” and he got another standing ovation. Derringer sounded better with the McCoy’s, but then again, I wasn’t waiting for the Stones in Toronto Or Aerosmith either.

Back to the hotel lounge, where we swapped Jerry Lee Lewis stories and many more drinks. The girl at the piano must have felt really appreciated that night. She didn’t know ‘‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ but we applauded the hell out of everything else she oozed out. Rory showed me some really arcane Gaelic guitar tunings, for which I tried to swap him the secret Holy Modal Rounders’ tuning and positioning for “My Mind Capsized”, but I think you have to be a speedfreak to appreciate the peculiar warped beauty of that piece. Then we closed the night with a normal hamburger in the normal coffee shop (no “e” on the end).

So the junket was almost over. Sunday, waking up, my body was beginning to give off advance warning signals, which I ignored. Instead of confirming my flight back to Cleveland ( home base),. I perversely changed the reservation to go to Detroit, for a night on the town with that ‘‘certain other writer” .. If you’re going to burn the candle at both ends, use a blowtorch in the middle. Two days later I was in the hospital ….that’s another story. Who do I think I am. Louis Ferdinand Celine?

Poolside at the luxury motel. Molson’s still in our hands (Sunday afternoon in Canada you also
have to get a “sandwhich” with each drink . . . the food looked like Hohner blues harps made out of bread and chicken salad. Rory played quite an impressive solo on one): we are doing that most normal of things: swapping Polack Jokes (these are apparently as indigenous to the UK as to Cleveland): “If a nigger and a Polack fall out of an airplane at the same time, who hits the ground first? A: Who cares?” But I cracked them up with one I got from Lou Reed (‘Cept he tells ‘em because he really hates Poles): “Didja hear the one about the Polish ballerina who did the splits and stuck to the floor?”

My parting shot to the best Normal Guitar Player around was cut short by the call for my airport limo, but here it is. I got it from John Cale. Seems there was this Irishman who got a pair of water skis for Christmas. He spent all the next year looking for a lake with a slope.

This article comes from the November 1976 issue of CREEM.
Thanks to Janet for passing it along
reformatted by roryfan

055 - Gallagher - on the bands who commit suicide on stage From the June 5,1971 issue of Disc and Music Echo. A short article airing Rory's views of being onstage
Gallagher – on the bands who commit suicide on stage
RORY GALLAGHER made his first London appearance for a long time at the Marquee recently, with a new band, new songs, but the same old Stratocaster, and a crowd that cheered before he even played a note.

There was just a chance the fans might not have liked what he was going to do, but only a faint one. When you pay to see Rory Gallagher, you always get your money’s worth.

The songs, mainly from his new album, which sold 7000 in its first week of release, were naturally stronger live, and, before very long, they’ll be as familiar as ” What’s Going ON” and other Taste favourites were.

Good night

Rory might not have been at his best, but it was still a good night. The band is fine, with Wilgar Campbell, just the right sort of drummer and Gerry McAvoy, the right bass player for Gallagher. And it’s more Rory Gallagher than Taste ever was. The balance was good and the sound level was perfect, loud enough but never overpowering.

“Laundromat,” ‘For The Last Time,” “Sinner Boy” and “Wave Myself Goodbye” are typical Gallagher songs, good ones at that, and the new band offers more variety than the old one did. Rory uses acoustic guitar on a couple of things and even featured mandolin.

He really puts himself into a performance, and you’d have to go a long way to find a better audience-artist relationship. A live album ought to be done -“Live Taste’- give a better impression of what that band was all about than their studio LP’s.

“When you get before an audience, the songs are bound to be more vibrant than in a studio,” says Rory. “But I do try to get the same feeling within the band when we record as I do on stage. So, in effect, records are no different, except that you haven’t an audience and studios tend to he a bit clinical.

“But when I write a song I don’t envisage myself in a studio, wearing headphones and surrounded by wires. I see myself as I would be doing it on stage.”

Rory says he was “a little apprehensive” about going back on the road — but only because he always is before doing a gig. And he was out of business for over six months.

Why is Rory such a personality on stage? Well, it’s not surprising to learn that he’s very much anti superstar. “I’m no different from the people in the audience. People who say to an audience ‘Sit down, shut up and listen, we’re going to educate you,’ well you just can’t say that sort of thing. And a lot of people announce that they’re going to do an acoustic number and then take five minutes to get comfortable and set the mikes up right. You should just pick up the guitar and do it.

“The main thing is that you enjoy playing, or whatever you do. If you are a plumber or a builder, that’s fine if you really enjoy it. You are 90 per cent what you do. I’m no different from Tommy Jones from Scunthorpe who mends roofs, except that I cant do what he does.”

Rory says he does on stage what he himself would like to see his favourite artists do.. “That’s not being pompous. I just say I’m going to do a song called so and so and ‘hope you like it.’ That’s being honest. People who waste time saying things like ‘I wish they’d make these guitars in tune when they make than,’ well, they’re not respecting their audience. You can certainly learn what not to do by going to see other people.”

You can tell he’s really enjoying himself now. And he’s particularly happy about playing clubs again, although he enjoys the concert halls “because I’ve got used to them.”

Irish Trip

After the present tour, the band has an Irish trip lined up, plus some dates on the Continent, and by July, Rory thinks they’ll be doing another album. ” I have some of the songs and the whole concept of the album is forming. Again, it will be slightly different from what I’ve done before. We will do a live one sometime, but I don’t just want to do numbers that are already on record.”

As regards audience reactions, Rory says: “They’ve been very good. People seem to be listening more, as well as moving about a bit.”

Rory’s enjoying himself, and so are his fans.

RORY GALLAGHER:”some bands, he says, are ruining themselves with self-indulgent behavior in front of their audiences”

This article comes from the 6/5/71 issue of Disc and Music Echo.
Many thanks to Craig and Kim Stamm for using their library resources to obtain this article!!
reformatted by roryfan

056 - Pizza Platters Interviews Rory Gallagher - From 12/1/76. A Brief article/interview about touring etc.
Anyone watching Rory Gallagher, Ireland’s guitarist extraordinaire, performing at the Jethro Tull extravaganza at the LA Coliseum, really couldn’t be be blamed for thinking Rory’s a fierce, driven man. Onstage, Gallagher’s sizzling guitar work , coupled with his dynamic stage presence, leads one to believe he must be a terror offstage: one of those rockers who heads to the hotel after a gig, and systematically tears his room to shreds – an assumption that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Rory Gallagher is an articulate, unpretentious, accommodating man who speaks with an Irish brogue, softened by years of travel.

Growing up in Cork, Ireland, Rory invested 4 1/2 pounds ( approx. $20) in a guitar when he was nine. At fifteen, Rory joined the Fontana Showband ( later renamed Impact), and spent two and a half years with that band.

When Impact disbanded, Rory formed the legendary jazz-rock band, Taste. After four years with Taste, Rory left the group to form his own band. With fellow Irishmen Gerry McAvoy ( bass) and Wilgar Campbell (drums), Rory produced 3 albums and , in 1971, toured the US. Eventually Rod de Ath replaced Wilgar Campbell and Lou Martin ( ex killing Floor) was brought in on keyboards.

This lineup, of which the Rory Gallagher band now consists, and after their set at the Tull gig, Rory chatted about his new album, his band and his views of touring and life on the road.

PP Did you enjoy playing to a vast audience?
RG No. I can’t foresee the band playing many more gigs like this.

PP You prefer smaller venues?
RG Yeah

PP You don’t feel you have to play a large hall to accommodate your following?
RG It’s ironic because, like I got a letter from a fan saying ” How dare you play the Coliseum, you’re leaving all your fans behind’, you know, then you’ve got the other alternative saying “You should be playing bigger places.” I wouldn’t mind headlining bigger shows that we’re doing, but, be patient….

PP You’ve got a new album due to be released?
RG It’s called ” Calling Card, ” nine songs, I wrote them all. Same band, I think it’s our best….produced by a fellow called Roger Glover ( ex-Deep Purple bassist.)

PP Haven’t you produced your previous albums?
RG Yeah… I just thought I’d give it a try. It was nice to have someone take the weight off your shoulders in the studio. It worked out fine.

PP I’ve seen you on 7 or 8 tours in America, and knowing you tour ’round the world; I have to wonder whether you’re ever off the road.
RG I’m never really off the road. I’m always doing something. Man in a suitcase, that’s me.

PP Do you accept life on the road?
RG Yeah, I accept it. I don’t even form an opinion of it, just accept it. New hotel rooms every night is terrible.

PP You’ve had 7 albums released, and been touring the US as many years, and suddenly, you’re being touted as a ‘new sensation – a star on the rise.’ How does that effect you?
RG It’s hard to know. I suffer from being Irish. We’re too cynical, the Irish. There’s so much jive you can go through in this country to become a star. There are certain things I could do right now, go God knows where in a week. I’m just going to do whatever-play it by ear.

Claudia McQuillan
Licorice Pizza-Downey
This article comes from the 12/1/76 issue of Pizza Platters.
Thanks to Keith Whalen for sending it.
reformatted by roryfan

057 - Rory gets the acoustic bug by Chris Welch in Switzerland From Melody Maker 7/19/75. A recap/interview of Guitar Night at the Ninth International Festival at Montreux
Rory gets the acoustic bug
by Chris Welch in Switzerland
Rory Gallagher made two startling discoveries during his week at the Montreux Festival. One was that Swiss beer has remarkably potent characteristics, despite its deceptively mild flavour. The other is that you don’t always need 2,000 watts and a rock orchestra to communicate the wonders of music.

For Rory’s one man appearance on Guitar Night at the Ninth International Festival, was a sensational success, drawing plaudits not only from the audience, but from fellow musicians like Larry Coryell.

Rory is the quiet man who can step on stage and more than hold his own against all the technique in the world. And plenty of that was thrown against him when he jammed with Coryell, Philippe Catherine, Steve Khan and John Martyn, without a rhythm section to help them along.

Gallagher just loves to play, which explains why he was jamming almost non-stop at the festival, in dressing rooms as well as on stage, and why he works all year round, as he tours the world like a communications satellite.

Of all the guitarists in rock. he has remained true to his blues convictions, and while he’s hardly altered his style, he has improved over the years to the point where he knows exactly what he can do with a very healthy technique, and employ it in a most meaningful fashion A few well chosen notes from Gallagher, played with sincerity, can mean so much more than a thousand played with the speed of light.

But while Rory has scored a triumph as a solo artist with his acoustic slide guitar work and blues shouting, what has happened to his group and the hard business of recording?

As we sat at a pavement cafe in Montreux last week, watching the trolley buses whizz silently and efficiently past, Rory ordered several biers Cardinal and revealed all, pausing only to swop stories about Van Morrison and the old days in Belfast.

“I’ll be recording again soon, but it’s no big deal when exactly. We usually decide three days beforehand and go into the studio. Probably when we get back to London in September. It’ll be with the full band and we’ll also be starting work on another American and European tour. We did two world tours in succession in the last 12 months and then had a summer lay-off. I think it must be the longest holiday we’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to doing the next LP and I may do a completely acoustic album as well. I think it’s well due, and in fact I taped the solo gig at the festival.

“ When you start recording you have to stop touring and that’s a decision I hate to make. I love touring, and even when I feel I need a break, I’ll end up jamming with someone like Larry Coryell. I can’t wait to get back to full scale touring again. And it’s not just me, the rest of the guys in the band like to work too. Since 1971 I guess we’ve done about eight or nine tours.

“But last year, the only record we had out was the Irish Tour ‘74” so I suppose a new one is due y’know? Yeah, I guess the albums sell well, but its always been a problem to get the ‘live’ thing across on record.

“The past albums have been 90 per cent stage act and studio additions. Basically it’s always been a stage thing. But it’s hard to recreate the excitement. I’d like to be able to strike a balance between the rough and ready live LP thing and studio sophistication. We’re getting closer to ‘it and using a mobile studio helps. We used one on the Irish tour. Ideally you should be able to record in your living room. I believe Led Zeppelin do a bit of that, with John Bonham’s drums in the hall.

“The trouble with the new studios is that they feel like a lot of rooms within rooms. The old studios had a kind of ambiance about them.”

How did the Montreux trip work out, if the Gallagher band I was temporarily off the road?

“Well they’ve invited me once or twice before to play with the blues fellows, but I couldn’t bring the band over as well, so I always turned it down. But this year I thought I’d give it a try and play with Ronnie Hawkins. We’ll be having a couple of days rehearsal so I thought it would be nice. Unfortunately, there was no rehearsal for the jam session and it’s a pity we had all these marvelous guys blowing and no bass or drums. It was Larry’s idea, and we started out playing ‘Memphis Underground,’ but the rhythm machine he uses with Steve Khan broke down. Something went wrong and there were five of us on stage, guys you’ll never get together again, trying to play something.

In the end I thought I’d do it by mathematics, and call the soloists up, one by one, from left to right. But it was all Larry’s idea to do it, and he’s dead keen. You couldn’t get him off the stage in the end, and all the house lights were going up! The most enjoyable thing for me was working solo with my acoustic. It was a kind of test for me. I was alone, but I knew I could do it.”

Was Rory surprised when promoter Claude Nobs produced his harmonica and started sitting in?

Oh you’ve got to watch these promoters. They always turn up with a bag full of harmonicas! But Claude knew what he was doing. Most guys suck and blow and have to be ejected from the stage. It’s nice if people jam more, even if it goes haywire. Last night was like a music shop gone mad. I’ve jammed with Larry before. The last time was at the Bilzen Festival in Belgium in 1971. But the best thing when you’re jamming is to have a framework to work from.”

This article comes from t he 7/19/75 issue of Melody Maker
Thanks to Angela Shaw for sharing it.

058 - Praying at the temple of the blues by Michael Ross From The Sunday Times 8/16/92. Interesting insight into Rory's mindset.
Profile / Rory Gallagher
Praying at the temple of the blues
by Michael Ross
In the airy loft of the Guinness Hop Store last Wednesday, Rory Gallagher stepped out to face a workshop for young guitarists, his first Irish audience in over four years. Beforehand, he worried, as he always does, if he would still be liked. It might seem a peculiar worry for someone who has been received rapturously here for over 20 years.

But when people feel vulnerable, as Rory Gallagher does, they can fear even the most unlikely occurrence. As he walked out in front of the few dozen admitted to the class, he feared that someone would remark upon his low profile of late, or upon his unhealthy appearance.

He need scarcely have worried. He picked up an acoustic guitar and introduced the first of the handful of songs he performed. It was Walkin’ Blues, written by one of the oldest of the original Mississippi bluesmen, Eddie Son House, 70 years ago, and recorded by the most influential figures in blues, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.

It was a most appropriate choice for Gallagher. One of the leading modem interpreters of the blues, and a man upon whom a sense of music history weighs very heavily.

When he finished, the audience applauded warmly. Gallagher, whose career making strong, fluent music has been punctuated by many bouts of crippling indecisiveness and lack of confidence, looked grateful and relieved. For the first time in a long time, he remarked later, he felt that the gods were with him.

The past few years have not been kind to Rory Gallagher. He has felt unhappy for reasons he is unable to specify. He has done little work, has felt that his standing as a musician has diminished, and has suffered health problems which have seen him gain a great deal of weight. The Hop Store appearance and his concert last night in Dublin’s College Green were chances to show that he is still musically potent and has not become, as recent reports have suggested, an alcoholic casualty.

This recently touted image of Gallagher as a broken and bitter man sits particularly uneasily, given the long-standing perception of him as an intensely private, but amiable and generous musician with an ascetic dedication to an unusually thankless area of music.

His attachment to music sprang up in Gallagher at a very young age, nurtured by his family’s interest in traditional Irish music and his life. There have been friendships, there have been relationships with women, but the only close and constant companion has been music.

His late father, Danny, played accordion with a group in Cork, where the family moved when Rory was a baby. His mother, Monica, sang. Rory had little interest in Irish music. With his first guitar. which he got at the age of nine. and which he still has, he played rock ‘n’ roll songs at Pioneer rallies.

There was no record player in the Gallagher’s house, so it was the radio which sparked Rory’s interest in music. He and his brother Donal, two years younger and Rory’s only sibling, spent their evenings listening to Lonnie Donegan. Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.

One evening in particular, though, still stands out in Gallagher’s mind: the first time he heard, on the Armed Forces Network the stubborn sound of Muddy Waters playing the blues.

Blues evolved from gospel music in the late 19th century as the secular music of Afro-American sharecroppers in Mississippi and Louisiana. in which they expressed their suffering and their struggle to regain some pride.

It was certainly a different world from the Cork of the 1950s. But blues was a state of mind as much as a musical form: the style could be imitated, but without the feeling it could not be played properly. “It has every kind of shade in it,” says Gallagher, “quietness. sadness, violence, and that’s why it’s so draining.”

As soon as he could, at the age of 15, he bought an electric guitar, a 1961 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster secondhand for £100, which he uses to this day.

There were few blues bands in Ireland at the time, and none with room for a 15-year-old, so out of frustration Gallagher joined the Fontana Showband. The regimented dress code and the monotonous music of the showband circuit aggravated Gallagher, who pushed the band in the direction of the English beat groups and got them to change their name to Impact.

But although the name and music changed, Gallagher continued playing the same circuit as before, enduring the same complaints from promoters about his clothes and long hair, and he lost interest in Impact.

“He was headstrong even then,” says Johnny Campbell who drummed with Impact and has remained Gallagher’s closest Irish friend He always knew what he wanted and it was never simple.’
Throughout his four years with the Fontana and Impact, Gallagher was never leader of the band. To get what he wanted he started his own band, Taste, with two Cork musicians.

Taste began well, but did not develop to Gallagher’s satisfaction. Gallagher’s colleagues were replaced after two years. A move to London in 1968, to be closer to the music business, turned out to be permanent for Gallagher. It was not a big deal for a band to uproot and move to London. If you wanted to make it in the music business you had to go there.

Gallagher finds the impersonal nature of London attractive. He regards the city not as a home, but as an exile. He says he would like to return to Ireland, although acquaintances say that is unlikely as it would expose him to the possibility, however slight, of rejection.

Taste recorded four LPs and achieved considerable fame. Little of the money generated by the band, however, found its way into their pockets. Suspicions grew into hostility, and at the end of 1970 they disbanded. Since then Gallagher has kept his bands at a distance, as employees or collaborators but never equals.

It was only in recent months that the business affairs of Taste have been finally sorted out and good terms established again by its former members.

His brother Donal has managed him since then. “He is a disorganised person, says Donal. “It causes problems for him, but he’s inclined to think they are bigger than they really are.”

The Rory Gallagher Band. formed after Taste, with Gerry McAvoy on bass and Wilgar Campbell on drums, toured relentlessly and made six LPs in four years. He was easy to work with, according to McAvoy: there were strains, especially in the studio, but Gallagher was on top of the job, even if he didn’t think so himself. Building on the work done by Taste, Gallagher established himself as a strong live act across Europe. In a career notable for its lack of momentum it was an unusually productive period.

Part of the reason for his lack of momentum has been Gallagher’s absorption in even the smallest details of his work. He writes, performs and produces his recordings, and gets so consumed by them that he frequently turns against them.

Two entire LPs have been scrapped. With the others he has thrown songs out, rearranged others, remixed them endlessly, completely unable to rely on the judgment of others and barely able to rely on his own.

He has been hindered also by a fear of flying, which he traces to the death of Buddy Holly in a plane crash in 1959. The fear became acute in the mid-1980s after a small plane carrying Gallagher’s band to a summer festival was tossed around in a storm over Norway. The plane landed safely its occupants unharmed, but Gallagher’s nerve was shattered. He finally came to terms with his fear by undertaking an intensive tour of Japan and Australia two years ago.

There were other problems. A strict attitude to not eating before shows led to him losing his appetite and getting run down. His sleep was disordered. He became preoccupied with horoscopes.

The high point of recent years for him was his 1987 LP Defender, which showed that he had grown considerably as a writer. More than ever, it was a success pulled out of a crisis. “All of a sudden, over a couple of nights, something came over me, which wasn’t entirely pleasant, a scary thing. I felt I went over a bridge. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

His belief in God, which he finds comforting, was not enough: what got him through the crisis was a renewed commitment to the grinding business of recording, and to trying to progress blues beyond Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.

There are, he acknowledges, things missing from his life. “Everybody wants other things in their lives, but I don’t dwell on that.” He has never married, and lives alone in Chelsea. He reads the Irish papers and keeps his radio tuned to RTE.

Recent mutterings that he has a drink problem have wounded him. For a man who, even though he holds himself with dignity, is evidently in distress, it is an especially cruel suggestion.

He takes a drink, but does not, he says, have a drink problem and does not take drugs. Not only that, says Johnny Campbell, but he has become quite abstemious about alcohol in recent years.

He would like to relax but is eaten up by the need to write and by the feeling that he ought to be doing more. He should, he says, be happy. The things he wanted when he was younger he has mostly achieved. It would be more than enough for most people.

It would be easy for Gallagher to appear as a rich white man with the poor black man’s blues. It would be easy also for him to live out the hackneyed, booze-addled lifestyle which is supposed to accompany the music. But there is an optimism in Gallagher which keeps him going through the bad spells; and it is this which keeps him focussed on getting something new from the blues.

This article comes from August 16,1992 issue of The Sunday Tribune.
Thanks to Barry McCabe for passing it along.
Article reformatted by roryfan

059 - Interview from International Musician 1976 - Interesting interview touching on touring, equipment and recording.
Interview from International Musician 1976
Rory’s into music and gigging. There’s not a day goes by when he doesn’t play guitar and he’s studiously avoiding the pitfalls that beset successful rock ‘n’ rollers. We talked with him around the time of the Albert Hall concert in London and we were able to attend the soundcheck to see the band routining to beat the dreaded Albert acoustics. On the check, Rory was faithfully sticking to a really old Fender combo amp which insisted on playing up. He had a little trouble from his treble boost unit which was cradled in tin foil to avoid screening problems and sat on top of the amp. The final sound he wrung from his much loved, but battered Stratocaster was phenomenal. Equally phenomenal was the sound Rod D’Ath was getting from an Arbiter Auto-Tune drum kit. Music biz executive Mark Goodwin had brought the kit down to the Albert at Rod’s request, as Rod said, the sound was ‘fucking amazing.’

After the usual problems the band settled down and played an exceptionally good gig.

Have you changed any of your equipment recently?
Well, I’ve still got the Fender Bassman amp with four 10 inch speakers. I’ve got a spare Fender Twin, which has two 12 inch speakers, but it’s the old style without the reverb. That’s in case the Bassman breaks down, but I kinda like the Bassman tone. I still have the AC30 and I’ve got this Magnetone, which is not a very well known American make. It’s got a very fast tremolo on it – almost like a Leslie effect – with a long tubular bar thing. When I got it the guy told me I’d have to get the valves changed, so I hung on to it for months, but it’s only this week that I’ve got it sorted out. It looks a bit like a Selmer. There’s two Jensens in the back, it’s got tremolo, reverb and the tremolo flickers a bit when it’s on. It’s a bit fancy but it’s a nice little amp.

How’s the Strat?
Oh, it’s great. I had it overhauled in LA because I thought it was getting a bit beyond it, but this guy took it apart and fitted a new nut, new machine heads, straightened out the neck a bit and put it back together again. Since then it’s been working great.

It made a nice album cover
Yeah. It was the ‘eleventh hour’ sleeve that we tried. Luckily, the photographer took some nice close up shots and they looked really atmospheric. So we went along with that and it came out great.

For normal tuning, you only use the Strat.
Does this cause you any tuning problems during a two hour set?
Oh, it holds up pretty well. I mean, I bend some of the strings really crazy sometimes, so you’re bound to end up tuning up after a couple of numbers. Some guys actually bring on two guitars and change over halfway through the set, but that one’s probably gone out of tune anyway with the lights and the heat.

How do you tune up in the dressing room?
Harmonica usually. Bass and guitar to harmonica. We didn’t used to bother with a tune up amp, but we’ve got one in there now. It’s not essential.

Have you got a good ear?
I think so, yeah. In lots of cases, you have to be confident in your own ear. It’s a psychological thing. It’s like depending on these strobo-tuners – that’s alright if you’ve got, like ten guitars to use on stage and the roadie has to do it. But I really think that’s bad news. It’s alright if you’re Bo Diddley or Keith Richard – they use loads of guitars on stage – but that’s something you’ve got to learn yourself.

Who does your repairs for you?
We’ve got a fellow called Ray Elgy who works in Shepherds Bush. He does a lot of the repair work. It depends. If you’re on tour, you have to depend on who’s available. I tend to get a lot of repairs done in the States. Maybe that’s because American tours are so concentrated and you need to get repairs done on the road. You often meet guys who happen to be guitar repair men who say ‘Hey, have you ever tried doing this with the guitar?’ You might be lucky to have a day off, so you give them the guitar and they come back the next night with it. I don’t like to fool around with the wiring, but Ray does most of the odd bits of repairs for us. It’s only when you try out things that you find out. It’s like the Telecaster, I’ve got an out of phase switch on that. I had that done in the States and I switched round the bass position pickup to the Strat pickup because the bass one is a bit thin.

How pleased are you with the album?
It’s the album that’s lasted the longest, in terms of satisfaction, for me. I still think it’s the strongest album all round. It’s got the best sound and the band are playing the best on it.

The album’s got a very ‘live’ feel to it. How did you achieve that?
Well, there was a two year gap, which gave me a chance to sit back and pull the other albums apart and see what was right and what was wrong. There were a lot of good things about the other albums. I stand up by those, but we tried a few different things. We put the drums outside the drum booth for instance. We spent weeks rehearsing the songs before we actually recorded them, so by the time we recorded them we had them off well. It was Wessex Studios and three quarters of it is carpeted and the other bit is tiled, so we used the tile place and screened it off slightly, so we had the quality plus the ambiance thing. I don’t think all the technical changes we made had all that much to do with it. It just sort of swung anyway. Also, I wasn’t averse to re-doing a vocal this time, before I used to be very insistent on doing live vocals and live lead guitar.

Do you always record the vocals at the same time as the guitar?
Yeah. I had this idealistic thing, which I still stand by to a great extent, even if the track sounds just 99.9% right, sometimes a live vocal gives it that – it sounds like it’s people playing live. Sometimes, with this strict approach, things can suffer. To get a good clear vocal, you’d have to cut down on the drum volume a bit and stuff like that, so we compromised a bit. It’s taken a lot off my shoulders to have to do a perfect lead guitar and a perfect vocal and for the band to be perfect as well. But there are some tracks that are completely live on the album and most of them are pretty live. All we did was to take a slight step towards using the studio to our advantage, maybe double tracking a bit of organ or rhythm and lead guitar. You see, even if everything was right but you don’t have that “zing” there, then the album won’t be good. Let’s put it this way, after making Against The Grain, I think we can only improve on that sound now, but I’m not going to become super-sophisticated in the studio. I’m still going to keep it rough, but not so rough that we lose quality. Also, we taped it and kept it well within the twenty-minute thing. On one hand, you’re trying to give the people value, but then you take up too much room on the record, so you cut down your volume. It’s one of those things, you know. I hate bands who do 15 minutes a side. I think that’s real bad. But I’m just glad that this album has more “zing” than the others, but I still have a soft spot for the others.

You produced the album, how comfortable are you in the producer’s chair?
Well, for a start I was working with a great engineer Robin Sylvester and he’s A1. I’ve worked with him before and he’s caught us at gigs, so I can leave a lot on his shoulders. I’m not super-technical. If he does something, I know what he’s doing. Really, I try and stay in that little vacuum between being instinctive and saying ‘I picture this thing this way’. I have a very strong image of what I want the song to sound like, but if he comes up with an idea, I’ll always listen. That’ll be the argument for all time, what is a producer? On one hand, it means an awful lot of credit for the engineer and on the other hand, it’s the guy who sees the sounds he wants.

Do you record at the same level in the studio?
Just about, yeah. It depends on the sound. If you want to get a clean sound, you cut it down a bit. We set the stuff up in a circle more or less, and it’s pretty loud, but not earth-shattering. Just enough to let the amps cook.

When you’re writing, do you use a cassette recorder or do you have a ‘home studio?
Well, I recently got a reel to reel, but I haven’t used it for writing yet. We’ve got access to the garage underneath so I’ll probably do some rehearsals there. Normally, I just use the cassette player. If it’s something I’ve got to work on, I can go over and over it playing it back on the cassette. Normally, the songs are very strong when they hit me. The only time I have to put it down on the cassette is when the music comes first and I have to work on the lyrics.

Do you play a lot off stage?
Yeah, it depends how much we’re working. In the States, I play in the hotel or jam a bit. Sometimes, there’s only enough time to have a little play in the dressing room before a gig.

What’s the longest time you can go without touching a guitar?
A day is my limit. If I’m stuck in a city somewhere and the gear has to fly on and I can’t get my hands on a guitar, I go nuts. It happened to me once or twice and I really felt like the guy in Peanuts without the blanket. I have to go down to a music store and play for half an hour. It’s like a real hunger. I used to bring a Martin around with me, but now I’ve got a tune-up amp called a Dwarf, it’s like the Pig-nose, but you know the way the Pignose is very fuzzy. This one’s dead clean, but you can fuzz it up if you want. It’s good because it’s one thing rehearsing with an acoustic, but the electric is such a different character. You have to work on both of them. Sometimes, you can’t write on an acoustic and vice versa. But I have ended up with some crazy situations whereby I wrote an acoustic number and it ended up as an electric number, ‘Sinner Boy’ was one like that.

How do you spend your time when you’re off the road?
Well, I’m a guitar nut anyway so I’m always visiting music stores and getting my guitars fixed. I read a lot and do a bit of drawing and I’m a bit of a movie fan as well. I don’t have any one real hobby. When I get home, there’s always so many records I’ve missed out on, and I try and see a few bands and visit a few friends. There’s lots of little things to keep you busy.

What s the longest amount of time you’ve ever spent off the road?
Probably about a month, but then I’d be writing during that time. I wouldn’t mind going off the road if I could play, but in Europe, when you’re off the road, it really is off the road. In America, there’s lots of clubs and things going on.

Do you find time to jam a lot with other people?
Not as much as I’d like to. It goes through phases. Some tours, you bump into a lot people and there’s a lot of jamming going or and sometimes there’s a long stretch without. That’s a pity. It’s because the rock scene has become so streamlined and organized. It’s a pity, but there you go.

Has the band got that empathy between them now that enables you to change a number around halfway through?
Oh yeah. I wouldn’t change key or anything like that, but I often change numbers and arrangements, that’s a bit of that E.S.P. thing going on. But the stuff I play has always been pretty instinctive.

Have you seen anyone recently who have impressed you?
Not in quite a while. I saw Bruce Springsteen in the States a while ago. He was good in relation to all the hype, but I haven’t seen anyone new who really murdered me altogether. There’s a lot of interesting bands, but not really new. Like Little Feat aren’t a new band, they’ve been going for years.

What do you think of American musicians?
I think it’s leveled out a bit now. People used to say they always had the best players, but there’s a lot of mediocre bands as well. Being American doesn’t automatically give you the license to be raunchy.

What’s next for you in the way of tours and recordings?
Well, after the American tour, we are going to do a fairly extensive European tour in March and then do the next album. It’ll be out probably in August or maybe just before the summer. It’ll be another studio album, definitely. We might record it in the States, in fact. I’d like to try some tracks in the States, just to see what happens. Something obviously happens to some people when they record in the States.

Out of all the studios you’ve worked in, which do you prefer?
Well, the last album was done as Wessex and it’s really good there. It’s a nice big spacious room.

Do you prefer large studios?
Well, at least on ground level and space I don’t like rooms within rooms. I like a room to have been a room at one time. Wessex was in fact a church hail at one time. It’s been totally converted into a modern professional studio, but you still know it was a room where people were. I don’t know if that makes any difference, but it must do.

I know you hate being coiled “hard-working Rory”, but that fact remains you work a hell of lot more than most other bands. How do you manage to keep fit on the road?
Well, you’re supposed to get eight hours sleep. I do that if I can, but it’s not very often. I move around a lot on stage. I make sure I can get a bit of a walk now and then. It loosens up the old muscles. I like walking a lot, so I make sure I don’t sit down and watch TV all day. Between that and playing on stage, it keeps you more or less fit. I never have big meals before I go on stage because that usually makes you sluggish.

Thanks to donman for passing this article along.
reformatted by roryfan

060 - Old Sweat in Cologne by Angie Errigo - From New Musical Express 1/8/77. Discussion of touring, a night on tour and Rockpalast. This one is from the Calling Card period
Rory Gallagher’s Leprechaun Boogie And Bedtime at Ten
Angie Errigo bejabbers with the guitarman
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse me,” Rory announces. “I’m just having a bowl of soup and then I’m going to bed. You can go on drinking all night, but I have a tour to do.”

He’s doing his boy-next-door stuff, see. The rest of the band greet this with knowing laughs and start telling each other, “Well I don’t know about you but I have to get some sleep, I have a tour to do.”

A bowl of soup, six lamb chops and numerous beers later, Rory is still with us. “I always feel really hungry after playing,” he says between chews, reaching over to take another chop from Gerry McAvoy’s plate and resuming a lengthy discussion of Irish politics. He accepts a chop from me and tells us all again he’s going straight to bed.

He’s still sticking to that story at six a.m. This is after he’s finished eating, discovered a piano in the cellar of the restaurant and hauled everyone down for a singalong taking in most of the band’s considerable repertoire of Irish tearjerkers. He’s also done a Maurice Chevalier song and dance routine to “Chattanooga Choo Choo” before being flung out at four and bundled shakily back to the hotel. “I’m goin’ to bed,” he insists, slurring. “I’ve ‘n ‘Merican tour to do.”

On to the brandy in the hotel bar. Rory’s mighty pale, but conversing knowledgeably about German films as the few of us left who think we’re more sober slide even further under the table.
The Rory Gallagher Band are in Cologne, Germany to appear on the popular monthly television programme Rockpalast (Rock Palace) before zooming off to the States and undertaking the full British tour through Christmas and the New Year. Their consistently heavy touring schedule — which has taken them from Australia to Poland in recent months — has been broken up this year only by the time spent recording “Calling Card”. More care and time have gone into the album than Gallagher has usually been willing to spend, and it shows — from the strength and variety of the compositions and performance to the excellent production.

ON THE FLIGHT to Cologne, Rory expressed his satisfaction with “Calling Card” while reaffirming the attitude he’s always taken, that of the hard-working, durable musician whose pleasure is in the playing and not in glorifying or intellectualising it.

“You do need that Top Fifty album in the States to ram home to people that you do mean something, but it’s not worth having a hernia over. One shouldn’t base one’s career on obvious, written successes. It’s just good to be playing.

“It’s great too that I can get around to all these places, Copenhagen, Munich, Paris. It sounds naive, but still, there you are. It’s better than joining the Navy, let’s put it that way.

“I can’t imagine why anyone would want to leave the road. As a youngster if someone had said “Look, you can play music tonight in Paris,’ I would have gone daft. The thrill is still there for me. I guess I can see why some people just go nuts, but I enjoy hotels and suitcase living.

“I’ll keep on doing it as long as I can. I see people like Muddy,” (Muddy Waters, who is 61). “and it’s really like the epitome for me to see some man of fifty or sixty still having that presence, and making it all sound like a 16 year-old. The youth’s in the music”

Rory is deservedly well established as the people’s guitar virtuoso, shunning trends and pyrotechnics, and he doesn’t see anything diverting him from the direction he’s taken.

“Of course, what it’s going to be like in 2001,I don’t know. It’s never that far away. But I can’t imagine people not ever wanting to hear blues and play it, no matter how disco-fied the world becomes. We might have a very supersonic 20 years, but then imagine it in the year 2001, somebody rediscovers the acoustic guitar and the blues. “You mean it all comes out of this box with just two hands.”

While he could stay in his own niche forever, he’s not impervious to what else is going on in music. He listens to a lot of things at home, from early rockers and, obviously, the blues greats, to Dylan, Segovia and avante-garde jazz.

“I think it’s essential to remain a fan. People who have that enthusiasm and still have idols are healthy. I meet people who say nothing’s happening, but it’s just not true. People get lazy when their record collection’s got beyond a certain point, so they’re jaded.

“After the gush of music in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, I suppose some people are bound to be a bit zonked out by it. But apart from the punk rock thing, which I’ll reserve comment on at present, people are still waiting for the new Beatles: That’s a waste of time. Nobody needs the new Beatles. There was one already and they were great and they’ve done their thing.

“There are always plenty of people around worth listening to, a lot of undiscovered people. And they keep waiting, too, for a whole new Frisco-type thing like the beads and kaftans — ‘What should we be wearing now?’ It’s so unimportant. Like they pick Bruce Springsteen, a good artist, and try to make him the new saviour. It’s a wonder he didn’t go nuts.”

Something Gallagher does have in common with a lot of new young bands is his contempt for what he calls the “Olympic Games stage” when the music is peripheral to showbiz spectacle. But he points out that a normal-sized gig in Britain is the equivalent of a little gym show in the States, where there is no escaping big arenas. He doesn’t particularly like doing them and still finds colleges and the occasional club gratifying.

“But you know I don’t think about it that seriously. When you’re there you judge by the gig itself and how you’re playing. It’s an experience to play the big places; we just try to treat them like a festival.”

AS THE PLANE descended over Germany, Rory started reminiscing about the days in the ‘60s when he took to the Hamburg clubs.

“It was so amazing. Jimi Hendrix came, Cream were there, and there were all these Gene Vincent characters still hanging around. Back home I had to play showband stuff and then when I hit Germany I could play anything I wanted, rhythm and blues, rock . . “

Gallagher is very big in Germany, a favourite ever since the Taste workouts in Reeperbahn clubs, and the reception he received from the small studio audience at Rockpalast shook the floorboards.
“God knows what this TV show’s going to be like,” he’d said. “At least it’s live, warts and all.”

There weren’t any real noticeable warts apart from the slight muffling always evident in a television studio and apparently rectified in the sound recording room.

Rockpalast has an interesting format, featuring one live band and dividing the show into three sections. The band in the studio does one or two numbers, followed by a few minutes of introduction from compere Albrecht Metzger on the group’s development before the main set of three numbers. The second part is a special interest feature, perhaps a bit of historical rock film footage, say. The last few minutes are spent answering viewers’ queries, along the lines of “Hello friends, can you tell me where to buy the double LP ‘Beck, Bogart And Appice Live In Japan’?” Fred Dellar, they could use you, man.

Producer Peter Ruchel readily admits Rockpalast only presents artists he and the director, 25 year-old Christian Wagner, really like.

“We are not looking at the charts, it doesn’t interest us. Sometimes we have even had to remind an artist’s German record company that he is with them — that happened with Nils Lofgren

Since the programme started early this year the live spot has included Lofgren, Procol Harum, Frankie Miller, Ted Nugent and now Rory. Some Germans have questioned the programme’s nearly total involvement with foreign acts. Ruchel’s response is: “In principle it doesn’t matter to us where a group comes from, but there aren’t many German groups of the quality of Rory or Nils or Frankie. They have each come from strong musical traditions and developed them.

“German traditional music has been destroyed by fascism because it was used by fascism, so it is difficult now for German groups to develop their identity.”

GALLAGHER’S IDENTITY is ecstatically embraced by the kids in the audience, despite the shaky English many of them possess. In the warm club atmosphere Gallagher builds up, the set climbs excitedly to nearly two hours in length, although the final programme will only use about twenty minutes. I can hear occasional frantic translation between friends of lines like I’m gonna be like the measles, I’m gonna be all over you,” but most of Rory’s quick, friendly chatting between numbers is greeted with laughter and applause, while his initial solo acoustic set of Leadbelly, Lightning Slim, Big Bill Broonzy and Blind Boy Fuller numbers provokes enthusiastic whoops and hollers and vigorous clapping along throughout. In his element, he lets out cat yowls and cuts crazy on slide with the guitar laid across his lap.

The band swings on in “Going To My Hometown” and tears into some of the best material from “Calling Card” with as much energy as if it were a big concert. “Calling Card” itself is taken slow and Lou Martin spinning piano runs off Rory’s famous vibrato licks. Thrashing the audience up with “Secret Agent”, Rory duckwalks as best he can on the carpeted stage and Gerry McAvoy flails at his bass like he’s gonna kill it.

By “Do You Read Me” Rory looks like he’s seen the Holy Grail, his face screwed up and exalted as he wrings out those spiddley-diddley top register spins. By the end, in the spirraling break of “Jackknife Beat” he’s jumped off the stage and into the audience (with the cameraman desperately racing in rings around him) where he does the splits and shouts “Au wiedersein”. If that wasn’t good rock television in the end, nothin’ is.

By the time it’s all over the band have been in the studio for nearly nine hours since lunch, and everybody’s crying for dinner. But Rory meekly agrees to do another few minutes of interview with Albrecht for a later programme. Back in the studio in his baggy old cords and battered jacket, the proverbial nice guy patience begins to wear surprisingly thin under the “How To Play Guitar In Ten Easy Lessons” questions .

“What is this guitar? It is metal?” A hunted look comes into Rory’s eyes as he explains about National steel guitars. . “

“What is this on your finger?

“Er, this is a bottleneck.”

Finally, clutching his empty stomach he actually gets a bit snappy in response to a question about his development that makes him sound like he’s seventy years old. “I’m not Fred Astaire!” he protests. After a moment’s reflection — possibly on the lamb chops to come — he says what, ultimately, is all he ever really needs to say.

“Whatever I may say in an interview may be relevant, but it’s not that relevant. I don’t analyse myself; I just do it. Just wanting to play is the important thing.”

This article comes from the Jan8, 1977 issue of New Musical Express.
Thanks to Angela Shaw for sharing it.
reformatted by roryfan

061 - Rory Raises a Hurricane by Brian Harrigan From the 4/26/75 issue of Melody Maker. A recount of life at a Rory show
Rory Raises a Hurricane by Brian Harrigan

ROUNDHOUSE, Dagenham, Saturday:
Even from 50 yards it was obvious he was a Rory Gallagher fan. The blue jeans, the no-nonsense red sweatshirt, the Gallagher hair-style — shoulder – length, black, wavy, parted down the middle.

“Excuse me,” he asked, “ can you tell me where Lodge Avenue is?” Going to Dagenham Roundhouse too.

“ You going to see Gallagher?” That’s right. He relaxed, heartened that he’d found a kindred spirit wandering about in the council house desert making up this part of the London Borough of Barking.

It turned out his name was Jerry and that he had in his possession every Gallagher album ever released — with the exception of the new Polydor compilation of oldies released in their ‘Flashbacks” series.

His feeling towards Gallagher was just what you’d expect. Not exactly hero-worship, since the Irishman is the most man of the people person in the music business.

It was more a sort of friendship, liberally laced with gratitude and perhaps with relief. Gratitude that Gallagher would probably happily play in a telephone kiosk if enough people wanted him too, and relief that he had “never sold Out,” in Jerry’s words.

The Roundhouse was predictably jam-packed with hundreds just like Jerry. Jeans were in the ascendancy, and there were quite a few genuine Rory Gallagher lumberjack shirts being spurted as well.

The line of people waiting to squeeze in moved slowly, maybe because the place was full already, and no one was going out of his way to make space for anyone else.

Gallagher could be just about made out above the seething mass of people, his cheery face, even from the back of the hall, obviously bathed in sweat.

Two minutes later I could see why. The heat: like I’ve always imagined a desert storm to be. Breathing hot pokers, standing about in a sauna fully dressed, the sweat erupting like a saline lava stream.

Fight through the serried ranks squeezing against each other. Here’s one guy in typical Gallagher drag telling his chick — the only person who’s actually sitting down in the place, everyone else is standing on their seats —about the last Led Zep gig he went to.

“When we came out we were sort of scuffling through the rubbish and you’d be surprised at the money we found. Fifty p. pieces, pound notes, the lot. ” She looked suitably unimpressed.

Time to infiltrate the crowds and move up front, hoping for a glimpse of Gallagher’s guitar. Given up trying to see keyboardist Lou Martin, who’s sitting, but he can be heard well enough and he’s playing, as they say, a blinder.

Better just use my imagination. I’m never gonna see any of the band. It’s like being a salmon swimming upstream.

I estimate I must be smack in the middle of the horde. To my right are three girls standing on one chair. A more enthusiastic member of the audience decides to join them. Three seconds later he falls off.

All the walls are liberally coated with human flies. God knows how.

Gallagher zooms into “Going To My Home Town” and the place erupts. Hundreds of centre-parted hairstyles nod wildly back and fourth, side to side. Thousands of jean-clad legs stomp on the beer splattered floor, crushing the plastic glasses thrown there by people unwilling or unable to put them anywhere else.

Millions of hands are clapping with the distinctive beat, raised high above heads. Voices singing along. Every damn person in the room knows the words.

Circles of male Gallagher devotees dancing, playing imaginary guitars, imaginary drums, imaginary basses, imaginary anything.

Up on stage, Gallagher is playing a real guitar and coaxing blistering solos out of the thing. Every time a song ends people turn around and look at each other, grinning madly, nodding approval. I find myself nodding like one of those dogs in the back window of a car right into the face of a denim clad giant.

“Bullfrog Blues” comes tearing out of the p.a. and the place goes even pottier. I notice that when the solos come in, that’s the moment for cathedral-like hush followed by wild approval.

What these guys like is pure physical effort. Bass solos must be mile-a-minute and drummers have to expend enough energy to push a Ford Transit half-way up Ben Nevis.

Gallagher and his band leave the stark stage. Not surprisingly, the roars for an encore thunder around the room.

The heat, the noise reaches a peak and Gallagher returns. The place goes barmy and I’m beginning to feel like one small, white grape in a wine press. Time to head for the door.

The cold night air strikes like a punch in the face after the Turkish bath atmosphere inside.
Let’s face it. there was nothing surprising about the evening. Gallagher’s fans love the noise, the sweat, the crush. Give ‘em backdrops and special effects and they’d squirm in their seats.

This article comes from the 4/26/75 issue of Melody Maker
Thanks to Angela Shaw for passing it along.
reformatted by roryfan.

062 - Rory of the Crowd by Harry Doherty From the 10/16/76 issue of Melody Maker. Rory's views of performing from the 'Calling Card' era
Rory of the Crowd
by Harry Doherty

RORY GALLAGHER looked ruffled, most annoyed indeed. He cast a reflective eye across the current mode of pyrotechnical wizardry in rock and was not happy with the view.

A few seconds later, though, he shook away the blues. “I don’t think it’s what rock and roll is about,” came the comment that summarized his feelings.

Gallagher, you see, has never been one to go for gimmicks though many argue that his down-to-earth image is an outstanding gimmick in itself, to which he would undoubtedly counter that it is he being him, with no trimmings. And when he notes that many musicians need to call upon theatrics to help their music, he sees it as a sign of weakness.

His objection is that a lot of rock in ‘76, especially from the bands who’ve grown up in the last couple of years, is stereotyped. Apart from the costumes, the stage settings, back-drops et cetera, he dislikes the present-day fashion of playing a set set, so to speak, night after night, week after week, with no changes.

Gallagher’s own show is the total opposite to that approach. There are no frills, bar some lighting, and the music changes whenever the mood hits him. I can vouch be Gallagher when he says that he and his band don’t plan their set, although they know that it’ll consist of a number from a large repertoire. They aren’t even sure what the opening song will be until they hit the stage, and that is the kind of spontaneity on which Rory Gallagher thrives.

“ I hate it when it gets stereotyped. There’s certain big bands in this country and America and they put on fantastic shows, but it’s Cecil B. deMille, and that doesn’t appeal to me.

“It’s nice to change opening numbers. I have even to know what the first number is. I know it’s going to be one of three or four. Then you gauge the crowd and decide on the second number.

“I’m sure you could sit down and write out this programme of bands in this country. I’ve toured with bands in America and they do the same set every night.

‘They’ll admit it. They’ll say that’s the name of the game. But it’s not. Wouldn’t it be terrible to be stuck inside the same list of songs?

“Halfway through the show and you’ve done five numbers and something happens in the audience that sets off a mood and you might just think of a song that would communicate with that incident in the audience or improvise lyrics or something like that.

“I’d hate to be restricted. Even still, we pull a number out of the bag that we’ve never done before, a blues thing but naturally everybody is well versed in them. Sometimes in a song, I’ll change the key.

“If we’re in D, I’ll shout E. I’d even like to get less formal than we are. I suppose there’s still the old bar and club feel in it, and that’s great.

“I’m making it sound very haphazard, but we do know what we’re doing. The acoustic set is a mixture of mood: take the audience to a certain point and then glide into my acoustic set.

“It’s a challenge to do that acoustic bit, but it keeps the stage show unpredictable. I also want to be efficient on stage and I’d hate it to sound terribly loose, but it’s nice to change the set and make a number longer or shorter.

“I’m not saying that we’re the only band doing this, but the tendency is that it’s getting like putting on a TV programme on stage, all that theatrical stuff, I mean, that’s acceptable but where do you go from there?

“I’d like to be in a position where, if it came to it, I could still grab my own amplifier and guitar, plug it in and just play. The music should stand on its own. If we were stuck in a situation where the gear didn’t turn up we could make do.

“If it got to the stage where your buzzard got sick or the huge statue of you peering down at the crowd got chipped, and you couldn’t go on…”

Gallagher’s comments seemed particularly relevant in view of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’s failure to play at an open-air gig in Cardiff because they wouldn’t be able to use their huge rainbow effect, and the band had been spouting about the rainbow being another member of Rainbow. Rory had heard about the incident.

“Ritchie, undeniably, doesn’t need that. All the man needs is a guitar and amp and he can play great. The press tend to like the prima donna thing and love this news that they wouldn’t play without the rainbow.

“‘But the real reason that they wouldn’t show up is probably a secret. We don’t know. I mean, is the rainbow that great? (Quite impressive.) Then they could send the rainbow out on a tour on its own.

“‘I’m not being cynical. I’d accept that if Ritchie and Cozy (Powell) couldn’t play, but they can. My trouble is that I can see through all these things.”

And, in case you’re thinking that Gallagher is all mouth and no action, remember that last year when his band failed to show up in Birmingham because of fog, the gig wasn’t called off. Instead, Rory got together a make-shift band consisting of his brother, Donal and a friend and played a two-hour set, returning a few weeks later to play with the band. I reminded Rory about that, and he was quite embarrassed.

“I did, yeah, but I didn’t want to make myself look like a martyr by mentioning it. But, then again, Ritchie Blackmore has turned up in clubs and played with a 10 watt amp. He can do it.

“Listen, I’m delighted to see that bands are being well catered for, decent dressing rooms, good stages, et cetera, et cetera, and the audiences deserve that. But you’ve got to keep a little eye on the situation or one of these days, one of these guys is going to try and fly the city of London out to San Francisco and use it as a backdrop, something mad like that.

“The music should be the first priority, but I think that a lot of artistes are afraid of their own power as people. They know they can play, but they’re afraid to develop their own presence on stage.

“I mean, you can watch Muddy Waters in Oxford Street with a guitar and he’s just got that presence and power. And that’s not something you’re going to develop if you’re part of a backwash.

“That’s only something you can develop by seeing people and them seeing you. It helps your music. You get more confidence in yourself, without becoming stagey. A lot of artists have that quality. Muddy has it to such an amazing degree that it’s frightening.”

Gallagher, himself, has had his own problems with images and confesses that he does get annoyed when the predictable descriptions of checked shirt and jeans are churned out. His style in fashion is derived, he says, from the blues heroes he idolizes, as well as his Irish personality.

“The Irish are usually a bit cynical about gimmicks and stuff. They’ve brought up among musicians in a kind of folk tradition where you want your stuff to make sense to you and the audience and you want it to be there for fifty years.

“I don’t want just to buy the Bentley and show up at a couple of social gatherings and end up in the gossip columns every week. Movie star stuff.”

You get a lot of people who are a little lazy when they’re describing you, maintains Rory, and feels that that is particularly so with his music. They see only one side to his character, when there are many more that they miss. There’s Gallagher the guitarist and rocker, the song-writer, the ethnic blues man, the acoustic guitarist, the singer, and it goes on.

His records are criticised because they lack the excitement that he generates on stage, although that can’t be said about the new album, “Calling Card” which, when judged purely as a studio album, is easily his best to date. But too many people still look to the “live” albums with Taste and his own bands for the definitive Rory Gallagher.

“I think that’s a criticism that can only go so far. It can he applied to anybody. Sinatra live is better and the Rolling Stones are better live. It just seems to apply to me more than anyone. The only way you can justify people who throw that criticism at you is to actually give them a bottle of sweat and a little video of you playing the stuff with the album.

“With ‘Calling Card,’ I just went in and I wanted to sound good and strong and tough, with a good blend of songs. You still try and get the live excitement but eventually you say to yourself ‘There’s no way, I’m going to get a live album in the studio’ so you try and make it the best studio album you can and in that way, you end up with a very exciting studio album, which
is a decent parallel to the live thing.

“In the earlier albums, I used to try and get that live excitement by doing an absolutely live guitar, live vocal and a very so-called honest approach, which is fine but that way, it’s touch and go because you might end up with a fantastic vocal and not such a great guitar.

“It’s just leaving it to chance. There’re so many different elements. This way, you can concentrate on getting a really good voice and guitar.

“I know there is a stock of opinion that would say that the live albums are the definitive ones. It’s fair comment, but I would think that ‘Calling Card’ is the closest yet to the definitive set, including the live albums.

One of the marked changes on “Calling Card” was that the songs relied more on the arrangement than on Gallagher’s guitar playing, although he has always been hailed first and foremost as a guitar hero. Perhaps the arrival of a producer, Roger Glover, Gallagher’s first since Tony Colton worked on the early Taste albums, had something to do with this.

‘“I never consciously go in and say that this is going to be a guitar album or that the guitar will always make these songs sound good. Never did I do that, but, on the other hand, I don’t like to downplay the guitar.

“I make no apologies for saying that I love rocking on the guitar and hammering away on it and playing it with real gusto . . . but anyway, it’s more important to have good songs, well arranged and have everybody in the band playing well.

““Even a bad guitar part will sound acceptable in that set-up. That’s more important than having fantastic guitar. The guitar part isn’t the absolute important thing, but if you can have everything ….”

Gallagher has spent the past 12 months gaining a foothold in America and the lad has decided that it is time more time was spent playing Britain again. His last jaunt here, at the end of last year, was confined to the major cities and venues. That will change.

“It went from a 21-date tour to a 15 and eventually to an eight. But you have to do the Hulls, the Norwiches and the Dundees. You have to. And the same in Ireland. I’m starting to get a bit guilty about not playing here.”

This article comes from the October 16,1976 issue of Melody Maker
Thanks to Angela Shaw for passing it along!
Article reformatted by roryfan

063 - Rory! by Neville Marten From the 6/87 issue of Guitarist magazine. A terrific interview touching on recording, the music business and technical issues.
by Neville Marten
Rory with the ’61 Strat
With a new album just about to be released and plans for British and Irish dates this year, Rory Gallagher is all set to go. Ireland has spawned a great lineage of brilliant guitarists, but Rory is also one of the most exciting live performers around ……

I’m looking forward to having the album out; that’s really first and foremost because when you do twelve to fourteen albums and then have a long gap, it’s irritating for the fans and the followers. It’s also very irritating for the players and myself! We did 20 tracks and some of the material has been recorded over a two year period and half way through that we scrapped about five of the tracks and did five new songs. The temptation is to keep going back and remixing, and I write a new song every week so it’s always tempting to go in and do that. But we’ve called a halt now and picked the best of the tunes and I think it should do the trick.

Is it a departure from what you’ve done before or is it basically still Rory?

Some of my albums veer more towards rock, but on this one there’s a strong return to blues influences. There are a few rocky tracks and there’s a few unusual bits in some of the songs – there are always things that influence you, like an Irish influence or a Spanish influence — but the blues tracks are fairly much in the blues tradition. The whole feel of the album is good and gritty and it’s honest – and we’ve got the sound right. I wasn’t very happy with the sound on Jinx compared to this one.

I was going to do an instrumental because I’ve never done one on a record before. Not for ego sake, but I always think it’s nice for a guitar player to do an instrumental that becomes one of his numbers. I have one and I’ve been rehearsing. it – it’s the eleventh hour now and we’re very tempted to record it. We’re going to call it ‘The Loop’ (the raised railway which runs round the centre of Chicago. Ed)

I think a lot of people might like that.

After all of these years I think it might be worthwhile. If not, we’ll have it on the next album because whatever way the wind blows we’re going to put about two or three out in reasonable succession, so we don’t get stuck in that rut. . .

… So, with the studio in our veins we can go in — between doing festival work in the summer — laying odd tracks down so that it doesn’t become a ‘big’ project. I think sometimes that’s the best way to do it – do it in bits instead of starting on January 1 st and being at it for the next X weeks -which becomes months.

Top: 1955 Fender Twin used on the IT74 Tour
Bottom: 1934 Duolean resonator

Top:Panoramic amp. Really an accordion amp with an interesting
vibrato and an early 60’s National electric.
Bottom: ’59 or ’60 Melody Maker with added humbucker

Do you find that limits its your creativeness?

I think it dulls your sense of decision. In the old days, because of all the gigs we were doing, you had to be in and out of the studio in order to be in Norwich by eight that night — or on the continent or somewhere. It’s a good form of discipline; it didn’t give you much time to hone the thing down. I think what we’ll try to do is do a day in the studio and then do a gig the following day — some kind of process like that would be good.

It keeps it vital.

It does yeah. I didn’t grow up working on 24 track — the first two Taste albums were 8 track and we always had tracks left over – we couldn’t believe it, either. Then we did a couple of albums on 16 track, which was great because we could compromise here and there – like if you had a tambourine or handclaps the roadies could do it, or your friends could do it at the same time as somebody was doing acoustic guitar in a booth. It keeps a kind of a workshop feel to it; as you know, you can bring every musician in at different hours, but you lose that interaction of people playing together, which is pretty evident by some of today’s music. I hope to go back to 16 or 8 track next time, I always threaten to do that.

There is a technical argument that the space of tape, per track, on 16 track is broader than 24 track and a few people have noticed that and you get a bigger sound. I think the Eagles bought a 16 track for that very reason, because it’s broader and fatter.

Do you like to just go in with the band and sit down and play the numbers?

Yeah. You haven’t got a million tracks and you can’t be laying down four guitar solos to pick one from later – just putting off the dreaded moment. Plus, you see, most modern engineers wouldn’t be happy to work on a session like that because they’d feel it was below their ‘state of the art’ thing. But in principle I like to go in and play with the band. In fact the first few albums we did, most of the tracks I sang live as well, and played the solos live and maybe overdubbed the rhythm guitar.

I was talking to some people the other day who were trying and find what it is that made old records sound better than the modern ones.

Well they let the bass rumble round, spillage was allowed and separation wasn’t the first commandment. I think that’s a major part of it, plus the decks and things in those days were valve decks and they were slightly distorted in the nicest possible way. The old compressors and echo chambers were very mechanical and they just did the one job, but did it very well, it’s like if you compare Dylan’s ‘Highway 61’ to his last two albums – he himself has said that he’s yearning to get that sound again but obviously somebody’s mis-directing him. It’s just a combustion’ of sound.

A technician would probably say “Okay Rory, can’t you hear that cymbals peaking at such and such, can t you hear that bass is not forward enough. I’m not against progress, but you have to admit to your soul that some things are lacking in some of these newer recordings.

You’re very much thought of as a live player; do you enjoy playing in the studio or is it like a chore that you have to get over?

I enjoy some nights in the studio. I’m not the greatest person in an enclosed space; I’m a live player by birth – like a gypsy folkplayer, I just sit in the corner and play. I like looking at people, because you get a good vibe back or a bad one, whatever, whereas in the studio certain things can irritate – you get to know every spot on the wall and every mark on the carpet and if you’re not getting on with the engineer it doesn’t help, either. That said, it’s great to hear the track coming together; it’s lovely to go home with a cassette of a new song and check it out. I like that part, but it can be a grind I must admit, it really can be.

When it comes to a solo in a live situation you go for it and generally it’s 95% great, but there’s a bum note or you get an open string when you didn’t want it and that’s fine live — but in the studio…

I don’t play many bum notes; I do play open strings now and then but, even in the studio, if the solo had feel and fire I wouldn’t mind a fluff in it. I mean Jimmy Page makes a point of it and congratulations to him and Keith Richards, some of their best notes are the ones that are fluffed and they know what I mean by that. For instance there are certain solos on certain records I’ve played that I wouldn’t say I couldn’t do live, but I wouldn’t have the patience and the calm. Like I did an intro on Edged In Blue years ago, which was like a poignant type of Intro. If it’s a track that needs a very thought out type of line and has be very much in context, I think the studio wins on that occasion. But if it’s for a fiery, nuts and bolts thing and it’s a little out of control, I think the live thing is better.

What about live work?

There’s a bunch of festivals on the continent coming up. We’ve done these for the last couple of years, but the prime thing, other than the album, is to do a British tour and to do some Irish dates as well, because we’ve neglected this part of the world. It will be good fun because we used to do like a couple of tours here every year; it was almost like you could have a winter and spring thing, but we’ll enjoy doing some dates here.

You are one of the best slide players around; are you playing much of that these days?

Oh I play a lot of slide on the new album – I’d say on half the tracks the solo is slide, but then again a lot of the time I use a slide tuning for the rhythm part anyway. I play a lot of slide in regular tuning as well as open tunings. I’m still mad about slide; everyone can play guitar, but not everyone can play slide and there are so many ways of progressing on it. Every now and then you buy a record by some country bluesman from the thirties who just wipes the floor with you and you have to start again — but I’m getting there.

Are you still using the Tele for that?

I use the Tele sometimes. Obviously for regular tuning it would be the Strat, and I use a one pickup Gibson Melody Maker on stage, as well. But for most of the open tuning things I’ve been using a Gretsch Corvette with the heavy strings. It’s a very tough guitar —my brother got it for me for 75 dollars in a pawn shop in Los Angeles. I took the pickup off that and put a P90 on. I should have hung on to it, in retrospect, because they’re very good pickups — similar to the Tennessean. But, in my opinion, the P90 is the best pickup for slide —it has the right overtones. The best slide guitar, unless you’re playing the Muddy Waters style, is the old Cold Top Les Paul’s — the very old ‘52 with cream edges, it’s amazing. You can play slide on any guitar, but to be serious about it you really have to use the medium gauge or a good tough set of strings, otherwise you don’t get the full attack.

You can’t dig in.

No, you tend to be polite on it. The strings on the Strat are only a set of 10’s, but for regular tuning slide it’s acceptable. Muddy used C tuning once in a while, but for most of his work he used regular tuning, as did Earl Hooker — who’s the king of the single string slide.

I really didn’t want my epitaph to be “Oh Rory was great; he played exactly liked BB King, or whatever.
But you get the point —you almost go past the open tuning thing. I mean I can play in any key in standard tuning, but it’s a different sound because you miss the open tuning.
When I first heard you I had been very used to the Clapton style of playing and I knew every note in his repertoire. He never stepped outside that, but you were suddenly playing unexpected things. Was it inside you, was it tons of practise, did you just happen to find things or did you sit down and think “I’m going to play differently to anybody else?”

If I can be immodest, it’s a mixture of all of those things, really. I mean as a compact blues player you have to doff your hat to Eric Clapton, there’s no doubt about it. But he worked within, shall we say, the limits set down by Hubert Sumlin, Willie Johnson, with Howlin’ Wolf, some parts of what the Kings had played -but he did it so well. He had the attack, the tone and the fire, which was something of his own. I can work within that region, but maybe it was because I was so young. I was playing when I was nine and then coming from Ireland you’re aware of different scales and different tonalities and things, and then I played mandolin and banjo and so on and was interested in certain jazz phrases. So I never liked working strictly within the dead set sort of framework. I really didn’t want my epitaph to be “Oh Rory was great; he played exactly liked BB King”, or whatever. I want to – I mean it’s a very big headed thing to say — but I just wanted to pull a stroke here and there — to just change the idea of the thing by a weird note. Also I use my little finger a lot, because of playing mandolin, plus obviously I was digesting other people that I heard. So if I had anything different it’s probably something that was in all of that, I don’t know.

There have been some really great Irish guitarists.

Well, he’d be the first to tell you wouldn’t he (laughs) – yeah a great line of guitarists . . . Henry McCullough, Gary Moore, Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy’s ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ guitarist — Ed) Eric has a little unusual touch to his style as well, I think. I’m probably forgetting a few players now, which would be sinful, anyway there’re some fine players.

But also, as a child, I heard Django Reinhardt. I think maybe what we had in common is that he didn’t work a strict time on the guitar; he was just a little bit independent in his rhythmic approach. He danced around the rhythm or the beat, whereas a lot of blues players tend to work rigidly on the on-beat, whereas a jazz player or maybe a folk player would just pick their own time. That’s the secret I think, myself.

I don’t notice any Irish music in your playing, but I suppose it must have an influence.

I think it would come out a lot more in chords and odd little phrases. I haven’t delved into it. I mean, I can play Irish music, per se, but primarily it’s blues and rock. But, you see, when you write most of your own material anything’s possible – that’s the difference. Compared to, say, Fleetwood Mac – the Mac were doing, like, 90% of other people’s material, while we were doing 90% or our own material, with a couple of standards.

Do you find it easy to write music?

Fairly easy — I have rough passages here and there where, like every writer you get a block. If somebody came to the door and said “Look I need a song by eight o’clock in the morning” I could deliver one, certainly, but I try to wait till it’s semi inspired, at least. I’m always jotting down bits in notebooks and on envelopes and always remembering little melodies and putting chords on cassettes, it’s an ongoing thing. But the actual business of getting it down and saying “Well, I’m going to go for these two today” I mean it’s not that hard then. But the trouble is that once I’ve decided on the musical part, that stays stuck, but up to the day the record is delivered, on some songs I’m never satisfied with the lyrical part. I might keep honing it down and changing it, but I think every writer does that, you know. But then some songs are pure gift, pure luck —it’s almost like somebody’s pushing the pen for you; you can feel it’s all there —lock, stock and barrel.

When we chatted earlier, you mentioned retaining a bit of the outlaw in you….

I just meant that the whole rock establishment now has blended so much with the so called ‘social high life’ and I think that it’s gone too far. I mean, I don’t think that’s what Eddie Cochran had in mind.

… the whole rock establishment now has blended so much with the so called ‘social high life’ and I think that it’s gone too far

I think rock should always stay a little bit outside the pale; I think it should remain a little bit dangerous — a little bit ornery, as the Americans say. Like when you hear punk songs being used as ice-cream ads and nobody blinks an eye! You begin to wonder who really is holding the fort, you know. You need a little bit of distance, otherwise you could end up playing in salons again, like they used to. I don’t like that kind of patronage, but it’s just the way you grow up, I suppose. I always thought rock and rollers and bluesers were made extra good, because they weren’t part and parcel of the social rank and file.
Would you ever have liked to become a sort of ‘household name’?

Well my ego would have to admit that I would, but I wouldn’t want to have to bend the knee too much for that. I’d like to be more well-known for what I do – or what my playing does. But I wouldn’t want to be a household name just because I wear orange shoes or I got kicked out of Tramps last night or some other daft thing. That’s the old question; would you rather he on the front of Time magazine, or do you want to do what you’re doing and believe in it – for your life. But I don’t deserve a medal for that — that’s just the way it is .

The European festivals seem to be a great stomping ground; they seem to still love the music for what it is.

You see, on the continent they aren’t hooked up, as they are in London, about ‘this years model’. I’d retire tomorrow if I thought they just wanted to see you because they remembered you were around, this year or that year. I mean, all the albums have held their ground and I think, in parts of the continent, they see a kind of rock and roll lineage and they don’t even mess with certain pop things. Either you can cut it on a street level with them or you can’t – and they soon let you know! Hopefully, we’ve been able to do that.

Anyway, with Taste, we scoured it all over – we played The Star Club in Hamburg and we played The Big Apple in Hamburg. Hamburg at that stage was almost the Mecca of rock and roll in Europe. In fact, when Jerry Lee and Fats Domino couldn’t get work in England they’d go straight over to the Star Club — and Gene Vincent and so on. That makes me sound very old -but, so be it.

They seem to still want the music, not nostalgia.

Yeah, it’s no big knock against London, but I think it applies in other British cities; once you get out of London the media thing isn’t so much of a big deal and, on the continent, I think a lot of people are suspicious of things that are too ‘yogurt’. They know their blues and rock and roll, one would like to think, anyway. We mustn’t get too big headed about it. There again, there are some good people in this town who have come to see us. I’m not annoyed with people, I’m just annoyed at certain acts, I always have been cribby about that -people with credibility who sell out at the turn of a coin, it’s awful.

You’re deep in rehearsals at the moment.

We had a good blast yesterday, we’ll do some tomorrow and we’ll do some next week, but there’s a lot of material we have to cover – remember all those lyrics and build up the blisters. We weren’t that rusty, though, funnily enough.

Who’s working with you?

Gerry McAvoy is still on bass guitar, Brendan O’Neill is on drums, and for a lot of gigs we sometimes use a guy called Mark Feltham who used to be harmonica player with Nine Below Zero, a superb player. We have worked on and off with one or two other people – a keyboard player for a while and then sax for a couple of gigs— generally lately, it’s been three musicians plus harmonica, he’s a great harmonica player. It gives a nice flavour to it, I think.

He actually practises; you can hear him in his hotel room at night, practising and practising — scales and things which you don’t associate with blues players. I think he’s the best in Europe, anyway.

You’re a bit of a Telecaster man; I think they’re your favourites aren’t they?

I think they are. I mean, I’m a Strat player because of the three pickups, the out of phase thing, as well – even on my Stratocaster I’ve neutered the middle tone control. I think probably the ideal guitar would be like a Telecaster lead pickup on a Stratocaster body, but then that’s what Lowell George use to do.

I turned against the rhythm pickup on Teles, years ago, and I put two Strat pickups in the middle and rhythm position, but then lately I’ve reverted back to the way they were.

I’m not annoyed with people, I’m just annoyed at certain acts, I always have been cribby about that – people with credibility who sell out at the turn of a coin, it’s awful.

That little metal pickup, as I call it, if you get a good one, it’s got a strange little character all to itself. OK, it’s not going to shake the Albert Hall, but it’s a very warm and unusual little sound. It’s the flat pole pieces for a start and, I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think it’s thinner wire than the lead pickup. The only trouble with Teles is the old squealing problem, but we’ve all learnt to cure it, one way or the other.
What’s your remedy?

The rhythm pickup, you just dip in protroleum wax and put it in the fridge and that one’s cured, or at the very worst a bit of bicycle tape. The lead one is always the difficult one. What I do with that one, or should I say what Chris Eccleshall does with that one, is just take the brass plate from underneath the pickup and throw it away. He re-earths it somewhere else and that cures it. Plus, you have to put the protroleum wax in. Country purists would say that you lose a bit of zing doing that; I don’t know, that’s debatable. But then, in the old days, there were certain Teles that you didn’t even have to touch because they came out waxed and everything. Fender brought the re-issue Tele out lately which looked good, but the pickups still squealed, and I thought they could at least get that right. It was a fine guitar otherwise; some of those re-issues are not bad at all. And the anniversary Strat, which I was privileged to receive, is a very good guitar. On Teles and Esquires the lead pickups change a lot — the rhythm pickup rarely changes, but I find on the rosewood necks the rhythm pickup sounds better than on the maple . . . I don’t know …

I think you’re right; I think the construction of the neck adds a lot of difference to the sound.

I think it’s like heavy guitars; weight wise they’re going old fashioned again. There are slightly lighter guitars coming in. Rosewood necks are back in fashion instead of ebony, beveled necks are coming back in. One of the Teles I have, the black one which is actually an Esquire, is one of the rare ones where the strings don’t go through the body, they come into the plate. I was going to change that and then I read Dan Armstrong, Kent Armstrong’s father, said that it gives an extra bite or something.

There’s always one that defies the rule; it’s got everything wrong, but it’s a great guitar.

I saw a Tele in the studio a couple of years back now, it was a real standard one – it even had a sticker stuck on it. I just had it plugged into a Champ amp, and that was the guitar they used for, like, taking to the canteen to write a song on, but it was outrageous – the full Steve Cropper sound. And it was early 70’s model -so there’s no telling you.

Are you still using your old Strat as main guitar?

Yes, but I don’t stick with it all through the set, like I used to. I’ve got an old ‘57 which is in good shape, but for some reason that ‘61 is great. It has less ‘twang’ than a lot of Strats, but a lot of raw edge – it’s almost got about one percent of SG about it.

Of course, that’s another experiment I haven’t tried yet. Ry Cooder put a P90 in the lead position of his Strat, but I don’t like having pickups of different values. And then Johnny Winter used one in the rhythm position on a Tele, as did Steve Cropper, and that’s not a bad idea, but you then have the problem about which value pot to use and so on. It’s like the BC Rich guitar, which is a beautiful guitar, beautiful construction, but it’s got about a million tonal varieties but, on the day, it’s like how many cricket bats can you use?

A Les Paul Juniors a nice guitar; you get a good, tough Junior that’s a great sound. I’ve heard some great sounds on those. Or you get a nice Danelectro or a Supro. Those guitars you just have to leave well alone because you can renovate them too much and you blow it. You can pick up the bodies in the States, but they’re wrecked, they spray them with graffiti paint and all that. Even though you know that they’re not perfectly accurate and all that, if you get a good Danelectro with the right tone pot —that’s the big clue there — and if you take the tone down and turn the volume up you get that Hounddog Taylor tone — really obnoxious dirt. But, because the pickups are wired concentrically they’re still clear, you know. I can’t even solder two wires together — well, I can — but I wish I knew more about the possibilities of capacitors and things. James Burton, I believe has done a few capacitor changes in his Teles; you can change the general smoothness of the thing —there’s a lot of leeway in there.

Of course, a lot of guitar players don’t use the tone control and they don’t even have them on guitars now, because of Eddie Van Halen. OK, that’s cutting the circuitry down a bit, I understand the plus for that, but I always use the tone control because there are a lot of different ‘spongy tones you can get half way down on a Tele or a Junior. Particularly if you play slide as well, you don’t want it to be clanging all the time, you want to take the rough edge off the top.

So what are your plans from here on in?

Well. obviously with the album out we’ll be doing all these continental festivals and hopefully doing a British tour and an Irish tour soon. Then we’ll be looking at Japan and Australia and then a States trip, because we haven’t been there for two or three years. Hopefully we will follow the album up fairly fast, without being crude about it, because there’s a lot of good material left over and there are new things coming along.

Also, hopefully, along the way I’d like to do some film music, if somebody’s interested. Knopfler’s done a lot of bits and pieces; it doesn’t have to be a guitar project, but it would have to be a picture I liked, in style. But then again, if I get time, the longest project I’ve had on the shelf is an acoustic album, so that’s a possibility; there’s plenty to keep me going, anyway.

And a single from this album? We haven’t even said what the album is called!

Well, the album will either be ‘Torch’ or ‘Loan Shark Blues’ which is one of the tracks on the album. I don’t know about a single; we’ve avoided it, but I mean we might ruffle a few feathers and bring a couple of tracks out in some form of mini EP or something – see what happens. The DJs now are so lazy that they wouldn’t get up off their backsides and dig out your record, but it’s not their fault. We’ll try for some radio play and if it means bringing a record out in some sort of single form we’ll have to do it -but it won’t be ‘Three Blind Mice’ it will be something strong.

What would you think of being in the charts?

I could bear being in the charts and being on everyone’s car radio ten times a day. I’m just terrified of . . . a lot of people I respect have done it with a real little ‘ditty’ and that was the end of it – that was all they were ever known for. But if we could break through with something dangerous, I could live with that. I mean, you could be too rigid about things and too silly with your theories and your ethos, cutting off your own nose, but it’s certainly better than disowning yourself in a year’s time because you did some silly thing that you regret.

This article comes from the the June 1987 issue of Guitarist.
Thanks to Peter Farrington for passing this article along and to Dave Thompson for scanning the photos.
Article reformatted by roryfan.

064 - interview extra Rory Gallagher From the April 1992 issue of Guitar magazine. Rory details the writing and recording of Ghost Blues
rory gallagher
GHOST BLUES IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF RORY’S ability to fuse the traditional with the contemporary. ” I always find the first song you write after new year is an important one and Ghost Blues was no exception. It’s a lonely time of year in many ways and if I’d been in Ireland with all the family, I’m sure it’d never have been written. The melancholy you feel that time of year brings on good songs though, which was one consolation.

I was listening to a lot of Reverend Robert Wilkins and Robert ‘Pete’ Williams at the time, that sort of redemption song cum Gospel feel. I wanted Ghost Blues to sound like church on a Sunday morning or Maxwell Street on a Saturday afternoon; salvation, inspiration and just a hint of sadness. That was how I felt at the time and good Blues always comes from situations of strong emotion. You can’t sing the Blues without a little pain to spur you on.

‘I used a line from a Blind Willie Johnson track, ‘ I Tear That Building Down’, in Ghost Blues albeit unknowingly, but to me that’s all part of the Blues culture, the handing down of lyrics and tradition through the Blues. It’s good to know that the same sentiments are still universal.

‘The track really happened on the night. There was no point in doing too much to it because it was a really primitive feel and that was exactly what I wanted. When we did it we were all in the same room and when I stood back from the mike you’d get bleed from the drums. It gave it this old time feel like on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Bob moves and you get the rest of the band all coming through. I kinda like that, don’t you?

“I sang it in one take, but then with emotional songs it’s always easier if you’re in the right mood. The feel on that track is specific to that day I recorded it. I recall I had a serious bout of the flu when we came to cut it in the studio and I was feeling very weak. That tends to polarise you and make you more open to string emotion. It all seemed to combine into this huge haze but I had to do the track, get it out. Almost like some sort of purification. As against that it does have a strong rhythm akin to a Big Joe Williams track, that sorta chugs it along like a train.

‘We did four or five takes, but we’d get exhausted by the riff, it was so powerful. In the end, we used the second take just because it seemed to capture the band while they were still fresh.

“One of the things we tried to do to help capture a different atmosphere, that eerie quality, was to use a few minutes at the start of multitracked dulcimer, synths, bass and harmonica. It gave the track an overture.”

“I played the dulcimer myself and although I’m not very good, I think it comes across very effective. I learned that particular trick from Canned Heat on the track, On the Road Again. They built up all these layers so it sounded like a sitar, but a very strange one!”

‘We were trying to do as much as possible live, so we used brushes while I played six string and the bass went down. I doubled up the six string, which actually had very heavy strings on to get that deep sound, with a Sigma and then a 12-string Danelectro and the trusty old Strat. The Danelectro has this Brian Jones feel about it and it sits so well with the feel I wanted to get. He was undoubtedly a master of moods. It’s often forgotten how much he influenced the Stones.”

“Ultimately, Ghost Blues sounds a real conglomeration and I suppose it was, but everything had its place on the night. The bassist had this old Silvertone bass, the ones with the lipstick pickups, really old and strange. They only have one sound those guitars, but they’re so unique you’ve got to use it, so very Gospel sounding.”

This article comes from the April 1992 issue of Guitar Magazine.
Thanks to Barry McCabe for sharing it.
reformatted by roryfan.

065 - Biography: Rory Gallagher This is a write-up from a 1982 Mercury/ Polydor Press Kit. The kit included a nice B&W picture


“You have to stick with what’s in your heart,” says Irish guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher. “I see music as a lifetime affair. I’m not in it for the big kill and then I’ll get out. I hope I can end up playing as long as my heroes. “

In a career that has found him hailed as one of the greatest contemporary artists playing rock and blues, Rory Gallaghers admiration of greats like Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Albert King and British skiffle pioneer Lonnie Donegan has had some amazing results. For instance, he has been asked to play with each of the aforementioned influences, as well as earning the admiration of such stars as John Lennon and Bob Dylan. His albums automatically sell a million copies worldwide on release, and he has earned gold and silver records throughout Europe. His concerts throughout the world sell out, and last year in Greece, Gallagher drew 40,000 people to a 15,000 capacity soccer stadium, making headlines and selling 100,000 albums in Greece alone.

Embarking on his 20th American tour, Gallagher has forged his success by eschewing the trappings of stardom, maintaining a direct relationship with his audience and music, and being among the first stars to realize the enduring value of solid musical roots. Nowhere is that more evident than on his new album, Jinx.

“Definitely one of the best blues rock albums of the year,” says Melody Maker of Jinx. “(It proves) the dinosaur theory was made to be broken… (S)ongs like the raw, raucous and sexually aggressive ‘Signals,” the ridiculously fast punch and slurp of ‘Bourbon,’ the uncompromisingly urgent ‘Big Guns,’ and the hard-fought and battling ‘Loose Talk’ immediately announce that Gallagher’s back on form. They spit white hot venom designed to split your speaker cones and start a war with the neighbors.’’ Praising the album’s ‘‘rippling harmonics, “fruity runs of rich, passionate guitar,” “sharp, observant pieces of playing” and “Gallagher’s careening solos and strong chord work,” Melody Maker can only describe the album in total—which was recorded at Dierks Studio in Germany with Gallagher’s band Brendan O’Neill (drums) and Gerry McAvoy (bass), as well as guest Bob Andrews (ex-Rumour) on keyboards — with a single word of well-deserved praise: “Magnificent!”

Rory Gallagher’s rock’n’roll odyssey began at age six, when he saw Elvis Presley on TV. Inspired by other greats like Woody Guthrie, Lonnie Donegan and Leadbelly, Gallagher first picked up ukulele, then guitar, and by his teens was playing throughout Ireland in a number of the showbands that were popular at the time.

Out of one of those groups came the first line-up of Taste, a three-piece blues-rock band who were pioneers of the ‘60’s rock trio sound along with Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. They were hailed in New Musical Express by John Lennon, who found Taste an especially bright spot in what he thought was a dismal musical year, and was impressed by Gallagher’s playing and singing talents. Taste were also among the star attractions at Britain’s Woodstock – The Isle of Wight Festival- where they shared the stage with Hendrix and the Doors.

Leaving Taste to go solo in 1971, Gallagher has built a solo career of impressive proportions through the power of his music, preferring simple jeans and flannel shirts to onstage costumes and staging, and being among the first acts to return to playing small clubs for the sheer musical enjoyment. A longtime concert headliner, Gallagher has given such top acts as Kiss, Rush and Free their first opening act slots, and among his other openers are King Crimson, Roxy Music and Rod Stewart and the Faces. He is also the subject of a 90 minute documentary by noted filmmaker Tony Palmer (whose done features on everyone from Cream to Hugh Hefner) titled “Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour ‘74.”

Gallagher explains his longtime stay at the top of the rock’n’roll heap in simple terms. “Too many bands depend on the confetti attitude instead of getting into music. I treat every show like a club gig – playing your best and relating directly to the audience are the most important things.”

With a time-proven, stripped-down and red-hot sound that perfectly fits the musical spirit of these times, Rory Gallagher has one main ambition, one that he’ll no doubt achieve. “I just want to still be playing in 20 years time.”

PolyGram Records

This biography comes from a 1982 Mercury / PolyGram Records Press Kit.
reformatted by roryfan

066 - An Independent Man by Colin Irwin From the Nov.17, 1978 issue of Melody Maker . An interesting article with a bit of history and a bit of a write-up about touring in Sweden.
An Independent Man
is Rory Gallagher, the star who shuns stardom. COLIN IRWIN sympathised.

IT’S cold that night in Stockholm. An angry, ferocious cold that devours you without pity. Regal Nordic beauties scurry into the Koncert Hall red-cheeked from the wind, coats drawn tightly round themselves, while Bjorn Borg fantasists feign arrogance at their sides.

The less conscious clap and stomp in impatient anticipation of the night’s recital. A few of the bolder amongst them even optimistically attempt to bluff their way backstage. But what to find? Mr. Rory Gallagher, of course, relaxed and affable, fresh in from Oslo, anxious for news of home. The Berwick by-elections? How about Liverpool and Everton?

It’s not a night conspicuous for its subtlety. Stockholm erupts with undignified vigour as Gallagher, Gerry McAvoy and Ted McKenna trip on the stage and blast unceremoniously into their opening gambit. This night Rory — as the more colourful John Motson interviewee would tell you — is taking no prisoners.

The Swedes comprehensively blow their image of icy reserve. And Rory, the white blues hero who made it though the night, feeds avariciously from their enthusiasm; his solos blister through your body, and even his couple of solo acoustic numbers —including a supreme nod to Leadbelly on ‘Out On The Western Plain’ —are undercut with a stirring passion. Sweat bucketing from him, he struts prodigiously around the stage, thick mane of hair spraying behind him. . .“LemmetellyawhatI’mgonna … DO … I’m goin’ to my home town. D’ya wanna go?” “YEAH”, they bellow back, word-perfect.

I became a Rory Gallagher fan in 1972, specifically after reading an article in these very pages by Roy Hollingworth about the concert he played in Belfast on New Year’s Day. It was at a time when nobody, just nobody would venture anywhere near Northern Ireland to play music, and with hostilities at an unprecedented pitch, it seemed that Rory from the South stood a fair chance of getting blown back to Cork for his pains, even though it was said he’d received an assurance from the IRA that no harm would befall him. At a time when Britain was in the grip of posing drivel like Bolanitis, it was overwhelmingly obvious that Rory Gallagher was a rare specimen of integrity in rock n roll.

And I’ll tell you some more about Rory Gallagher. That he’s an inveterate musician who is occasionally to be found playing traditional music in obscure bars in the south of Ireland with old flute players and fiddlers. That, when his fogbound band failed to make a gig in Birmingham, he hastily assembled a makeshift band with brother Donal and a friend and played a two-hour set where others would have canceled, returning to Brum a few weeks later to fulfil the gig with his real band. And that when invited to do a session for an album by one of his prime heroes, Muddy Waters, he was away on tour, but drove back to London every night from gigs all over the country in order to make the session. He made such an impression that Waters refused to start each recording session before Gallagher arrived, even though it was sometimes well into the early hours.

He has steadfastly refused to indulge in hype or gimmick of any kind. There’s also been a constant aversion to short cuts — he says he’ll never appear on Top Of The Pops in its present form — and tangible opportunities of broadening his appeal with a quick kill have been studiously avoided. For example, his approach to conquering America on a grand scale, his grandest ambition, has been to do it by working up through the smaller venues rather than allowing himself to be “launched’ in a blaze of publicity at a prestigious venue.

THERE’S even his new album ‘Photo-Finish” … they packed him off to the States to record it with big— name American producer (Elliot Mazer) and the whole bit. Cost a fortune. But at the end it wasn’t quite right. They re-mixed and re-mixed and the record company began to get a little anxious, but Rory still didn’t feel it was quite him. So, despite the protestations that he needed a tour and an album to promote, he scrapped the whole thing and re-did it, producing it himself. That’s why he’s gone for two years without an album, and that’s why it’s estimated that “Photo-Finish” is the second most expensively produced record Chrysalis have ever put out (they’re not saying just what it was that cost more). But that is the sort of guy we’re dealing with in Rory Gallagher.

I’m not as avidly enamoured with his music as many who have sung his praises before, but honesty counts for much and this band — more primitive without keyboards since the departure of Lou Martin — overflows with it. And Rory Gallagher, reading this, will be acutely embarrassed.

BACK IN STOCKHOLM: mayhem. Absolute mayhem. It’s the last night of the European tour — the first with the new band since Lou Martin and Rod de’Ath left (both now with Ramrod) and former Sensational Alex Harvey Band drummer Ted McKenna came in — and everyone seems to have gone a little crazy.

The Swedish promoter is elated —the 2500-seater hall was full — and the sound engineer content. “Nice night,” he’s saying, “nice night. Not as good as Hamburg, that was great, that was the best, but a nice night.” The band are too wiped out to reflect on anything but hit the nearest booze, which they duly do with full-blooded determination. Rory stands there accepting compliments gracefully, and the backstage area is thick with people.

There’s some dismay that the blonde girl in Abba — the one with the unbelievable bum and the unpronounceable name — isn’t among them. She’s a fan, it transpires, and said she’d be there when he came to Sweden; Abba once supported Rory in the States before they got into their world domination trip, and were apparently paralysed by nerves, “They asked us to do support on one of their tours in Europe” says Donal Gallagher, Rory’s brother/manager, “but we didn’t think it was quite us somehow. Know what I mean?”

Frankie Miller, the well – known Scottish chart star, is appearing at a club next door. He’s all fierce smiles and rampant accent. “Well, well, well,” he growls fearsomely, his band grouped around him like Mafia bodyguards. “Ye can tell tha’ Harry Doherty tha’ ae donna like his endings.” He’d been along to see Rory earlier … Greet . . . jis’ greet.”

Rory’s bopping away at the front as the Miller band — who seem to have acquired an unexpected sophistication — get into their stride. The place is full of people dressed in those rude black “Frankie Who?” teeshirts, and the Miller promo people have certainly been energetic.

Miller’s set ends and Frankie is replaced by a disco booming round the room. Rory’s spotted and is quickly surrounded, courteously making conversation with all who approach him, yet refusing to let any of them interfere with his drinking. The guys want to discuss makes of guitar and the girls just gaze from a distance in awe and lust — the anti-hero who is idolised from all directions. He regards it all with undue equanimity, only becoming agitated when a drunken male Swede takes to saying how wonderful he is and running hands through his hair.

The drinking begins to get more serious as we transfer to the hotel room. Donal tells of the time Dylan came to see Rory at a gig in the States. He came backstage after and Donal, not recognising him, wouldn’t let him in the dressing-room. “Well,” says Donal, “He was just this bedraggled guy, who looked like somebody trying to look like Dylan and had ended up looking like Ian Hunter. There’s any number of guys like that in the States.” Dylan said he understood and was halfway down the stairs when Donal registered who he was. “I just called out ‘Bob’ and he turned round and I knew it was him. I just kept apologising and he kept saying no, it was okay, he understood, and he kept trying to leave. Jesus, I was freaking. I said Rory’ll kill me if he knows you’ve been here’ and he said ‘That’s okay, man, I understand’. I just grabbed him, and dragged him back up those stairs.”

Rory, seemingly, was less flummoxed by the visitation, though he understood Donal’s dilemma. They both remember the time they gave the red carpet treatment to somebody they both believed to be Dylan who turned out to be an impostor. Meeting the real thing was, concedes Rory, “quite a shaky experience . . , y’know . . . like meeting Presley. But he seemed a nice enough guy.”

What did you talk about? “Well, he picked up my National guitar and we played some tunes. And we talked about Martin Carthy.”

A crowd of Chrysalis representatives and assorted liggers heard that Bob Dylan was holding court with Rory Gallagher and busted past Donal, frightening off the great man, Dylan sent Rory tickets when he came to England, but Rory didn’t try to see him backstage. That’s not his way.

GALLAGHER carries the quietly beguiling eloquence that seems exclusive to natives of Eire. Though he lives in London, his home, very firmly, is Cork, and he returns regularly. “I find I can actually do much more writing in Ireland,” he says.

He was in a showband — the Fontana Showband — at 15, and has a whole fund of stories about the experience. They were a subversive showband, slipping in rock ‘n roll whenever they felt people weren’t paying attention, but a showband nevertheless, doing Jim Reeves songs and the Top 20 hits of the moment.

“At 15 or 16,” he says, without apology, “it was an opportunity to play through an amplifier. The only opportunity.” For a kid bred on Lonnie Donegan, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and Eddie Cochran, that was important.

There were only three of them in the band, really, but you weren’t accepted in the ballrooms unless there were six in a band, so they added three tambourine players to make the numbers up. “We were,” he says, “regarded as a beat group masquerading as a showband.” Still, they played “Walking The Dog”, with one sax player putting a lead round the neck of another sax player and walking him round the ball, and if you look zealously enough around the second-hand shops you might bump into a couple of Pickwick albums that bear witness to this wondrous group.

In the mid Sixties Rory had an out-and-out rock trio, but by then promoters were only interested in four-pieces. In order to gain a residency in Hamburg they enrolled a non musician friend to pose with an organ for publicity shots, and on arrival explained to the bemused promoter that their organ player had contracted appendicitis, but they would nobly carry on without him.

Even Taste starved quite frequently when they first came to England, before scoring with two hit albums. People still ask about Taste, though they split nearly eight years ago. “It was a couple of steps,” is Rory’s practical summary of their career, though he adds, wIth marginal wistfulness, “I think had we stuck together with the right variety —we could have done well in America, because that was around the time bands were breaking over there.”

But then he’s never been one to calculate his career coldly. “It was a more naive world in those days, I just wanted to do as well as I could. But then I still do. I’d still like lots of hit albums and a bigger audience. It sounds fairly mundane, but it’s what I hope for. I just enjoy what I’m doing. Some people get worried about that — they say I should be changing hats all the time, doing reggae when it’s in fashion and changing my image week after week, that it’s the normal rock thing to do. But the people I like don’t do that . . .“

RORY finally collapsed into bed around 9.30am. A crowd of girls patiently waiting in the hotel foyer to see him off that morning looked to be in for a long wait. His chances of catching the afternoon flight back to London didn’t seem too bright, and the Swedish journalist who had an interview arranged for lunch-time looked to have no chance.

“You don’t know Rory” says Peter Collins, the tour manager (who, it might be said, had also been up until 9 am). “He’ll be there. If I went up now and said he had to get up and do an interview this minute he’d get up and do it. He’s like that, Rory.”

He does, too, and greets the journalist politely though he’s looking rather pale and dazed. “The only time I’ve ever seen him lay into a journalist,” says Donal, “was in America one time. This reporter said the show was a bit dull and did he have plans to make it more exciting? Rory said yeah, next time he was gonna have laser beams and dancing girls strobe lighting, the lot. And of course, this journalist wrote it all down and next day there it was all in the paper .

One frequent press comment that upsets him is the description “hard-working.” “As a youngster,” he says, a shade testily, “I thought that being a musician was going around and playing to people, This ‘hard-working’ name came about when acts were making statements like ‘Peace In Our Time’ and doing two gigs a year and living off their record advance. Some people sneer and say ‘This guy’s crazy’ but I just like being on the road, and if you don’t do it, then you lose contact, It’s as simple as that.”

“But then you get to be philosophical about criticism” – – – rueful now. – . .“I don’t get very much publicity anyway,” Certainly he’s conscious of being the man without an image, a man devoid of the imperative “angle” on which reporters can hang a story.

WHEN Mick Taylor left the Rolling Stones there was some talk of Gallagher becoming the replacement. Gallagher isn’t all that sure whether they wanted him or not. They certainly asked him to go and sit in for a blow, and he duly went alone, explaining that he had to go off on a tour of Japan in three days’ time.

He found the sessions somewhat disorganised. “It was very loose, just a jam, y’know, but very pleasant. A good experience. But I don’t know whether they were really thinking of asking me to join — they didn’t say anything — and after three nights with them I went off to Tokyo and heard no more about it.”

Would you have accepted? “I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind being in a group like that. It’s a difficult thing. . . . if I could work it so that I could do my own thing as well, I wouldn’t mind,”
There was also the time another idol, Jerry Lee Lewis, wanted him on the sessions of an album he was recording in London, That, seemingly, was another weird one.

It was in ‘72, around the same time he did the Muddy Waters sessions. Unlike the Waters recordings, the Lewis sessions occupied merely an afternoon. Somebody suggested Jerry Lee should record “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, though he said he didn’t know the song and had never heard it. Rory was elected to teach him it.

“He had trouble with it, he couldn’t get the timing of the song, which I couldn’t understand because he was a perfectly good musician. Then he started sending the song up and he was fairly rude about the lyrics. He couldn’t understand how anyone could write lyrics like that. But it was great. The best cut of the day. But they didn’t put it on the album. I never knew why.”

On another occasion he played on stage with Albert King. King’s band apparently resented the presence of a white guy on stage with them and declined to give him too much assistance, with the result that when the time came for Rory to take the stage he was at a loss to know what was going on. “What key is it?” he hissed to one of the band members. “B Natural, man,” came the reply. He was edged to the spotlight and played out of his skin. “That” asserts Donal, “was the best solo I ever heard him play.”

ON the plane, we talk some more. About the new album and the troubles surrounding it.
“It’s been frustrating. People think you’ve been sitting at home lazing around doing nothing. It’s a neurosis. You want to get out in the fight, but it had to be right — records are there forever. It had seemed the right thing to do, to go to the scene of the crime, America, to record the album. It was the right studio, the right place, the right producer, but there was something not quite right in the end. It was hard, but I’m glad I did it again.

“When I had done it again, I knew I was right, it was so much more urgent. It’s not me being a prima donna, I don’t have standards that are pie in the sky, I just wanted an album that was clean and efficient. And I don’t think I’m the type of artist you can take and reshape all that much. You can’t give Rory Gallagher the Johnny X production sound. I don t like albums that get the standard LA strings and LA brass. This album has a rhythmic fist to it, it kicks. It’s funky and it makes its point. It’s an Independent album.”

He has enough faith in the album and the strength of the “more open-sounding” new band to talk optimistically of a new lease of life and a major impact in the States — though he’s adamant that he has no wish to conquer the States by directing all his energies there and sacrificing his European following.

Acclaim and media attention in themselves hold no appeal: “I don’t want to be the next Frampton.” he says.

We talk, too, of Ireland and politics in music. He naturally feels deeply about the country, as that 1972 concert showed, but has never made political comment in his music.

“I’m just a musician and most Irish people understand that. I don’t think making extreme comments about the situation will help. I spent a lot of time in Belfast with Taste, and I suppose there were one or two question marks deep down about playing there — something could happen through being in the wrong street at the wrong time — but it’s been great whenever I’ve played there.

‘Politics and show business sometimes work. Rock Against Racism is okay. Lennon came up with some interesting angles, and Woody Guthrie could express it through songs. But a lot of times the music suffers.”

“All these bands who’re supposed to be against the system and everything, and then you see them, all trooping on to Top Of The Pops, posing for two-and-a-half minutes. I don’t actually think their attitudes differ all that much from mine. What leaves me cold is the spitting — that’s taking audience contact a bit far. It’s not even new — all that was going on in Van Morrison’s day in Belfast.

He actually saw the Sex Pistols on their final gig at San Francisco Winterland. “An interesting night,” is his most positive comment about it. “It was funny, the audience just didn’t know how to react. They were all Grateful Dead fans and boogie fans, and I was expecting something different musically. But it was just like a rough-and-ready Who.”

Yet his main vitriol is reserved for disco — “machine music and proud of it is the attitude” — which is abhorrent to his principles of audience contact, and a sense of values that have no place for uniformity and the growing domination of mechanics.

He talks scathingly of the “computerised world” and speaks urgently of “getting rid of bingo and disco”. And warmly of the traditional music still played informally in pubs in Ireland, “the one natural honest thing we’ve got left,”

Such philosophy sees us through as we come hurtling into Heathrow, and we both hold our breath. “I think,” says Rory finally as we scream to a halt, “I’ll have a few jars tonight.”

This article comes from the November 18, 1978 issue of Melody Maker.
Thanks to Angela Shaw for sharing it.
reformatted by roryfan

067 - Sound Sandwich From the March 1970 issue of Hit Parader. A brief, but interesting piece on the second lineup of Taste

London — The essential flavor of Taste is twenty year old Rory Gallagher. At a time when the focus of attention is clearly the lead guitarist, it is impossible to fault those who claim this softly spoken young Irishman as the fastest riding young star in Europe.

Rory was voted among Britain’s top twenty instrumentalists at a time when few had even heard of the group he leads. That has since been remedied with an album which proved that Taste’s club following was no flash in the pan.

Scandinavia has already voted Taste as the ‘best new group’ and in the Netherlands they topped Cream and Fleetwood Mac in a popularity poll. But just as all comparisons are odious, it is impossible to slip Taste into a category with Blind Faith, or Rory Gallagher in a bracket with Eric Clapton. For what Taste and Rory are doing is new and different. There all comparisons must end, and only the enthusiasm of their audience can be a measure of their ability to communicate.

The base of Taste is the blues, “But then we work things out as we go. We don’t want to ever play it safe, it may fall really flat some nights, but you will be sure never to hear the same thing twice,” says Rory.

He first formed the group in 1966, after a stint playing with the Fontanas in Germany. That particular Taste trio “went as far as it could go, and fizzled out”. Then Rory was joined by two Northem Irishmen, Richie McCraken and John Wilson, and they moved to London. They started working at The Marquee Club and have been expanding their circle of fans ever since.

Despite the excellence of his supporting musicians, the undoubted star of the group is Rory, brilliant lead guitarist, composer, vocalist, and onstage an overwhelming personality.

His obvious pleasure at playing his battered guitar adds warmth to his dazzling technique. In concert he prefers to use a ridiculously small thirty watt amplifier better suited to a home hi-fi outfit. At times the volume is so low that it would be lullaby level at others it seems to overwhelm.

“We don’t have a style or a tag, although we are blues based, roughly speaking,” says Rory. “I call our style ‘unpredictable’. We are developing all the time, if we recorded an album last night it would be out of date today. That is the way we want it to be, we don’t want to be hidebound or pegged down to something we have played before and are expected to play again.”

This article comes from the March 1970 issue of Hit Parader.
Many thanks to Kim & Craig Stamm for unearthing it!!
reformatted by roryfan

068 - Remembering Rory by Paul Dromey From the 3/22/00 issue of Corks List Magazine. Article about the ongoing interest, tributes and legacy of the G-man

With the re-issuing of much of the late Rory Gallagher’s back catalogue on CD, his music is undergoing something of a Renaissance. Hometown fans often under-estimate the regard and esteem in which the Cork man and his music are held throughout Europe and beyond. A visit to a Rory Gallagher Tribute Weekend in the Netherlands at the end of February made this writer aware of the continuing, indeed growing importance of his legacy.

The Weekend was held in Leeuwarden, the principal town of Friesland in North Holland and was organised by Gallagher enthusiasts Klaas and Annet Spijker. Klaas got the idea from Tony Moore, proprietor of The Meeting Place Midleton. But more of that anon.

The Leeuwarden Weekend consisted of two concerts, a Saturday night event featuring five acts who have been inspired by Rory’s music. The pick of these were the Ged Thomas Band from Britain, Brute Force & Ignorance from East Germany and Dublin singer/guitarist Dave McHugh’s After Taste, featuring Cork bassist and drummer Ruben Lynch and Jason O’Driscoll respectively.

A more intimate concert the following evening showcased Brute Force & Ignorance, a band who seem to have captured much of the essence and spirit of the Rory Gallagher sound. Rory’s brother and long-time manager, Donal Gallagher was much impressed by their remarkable sound, describing it as “scary”. Compere RTE’s Marcus Connaughton remarked that anyone who remembered Gallagher’s early trio Taste could not but be struck and moved at the similarity.

Fans from Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Britain and the US were in attendance, as well as an almost 30 strong Irish representation. It was amazing to hear such and international assembly sharing their enthusiasm for Rory. Many keep in regular touch through Rory Web Sites, e-mail and Chatlines. Further events are planned this year in Britain, France and another in Holland.

Closer to home, the aforementioned Meeting Place Midleton has pioneered the Rory Gallagher Tribute Concert concept in this country. Since he opened The Rory Gallagher Room two years ago and began organising Gallagher Tribute concerts, Midleton has become a Mecca for Gallagher aficionados from all over the world. The Room is filled with Rory memorabilia, contributed by the Gallagher family and by the fans themselves.

Their next series of Gallagher Tributes commences on Sunday April 16th, with Dutch band the Juke joints, and special guest, king-time Gallagher sideman Lou Martin. Each month ’til October offers a concert with Dave McHugh’s After Taste, Brute Force & Ignorance (two concerts in June) the Mississippi Sheikhs from Sweden and The Loop from Germany among the scheduled attractions.

Words: Paul Dromey
Reccommended Website:

This article was first published by the Mediazoo in Corks List Magazine on March 22,2000.
Reformatted and posted with permission from the Magazine and the author by roryfan.
Thanks to Ronan Leonard for getting the permissions

069 - Cork Examiner article by Paul Dromey From the 3/9/00 issue of the Examiner. Article discussing the respect and interest in Rory. Special attention to the 2/00 Tributes in Leeuwarden.
Cork “Examiner” article

Although he passed away on June 14th 1995, aged just 47, Rory Gallagher left a rich legacy of wonderful music behind. Much of that back catalogue has now been re-packaged and re-issued, with a further album and video scheduled for release later this year.

Rory’s devotees world-wide have kept the legend of the man and his music alive and new generations are discovering the Irish born inspirational blues luminary. The international regard and respect in which he is held was brought home most forcibly to me when I attend a Rory Gallagher Tribute Weekend in The Netherlands at the end of February.

Organised over two nights in Leeuwarden, the principal town of Friesland in Northern Holland, by Gallagher enthusiasts Klaas and Annet Spijker, the pick of the featured bands were the driving Jed Thomas band from Britain, Dubliner Dave McHugh and his sizzling After Taste, (featuring the Cork bass and drums rhythm section of Ruben Lynch and Jason O’Driscol) and the amazing East German combination Brute Force & Ignorance. RTE’s knowledgeable blues and Gallagher expert Marcus Connaughton was our M.C. Listening to Brute Force & Ignorance, one could sense the sound of collective jaws dropping. This most unassuming band have managed to capture much of the very essence and spirit of Rory Gallagher – the word most used by the fans was “scary”.

A highlight of the evening came when they were joined on stage by 12 year old first-ratebassist and Gallagher fanatic, Sean Murphy from Fermoy for a great rendition of “Laundromat”. The over 400 strong audience were more than eager to avail of a second opportunity to hear Brute Force & Ignorance in an even more impressive Showcase Concert on the following night.

Rory’s brother and long-time manager Donal Gallagher was moved by Brute Force & Ignorance. “When I closed my eyes, I could almost think it’s Rory up there, then I opened them and saw this young short-haired blond guy”, he said. Leeuwarden brought memories flooding back for
an emotional Donal Gallagher as Rory’s final tour was in the Netherlands.

“I’m very proud that so many people travelled from Ireland, Britain,Belgium,Germany, France, even the United States” Klaas Spijker says. “It made it a real international Tribute. I was particularly happy that Donal Gallagher was able to be here”. Those wishing to attend the 3rd Leeuwarden Rory Gallagher Tribute next year can contact Klaas at

Nearer to home, Tony Moore, proprietor of the Meeting Place Bar in Midleton has pioneered the Rory Gallagher Tribute Concert concept in this country. Since he opened The Rory Gallagher Room two years ago and began organising Gallagher Tribute concerts, Midleton has become a Mecca for Gallagher aficionados from all over the world. The Room is filled with Rory memorabilia, contributed by the Gallagher family and by the fans themselves.

“Our next series of Gallagher Tributes commence on Sunday April 16th, with Dutch band the Juke Joints, and special guest and long-time Gallagher sideman Lou Martin”, Tony Moore says, “Each month ’till October we’ll present a concert with Dave McHugh’s After Taste, Brute Force & Ignorance (two concerts in June) the Mississippi Sheiks from Sweden and The Loop from Germany among the scheduled attractions”. Both Tony Moore and Klaas Spijker have found that money is the last thing on the minds of participating bands. They just want the honour of playing and to have their expenses covered.

A strong sense of camaraderie and warm friendship exists among Gallagher buffs, traversing national boundaries and language differences. The Rory Gallagher Web Site is the focus of much activity, with enthusiasts from many countries swapping Rory information, opinions and reviews on the Gallagher e-mail address and chatline. Rory Gallagher Tribute Events are springing up everywhere, including Germany, France and a further even in the Netherlands this year. Barry Barnes has been organising an annual British Tribute event for the past five years.

“Rory was my hero from the time I heard the second Taste album and saw them at Salford University in ’68 or ’69” Barry told me. “He was just the best and I was devastated by his death and decided to put a small Tribute Concert together in Gorton, Manchester to mark the first anniversary”. “The place was packed and things have snowballed since then. This year, we’re expecting about 400 Gallagher fans at Dukinfield Town Hall, near Ashton-Under-Lyne, just outside Manchester, on May 13th to hear Fat Cat Bobby, Bill Bailey, the Jed Thomas band and Brute Force & Ignorance.

Proceeds will go to Ozenam Camp, the under-privileged children’s charity”. Anyone interested can contact Barry Barnes, 10 Claremont Range, Gorton, Manchester, M18 7LT e-mail

Paul Dromey.

This article came from the 3/9/00 issue of the Cork Examiner.
reformatted and posted with permission from the author by roryfan
The article was originally posted to the Bullfrog by Klaas & Annet Spijker.

070 - stories of the BLUES by Liam Fay. A recount by Rory of a heated meeting of Jerry Lee Lewis and John Lennon. From the July 1995 issue of Hot Press
stories of the BLUES
LIAM FAY remembers Rory the superb raconteur with a dry wit

ONE OF the qualities about Rory Gallagher which may have been overlooked in many of the tributes is that he was an incredibly amusing guy. He was a superb anecdotalist, with a great eye for telling detail and a bone dry wit.

I interviewed Rory three years ago in London. It was clear that he wasn’t very well at that time. We spent much of our encounter discussing his state of well-being, both physical and mental, and it soon became obvious that he was not a man without deep regrets. Still, as the hours passed by and the reminiscences began to flow, his mood brightened considerably.

What follows is a story which Rory related that afternoon with considerable relish. He was anything but a name-dropper. Indeed one would need a very large crowbar to prise any recollection from him that was not essentially self deprecating. Nevertheless there was something about this specific yarn which seemed to tickle him mightily.

It was 1974, a year or so after Rory had played alongside Albert Lee and Peter Frampton, among others on Jerry Lee Lewis’ legendary London Sessions. Rory and a few friends were invited to a special showcase gig by The Killer in The Roxy club in Los Angeles. The concert began equably enough and the audience were really starting to get into it when who should walk into the auditorium but one John Lennon. We’ll let the master himself take up the tale.

“Lennon was going through his L.A. phase at the time and his hair was really short, but everyone still recognised him and they all turned to look at him as he took his seat in the balcony”, recalled Rory. “Needless to say, the fact that he was being upstaged drove Jerry Lee wild. He started to do the ‘Jerry Lee Rag’, but everybody was still looking up at Lennon and whispering about him. All of a sudden Jerry Lee stopped and started on about how The Beatles were shit and The Stones were shit and there ain’t nobody could play real rock ‘n’ roll the way Jerry Lee could.

“Lennon loved this. He had his boot up on he balcony end started egging Jerry Lee on, shouting (convincing Lennon voice) ‘Yeah, you’re right there man. The Beatles are shit.” People started laughing, but Jerry Lee thought that Lennon was shouting abuse at him, so he freaked out altogether. He just pushed the piano across the stage and stomped off.” The atmosphere in The Roxy was now understandably tense. Most people left the building fearing that Jerry Lee might go on the rampage with one of the firearms that the notoriously volatile hothead was known to carry with him. Others stuck around hoping to witness just such an eventuality. As it happened, Rory had a backstage pass and was keen to go into The Killer’s dressing room to try to cheer him up and maybe calm him down. Rory’s brother and manager, Donal, warned against this course of action, however, arguing that he would be risking his life to enter such a fearsome lion’s den at a time like this. Enter Tom O’Driscoll.

Backstage picture from Lancaster University, UK 1975
by Maurice Finn

O’Driscoll is a mountain of a man from Scull, Co. Cork. A fisherman by trade, he was Rory’s roadie and bodyguard for well over two decades. Donal Gallagher agreed that Rory could go backstage provided that O’Driscoll went with him. “I wasn’t too afraid of Jerry Lee because I had worked on the sessions with him,” explained Rory. “But everybody else was obviously very scared because there was nobody else in the dressing room when Tom and I went in.”

It took considerable diplomacy on Gallagher’s part, but gradually he managed to coax Jerry Lee out of his sulk.

“We actually got to the point where we were just chatting away reminiscing about the sessions and that kind of thing,” recounted Rory. “Then, all of a sudden, the door opened and in walked Lennon. There was dead silence for a couple of seconds. I just stared at Jerry Lee to see how he was going to react. But Tom O’Driscoll couldn’t resist the opportunity. He was a huge Beatles fan and he just went over to Lennon, dropped down on his knees, kissed his hand and said. ‘I’ve been waiting twenty years to get the autograph of the king of rock ‘n roll.”

Of course, this drove Jerry Lee completely wild. He went for his sock, thinking that he had a gun in it and then he started looking around for something to throw or break. Lennon could see all this so he quickly signed Tom’s piece of paper and then, to diffuse the situation, he took the pen and another piece of paper from Tom and went across the room to Jerry Lee. He did exactly what Tom had done to him. He went down on his knees, kissed Jerry Lee’s hand and said, ” I’ve been waiting twenty years to get the autograph of the king of real rock ‘n ‘roll!”
Jerry Lee. was delighted. He signed the scrap of paper and they started talking then and everything was fine. It was a wonderful moment.”

I can still see the smile on Rory’s face as he re-lived this incident. The word, I believe, is beaming.

This article comes from the July 1995 issue of Hot Press
reformatted by roryfan

071 - Meet Gallagher's Men by Roy Hollingworth. A brief one about Rory's first solo band. From the May 8, 1971 issue of Melody Maker
Meet Gallagher’s Men
by Roy Hollingworth
Who are Wilgar Campbell and Gerry McAvoy? A good question. Both seem to have appeared from nowhere, joined Rory Gallagher, and established themselves as exciting musicians almost overnight.

For a start, they are both Irish, and both come from Belfast.

In all ways , Wilgar (drums) and Gerry (bass) are a backing group for Rory. They acknowledge that fact, and are willing to let Rory take the limelight. Says Wilgar, “People told me about Rory, and said I would find myself being very restricted. Well, that’s not true, for with Rory I have found an excellent form of freedom.”

Wilgar, football mad, but quiet and shy, writes poems in his spare time – that’s a good opening line for a publicity handout! “I started drumming about six years ago, knocked around with several Belfast outfits, but there was nothing spectacular. From that I joined a band called Andwella’s Dream, who are now Andwella. I came over to England with them in 1968, and have been sort of living over here since then.

“I’ve known Rory for about three years, and Gerry and myself had just finished playing with a band called Deep Joy. It was a bit strange at first, but after playing together a few times, it became incredibly enjoyable. I’ve progressed about a year since joining Rory, if you can understand that.

“I’ve always looked upon myself as being a basic drummer, playing with emotion. I dig Rory’s music, and sort of fall into it.”

Gerry was dressed in something resembling a suit. “I started playing in 1966, and chopped and changed about quite a lot. I was playing soul and pop. There were several offers to join showbands, and good bread was offered. But I was playing music for the love of it, and not for money. I thank God I didn’t fall into the showband thing. After finishing with Deep Joy, I was sitting at home in Belfast when Rory phoned. He asked me to come and have a blow with him in Dublin. I did, and enjoyed the music. The next time he phoned was to ask me to work on an album.

“It didn’t take me long to realise that Rory’s music had great feeling. I’d always dug rock and roll, and this was a modified version. It’s sort of foot tapping, free music and that’s so good.”

This article comes from the 5/8/71 issue of Melody Maker.
article reformatted and graphic by roryfan.

072 - Nobody did it better John Waters pays tribute to the musician who wrote the soundtrack for a generation of Irish kids From the June 17, 1995 issue of the Irish Times
John Waters pays tribute to the musician who wrote the soundtrack for a generation of Irish kids

Nobody did it better

Last Saturday, at the Fleadh in London’s Finsbury Park, I ran into Donal Gallagher. It had been a few years since I’d met either him or his brother, both of whom I’d known from my Hot Press
days, when I’d had the pleasure of being paid to talk to Rory Gallagher and watch him play. After a minute or two, I casually asked after Rory. Donal said that his brother was seriously ill. I got the impression that it was grievous, probably terminal. And so it proved: we awoke on Thursday morning to the news that Rory Gallagher, one of the finest blues guitarists the world has seen, had died.

People assume you’re exaggerating when you say things like ” rock ‘n’ roll changed my life”, but I know I wouldn’t be doing any of the things I’m doing had it not been for artists like Gallagher giving me – us- inspiration to change, and the soundtrack to do it to.

That he was Irish was, at first, a little unbelievable, but it was a different sense of unbelief to that which greeted the arrival of Horslips in the ballrooms, or Thin Lizzy on Top of the Pops. The thing about Rory was not that just that he was one of the first Irish rock stars, but that he was the best guitar player in the world. That was our view of Rory, and I don’t believe that our unassailable pride in him led us far astray. Those deluded graffiti scribblers who scrawled “Clapton is God” on walls during the 1970’s couldn’t have had either the manners or the time to listen to 30 seconds of Rory Gallagher. Sure, Eric Clapton, or Jimmy Page, or Ron Wood could play a bit, but Rory put them all in the shade. Only Jimi Hendrix could remotely have been considered his peer. And from an Irish point of view, this was an exhilarating and radical notion – that – one of us could not just mix it up with the big shots, but wipe the floor with them and leave a shine you could eat your dinner off.

Given the huge success stories of recent years, it’s easy to forget what it might have meant in leaner times when the word went out that the Rolling Stones were interested in getting Rory to join. It was the kind of notion that used to inflame the old national inferiority complex. But we at home all knew – and this is the important part – the Rory Gallagher was too good for the Rolling Stones. That was a powerful knowledge to let loose among a generation just coming around to the idea that anything might be possible after all. There can be no telling how much of the recent success of Irish artists has been due in some measure to the slipstream of confidence created by Gallagher.

Rory was an original. There were others who did it before him, and a legion who tried to do it after him, but there was nobody who did it better. His music was rooted in the blues, but his playing had qualities of distinctiveness, energy, colour, passion and tenderness that set it apart from any player I’ve ever heard. Yes, he was a brilliant technical guitarist, but he also had soul in the way other guitarists have hard neck. He filled his own space in the rock ‘n’ roll pantheon. He didn’t make statements or take public stances. But he was nonetheless a profoundly influential and meaningful figure in European pop culture. The integrity of his music and being radiated from the quality of his playing and the music he created to give it a voice.

Songs like Bullfrog Blues and Messin’ with the Kid were essential aspects of the formative background radiation for a vast hardcore of his followers. His songs were sensitive, funny, dark and sweet, a strange mix of blues and his own idiosyncrasies and obsessions. His music was the work of a deeply intelligent and sensitive man, who thought profoundly about the world – and who also, incidentally, loved his native country and never lost touch with what he called “the mainland”.

His great tragedy was that his form was ultimately too small a vehicle for his genius. There was a strong sense that he had no space in which to continue to grow. But in performance, his integrity and sheer brilliance as an artist continued to confound all-comers.

A couple of years back, he was due to play an open-air gig at College Green in Dublin. My girlfriend, being somewhat younger than I, was skeptical of my enthusiasm: her generation’s perception of Rory Gallagher was of a dry, old blueser, a pyrotechnician, without soul. I worried a little, I confess, that my memory and enthusiasm were playing tricks. Rory had the capacity to bring out in those who had seen him play responses which sounded like hyperbole to those who hadn’t.

But on the night Gallagher was, if possible, even better than I remembered. He captivated the huge crowd – half curious bystanders, half now-greying lumberjackshirted hordes – like the angel he was. My girlfriend, like everybody else, was transfixed, and understood at last that it was possible to walk away from a Rory Gallagher concert believing it to have been the best you had ever seen, I believed then that it could only be a matter of time before, once again Rory gallagher received acclaim that was rightly his. I cannot say how sad it makes me feel to know that this is not now going to happen.

There is a whole generation out there feeling sad today for all these reasons. God bless, Rory. Hope you enjoyed yourself. Thanks a million. Thank you.
This article comes from the June 17, 1995 issue of the Irish Times.
Thanks to Barry McCabe (BMC) for passing it along.
Reformatted by roryfan.

073 - Rory Gallagher by David Fricke A brief article from the Jan 2, 1979 issue of Circus Weekly dealing with styles
Rory Gallagher

“I don’t really think about it. I’m aware of the fact that I must mean something as a guitar player. I’m not naive.”

Still just shy of 30, Irish-born blues-guitarmeister Rory Gallagher has almost 20 years of guitar playing behind him, so there’s no excuse for naiveté about his steadily growing reputation as a Fender-bending celebrity. Four English and American albums with his late ‘60’s aggregation Taste, and nine subsequent solo albums, substantiate that reputation as the workingman’s blueser, eschewing egotistical hard-rock flash for the earthier machismo of electric English blues. Dressed in characteristic flannel shirt, jeans. and sneakers with his trusty 1960 Stratocaster at the ready, Rory Gallagher stands as a timeless testament to the long blues guitar solo and he makes no excuse for it.

“I wouldn’t let the critics faze me.” he emphasizes. “The new press are sort of anti-lead guitar. They’re afraid to like it. But even with the three-chord punk thing—you have to take it somewhere from there. It’s unnatural not to want to express yourself in notes and ideas.”

The early Taste albums (Taste and On the Boards) show Gallagher plowing jazzier turf in the blues context than recent outings like Calling Card and PhotoFinish He takes understandable issue with the critical contention that he doesn’t capture the manic intensity of his stage show in the studio, but there is no doubting his ability or sincerity when he tears breakneck into his standard showcloser “Bullfrog Blues” ( heard convincingly on Rory Gallagher Live).

Gallagher’s taste in guitarists is, unlike many of his ilk who draw inspiration from only one well flavored with a list of people he swore by in his formative years—classic rockers like Presley and Holly. bluesmen like Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed.

“Even now I play records from many different styles. Certain people get hung up on a B.B. King complex. but— no disrespect to B.B. King, it gets to the point where it gets in the way. I want to listen to different players.”
David Fricke

This article comes from the January 2, 1979 issue of Circus Weekly.
reformatted by roryfan
Thanks to donman for sending it.

074 - Rory Gallagher: The Irish Guitar Wonder by Richard Skelly - An excellent interview from the Oct.4, 1991 issue of Goldmine
Rory Gallagher – The Irish Guitar Wonder
by Richard Skelly

To be sure, no one could ever accuse Rory Gallagher of selling out. Since his earliest recordings with his trio, Taste, in 1969, the Irish blues-rock guitarist., songwriter and singer has never strayed far from his musical roots. His fascination with American blues and folk music began when he was a youth and now that blues music is enjoying something of a renaissance, Gallagher, like other longtime bluesmen, is enjoying renewed interest in his music. I.R.S. Records, based in New York and Los Angeles, has reissued some of the Irishman’s earlier albums released since 1971 on a number of large and small record labels in Great Britain and the U.S. and will reissue the rest by early next year.
Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland on March 2, 1948. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to County Cork, along the south coast. He first became interested in American blues and folk music when he got his first guitar at age nine.

Since the debut Taste was released on Atco in the U.S in 1969, Gallagher has undertaken nearly 30 U.S. tours. Although he is a prolific lyricist and an energetic guitarist, singer and performer, for some reason. popularity on a wider scale has eluded Gallagher in the U.S.

Between 1969 and 1971, with producer Tony Colton at the helm, Gallagher recorded three albums with Taste that were released on Polydor in the U.K. and Atco in the U.S.

It was not until 1971, after Taste split up, that Gallagher began recording under his own name. He began performing with Wilgar Campbell on drums and Gerry McAvoy on bass. McAvoy remains Gallagher’s bass player to this day.

In 1970, he recorded Rory Gallagher for Polydor Records in the U.K., however, the album was not released until 1971, when it was picked up in the U. S. by Atlantic Records. Later in 1971, he recorded Deuce, which was also released by Atlantic in the U.S. Having established himself as a solid seller for Polydor in the U.K. and Europe with a number of large festival performances there, Gallagher followed up Deuce with Live in Europe ( 1972), Blueprint and Tattoo (both in 1973). Those albums were also released by Polydor in the States in those years.

Irish Tour 1974 captured the energetic nature of Gallagher’s live performances perfectly, and the album was a critical and commercial success in the UK, Europe and the States.

Other critically-acclaimed albums include Calling Card ( Chrysalis, 1976), Photo Finish (Chrysalis, 1978 and Jinx (Chrysalis, 1982). In the early and mid-1970s, Gallagher recorded with Muddy Waters on the famed London Sessions (Chess, 1972). and with Albert King on Live (RCA/Utopia). Most recently he released Defender (1989) and Fresh Evidence (1990) for Capo/I.RS.

Gallagher made a brief tour of the U.S. in March, and he did a week’s worth of soldout shows in Australia and Japan. In a sense, the U.S. tour represented a blessing for American fans, who’d been wondering when he’d be back since 1985. The wait was worth it as they enjoyed the luxury of being able to see and hear him and his extraordinary backing band in smaller venues, up close and personal, in an exciting series of roof-raising club concerts.

Goldmine: Can you give us some background on your early life?
Rory Gallagher: I was born in Ballyshannon, Donegal (near the north coast of Ireland). But I was brought up in Cork City, which is on the south coast, and that’s where I went to school and so on, so that’s what I regard as my hometown.

I started playing guitar and listened a lot to Lonnie Donegan, who used to do songs by Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, so I got very interested in American folk songs, songs like “Rock Island Line” by Leadbelly, that sort of thing, but of course at the same time, you had Eddie Cochran on the scene, and Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, so I later became interested in the rockers. But initially, I was interested in the acoustic kinds of songs. That’s really how I started, anything on the radio that came from America is what I was interested in. At that age I didn’t even have a record player or a record collection or anything.

Goldmine: Did your parents expose you to blues and jazz at all, or was this all on your own?”

Rory Gallagher: It was all on my own, really. They ‘re both musical, but they were interested in Irish music and opera and things like that. But they didn’t discourage me, though they were quite happy that I was interested.

Goldmine: Some early influences included Chuck Berry and later on, Muddy Waters, but early on you were interested in a lot of different styles of American music.

Rory Gallagher: Yeah, that’s still there. A lot of guitar players from my scene tend to just play from the roots of Buddy Guy, B.B.King, Freddie King, Albert King. And they’re all great players, but I try to dig deeper into some of the great country blues players, like John Lee Hooker. But I’m not strictly interested in single note players, I like some of the rhythm players like Johnny Young and some of the slide players like J.B. Hutto. I try and keep a broad view on the blues, really.

Goldmine: Lonnie Donnegan was part of the Chris Barber Band, an English trad-jazz band. Tell us about him.

Rory Gallagher: He started off as a banjo player with Chris Barber’s traditional jazz band. For some reason in the late 1940’s and early ’50’s, traditional jazz became very popular among the art school students. Lonnie was also a guitarist and during the breaks of the jam sessions, Lonnie would get together with the drummer and bass player or drummer and a washboard player, and they’d do a couple of skiffle songs, as they called them, skiffle meaning jug band music or folk blues, whatever.

It just became quite a feature in the jazz clubs. Then, on one of Chris Barber’s albums, Lonnie recorded a couple of songs, “Rock Island Line” ,“John Henry,” and I can’t remember the other titles, but they actually became pretty big hits. So he went on his own then, and he had other kinds of hits, with songs like “My Old Man’s A Dust Man” and “Does The Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor. ‘‘ They were less important, but Lonnie was very important.

A lot of guitar players from John Lennon right across to Martin Carthy, Davey Graham, Eric Clapton, Bert Jansch, they all heard that you could start on an acoustic which wasn’t too expensive, and get together with a bass.

At this stage it seems like a silly way to start, but there was quite a long stretch of skiffle and trad-jazz going there for a while.

Goldmine: You later recorded with Lonnie Donegan in the mid-1970’s?

Rory Gallagher: I can’t remember the year, to be honest with you (1977). The idea was that I was going to get the sessions together and sort of produce it, but I didn’t produce it in the end. I ended up playing on it, which was interesting enough. It became a bit of a super-session, and it had a lot of pop stars on it, who are all good people, but it just took it away from the skiffle idea and the acoustic thing. But he’s recording another album soon, again, and I believe I might play on that one. Van Morrison’s already lined up to play on it as well, ‘cause he’s a Lonnie Donegan fan.

Goldmine: What label would he record for?

Rory Gallagher: He might be on Castle, which is the company we release through in

Goldmine: Tell us about your early band, the Impact, and what exactly is a “show” band?

Rory Gallagher: It’s a dance band, really; it became a bit of a craze in England. They called them show bands ‘cause they used to do a bit of gimmickry on stage and do stagy numbers. At 14 or 15, I couldn’t get a band together, so I joined one, so I would be able to plug into a Vox amplifier and travel around the country. They’d allow me to do a few Chuck Berry numbers and “Green Onions” and things like that, but then I’d also have to do Jim Reeves songs and dance songs and Dixieland and whatever.

But, I put up with it, eventually left and slowly but surely got a trio together, where we went to Hamburg and got some gigs. That band wasn’t called Taste yet, it was just a three-piece, but when I got back to Ireland, I got the first line-up of Taste going in 1966.

Goldmine: What do you remember about those early gigs in Germany? This was your first chance to play the music that you loved. How did it go over there?

Rory Gallagher: Well, at that stage, in the beat clubs, as they were called, we weren’t playing strictly blues, we were playing rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues, straight blues, whatever. Don’t forget, you had to play six 45-minute sets a night!

We were only three people, so we didn’t have that much material together, among three of us. So we had to pretend that we had an organ player that got appendicitis on the ferry going over, ‘cause they wouldn’t regard a three-piece group as a band at all. So anyway, we held on there, and then started building up a name back in Ireland, and got quite popular there and began writing our own songs.

Eventually, we moved to Belfast, and we worked a lot there, and finally got a break in England, a couple of gigs at the Marquee club. We also got on a couple of the big blues and rock festivals, about 1969, around the time my first album with Taste came out.

Goldmine: When did you release your first album under your own name? And what became of Taste?

Rory Gallagher: Taste split up in 1971. The band split for all kinds of reasons: the drummer wanted to play jazz, the manager had difficulties with us, or I had difficulties with him, so it was six months of legal hassles with all kinds of strings attached to be able to get out and work again. Anyway, I went off with my own band in 1971, and recorded the first album under my own name and started touring through Europe. Luckily, I still had some of the old Taste fans and some new fans, and it developed.

Goldmine: Who was Tony Colton, who produced your first four albums?

Rory Gallagher: Actually, he produced the first two studio albums, the other two were live albums that were released by the manager with whom I had contractual problems. So Tony Colton has nothing to do with the live albums, but he was a good producer for those two studio albums. He went on to be the lead singer for a band called Head, Hands and Feet, who featured Albert Lee on guitar, a country-rock band. And he was a composer and wrote a couple of songs, including one B-side for Cream, ah, “The Coffee Song,” I think it was called. He was also involved in the Jerry Lee Lewis album I played on.

Goldmine: Since 1971, you’ve released 14 albums. Your level of prolificacy hasn’t slowed at all over the years.

Rory Gallagher: At one stage we were recording and releasing an album every year, so it’s some work and effort, but just before Defender, the last album before Fresh Evidence, I had this burst of energy. You know, you do get these peaks where you feel invigorated. But, some albums we recorded in six weeks, some took six months, and some took all kinds of time. Some were scrapped, at least two albums were recorded and scrapped.

Goldmine: Were those first two albums Rory Gallagher and Deuce— sort of a turning point for you, not only in terms of recording under your own name, but also because you were recording your own blues songs?

Rory Gallagher: ‘Well, yes. I produced the album we recorded in a reggae studio, eight-track, and in three weeks we had the whole album completed. In fact, when I get back to England (last April), I’m going to re-mix some of the tracks on that. But at the time we enjoyed it very much ‘cause it was a very non-state-of-the-art type of studio; we did everything live—live lead guitar. live lead vocals.

Goldmine: Natural sound.

Rory Gallagher: Yeah. With that, of course, you get some imperfections, but it was great to be on the move again, recording and on the road with my own group.

Goldmine: Tell us about the London Sessions with Muddy Waters in 1972. Here was a guy whose records you’d studied as a teen, and you had the chance not only to meet him, but to record with him.

Rory Gallagher: I’d seen Muddy Waters live twice before that, so obviously I was nervous meeting him, you know, but I found him like a big Buddha. You know, he knew what he wanted, but he was very polite.

We were recording three nights on the trot, and I was actually playing three gigs on the evenings of those sessions, so they’d hold up the sessions until midnight, till I arrived, back from Birmingham, or back from Bristol, or whatever. That was more than polite. I just seemed to get on well with a him and we laid down quite a few tracks. In fact there was an album that came out later, London Revisited with one side of Howlin’ Wolf and another side of Muddy Waters’ tracks.

I learned a lot watching him tune his guitar, and watching the way he sang and performed. I mean, just to be working in close quarters with him, even if it was only three nights, was quite an experience. I’d love to be doing it again, now, with what I know.

We tried to keep it fairly traditional and I think it works fairly well most of way.

Goldmine: What do you remember about those sessions and how was he to work with in the studio?

Rory Gallagher: I think what made it somewhat easy was that a lot of the songs that we did were songs he had recorded before, like “I’m Ready’. Also “I’m Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town”, which he hadn’t recorded before, with Steve Winwood on organ on that. He recorded “Who’s Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I’m Gone.” “Young Fashioned Ways,” so the hardest thing was to get the drums and bass in sync with Muddy’s type of rhythm guitar. We had Sammy Lawhorn there on guitar, along with me, so it would be in a fairly confined fashion: it wasn’t lead guitar all over the place. He played slide on two of the tracks, and he would play on some tracks with the guitar strapped on him, and plant a little riff someplace.

Goldmine: In terms of how his production ideas were, was he following the advice of someone else, or did he have his own definite ideas?

Rory Gallagher: Well, it was loose. There were ideas coming from a fellow called Esmond Edwards, from Chess Records, and a fellow named Ian Green, who’s from England and we did another new song, “Blind Man Blues.” I remember. A couple of times Muddy would stop the song if he didn’t like the way it was going, but a few suggestions were made by Steve Winwood as well, and Georgie Fame, who was playing piano. But with a lot of these types of sessions, there’s not all that much verbal communication, you know, a lot of it’s just stop and start again can you pick that up or can you start in a different key.

Goldmine: What were your first impressions of the U.S. And when was this?

Rory Gallagher: In 1969 I was over here touring with Taste as a support band for Blind Faith.

Goldmine: What were some of the more memorable concerts from that first tour in 1969?

Rory Gallagher : Well, we didn’t play Madison Square Garden with them, but it was scary. I’d never seen a crowd like that. A lot of the fans were getting a bit out of control and there was a fair bit of bouncers and police beating people up and things, and it was very scary.

Our first gig was in Philadelphia, at the Spectrum, on a revolving stage, so it was going around Beatles fashion on and between that and having jet-lag, I tell you it was serious. We went down well and later went on to Baltimore and Boston and played an open-air in Boston, and Janis Joplin showed up at the gig.

But obviously, first time in America, like Europe is usually very American now, but then it was quite different. Things like all-night television and all-night food, and availability of certain instruments and records, it was quite good. But, as usual, it was so hectic, you couldn’t really absorb anything.

Goldmine: Between 1985 and now, what labels have you been recording with in England?”

Rory Gallagher: I did one album for Demon Records, Defender. It also had the Capo label identity which we’ve continued to have, so that we have a certain uniformity around the world with all the releases. It seems we’re on so many labels.

Capo is Fresh Evidence and Defender, mainly something I set up to record my own stuff. It’s my own company, it’s obviously not a big corporate conglomerate or anything, but if I wanted to record somebody, and Castle or I.R.S. were interested in putting it out, it could help an up-and-coming band or some existing artist who needs a break. It’s just a little identity, you know.

Goldmine: If we look at your discography, one musician crops up again and again, your longtime bass player. Gerry McAvoy. What makes Gerry so special, in terms of your sound, or in terms of his sound.”

Rory Gallagher: Gerry’s a very rhythmic player. and he’s quick to pick up a riff or an idea. He doesn’t play bass like Jack Bruce, or Motown or Bill Wyman and particularly for a three-piece band, he can sort of spread himself around a lot. You need a lot of maneuvering, even though he’s tightened up his style a lot in the last couple of years. And he has quite good knowledge of various riffs. If I say, ‘Do you remember the riff on such and such record?’, he can remember the riff, and it saves a lot of chatting; you can get a bit of ESP going.

The same thing with the drummer, and they’re both Belfast people, strangely enough, as they were for Taste. And as it happened, they both worked together as teenagers, and after Ted McKenna [former drummer] left, it came together fairly quickly.

Goldmine: What is your approach to blues songwriting? What inspires you in Ireland or in England? You’ve never really gotten terribly political, have you?

Rory Gallagher: Not blatantly. Some of my social feelings will creep out in songs that I
write, but I think writing blatantly about Ireland is very difficult, because it’s a very complex issue and you’re either very good at it, or you’re not. I mean, I’ll discuss politics with somebody all night. I might write a song that’s blatantly about Ireland, but at the moment, I’ll wait until I have something positive to say. But basically, you write as an international human being.

I generally sit down and try and write a Rory Gallagher song, which generally happens to be quite bluesy, most of them I try to find different issues, and different themes and different topics that haven’t been covered before. And then on some songs, for instance on “Ghost Blues,” on the new album, that could have been written 30 years ago; it’s very traditional, almost like a Rev. Robert Wilkens type of songs like a redemption blues.

And then, songs like “Heaven’s Gate” have a kind of spooky feeling, sort of like “Hellhound On My Trail,” where a man’s been through a certain amount of torment .“Kid Gloves,” based on the John Garfield movie, Body and Soul, has more of rock type feel.

But in general, I try and find anything but the moon in June and the standard type of blues songs, the clichés. I find it a challenge. I’ve done songs in all the different styles, you know, train blues, and drinking blues and economic blues.

But I try to find a slightly different angle on all these things. The music can be very traditional, but you can sort of creep into the future with the lyrics.

Goldmine: All of your old albums are in the process of being reissued here in the States with the lyric sheets included.

Rory Gallagher: Yeah, all lyric sheets. Some will even have the odd extra track or some will have been enhanced, EQ-wise or some will be re-mixed. Most of them have already been re-released in Europe, with the exception of Deuce and Photo-Finish, those are the two I’m going to work on when I get back.

Goldmine: So when can we expect these in the States?

Rory Gallagher: I’d say all of them will be out within the next two years.

Goldmine: What was it like working with the Rolling Stones in Amsterdam in 1974? Obviously, they knew of you from around London. And also, do you feel the Stones lost their soul when they lost ( Stone’s founder) Brian Jones?

Rory Gallagher: Well, they lost someone special when they lost Brian, there’s no doubt about that, because on one hand, he was a real blues purist, and the first slide guitar player I ever saw. But then, he would take an average-to-good Jagger-Richards song and add marimbas or sitar or dulcimer or something, and he’d transform their songs into something else. Unfortunately, it seemed he lost interest in playing guitar with Keith Richards, as things got worse for him. But then, Mick Taylor was a great replacement and certainly a very strong lead guitar player. But, when Brian went, some of the mystical things crept out of it and they went into a new zone, obviously.

I just went to Rotterdam for three nights, they had shown interest in signing me to their label, but I was already signed up with Atlantic here and Polydor and so on.

They telephoned, would I come over so I went over and played with them for couple of nights with their mobile unit, just ran through some songs. But because Mick Taylor had gone, they also had Beck over at one point, and a couple of others – Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel
—but I couldn’t stick around, cause I had tours to do. But it was interesting working with them, particularly because it’s a slow process; they work maybe just drums and rhythm guitar, maybe for two hours on the same riff and adding a little bit of lead and the bass comes in. They don’t rush themselves, they don’t go in with ever written down, from what I saw, anyway.

Goldmine: By that point, financial considerations were not an issue for them in recording.

Rory Gallagher: The mobile unit was their own property. The place they were recording was a big orchestra rehearsal room, next to where the symphony orchestra was, and it was peculiar. I think they got that for a very good deal, I’m sure.

Goldmine: What was the mid-to-late 1960’s London club scene like, and where could bands play’?

Rory Gallagher: Well, the Marquee was one of the main places and on a night you could see the Yardbirds supported by some other important group. I mean I saw the Spencer Davis Group there. I saw the Who there. The other clubs you could play included the Ricky-Tick, the 100 Club on Oxford Street, down in Richmond, the Tennis club the Yardbirds would play, tons of places, and lots of college gigs as well, and lots of pubs.

Goldmine: And all of these people were very much into American blues.

Rory Gallagher: Most of them, really. Also, a lot of bands were into soul music, and of course there was a thriving folk scene: at that point there was a peak of talent in people like Davey Graham, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch and so on.

So, there was a lot of cross-playing: you had bands like the Incredible String Band, and bands that didn’t fit into the blues category bands like the Nice that were doing organ type of classical rock or whatever you’d call it, and bands like Family and King Crimson later on. Quite a lot of experimentation going on, but the majority of the bands had quite a blues thing going on.

Goldmine: Was there enough work to go around then?

Rory Gallagher: Well, depending on how lucky you were and how popular you were. There’s always a shortage of work, musicians will tell you, but at least there was a circuit and if you were lucky to get on the circuit, you could play the same clubs up the country to Scotland and occasional trips to Belgium and so on. If you were lucky, you could do quite reasonably well.

Goldmine: In your performances, you sort of tread a tightrope between satisfying the academics, the purists, the traditional types, the Brian Joneses, if you will, while at the same time trying to satisfy the people who just want to come in and have a good time, which, I guess there are a lot of here in America.

Rory Gallagher: Well, I’m delighted if some members of the audience have some knowledge of the blues, but if, at the same time, the audience gets a little bit rowdy and rocky, I’m not going to say, “Hey, everyone back in their seats, the Professor speaks!”

Anyone with any brains can see I know where this music comes from and I can adapt it, and I also write my own songs.

But if there was one fault with the British blues boom in the 1960s, it is that it was very straight-faced and very pontificatory, or whatever the word is. It used to annoy me that ‘Thou shalt not play the blues unless you know who played second acoustic guitar behind first Sonny Boy Williamson on the B-side of.’ That kind of thing gets music nowhere. It’s like collecting stamps. I mean I buy books on the blues and I check out the B-sides, and I know who plays on what records, and that’s fine, but I mean, then you’ve got to open that up to the rest of the people. Because, that kind of snobbery, defeats the purpose, it kills the music.

Goldmine: So, if the crowd is getting rowdy you just continue the flow, as it were.

Rory Gallagher: Well, we never end a show on a low note. In any one set, we do a couple of slow blues, a couple of rockers, a couple of songs that are in between somewhere and we try to end the night on a good high feeling. But it’s very bad to get analytical about what you do, because every gig is different. We don’t even use a set list; we change the set every night.

Goldmine: Recording-wise, and performance-wise which of your albums are most happy with?

Rory Gallagher: Well, I quite like Tattoo, it had a nice feel to it. Against The Grain was quite nicely put together. Every album there are songs that I like and some that I would like to re-do and re-mix and all the usual. I quite like the new album, Fresh Evidence. I think that’s quite strong: I like a lot of Defender. Albums like Blueprint had very good songs, but we could have spent more time mixing them. Deuce, the same thing, it was recorded very quickly.

Goldmine: You strive for a natural sound?

Rory Gallagher: Well, with Fresh Evidence we did some overdubs: there was a section and keyboards on some tracks the overall feel of it should be that the performance is the priority as opposed to the production, and for the production not to get in the way, like some productions can. You can actually hear the thing as a piece of silver glass. I like things to sound a little bit demo-ish, you know? A little bit rough.

Goldmine: Of all the labels you’ve recorded with—Polydor, Chrysalis, Hallmark, Springboard—who would you say has treated you most professionally?

Rory Gallagher: Well, Springboard we took to court, ‘cause they had no right to put that album out: that was a long story. Hallmark is just kind of a budget label, so I don’t know much about them.

But we had a good time with both Polydor and Chrysalis over the years. Not too much pressure, and they got the job done.

GoIdmine: When did I.R.S. first express interest in signing you?

Rory Gallagher: Maybe in 1989. They were interested initially, at the time we were working on Defender, but because they were interested in the back catalog as well, it took a long time for everyone to shake hands on a deal. But [I.R.S. founder] Miles Copeland had a personal interest, and he thought what I did was good, and he wanted it on the label, and he doesn’t beat around the bush that much. So, unfortunately, we didn’t get it together in time for Defender, but we did get it together for Fresh Evidence. Fresh Evidence was released in England last May [1990], so it’s a bit back-dated, but by next year it’ll be all leveled out.

GoIdmine: I.R.S. has a roster of alternative rock bands and their stuff is bought by mostly a younger audience.

Rory Gallagher: Yeah. it’s a good challenge to have a new audience and not be judged on your past material. On this American tour, we’ve found a lot of people coming out who had just this [Fresh Evidence] album. To be honest with you, I didn’t quite know the entire image of I.R.S. from being in London. I mean, I knew the kind of acts they had to a certain extent, but from being here, I can see now what the image is. I hope I can fit on it, and it works out, but so far so good.

Goldmine: What are you recording next?

Rory Gallagher: There are three alternative projects: one could be a live album for this tour, the second one could be an acoustic album, which would be one side of blues and one side of folk, Celtic, experimental, or the third alternative is to follow up Fresh Evidence with a band type album. I don’t know which way I’ll move.

Goldmine: Have there been any particularly memorable, ground-breaking concerts for you? I guess we could back up to 1966 on this one. Was there a time where record company people came in and saw you. and were floored?

Rory Gallagher: One or two had already flown to Belfast and seen us playing. And then we played a couple of festivals in England. and we went over well, and then word got around. And then, we got a residency at the Marquee and we were playing every Tuesday night or something, that did us a lot of good. You can imagine, even four Tuesday nights on the trot, with full houses and a good reaction and record companies being very up at the time, it didn’t take too long. It took long enough getting the breaks. but once the ball started rolling, it was okay.

Goldmine: Like a lot of other performers, you regularly play to large festival crowds over in Europe, while over here, you’re sort of relegated to the clubs.

Rory Gallagher: Well, I wouldn’t call it relagated, that almost makes it sound second-level. Okay, we’re not playing Madison Square Garden, but we have done that with the Faces and people like that: we have played big venues on our own name. But I refuse to come back to the United States just to be opening for some space-rock act. To be playing 30 minutes with no monitors and things. So. it’s good to have that European strength, but I’ve never had the ambition to play those really big gigs anyway. I don’t worry about things like that, really. We’re quite proud of what we do and I think a lot of acts use the clubs and then they leave them. I still prefer to go to clubs to see bands myself.

Goldmine: Sure. because blues or rock or jazz music is being performed in its most natural setting.

Rory Gallagher: Sure, that’s right, you’re not looking through binoculars to see what someone’s doing from hundreds of feet away. I hope as things develop, we can do some bigger show’s if necessary.

This interview comes from the October 4, 1991 issue of Goldmine.
Thanks to Don and Laura for passing it along.
reformatted by roryfan

075 - Rory - still against the superstar grain by John Spain Interesting article/interview from the Dec.29,1978 issue of The Irish Press. Some interesting comments from the G-man!
Rory – still against the superstar grain

SIPPING from a glass of iced lemonade and looking a bit tired around the eyes, Rory Gallagher relaxed in his room in the Gresham yesterday afternoon. The previous night he had begun his current Irish tour with the first of four concerts in the Stadium and there was a small bit of a “party” afterwards to celebrate. Hence comes the tired eyes.

“After Dublin (Dec. 27, 28, 29 and 30) we go down to Cork (Dec. 31 and Jan. 1) and then we have a short break before the Belfast concerts (Jan. 2 3,4, 5 and 6). About half of them are sold out already, and to judge from last night’s audience, it should be a real cracker of a tour.”

Obviously, to do well at home is still important for Rory, the former Fontana Showband guitarist from Cork, who has become one of the great international rock guitarists with a reputation to rival Clapton’s. He likes to spend Christmas in Cork and his annual Christmas concerts here, are by now, a traditional part of the festivities for Irish rock fans.

“It’s not a nostalgic thing— just because I’m Irish — although, of course, that’s part of it. But the real reason I come home to play regularly is that the audiences are great and I value the reaction I get from them.”

Rory is now approaching the end of an exhausting tour of 13 countries in little more than 12 weeks to introduce his new 3 piece line-up to the fans.

“I’ve gone back to just bass and drums because I wanted a more basic sound and to give myself more room; and anyway it was time for a change.”

His current tour has the kind of schedule that would reduce most musicians to a nervous wreck. But Rory seems to thrive on it: indeed he’s renowned among rock fans for always giving of his best at every concert even when he’s been on the road for weeks on end.

Born in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Rory was only two when his family moved to Cork.
(He still has a strong Cork accent, now as much a part of his down- to- earth image as his jeans and has 60’s style long hair.)

He went to several schools in Cork (mostly the North Mon ) and by the time he was 15 he was already a talented guitarist and a member of the Fontana Showband.. Formative influences he remembers listening to on the radio included Elvis and Chuck Berry and British skiffle – player, Lonnie Donegan, through whom he discovered the likes of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.

At the time, he didn’t have the money or the knowledge to buy blues records. “ I suppose I really got the taste for it through Lonnie Donegan who was doing some Leadbelly numbers and a few Guthrie songs. And from Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran it’s not that big a step,
through people like Ray Charles to discovering Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Elmore James.” Slowly he assimilated that love for the blues that still marks his playing.

” Although I decided myself to finish school, music was already the main thing in my life even then. It was often a case of arriving back in Cork with the Fontanas at 8 a.m., after playing the night before in Galway or somewhere, gulp-down my cornflakes and heading off to school.

“I remember it was like that when I was doing the Leaving. The night before the first exam we played in Lixnaw in Kerry and there I was in the van on the way home to Cork trying to sleep on top of the speakers.”

It was a good basic training for a life on the road and it’s stood to him ever since, even in these days when he’s globe trotting instead of traveling around Ireland. After the Fontanas, Rory formed the now legendary 3-man blues band, Taste, in 1966 and toured England and Germany supporting the likes of John Mayall and Cream.

Taste, before it broke up in 1970, had already established a huge following on the Continent for Rory and with his new Rory Gallagher 4-man band in the early 70’s he toured America, Japan and so on, becoming one of the most highly regarded rock guitarists in the world in the process.

Success has never changed him, however. To talk to him now, he is still the same quiet, unassuming, friendly character he always was. His lack of pretension and his refusal to indulge in the usual rock star posturings are part of the Gallagher image: on stage as off, the approach is workmanlike- he still wears demins at concerts and he always gives the fans their money’s worth.

He likes to play down the “Hardworking Rory” tag now, but the fact is that four or five years ago, when the big rock bands stopped touring- “they got aristocratic about meeting people”- Rory was still playing away all over Europe and the States. Now that touring ( by the Stones et al) is back in fashion, the fans remember Rory’s unselfishness.

He has done 13 extensive tours of America, the lst one just before he arrived here in Ireland for the current visit. In spite of all the years on the road, he still enjoys it- especially in the States where he can follow his love of the blues to his heart’s content.

” Most of our concerts in the States are in big theaters which close by midnight and that leaves plenty of time for us to go on to clubs. So I always look at the local papers, especially in the South, to see who’s on.

“I’ve often dropped into little clubs while we were touring in the South and found myself listening to some legend-for the price of a beer. I’ve jammed with Hound Dog Taylor in Chicago ( he’s dead since) and I’ve heard John Hammond and Albert King, Albert Collins and a host of others.”

One of the most satisfying points in his career came some years ago when Muddy Waters was making his “London Sessions” recordings and invited Rory to join him on the album.

“Some of the old bluesmen are a bit suspicious of young white guitarsits who are brought in on recording sessions. But Muddy was the warmest person you could meet: he used to hold up the sessions until I’d get back from wherever I’d be playing and then we’d jam into the small hours.

“I used to learn just from watching Muddy tuning up. It’s a dying art what the old bluesmen are doing because by the time it’s been filtered through rock it’s never quite the same.”

On the road Rory likes to avoid a set pattern, but he avoids the usual amusements of the rock fraternity, especially the drugs. “I won’t want to pontificate about it, but I just don’t take drugs. In fact in many ways, I don’t feel myself part of the rock world at all.”

And there are always the unexpected happenings that break the monotony of touring and give everybody a laugh, he says.

“For example, I remember the night we played Madison Square Garden in New York with the Faces in 1972 and halfway through the first number my amplifier went up in flames. The crowd went crazy assuming it was all part of the act, and when I smelled smoke and looked around, there were all theses stagehands spraying my equipment with fire extinguishers!”

In fact, Rory’s stage presentation is relatively low key. “We don’t go in for smoke bombs and the like, although we’re using more lighting now- but I don’t like the Cecil B. De Mille approach.”

His main ambition remains to crack the American charts. “We play to much bigger audiences over there than some people who get albums into the top ten. I like to think that it’s only a matter of time for me and that, like Bob Seger, for example, we’ll eventually break through on the charts.”

At the end of every tour, Rory likes to relax in his flat in Fulham in London, where he has lived for a good few years. ” I don’t have any relaxing hobbies- the way Bing had his golf- and, in fact, I usually relax by mending guitars and amps: my bedroom is full of them.”

“There are always a lot of mundane things that need to be done after a tour- clothes to be cleaned and equipment to be repaired. I see some movies and read a bit, but I’m never very far from the music. It’s a labour of love for me, ” he says.

This article comes from the Dec.29,1978 issue of The Irish Press, written by John Spain
Thanks to Declan doyle for sharing it
Reformatted by roryfan

076 - Guitarist Gallagher Ejected from Billboard Sept. 13,1980 A short one. Check it out!
Guitarist Gallagher Ejected
SYDNEY- Declaring it to be “the most disgusting incident of my 15 years on the road,” Irish rock guitarist Rory Gallagher and his band were ordered out of the Wrest Point Casino in the city of Hobart recently, capitol of the island state Tasmania.
Gallagher, who was staying at the Wrest Point Hotel, ventured into the casino after a sellout concert, dressed in corduroy jeans and a suit coat- the fullest extent of rock formality.

Security officers descended upon him in the casino bar and insisted that he was inappropriately dressed. He called for the manager, who reinforced the edict, abusing Gallagher and calling him an “obnoxious little bastard.”

The exceedingly gentle guitarist was so upset over the ejection that he flew out of Tasmania ahead of schedule and rested on the tropical Queensland coast.

The Gallagher tour was a success beyond expectations. Tumultuous receptions were extended at 11 SRO concerts, causing the guitarist to pledge a return in 1981. Radio has placed “Philby’ on high rotation, a single completely ignored on original release some months ago.

This article comes from the Sept. 13, 1980 issue of Billboard.
reformatted by roryfan

077 - Inaugural Rory Gallagher Memorial Lecture Marcus Connaughton's great 1995 lecture at the Cork School of Music.
Inaugural Rory Gallagher Memorial Lecture
Curtis Auditorium, Cork School of Music
Sunday 19th November 1995.

Good evening. I’m greatly touched and honoured to be asked to give this Inaugural Rory Gallagher lecture as part of the Regional Technical College Arts Fest.

When Rory was growing up as a young boy, like many of us of that generation, the only place to hear music was on the Radio. This meant many nights under the bedclothes with a torch. tuning the Wireless (because that is what we called it in those days!) to Radio Luxembourg or American Forces Network. There Rory was to hear and warm to the playing of Chuck Berry, early Elvis Presley, and closer to home, the wonderful skittle playing of Lonnie Donegan. Rory Gallagher was a warm spirited gentleman who sought out a form of Music which was to shape him and his career, and for his entire life he remained true to it. He adopted his own “duck walk’. He discovered Muddy Waters and Albert King by tuning to American Forces Network, this was the only exposure to this form of Music in Europe at that time. As was the case with many children of the 60’s he began by playing for the family with various of Roy Roger’s and Gene Autry’s songs. But of course he later developed, and as a 9 yr old got his first Guitar. But, it was at 15 he got the instrument which was to stay with him all his life. — a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster — which he bought for £100 back in 1961. I remember talking, on many occasions, to him about it, and he said he used to have a few battles with it, but, more often than not the Fender won out. And, the extraordinary thing there is the link, because there was a link. When I interviewed, on a few occasions when I met him, the legendary B.B.King. who unlike Rory. gave his Guitar a name. “Lucille” saved BB’s life on a few occasions. He was in a particularly horrific car crash, and only for the fact that he had “Lucille” in the car, the neck of the Guitar ended up rescuing him.

Really, if one talks about Rory, one is talking about the “First Real International Rock Star” that this country ever had, and, it’s very often forgotten. And, I sometimes feel, that there is a cultural imperialism in this country. that looks at people outside of Dublin as being less so. By virtue of the fact that he came from Cork, although born in Ballyshannon Co. Donegal. Cork adopted him. I’ve had the pleasure of living in this city for the past year and I’ve experienced, at first hand. how that can work! There is an emotion in this city that has a link with the Mississippi Delta and I’ll come to that in a moment.

I’m going to play you a few segments of music. The first piece is from the legendary Taste. But, before we hear that, I’d like to give you a piece from Guitar Player from 1990, all of 5 yrs ago written by Tom Wheeler where he defines the Blues, and there are many definitions over the years of the Blues.


“Blues is an affirmation of the spirit, a howl of pain, a bawdy punchline. a railing against injustice, a longing for peace and rest, a prayer for salvation, an ode to a homestead, a poem of regret. a boast of prowess. a family portrait. a celebration of love, a junkie’s lament, a documentary of a juke-joint stabbing. a tale of life lived on the highway. an open letter to God, or to Satan. Blues is subtle, brutal, ecstatic, mournful. It is music of the soil, of the street. of the heart. It is deceptively simple in structure. boundless in expressiveness. It’s Guitar music. by and large. from the ghostly acoustic wailings of Robert Johnson to the electrified shoot-outs of countless bar-room guitarslingers over a half century later.”

That’s the Blues. and for all his life Rory stayed true to that Blues.

My parents, when I was a young fellow, particularly my father, used say to me. “to thine own self be true”, using the Shakespearean quotation. Well, there is no question. I’m sure in my mind, and of those who followed Rory religiously over the years and followed his glittering career, that he was always true to that particular dictum. The first piece of music I’d like to play for you was certainly one of the first I heard, and I bought the album that this came from in “McHugh himself, a bike shop, under the bridge in Dublin’s Talbot Street. They used to do “on the up and at you”, which was a kind of Hire purchase. So. I bought a record player on Hire purchase. I convinced my mother that I needed a record player ,you know I was keen on music. And so, I bought 3 albums and amongst them was this Taste album and this is the opening track from it called “What’s going on?”

I think the first time I saw Taste was in the National Stadium in Dublin in 1969. But many of you here in Cork had had sneak previews, particularly with the original line-up of Eric Kitteringharn and Norman Dammery and then again when Rory expanded the band and changed the line-up. But there was one legendary club here in Cork that I have spoken to many of Rory’s fans about over the last number of years and that was the 006 Club in Leitrim Street, which was the “Cavern” I suppose for a lot of students and for a lot of fans. But my first memory of Rory was seeing him in the Stadium where he walked onto the stage with Charlie “Richie” McCracken on Bass and John Wilson on Drums and he was like a guitar-slinger! He had a Vox AC3O amp sifting on the side of the stage, he strapped that Guitar on, that Fender Stratocaster, the Sunburst, and tore into it! But he was a master of a whole lot of disciplines now. He had soaked up on a whole lot of different influences, and we come back to the Mississippi Delta. Because, the theme of tonight, if there is one, is to celebrate Rory’s musical life, because there is a lot to celebrate. He has left quite a legacy of music, his lyrics are quite poetic. I heard Deputy Lord Mayor Maureen Quill mention Seamus Heaney earlier and Rory certainly had a sense of poetry about him. But, his playing, the link between Muddy Waters and Rory may not seem an obvious one, but Muddy Waters was to have, I think, probably the deepest impression on Rory. He recorded with Muddy in ‘ 71 at the London Sessions. The album was released in ‘ 72, and appearing on that album you had people like Georgie Fame, Rick Grech from Blind Faith and Muddy himself, who was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. And Muddy Waters was the epitome of Blues men and because Muddy moved from the Mississippi Delta, born on the Stovall Plantation there, up to Chicago, to an urban environment, where he practiced his Blues and developed his Blues. But, he never lost touch with the Folk Blues, with the Acoustic Blues, and although he changed and framed Electric Guitar playing as far as the Blues was concerned, he also had a considerable influence on popular music as we know it today. Were it not for Muddy Waters the Rolling Stones would never have been called The Rolling Stones, because they took their name from Muddy. But the link between Muddy and Rory is considerable. As I say, the meeting that Rory had with him was to leave a lasting impression on him, an,. on the number of occasions on which I spoke with Rory, whether it was informally, or whether we were doing an interview together, Muddy’s name would always come up. And I have this particularly passionate view, and you may say it is a romantic one, but I also firmly believe that Rory held it, in the fact that, we are in the Delta here in Cork. this is Swamp-land. and whilst it may not be the Mississippi there is an abiding link with Cork. But, you might well say ”where was Rory’s Chicago?”, well, it ended up being London. So, therefore, he moved from the Delta of Cork, which shaped his music and all the kinds of influences, to London which became his Chicago.

Now, I’m not forgetting his Showband days, and many of you may well have felt that we would gloss over that because I really feel that there is a derisory attitude taken to the Showbands. Now, Rory being the non-conformist he was, would have seen the Showbands in a “tongue-in-cheek fashion. But the Fontana developed into the Impact by virtue of the fact that that was the natural chase of things in those days because the Fontana became, for all intents and purposes, a Beat-group, so they needed rather more accessible names, and that was the way it worked. But I know that Rory certainly found it very confining having to wear the buttoned jacket. In essence. Rory is also and was a fashion Icon, although he was a very unwilling one. Though it became something of a difficulty for him later on in life. He was the man who arrived out. whether it be every Christmas here in City Hall in Cork or, for that matter, in the Stadium in Dublin or in Kelly’s in Portrush, in those Plimsoles, the Jeans, the Check Shirt and the hand raised in the air and doing that Duck-walk across the stage!

He had that magnanimity and that effervescence that only goes with great Blues men, but he always stayed true to it. He was a self taught musician, like many of the great Blues players. And there is a great sense of irony, in fact, whilst Rory started off with a plastic Guitar from Woolworths many of the great Blues players started off with Cigar boxes. Because they would get a Cigar box and attach a long piece of wood, and I’m sure some of you may remember those old Pantry screens or Larder screens that used be out in the backyard, before the invention of fridges, and for those of you who don’t you missed out on something because there was real butter then! But they used get this wire and they used put it on the Cigar box and I remember talking to a Blues man from Florida – Sonny Rhodes – and he said to me. “I used cut my fingers to the bone, but my uncle, he used whoop me when he discovered where I took the wire from’. So. Rory had all of these kinds of connections.

As I say, I saw him first in ‘ 69 with Taste and during his solo career with a whole host of people. He was close to the music of Fleetwood Mac and, he was close to the music of John Mayall and his Blues breakers and to a whole host of other British Blues men, who I’ll come to in a moment. But, I think we should have another piece of music, and this was, without doubt, one of Rory’s sweetest pieces. He loved this particular piece and it was originally performed in an acoustic fashion by the legendary Muddy Waters. It’s called Can’t be satisfied” and it’s followed by a short piece of chat from Rory, where he introduces Blind-Boy Fuller’s “Pistol Slapper Blues”. Effortless playing there by Rory. And he particularly adored the playing of Big Bill Broonzy. Big Bill Broonzy. -“Banker’s Blues”. I think a lot of you will be familiar with. But, he had a huge knowledge of Acoustic Blues Players. whether it was the Slide playing of Tampa Red or Earl Zebedee Hooker. who was from Clarksdale in Mississippi where another famous resident – John Lee Hooker – came from. Rory soaked up. like many teenagers of that particular period, all these particular influences, and he especially went for the guys who played the real Blues, as far as Rory was concerned. So’ they went from Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake, Tampa Red and these guys were real, very proficient in their art and great players. They used say of Blind Blake, that he played in a number of keys and tunings and the phrase “the right hand like God” is often used to describe that technique. He recorded for the Paramount label and they used to call it “piano sounding Guitar”. But one of the people that is often left out of Blues. who is not often talked about, and certainly she was a huge influence on Rory’s playing, particularly when it came to Slide playing, was the legendary Memphis Minnie She was one of the first Blues players to use a National, back in 1929 and one of Rory’s proudest possessions was his brown 1930s National which he played in studio – that piece was recorded for “Blues Time” back in September 1992.

Now, I have a few more pieces to play for you, just two. But one of the things about Rory was the number of honours he received. Around the time of the Temple Bar Blues festival in ‘ 92, he was inducted into the Fender Hall of Fame. I know that he was deeply touched by that, because he had just seen James Burton, who is an Alumni of that august few, playing himself and he valued and really respected James as a player. But, I know that Rory was really touched because, as he said to me at the time, there were very few accolades that he felt he had achieved. He felt he had stayed close to what he had wanted to play, and this he always did, and never expected awards for staying true to the Blues.

He’s had a huge output of albums, right from the early days of Taste, right through the’ 70’s.

The ‘ 80’s were a fallow period, but the ‘ 80’s were a fallow period for all Blues players and for a lot of fine musicians, whether they be in the Blues or not, and that is often forgotten. We shouldn’t catagorise Rory just as a Blues player because he was a much broader player than that. He was a fine Rock Guitarist and was greatly respected by a lot of great Rock Guitarists. He played with the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis. He also worked and recorded with Albert King in Montreux. And, we come back again to Muddy Waters because he had a great affinity with Muddy. He was telling me one time that they used go up and do a gig and he’d jump in the car, and he still has the car, or at least the car is still around to this day. – a Ford Commodore – and he used jump into that and Muddy rode in that car with Rory and it was a very special thing to Rory to spend that kind of time with Muddy Waters.

Now, for those of you in the audience tonight who wouldn’t be familiar with Muddy Waters, he is. or was, certainly the essence of the Blues. But he was a Buddha like man, he had an extraordinary presence about him. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing him in, I think it was, the late’ 70’s in the Aula Max in Earisfort Terrace and I had an argument with my father before I went to it because, I was dying with the flu and it was a real case of “you are not going to that. I don’t care who he is. I never heard of Muddy Waters. You are into all this strange music, it’s a pity you wouldn’t get on with your studies”. But I never got on with my studies because my passion and I feel greatly honoured, as I said at the outset tonight, to be giving this talk because, my passion was music, my passion is the Blues and always will be and Rory stuck true to that dictum from the minute he picked up the Guitar. But he was also open to a whole lot of other forms of music. He worked with the Dubliners and when he worked with the Dubliners playing “Barley and Grape Rag”, he was quite phased by it. But, what he didn’t realise was that they were also phased by it! They were greatly flattered by and honoured to have a player like Rory in their midst. He also worked with Davy Spillane, with Phil Coulter and a whole host of others, and I don’t want to leave people out, because there are a whole lot of people. Rory had, in terms of music, an extended family which is very symptomatic of Blues music. But, it’s also symptomatic of great music, it doesn’t matter if it’s Blues. He played from here (heart) (sic) and he never forgot that. And if there is anything that brought me to his music, in the first place and probably brought a lot of you to his music, it was the fact that he played from his heart. He had a spirit and he never lost that spirit, and he played with that spirit in mind. So he had guys like Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O’Neil who were in the band for a long time and who worked so closely with him and who were greatly shattered, obviously, at his passing. He also had some other fine Drummers, like Wilgar Campbell and Rod De’Ath. He had his long term side-man, piano player Lou Martin, who played at the R.T.C. when that gig happened in November 1993, it was yesterday 2yrs ago. Lou is a really good guy and really close to Rory and Mark Feltham. who is the recent member of the extended family and a greatly cherished friend. But there are other guys who were there, obviously going right back to his days here in Cork City. People like. Tom O’Driscoll. Joe O’Herlihy. Phil McDonnell. John Earle and his lifelong pal and a genuine good egg -Johnny Campbell. And, somebody said to me the other day when they heard that I was giving this talk, they said “but, like Rory was one of our own. In fact, if he was home and wasn’t out touring, you would pass Rory on the street and you wouldn’t necessarily say hello to him”. But, he respected that because he was being left to his own. Rory was a very private man and that is the way it should be. There is no room, and shouldn’t necessarily be an accolade, for brashness. Brashness does not signify talent. Dignity is always the essence, and if there is anything one could say about Rory it is the fact that he had great dignity.

I want to play you a piece of music now. One of the men that Rory particularly respected was the great Blues man, Alexis Korner. And Alexis, in his own way, brought a whole lot of people into English Blues, but also brought Rory into a whole circle of Blues players and was very. very instrumental in affecting and shaping the way Blues goes on and the way people listen to the music. You have to remember that a lot of these records and artists weren’t easily accessible, and, in fact, when I first came to Cork, I met a guy and I have to apologise he may well be in the
audience tonight. But he told me that there was a time when, if you were down at the 006 Club in
Leitrim Street, you would stand with a John Mayall album hoping that someone would come up
and talk to you, on the basis that they might have one or for that matter it could be Peter Green’s
Fleetwood Mac, the one with the dustbin lid in the front of it! So, there was this kind of thing going on. We forget that an awful lot of connections with music in those days were by word of mouth. There was nowhere to hear it, and I have to say, that whilst I work for the august organization I work for, I am quite appalled by the fact that you don’t hear Rory’s music on the airwaves in this – his own – country. In fact it’s a crying shame. But I am not here tonight to be controversial, and certainly Rory wouldn’t thank me for that and I have no intention of doing that, but I just had to say that it is a shame. The next piece was taken from an album called “Fresh Evidence”, which Rory recorded in 1990. And, when I spoke to him after the R.T.C. gig, out at the campus all of 2yrs ago, we sat chatting in Jury’s until the small hours, myself and himself and Lou Martin, and we were recounting some of the great Blues players. And, I did an interview with Rory the following day, at around lunchtime – it was a kind of time that suited us both! But the thing is that we didn’t overdo it. There is this myth that goes around; Rory never played in, he never went in that “fast lane”, and I think that there has been a lot of speculation, and very poor speculation, in the media about the fact that Rory played the Rock Star. He was never that man. He was far too dignified to go down that particular road, and it should be said, because I don’t think it has been heard often enough.

This is a piece from Rory, taken from “Fresh Evidence”, “Alexis”, his tribute to the man. Now, the
thing about Alexis Korner was that Rory loved his playing, but as I already said, he also played
with a whole host of other fine musicians. There are a number of musicians whom one wouldn’t
necessary think of as listening to Rory’s music, or enjoying his music. But what one has to realise is that he had that generosity of spirit and strength to his playing that no matter what background a musician came from one could spot it straight away, whether on the Fender Stratocaster, or the Fender Telecaster, or for that matter on one of his acoustic Guitars. He was a very fine “Bottleneck” player, and really loved playing it.

There are two pieces I would like to avert to now. Donal, his brother and manager; was saying to
me earlier that the family was greatly touched by many of the lovely tributes they got from various people, from some of his fans from all over the globe. And I think that that is one thing that is often forgotten is that Rory had a global presence. He was loved in Germany and Japan. He was loved in Eurasia, down around Auckland in New Zealand, in Australia and right throughout the U.S.A. And, in the U.S. they are about to, or have already released an album called “A Blue Day for the Blues”, which is a compilation of Rory’s work.

But, I saw Rory after the Taste gig in 1973 at the Reading Festival where he had the distinction,
at the National Jazz and Blues Festival, of being the one person, the one outfit, who played it the
most times. That Festival is still going today, although it is now a Heavy Metal Festival. But Rory played that Festival on the opening night on the 24th August 1973, and I’ll never forget his version of “Hands Off”. My parents weren’t too sure what the circumstances of my traveling to Reading were! I hitched in a horsebox with a man from Dorset and I hadn’t a clue what he was saying, but he got us to Reading. Well, I think he got us to a racecourse near Reading, and so we got there for the weekend! And there were loads of arguments about pitching the tent but that all went with it! So long as we got there to see Rory, and I know that at there are an awful lot of people, not alone in the audience tonight but all around the country and all over Europe who went to the same lengths to see somebody like Rory because it was a very special part of their lives. For a lot of us he shaped us, he carved our appreciation of particular forms of music in various ways. One of the pieces I should like to read for you, if I may, is a letter I got from a guy who works with Concern out in Mozambique. And, I suppose the great pleasure I had in doing “Blues Time” on Radio, for the 3 1/2yrs that I did it was the connection that it gave me with Blues fans similar to myself. We are of a similar disposition; we enjoy Good music. He said, “It’s now a few weeks since I learned, with great sadness, of the death of Rory Gallagher. Rory’s “Live! in Europe” was one of the first albums I bought as a teenager and he remained a firm favourite of mine from then on. I saw him perform countess times in the seventies when I still lived in England, and every new Rory album was always a treat. After a number of years living in various countries around the world, I moved to Donegal in June 1990, (- at around the time “Blues Time” started on RTE1, I believe). I spent many an hour working while listening to the show – I always taped it religiously to last me until the following week. ( I even won the Blues Time prize once!). I still have many of the tapes and brought them with me to Mozambique – in fact I am listening to one this evening, which is what prompted me to write to you. I don’t know why, but it seems very hard to believe that Rory is dead – I suppose we expect blues players to go on forever, or at least to reach a ripe old age. Like thousands of others I didn’t know him personally or ever meet him, but I think a large factor in Rory’s popularity was the perception that he was a really nice, no frills, down to earth bloke who put it all into his music – and that some of the best blues music by any standard. The start of one concert at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall – a teasing, tantalising repetition of the opening riff of “Messin’ with the kid” – will stay in the memory forever.”

That’s from a guy called Nick Cavan-North who works in Mozambique with Concern. There have been many beautiful tributes paid to Rory, but the one thing the should be the theme of tonight’s talk is the fact that Rory always encouraged people. If young guys came up to him with a guitar and said, “Look, how do you do such and such, how do you make that work?”, he would always sit down with them, he always had time, an openness, a generosity of spirit which an awful lot of the time should be there, but with others isn’t. He also was one to encourage, and I think as a nation, never mind as a city like Cork because I actually think that this is endemic to this city, anyway it works in this city. But it doesn’t necessarily work in the rest of the country. So, you can tell, I’m only living here a year and it’s working already!! But the essence of it is that we need to encourage, as a nation we need to. If somebody makes the makes the effort, they don’t have to be brash doing it, we need to tell them that they are doing a good job, and that has to go through a whole lot of areas of life. Because as a nation we have no right to say we can’t do it right unless we sit down with people and say to them “yes, you are doing a good job” and pat somebody on the back. If they are not doing it right, give them constructive criticism because that was the essence of Rory. He always held that spirit, they call it in Crete – “kefi”-, they call it different things in different countries, but to Rory it was the essence of him, he was always true to the Blues.

There are two other pieces I would like to read for you before I finish this evening, and we will
then follow with some footage of Rory from “The Old Grey Whistle Test”. The first is from a fan of his I met about a fortnight ago, well it’s less than that on Wednesday 8th November at a Memorial Service that the family organized in London in the London Oratory on Brompton Road. During the Cold War the Oratory was used by spies as a “dead letter” drop site, and Rory held a great affinity with the Bromptom Oratory, seeing as he was such a keen fan of the writer Dashiell Hammett and the whole area of espionage. He included in his repertoire a dedication to Hammett; – “Continental Op”, and “Philby” to spymaster Kim Philby. And, one of the remarkable things about that day was that you had many Guitarists, many musicians, coming to pay their tributes, who didn’t have an opportunity to come to the funeral here in Cork. It was particularly touching to see some of the lesser known guys there, also somebody like Peter Green who Rory would have held in great regard. But also I got an opportunity to speak with Peter Green. Now many of you know that Pete has been through the mill, and he is a rather fragile individual but a lovely man, a lovely gentle spirit, and he was somebody who held Rory in great respect. Bob Geldof has said that as a 14yr old would not have been the same without Rory Gallagher. Because, Rory inspired an awful lot of us, whether we were 13 or 14 or older, to stand in front of the wardrobe mirror with a tennis racket and try to play the Blues!! And, believe you me, we need that because live music must be kept going, because it is the essence of us. As a nation we have the ability to brighten peoples hearts and we must never lose touch with that particular spirit. There is another fan of his, who traveled all the way from Vacaville in California, who is originally from Tipperary, and he said that as a 14yr old he jumped out of his boarding school and headed on the road to Dublin. He hitch-hiked on January first concert, and my God, what concert. The mood of the audience was incredible, something I will never forget. The greatest things that happened in my close association to Rory’s music were the great lessons learned”. He says, “he was true to himself, that was Rory. You can be humble and great there are no shortcuts, and nice guys do finish first” That is from Patrick Kennedy.

There is one final piece I would like to read as you, if I may, and it, to a large extent sums up the
generosity of spirit that was Rory. His music lives on, as I said, there is a huge legacy of his
material there, and I apologize if tonight I have overlooked any particular areas in this talk tonight which I have called “Etched in The Blues” because the man was etched in the Blues. But words from someone who showed up at his funeral here in Cork and I met him a the Church, and that was Martin Carthy. Now, Martin Carthy is not a name you would automatically associate with Rory, but Martin, a wonderful traditional folk singer who is held in high regard, and he and Rory were kindred spirits. And Martin, if I may quote, sent a lovely tribute to the Gallagher family -“Words, like fire, passion, friendliness, openness, these are all words which apply. He was an open book. But one word, and one word only, can apply it seems to the person who makes life worthwhile by example, who loves his trade and the people who play it and one who tells them so. Who makes his peers feel good by his simple presence. Rory Gallagher graced music as he graced humanity. The word is Grace.”

My name is Marcus Connaughton. Rory Gallagher – born on the 2nd of March 1948, he passed on to the great Blues house in the sky on the 14th of June 1995.

Thanks to Annet and Klass Spijker for passing this lecture along, and to Marcus for granting permission to post it.
reformatted by roryfan

078 - POWER TOOLS sound advise PURE GENIUS by Phil Alexander. Rory discusses guitars and equipment. From RAW magazine 11/88
by Phil Alexander
“O F COURSE I can still remember my first guitar!” beams the man. “It was a Rosetti Solid Seven, and I’ve still got it tucked away somewhere at home back in Ireland.”

Rory Gallagher is a self-confessed guitar enthusiast pure and simple. I mean, the man probably sweats Fast-Fret (a fluid used by guitarists on the fretboard as a lubricant. Its purpose is to increase their speed of play) and the thought of him possibly forgetting about the first guitar he ever owned is swiftly dismissed to the realms of the unthinkable!

“After the Rosetti, I had a Hofner Colorama that was on loan to me, but my first proper model was the Strat,” continues Rory. “I was mad about it because I was a big Buddy Holly fan at the time, and to have a guitar similar to his was quite a big thing for a 12-year-old kid.”

Ah yes, that famous Strat, the man’s trademark for so many years along with these checked shirts. The shirts may have ceased some time ago to be part of the Rory stage persona, but the Strat most definitely remains.

“Yes, I still tend to use my Strat most of the time, although I’ve had to have everything on the guitar re-done because I’ve played it out. I have a ‘57 Strat as prime back up (note: Rory’s original Stratocaster is a ‘61 model). Actually, I’m starting to use the ‘57 model a lot more these days because it allows me to be a bit more precise.

“On stage I also use my white Telecaster and a Gretsch Corvette for open tuning. In addition, I possess a Gibson Melody Maker for chunkier numbers, but when I’m on the road, I like to limit myself to three or four guitars rather than hawk a whole bunch around.

“When it comes to amps I tend to vary things about every six months. I started with a Vox AC30 combo, and that model is still in my set-up, but I go through different phases when it comes to the other amps I use. At the moment, though, I’m still using my Vox AC30 with a Vox 50-watt combo as my third amp. My second amp is a 4 x 12 Marshall speaker cabinet with a converted 100-watt bass amp, on loan from Gerry McAvoy (Rory’s longstanding bass player). I really only use the Marshall to give my sound some body because I usually hear myself through the Vox for the most part.”

Reknowned as a no-frills, straightahead player, Rory Gallagher is not perhaps someone whom one would readily associate with the vast amount of guitar gadgetry available on the market these days. So, what does the man swear by, to enhance that raw, Strat-a-Voxian sound?

“Gadget-wise, I have a D.O.D. Analog delay, which is just a real old-fashioned thing with three knobs on. I also have a little booster on the Vox because I don’t use the ‘brilliant’ input on the Vox amp, I just use the ‘normal’ input.

“I also have some gadgets out front, although I’m still very wary of them. I’d say that 95 per cent of the time I play straight through the amps. I do have a Boss Octave unit, which is nice even for slide work. I also use a Dynacomp sound compressor, that is on almost all the time, to cater for the long guitar lead wire that I use; this acts as a signal booster as much as anything else.

“I also use an old Ibanez Tube Screamer (distortion pedal) for my more manic solos, but it tends to he more of a tone booster rather than a fuzz unit. My last bit of equipment is a Boss Flanger, used very rarely to pad things out in a couple of places.”

In these troubled days of Aciiid, sampling and MIDI-technology Rory Gallagher almost appears as a crusading rock ‘n’ roll purist, refusing to sacrifice a feel and tone that he has spent nigh on 20 years perfecting in favour of a more commercially attractive alternative. But would the man consider using new technology in the manner that, say, ZZ Top have done, for instance?

“‘Actually, ZZ Top supported us out in the States years ago, and they were a very basic outfit back then. When it comes to their more modern stuff, I think they peaked in technological terms on the ‘Eliminator’ album; ‘Afterburner’ really isn’t all that good. I think that there’s a limit to what you can do with MIDI stuff and sampling. ZZ, I suspect, would now want to try and come back down the road and steer away from their almost Blondie-like beat overlayed with heavy guitars.

“When it comes to electronics, I tend to prefer the early things that guitarist John Martyn did with echo, or listening to stuff like German band Kraftwerk, but when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll or blues you have to be very careful. At the moment, I’m at the opposite end of the scale, and we may even go back to just using a four-track studio set-up on the next album, depending on the engineer we use. Technology, for me, has to be held at arm’s length.”

Thanks to Annet & Klaas Spijker for passing this article along.
From RAW Magazine November 1988.
reformatted by roryfan

079 - Why we won't let Rory be forgotten by Mark McClelland. Two interesting articles from the June 13,2000 issue of Ireland's Evening Echo. Good reading.
Why we won’t let Rory be forgotten
by Mark McClelland

“Apart from the fact that he was a great player, the most noticeable thing about Rory was that he never compromised himself musically in any way. There was just so much respect from everyone when he died. He earned that because of the uncompromising way he played.”
Gary Moore

DONAL Gallagher believes his brother, Rory, is still around, watching over his music and making sure it is still recorded how he wants it.
With the fifth anniversary of Rory Gallagher’s death being commemorated tomorrow, Donal tells one poignant story to sum up his belief.

A year after Rory’s death, from a complication following a liver transplant, Donal was in a studio overseeing the remastering of his brother’s music for CD release.

Rory, who was born in Donegal, but raised in Cork as his family moved there soon after his birth, hadn’t wanted to release much of his music on CD until it had been remastered. He never got round to it, so, after his death, the task fell to Donal, who admits it was painful.

However, he says: “Time’s a great healer and I listen to his music all the time. He’s my favourite artist.”

The entire back catalogue was completed last March with the remixing sessions taking place in 1996. One of the engineers had been brought in by Donal because he was one of Rory’s original engineers. Donal didn’t have a problem when the man decided to record the mix in a different way to how Rory would have done it.

Taking up the story, Donal say s “ Because he had worked with Rory so much, I indulged him. But during the mixing, the mixing desk, which was world class quality, developed a fault which had never happened before.

“The engineers couldn’t work out what was wrong with it, even when they examined it afterwards. One of the guys remarked that maybe Rory didn’t want the music mixed this way, so we altered the mix to how Rory would have preferred it. After that, the problem went away and didn’t occur again.”

Donal won’t say exactly how Rory could have influenced things, but offers: “He was always very strongly opinionated about his music and this incident seemed natural because he was a very spiritual person.

“If he had the power to do this, he would have done it. I don’t want to say how but I’m sure he had something to do with it.”

Nothing could have deterred Donal from working on his brother’s behalf.

Even now, he is working on a DVD recording of a documentary of an Irish tour Rory took between 1973 and 1974.

Far from seeing the work as an ordeal he says: “I feel privileged to have this wonderful legacy of him. I’ve got recordings of him, both visually and audially, going right back to him at nine years old in Cork. It’s like having a CD ROM of his life. It would be nice to be able to write a different ending though.”

At the same time, Donal and his family appreciates their good fortune: “Not many people have as much as we do to remember their loved ones by.”

Although Donal listens to his brother’s music, he says there is no particular time or occasion when he plays it. “I put it on all the time without thinking about it. I listen to his music now as a fan as much as his brother.”

And he feels lucky that he has more than a fan’s insight into the songs. “I know many of the circumstances in which they were written, what he was thinking and what influenced the lyrics.”

It is these thoughts that Donal misses most, saying the two of them shared a telepathic understanding.

“We all used to have in depth family conversations and he could sum up a situation in one word. I miss that. I miss the understanding.”

But he also misses how Rory made him feel: “He was such a strong person that you felt you could defeat the world with him around. You felt as though you were in the front line of life with someone like him.”

When it is suggested that Rory might have thought the same about Donal, the modest, self deprecating reply could have come from the guitar maestro himself.

“I don’t know. Perhaps without me he would have been even bigger. But life is full of luck and co-incidence.”

Donal also speculates how his brother would have continued to grow professionally had he lived. Rory always spoke of his dream of continuing into his 60’s and Donal is certain he still had plenty left to give.

“It’s a very good debate how he would have developed, but I know he had more ideas of what to do with his music. It’s a shame that he didn’t get the chance to try them out.”
There is also an argument, which can go for any artist who dies early, that Rory’s legend has increased with his death.

While Donal acknowledges that possibility, he says: “It’s no consolation to anyone to say he’s getting more success now, but I do feel happy that he lived a full life, even though he died young.

“He packed more into his 47 years than other people would if they lived to 100. He’d been round the world several times before most people had got out of bed.”

One of the comforts Donal has got out of Rory’s death is discovering exactly how much his brother meant. But even that is tinged with a little bitterness as he explains.

“There’s a lot of people, since his death, who have come out and said how much he influenced them and I’m proud of that. But it would have been nice if they could have done that while he was alive.”

Then, begrudgingly understanding their sentiments, he adds: “I suppose there’s no competition from him now he’s dead.”

Donal also feels intensely proud now with all the memorials which have sprung up in his brother’s name. Of course, Cork has Rory Gallagher Place, and a sculpture dedicated to him.
In addition, Crowley Music Centre on McCurtain Street, where Rory bought his first guitar — a 1961 Sunburst Stratocaster and thought to be the first Stratocaster in Ireland —has a plaque outside the shop remembering him.

Even outside Ireland he is remembered. Paris has a street named after him, Lille has a week named after him, and there’s talk of some kind of memorial in London.

And this week, Ballyshannon hospital, where he was born, unveiled a plaque in his name.
Donal, ever the proud brother, was there, and wishes Rory could see how much people are remembering him and honouring him now.

However, he says: “I’m more proud of it than he would have been, I always felt I was more proud of his achievements than he was.

“But I’m sure, in his own way, Rory knows exactly what is going on and sees everything and is very happy about it.”

If Donal always had beliefs about the dead watching over the living, you could say they were strengthened one day in a recording studio.

Pub regulars mistook me for my star brother
RORY GALLAGHER was famously shy and sometimes took advantage of looking like his brother, as Donal recalls.
“One night I was in a bar and some people came up to me saying my brother had been in the night before. I didn’t know, but he’d passed himself off as me so that he could have a night off. So when I walked in, they assumed I was Rory.”

Despite Donal’s insistence that he wasn’t the great Rory Gallagher, the group wouldn’t listen, and invited him along to a christening.

“There was no telling them I wasn’t Rory so I went to the christening, and everything was fine until someone produced a guitar.”

It was at this point that Donal decided it was time to leave.

“I wasn’t so concerned they’d discover I wasn’t Rory because I’d already told them that so many times.

“What I was more worried about was that after l’d played, they would go away thinking how badly Rory had performed for them.”

Thinking quickly, Donal said he had to go to the toilet before he could play anything. His new found friends never saw him again.

These articles come from the Ireland’s Evening Echo, June 13, 2000.
reformatted by roryfan

080 - Flying Back to the Blues with Rory Gallagher by Chris Welch A 1990 article from Metal Hammer. Rory discusses his career and the music business.
by Chris Welch
Among the great British guitar giants, there are, men with powerful egos, possessed of erratic genius. Then there is Rory Gallagher. And here is a modest, gentle man who has proved to be more consistent and has stayed closer to his roots than any of them. Rory has always been a people’s guitarist, but that unassuming side of his nature has never prevented him from turning into a lion of a player once he gets out there on stage. He’s been winning over audiences for some twenty years now, and deserves respect and recognition for an illustrious career that has been devoted to playing passionate, down to earth music.

It wasn’t just the speed and intensity with which he played the blues that endeared him to fans when he first emerged from Ireland in the late Sixties. There was an appealing simplicity about his desire to play his level best for the crowds, to keep the music flowing, and there was also that innate feeling, sometimes melancholic, sometimes joyful inherent in all Irish music, that makes you wonder if the blues didn’t start in Ireland. It could well be that their folk music was as much an influence on the original Black American blues men as what came out of Africa.
Certainly Rory, born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, on March 2,1948, has always been aware of the origins of rock music. Like so many of his generation he was greatly influenced by Lonnie Donegan, the man who in the mid Fifties achieved enormous popular success when he revived the spirit of skiffle and blues. Without Donegan there would have been no Beatles, and probably no rock scene as we know it. Rory pays tribute to the way Donegan sparked off a great outburst of musical enterprise with the ‘Fifties skiffle boom.

Rory began his career playing in Irish showbands from the age of 15, and later took the- Beatles’ road to Hamburg where he gained hard won experience before moving to England in 1969. His first band, Taste, were signed to Polydor and the energetic trio soon won hugely enthusiastic audience reactions, as they toured heavily and released a brace of albums.

The original line up consisted of Rory (vocals, guitar), John Wilson (drums), and Charlie McCracken (bass). After their initial success there was internal dissent and Taste also had problems with their management. It was a period that is still painful for Rory to recall even today, (he is now managed by his brother Donald). Rory then reformed a trio under his own name with Wilgar Campbell on drums, and Gerry McAvoy on bass guitar, who is still with him today. The new trio was even more popular and toured extensively in America. A highlight of their recording career came with the live album ‘Irish Tour ‘74’.

But let’s hear the story from the man with the Fender Strat, the check shirt and harmonica harness, himself.

“I’ve just released my fourteenth album, ‘Fresh Evidence’ (Capo). On the latest album we used 24 tracks, but I must admit we by-passed a lot of the new technology A lot of musicians I admire have fallen into the trap of letting the machines do the work. The first Taste album in 1969 was recorded on eight track which was then regarded as revolutionary and started off my career as a lone acoustic player – at the age of nine. I came from a musical family and started off playing skiffle. Then came rock’n’roll followed by the acoustic blues, thanks to Lonnie Donegan. I discovered Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Reed. But growing up as a kid of course, I was aware of Elvis, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry. But Lonnie was my hero for years and I still respect him. The sad thing is Lonnie has been overlooked really. He moved to America and pops up on TV occasionally, but usually in cabaret.” Rory recorded an album with Donegan in the Seventies, but hopes start on another project with him.

“The last one was over produced with singers and keyboards. I’d just like to make a skiffle and blues album with him using a washboard and a double bass and a couple of guitars!.”

Rory was 14 when he got his first band together. ”It was frustrating in Ireland then because you couldn’t get a rhythm and blues band together. So I just joined a showband for a couple of years which was fun on one level, but you had to do material you didn’t like”

The Fontana Show Band allowed him to do a couple of Chuck Berry numbers, but eventually the rhythm section and Rory broke away and formed the first version of Taste. While he was with the Fontana he had his first experience of touring in Germany and Spain and even came to England in 1964. Then Taste developed in Cork before moving on to Belfast.

They came to England in 1968, and after playing various Marquee and other London club gigs began to win a dedicated following. Every looked fine, except Rory wasn’t happy with business affairs and like so many of his young contemporaries, felt he was being ripped off.

“Because we could get four or five gigs a week in club, we felt we were in such a special, privileged position- we’d do it for nothing! You’d sign anything put in front of you, just to get a record deal. It was a shame people in the music business were so devious really because there was no need for it.”

Rory was a self taught guitarist although he got music books out of the library and tried to enroll in the Cork School of Music. “But they wouldn’t take me in because the only course they had was for classical guitar and that didn’t appeal to me. So I taught myself from skiffle books and looked at pictures of guitarists to see how they put their hands on the instrument. I taught myself in exile really, which I don’t regret. I do wish I had some flamenco lessons however because at this late stage I’m a frustrated flamenco player”

Rory has a great turn of speed when he gets on a roll, but that’s not something he is especially concerned about. “I had to work fast because in my first bands we didn’t have a rhythm guitar player and I had to play lead and rhythm at the same time. My favourite players of the time were Mick Green of the Pirates, Griff Griffiths of the Big Three from Liverpool who were superb players and could play a concise solo within a few bars, and they influenced me at the time.”

Gary Moore was a 15 year old in Belfast around this time, and we wondered if Rory saw him around. ‘Indeed, yes. He had a little band called Platform Three who played some dates with Taste. He likes to tell stories of borrowing guitars from me, and lending strings, now that’s part fiction and part true! He was superb even then. He played a Telecaster and Jeff Beck was his hero. Gary was a flash little player for his age and very self confident.”

When Rory went out on the road with Taste and his later trios, audience showed their affection for the shy young guitarist with storms of cheers. How did he feel about the fans’ reaction? “Well it just sort of happened. Obviously we felt great. see we worked hard at it. We were never laconic about audiences. I wouldn’t say we were just crowd pleasers, but we were never snobby. We used to do all these blues festivals and the reaction was incredible and a big following developed. It was a fantastic time, but we weren’t driving Rolls Royces or acting like millionaires.”

There was a traumatic time when Taste split up in 1970, and Rory went solo with his own band. “We had serious legal problems then. It was a difficult time because I was put off the road for six months and was obliged to retire really because I had to fight back and get my own little band together. We did a new album called ‘Rory Gallagher’ in 1971 on Polydor. Then we went on to do albums like ‘Deuce,’ ‘Live In Europe,’ ‘Blueprint,’ and ‘Tattoo.’ Later albums included Against The Grain’ (Chrysalis), in 1975, ‘Calling Card’, which was recorded in Germany.”

As the music scene changed, punk and pop challenged rock’s supremacy, and Rory’s album output became more patchy. There was a long gap between ‘Jinx’ (1982) and ‘Defender’ (1987) his last LP.

‘After Chrysalis, we had offers from different companies, but they were too restrictive about material, sleeves etc. So I hung out and did an independent deal with Demon records and released ‘Defender’ on our own label. But that five year gap was painful really. We did a lot of recording, but we couldn’t get the go ahead. The scene became…. I don’t know.. it was all New Romantics, Blondie and Adam Ant. Now things are a lot healthier because kids are fascinated by real guitar players and guys with drum sticks in their hands. B.B.King through the U2 connection, Albert Collins and Gary Moore, are bringing back attention to the blues. Who would have thought in 1990 the old blues guys would be on MTV and getting reasonable record deals. They are looking forward rather than back.”

Although Rory has been neglected by the media in recent years, he has always had his fans and he’s never stopped working. ‘Regardless of fashions there are still blues and rockabilly fans. Certainly for a while the press overlooked rootsy music they thought was old fashioned and irrelevant. But what I’m trying to do is create music that respects the roots, but is based on new material as opposed to just me doing old blues, acid rock standards all the time. That’s the key really, to update the music itself by hitting it on the head, and coming up with new chord changes and tunes.”

“What’s ruined all the blues and rock’n’roll revivals, has been the tendency to pander to the past. The music needs to be renewed. That’s what we’re trying to do on our new album. Next I’m hoping to bring out an EP with such tracks as ‘Kid Gloves,’ ‘The King of Zydeco’, and a tribute to the late Alexis Korner called Alexis.”

Rory has fought shy of video and TV in the past, but now says he’d quite like to do a video perhaps based on “The King Of Zydeco” just as long as it doesn’t try and portray Rory as a king of glam and punk! There is an old film of Rory playing in Belfast, made by Tony Palmer at the height of the Troubles in the early Seventies. “We were probably the only band to have played there for months at the time. It was great and its kind of spooky to look back at it now”
Rory today doesn’t want to spend all his time looking back.

He’s got extensive tour plans, a great new album and a new generation of fans cheering him on. His band includes Gerry McAvoy (bass), and Brendan O’Neil on drums, with Mark Feltham, ex-Nine Below Zero, guesting on harmonica, and they sound much tighter than even in the hard hitting Seventies. “Life is pretty hectic. The new album has brass and keyboards on a few tracks so when we go out on the road, we might have to expand the band, but I still like the sound of the trio. We are looking for a guy who can play piano, saxophone and accordion!”

Rory will be playing festivals throughout the summer and a full British tour in the Autumn. He has been offered dates in America, Japan and Australia, but has had a problem with flying for the past couple of years.

“ I could do it for years, two or three times in a day, but then I had a couple of bumpy ones in Norway with five helicopter trips in one day which put me off.”

Not surprisingly, Rory prefers to do his flying on the guitar and from the evidence of his latest album, he’s still soaring….into the wild blues yonder!

This article comes from a 1990 issue of ‘Metal Hammer’ in a column called “Root Notes”
Thanks to Annet & Klass Spijker for passing it along.
reformatted by roryfan

081 - Road Test: Catching up with Rory by Pete Clark. A 1987 article/interview from Metal Hammer Interesting article gets into the gap between albums.
Catching Up With Rory
Ace Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher has been out of the limelight for too long. Metal Hammer catches up with him.

Rory Gallagher has survived 20 years in the music biz with his integrity intact, a fact which becomes more surprising the more you think about it. Rory has stuck with the kind of music he loves and believes in, utterly indifferent to the fickle winds of fashion and commercially. He has resolutely refused to put his undoubted fretboard wizardry at the service of any gross multi-national organizations ( i.e. big name groups) preferring instead a career which, while it may become lower in profile, continues to produce higher returns in satisfaction.

The enduring image of Rory is of a be-denimed sporting of one of an endless series of dashing lumberjack shirts, hair swirling and sidboards bristling with blues power. As Rory himself commented ; “I’d come on stage in black pants and a plain shirt, then I’d read a review which said I was wearing denim and a checked shirt.” Of course, the reason Rory wears these clothes is because he feels comfortable in them. There is no image building involved in the same way he plays the music he does because he likes it. So say hello to Rory Gallagher, a thoroughly down to earth chap. Rory’s profile as far as records go has been pretty low over the last couple of years. Metal Hammer decided to catch up with the original guitar hero and find out what’s been going on.

Apart from doing his own work he had been mixing live tracks for a “Self Aid” album for the relief of unemployment in Ireland. He had also been keeping up a pretty punishing live schedule all over Europe…and there was also a new album that has been an eternity in the making.

“it’s been four years or so since I’ve made an album” said Rory emphasizing the point. “During that time, I’ve made a few appearances on other people’s albums, like Box of Frogs. I started my own album way back, and then I totally shelved at least half of it. I tend to do that every four albums………start throwing tapes away and that sort of thing. “

There was also the, er, minor distraction of Rory being without a record deal, intentional though. He wants to do a deal with a small label.

“They understand what I’m about. It’s not going to kill me if the record doesn’t sell a million and I can’t do all these miming sessions for TV just to suit some Goliath label. I’m just trying to make some music, record it and put it out.”

“The music on the new album is a real mixture. What I’m trying to do is get a roots sound. I want it to sound like it was recorded for Chess or Sun, but at the same time having a 1987 feel. It’s hell trying to get the two together because I hate pop rock or pop blues. I want to get the feel just right.

On one track, I’ve got double tracked acoustic guitar, with Lou Martin on piano, but the rest of the material is fairly gutsy. The only non-original material on the record is “Don’t Start To Talking”, a Sonny Boy Williamson tune. My favourite song is called “Loan Shark Blues” which is in the John Lee Hooker mold. It’s got one electric guitar, one acoustic and rimshot percussion rather than drums.”

The personnel on the album are fairly much the same as before: Brendan O’Neil on drums, Gerry McAvoy ( bass) and Lou Martin (piano) with Mark Feltham on harmonica and John Cooke on keyboards. Rory also dabble in a bit of sax for the first time since his Taste days and he’ll even admit to losing his touch a bit.

Gallagher and band have played in practically every major venue in the rock world. What sort of players would entice him to go and see their show?

“In general, I still listen to folk players and a lot of rock, but in recent times, I’ve enjoyed the Fabulous Thunderbirds and George Thorogood, particularly the tone of his guitar. I’m still very keen on John Hammond and also Brian Setzer, the ex-Stray Cats guitarist. Robert Cray’s a very slick player, a bit of a late beginner, but I hope he doesn’t get any smoother than he now. I like guitar players who can stay primitive, but also be technically accomplished. There’s a glut of people around at the moment who are super slick, like Eddie Van Halen, but there aren’t many who can retain that garage feel like the guy in the Ramones or Keith Richards, who has still got that obnoxious, juvenile feel”

“I’ve always placed a bit of importance on rhythm playing in my own approach and I appreciate others who combine rhythm and solo work like Pete Townsend, Wilko Johnson and John Mayo, who replaced Wilko in the Feelgoods. I feel that musical trends have come full circle to an extent, in that people are getting interested in real players and real drums again, and not so much in exploding stages.”

“As far as the metal scene goes, I have no idea what’s going on. I’ve always rated Michael Schenker as a guitarist, but I’d love to see him doing some Albert King material, for example, rather than always playing with a singer who is trying to sound like Paul Rodgers. But I’d still rather listen to metal than to disco or pop. It’s only when it gets dressed up a bit too much that I don’t like it.”

But surely Taste were one of the prototypes for the heavy metal explosion?

“I wouldn’t say we were metallic, but we were making a big sound out of very little. We didn’t go for distortion- I always aimed for a semi-clean sound with a bit of dirt on the end, rather than just a big Flying V type sound. But we certainly got some good aggression going on some of the tracks, even on a couple of singles that we put out, particularly “Blister On The Moon”, which still stands up today.”

Rory is renowned for his appetite for roadwork. Does this still hold ot has it waned with the years?

“Obviously, it was different in the early days when you had three bands sharing a dressing room or no dressing room at all, or changing in a van- sometimes not changing at all. We toured with one band in Germany who demanded the marrow from a certain sort of deer in the Black Forest, but we’re not like that. Eddie Cochran didn’t get any of that , you know. But to be honest, after a long drive or a flight, it’s nice if they can lay on a sandwich and a decent drink, even a sofa in the room and a toilet. But we don’t demand live octopuses or kangaroos or anything like that.”

And the future?

“I’ll keep on playing. Every day, I play records at home or play some guitar and still don’t feel I’ve achieved as much as I could have done on the playing and recording level. The minute I feel anywhere near content, I hear something on a record or go and see a certain act and I think…….ahhh. I feel like I’ve only been at it for about five years. But the the older you get, the more you find new angles on things, maybe play them a different way, but you still want to keep the feeling of a crazy 16-year-old when you get down to the rhythm. I’m certainly not satisfied or fed up. No way.”

Peter Clark

This article comes from a 1987 issue of Metal Hammer.
Thanks to Dino McGartland for passing it along.

082 - Gallagher :I must be emotionally involved in my music A brief article with some interesting comments from Rory.
“I must be emotionally involved in my music”

The Rory Gallagher Group Tour of Ireland

RORY GALLAGHER, who will be here in a fortnight with new men, Gerry McAvoy and Wilgar Campbell, has one basic aim: ‘I want to play the blues well and feel them properly’, he says. The writing, singing, playing (guitar, alto, harmonica} genius stresses the need for feeling. ..’I’d pack it in at moment’s notice if I felt that I wasn’t an efficient or proficient musician. I must also become involved emotionally in the theme or line of thought conveyed by the music’ , he explains. ‘Basically, I like anvthing with guts.” Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, Woody Guthrie, Johnny Winter, the Stones (who sometimes don’t look it but who are so far ahead) and John Hammond, who I think is the best of the white interpreters of blues, one of the few who have stuck to the straight and narrow’ , says the man whose new album, ‘Rory Gallagher’ , adds depth and subtlety to physical excitement.

The cornerstone of Taste, who broke up at the end of last year when they were reaching new heights of fame, thinks music should have real impact …’When I listen to something, I like to be taken out of my seat and flung across the room. I like guts and a good drive, which you can also have in the gentle stuff .Whether it’s authentic or not, or any other thing, but sounds good and feels good, that’s it’, he says.

Asked if his music has changed since Taste, Rory replies: ‘With a new line- up and a lot of new songs, certainly it has, but for better or worse I’m still recognisable’.

The Donegal-born, Cork-reared musician who was playing his first guitar when he was nine, likes to get across personally to audiences. He was disappointed when he and Taste toured America with Blind Faith …’We found ourselves playing to vast stadium crowds and I didn’t like it. If we go there again–a trip is being planned for later in the year- I want to get to more of the smaller clubs,” he says.

Rory, Gerry and Wilgar will be playing some of the biggest venues in the country, north and south, during their visit. They wiH open on Friday, June 18, at the Savoy, Cork and go on to Savoy, L”Knerick -Saturday 19; St. Colman’s, Newry -Sunday 20; Guild. hall, Derry -Monday 21; Town Hall.

Need the source of this article
Thanks to Annet & Klass Spijker for passing it along
reformatted by roryfan

083 - RORY: LULL BEFORE THE STORM by Jerry Gilbert. This article comes from the June 9,1973 issue of Sounds.

Last day in New York for Gallagher, ten week tour of America over, back to London tomorrow, then on the Ireland for a holiday, then back to work.

That, in a nutshell, is the programme that Rory outlines when I called him at his New York hotel last Thursday. Ten weeks in the States would be regarded by many bands as a marathon of madness, but Rory, in his usual quiet, sincere way, remarked that it seemed short in comparison with the last tour despite the fact it had already been extended.

For Gallagher loves to hang out in the States — playing as many little clubs as possible, meeting other musicians, taking in the whole musical climate, finding out who’s really cooking these days, checking out a few old blues idols, searching for a new recording environment.

He tends to remember the small club residencies far easier than he does the big concert spots and he loves to work constantly.

In LA, for instance, he played at the Hollywood Palladium with the Kinks, but it was his stints at the Whisky A Go Go that brings back most memories.

“It’s been a very good tour, very organised and we’ve been playing most days during the ten weeks, so overall it’s been very enjoyable,” decided the guitarist. He feels that all the groundwork put in on that last backbreaking tour has paid off handsomely because he senses now that wherever he plays people are making the effort to come out and see the band.

“It just doesn’t seem that we’ve been here long at all,” he went on. ‘We’ll be flying back to London tomorrow morning (Friday) and I’ll be staying in London for a day or two and then going home to Ireland for a couple of weeks to take it easy.”

But needless to say it will be a very short lull before the next storm, for in July, Rory’s band will be back in the studio’s to start work on their new album.

“There’ll two albums actually,” explained Rory. “There’ll be a studio album then I’ll probably do a live club album in the States in August or September when we go back for our next tour — it’s already planned for us to go back then.

“But I also want to get into Europe again and we’ll probably do a concert tour in November.”

Presumably, then Rory had found the time and inclination to write new material whilst the band had been in the States. “Well I’ve got some bits and pieces down in a notebook,” came back the non-commital reply. “I never really write when I’m on tour, but there’s some ideas which are ready to grow.”

Rory started enthusing characteristically about some of the bands he’d run into whilst on tour. ‘The Whisky was great because the other band was Mose Jones, this band from Atlanta that Al Kooper produced. They were in good spirits and into the same music as we were so it was great. Steeleye were playing at the Ash Grove but they always clashed with our show so we never got to see each other.

“But I saw Freddie King at the Whisky, in Toronto we saw McKenna Mendelsshon Mainline and King Biscuit Boy, and down in Texas we ran into D. C. Bender, a real back of the woods feller.”

Rory also struck up a reunion with John Hammond who was playing at Kenny’s Castaways in New York. He wants to play that club himself next time, largely because he’s found out that the club is owned by fellow Irishman, Pat Kenny.

It’s significant that whilst the next tour will see Rory headlining his first concerts at places like Felt Forum and Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, his interest in playing the clubs increases. “Next time we’ll be touring with Uriah Heep, but that’ll be the last of that kind of tour we’ll do; want to keep in with the club scene because it’s better in the long run, you play to less people, but it’s altogether nicer. I enjoy the auditorium things, but ultimately anything over about four or five thousand people gets a bit pointless, but then again it depends on your point of view.”

Rory is clearly looking forward to getting back to the States again to record that live album, although he seemed a little sad that his commitments on this tour prevented him from doing any studio recording or from hanging out much with other musicians. ‘We got a few jams going — one with Fleetwood Mac in a hotel bar, but otherwise there wasn’t much chance.”

But the enthusiasm returned as he spoke of the guitar he’d managed to pick up in the States — “an old National, the National that Scrapper Blackwell used to play. This guy arrived at a gig in Denver. Colorado, and he had a few other bits and pieces as well; I got a Martin mandolin from him too.”
This article comes from the June 9, 1973 issue of Sounds.
The background is a capture by donman, mutated by roryfan.
Thanks to “Dangerous” Dino McGartland for sharing it.
Article reformatted by roryfan

084 - Put the load on me by Roy Hollingworth. The writer spends a day toiling as Rory's roadie. Need help with the source
Put the load on me