Benny Gallagher

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Benny Gallagher
Benny Gallagher On Stage at the Albany Theatre, Greenock.jpg
Background information
Birth nameBernard Joseph Gallagher
Born (1945-06-10) 10 June 1945 (age 76)
OriginLargs, Scotland
GenresPop, folk rock, country rock
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, piano accordion, mandolin, ocarina, harmonica
LabelsA&M, Mercury, OnSong
Associated actsGallagher & Lyle, McGuinness Flint, Ronnie Lane, The Manfreds

Bernard Joseph "Benny" Gallagher (born 10 June 1945, in Largs, Ayrshire) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, most famous as half of the popular duo Gallagher and Lyle.


The son of Irish parents, Gallagher worked initially as a marine electrician in the shipyards of Glasgow.[1] During this time, he also played bass guitar in local semi-professional beat group The Bluefrets, which featured Graham Lyle on lead guitar.[2]

Gallagher's first published song was "Mr Heartbreak's Here Instead", which he co-wrote with Andrew Galt. This was recorded as a single for EMI-Columbia in 1964 by Dean Ford and the Gaylords,[3] the bulk of which later became chart-topping outfit Marmalade.

Galt then made two singles for Pye, "Comes The Dawn" and "With My Baby", under the name James Galt; both were co-written and featured backing vocals by Gallagher and Graham Lyle.[4][5]

In 1966, Gallagher and Lyle – who by now had forged a songwriting partnership – moved to London in search of a publishing deal. Both continued to hold down day jobs, Gallagher as an electrician and Lyle as a shipping clerk, while waiting for their big break. After an abortive contract with Polydor, which yielded one unsuccessful single, the pair joined Apple Corps as staff songwriters and wrote several songs for Mary Hopkin.[6]

Gallagher and Lyle first hit the chart as performers in late 1970 as the leading lights of McGuinness Flint, a blues-rock band formed by ex-Manfred Mann guitarist Tom McGuinness. This band made two well-received albums and scored two Top 5 singles in Britain with "When I'm Dead and Gone" and "Malt and Barley Blues", before Gallagher and Lyle left to work as a duo. Gallagher was credited as Bernard Gallagher on sheet music copies of early songs such as these, but later shortened his forename to avoid confusion with golfer Bernard Gallacher.[citation needed]

Between 1972 and 1975, Gallagher and Lyle made four albums for A&M: Gallagher and Lyle, Willie and the Lap Dog, Seeds and The Last Cowboy, all of which were produced by Glyn Johns, and met with favourable reviews.[6] Gallagher and Lyle also enjoyed a brief stint as members of Ronnie Lane's band Slim Chance, recording the album Anymore For Anymore with him and backing him on several TV appearances, including a slot on Top of the Pops to promote his hit single "How Come".[citation needed]

It was not until 1976, however, that the duo hit the big time after teaming up with US producer David Kershenbaum on their gold-selling fifth album Breakaway. This set spawned two British Top 10 singles, "I Wanna Stay With You" and "Heart on My Sleeve",[7] both of which also charted in the US; the latter song was covered successfully by Bryan Ferry. The album included "Stay Young", which Don Williams took to No.1 on the US C&W chart, while Art Garfunkel enjoyed a US Adult Contemporary No. 1 with the title song, "Breakaway".[6]

The duo's next album, Love on the Airwaves, also produced by Kershenbaum, went silver in the UK but yielded only one minor hit single, "Every Little Teardrop" which peaked at #32.[8] Their final two albums, Showdown and Lonesome No More – the last of these issued on Mercury – failed to chart. They provided backing vocals on Elkie Brooks' minor hit cover of their song "The Runaway"[9] in 1979, but this was their final chart appearance. Gallagher and Lyle split in 1980, leaving behind an unreleased ninth album, Living on the Breadline. A song recorded for this set, "A Heart in New York", subsequently became a major US Adult Contemporary hit for Art Garfunkel in 1981.[10]

Gallagher kept a low profile for much of the 1980s, but re-emerged in 1992 as bassist with The Manfreds, a reconvention of 1960s Manfred Mann members and associates. He remained a member until 1999, touring all over the world with the band and appearing on a live album released in 1998. During his tenure in the band, he co-founded and served as chairman of the royalties campaigning body PAMRA, which was set up to ensure that musicians received a fair share of royalties from recordings and performances.[11]

After a spell with Dr Hook as bassist during 1999 and 2000,[12][13] Gallagher embarked on a solo career as a singer-songwriter, touring the folk club and festival circuits. He also held workshops all over the British Isles for aspiring songwriters, and was made a Companion of LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) by Paul McCartney in 2001 in recognition of his work as a songwriting coach at the college.[11]

In 2010, Gallagher reunited with Lyle for two concerts in their former hometown of Largs in aid of Haylie House, a residential care home in the town.[14] The pair subsequently re-formed and performed at two events in 2011: "The Big Gig" at Glasgow's Barrowland nightclub, alongside Marti Pellow, Jim Diamond and Midge Ure,[15] and the MOARE Festival in Faversham, Kent, which was headlined by former Average White Band stalwart Hamish Stuart.[16]

In 2012, the duo undertook a sell-out tour of Scottish venues,[17] under the banner of "The Homecoming Tour"; their 22-song set included all their British chart entries and both their US chart-toppers, as well as "A Heart in New York" and "Willie", in which Gallagher used a harmonica on a harness.[18]

In March 2016, Gallagher and Lyle performed together at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters' Festival.[19] In November 2016, the duo performed for four nights at The Green Hotel in Kinross.[20]

The summer of 2017 saw the duo perform as part of the 'Byre at The Botanics' season in St Andrews,[21] and also at the Belladrum Festival in Inverness[22] and the Albany Theatre in Greenock.[23]

In March 2018, the duo returned to Belfast to perform once more at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters' Festival.[24]

Gallagher has released two solo albums on his own OnSong label: On Stage and At The Edge of the Wave. The latter set includes "Tusitala", a tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson; this song also appeared on the Greentrax CD The Great Tapestry of Scotland.[25]

Stage musical[edit]

Caledonia USA, a musical based on the songs of Gallagher and Lyle, was staged in Largs in April 2016.[26][27] Originally titled "When I'm Dead and Gone", it was subsequently retitled after a new song written specially for the show by Gallagher and Lyle.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Gallagher and his wife Diane have four children: Dillon, and Paul (twins) and Julian and Claire (twins). Both Dillon and Julian work in the music industry, the former as a producer and the latter as a songwriter, most notably for 5ive and Kylie Minogue. Benny and Diane Gallagher became great-grandparents in 2013.[29]


See Gallagher and Lyle

  • On Stage (2006, OnSong)
  • At The Edge of the Wave (2007, OnSong)


  1. ^ "Celebrating the gift of life, Clydeside way (From Herald Scotland)". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Gallagher & Lyle – Free listening, videos, concerts, stats and photos". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Dean Ford and the Gaylords – Mr Heartbreak's Here Instead/I Won't – Columbia – UK – DB 7402". 20 November 1964. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  4. ^ "James Galt - Comes The Dawn/In My Own Way - Pye - UK - 7N 15936". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  5. ^ "James Galt - With My Baby/A Most Unusual Feeling - Pye - UK - 7N 17021". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 220. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  8. ^ "GALLAGHER & LYLE | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Elkie Brooks - Runaway". YouTube. 1 May 2014. Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Art Garfunkel". Billboard. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Artists2Events-BENNY GALLAGHER". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  12. ^ "The blackroom - Dr Hook - 9 March 1999".
  13. ^ "Tour archive for Dennis Locorriere (Concert). 30th January 2000-8th June 2000 [TOUR]".
  14. ^ "Extra tickets for Gallagher and Lyle show". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  15. ^ "The Big Gig". Bauer Media. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Saturday night: Gallagher & Lyle, Hamish Stuart". Faversham People. 24 June 2014. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Gallagher & Lyle: The Homecoming Tour at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, Aberdeen City". 28 March 2012. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Untitle photograph og Gallagher performing". Retrieved 30 June 2014.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Gallagher & Lyle in Concert". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Gallagher & Lyle Play Backstage 2016". 12 November 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "BBC Scotland - BBC Scotland - Belladrum 2017: Eleven Scottish acts to fall in love with at this year's Tartan Heart festival". BBC. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  23. ^ "Gallagher and Lyle in rare concert this Friday". Largs and Millport Weekly News. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  24. ^ "Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival". Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  25. ^ "The Music And Song of the Great Tapestry of Scotland". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  26. ^ Teddy Jamieson (30 October 2015). "Gallagher and Lyle bring their songs home in a new musical". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  27. ^ Kevin Dyson (29 October 2015). "Gallagher and Lyle choose Largs for world premiere of their new theatre show". Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Lights, camera, action for Largs Musical". West FM. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  29. ^ "Oh baby! Benny's surprise news on stage". Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013.