Moore in 2008
|Birth name||Robert William Gary Moore|
4 April 1952|
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
|Died||6 February 2011
Estepona, Malaga Province, Spain
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards|
|Labels||Virgin, Charisma, Eagle|
|Associated acts||Skid Row, Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II, Phil Lynott, Greg Lake, BBM, G Force, B.B. King|
|Gary Moore Signature Les Paul
Gary Moore Signature Stratocaster
In a career dating back to the 1960s, Moore played with musicians including Phil Lynott and Brian Downey during his teenage years, leading him to memberships of the Irish bands Skid Row and Thin Lizzy, and British band Colosseum II. Moore shared the stage with such blues and rock musicians as B.B. King, Albert King, John Mayall, Jack Bruce, Albert Collins, George Harrison, and Greg Lake, as well as having a successful solo career. He guested on a number of albums recorded by high-profile musicians.
Early life and career
Moore grew up on Castleview Road opposite Stormont Parliament Buildings, off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast, as one of five children of Bobby, a promoter, and Winnie, a housewife. He left the city as a teenager, because of troubles in his family – his parents parted a year later – just as The Troubles were starting in Northern Ireland.
Moore started performing at a young age, having picked up a battered acoustic guitar at the age of eight. He got his first quality guitar at the age of 14, learning to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left-handed.
Aiming to become a musician, he moved to Dublin at the age of 16. Moore's greatest influence in the early days was guitarist Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac who was a mentor to Moore when performing in Dublin. Green's continued influence on Moore was later repaid as a tribute to Green on his 1995 album Blues for Greeny, an album consisting entirely of Green compositions. On this tribute album, Moore played Green's 1959 Les Paul Standard guitar which Green had lent to Moore after leaving Fleetwood Mac. Moore ultimately purchased the guitar, at Green's request, so that "it would have a good home". Other early musical influences were artists such as Albert King, Elvis Presley, The Shadows, Buddy Guy and The Beatles. Later, having seen Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in his home town of Belfast, his own style was developing into a blues-rock sound that would be the dominant form of his career in music.
In Dublin, Moore joined the group Skid Row with Noel Bridgeman and Brendan "Brush" Shiels. It was with this group that he earned a reputation in the music industry, and his association with Phil Lynott began.
In 1970, Moore moved to England and remained there, apart from two short periods in the United States. In 1973, under the name "The Gary Moore Band", he released his first solo album, Grinding Stone. "Grinding Stone" was issued in North America on Neil Kempfer-Stocker's fledgling record label imprint Cosmos and received "Album of the Year" accolades on KTAC-FM/Seattle-Tacoma, Washington, in 1974.
In 1977, Moore re-joined Thin Lizzy, first as a temporary replacement for Brian Robertson, and on a permanent basis a year later.
In July 1979, he left the band permanently to focus on his solo career, again with help from Phil Lynott. The combination of Moore's blues-based guitar and Lynott's voice produced "Parisienne Walkways", which reached the Top Ten in the UK Singles Chart in April 1979 and the Thin Lizzy album Black Rose: A Rock Legend which reached number two in the UK album chart. Moore appears in the videos for "Waiting for an Alibi", "With Love" and "Do Anything You Want To".
In 1987, he performed a guitar solo for a cover of the Beatles' "Let It Be" which was released under the group-name of Ferry Aid. The record raised substantial funds for the survivors of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. In 1990, he played the lead guitar solo on "She's My Baby" from Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.
After a series of rock records, Moore returned to blues music with Still Got the Blues (1990), with contributions from Albert King, Albert Collins, and George Harrison. The album was well received by fans and was certified Gold in the U.S. He stayed with the blues format until 1997 when he returned to rock, but with a softer, more pop and ballad-oriented sound on Dark Days in Paradise, swiftly followed with another change of direction in 1999, when he decided to experiment with modern dance beats on A Different Beat; this left many fans, as well as the music press, confused.
With Back to the Blues, Moore returned to his tried and tested blues format in 2001: he continued with this style on Power of the Blues (2004), Old New Ballads Blues (2006), Close As You Get (2007), and Bad For You Baby (2008).
In January 2005, Moore joined the One World Project, which recorded a song for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami relief effort. The group featured Russell Watson, Boy George, Steve Winwood, Barry Gibb, Brian Wilson, Cliff Richard, Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley, and Robin Gibb on vocals (in their order of appearance), and featured a guitar solo by Moore. The song, entitled Grief Never Grows Old, was released in February 2005, reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.
He also took part in a comedy skit entitled "The Easy Guitar Book Sketch" with comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow musicians Mark Knopfler, Lemmy from Motörhead, Mark King from Level 42, and David Gilmour.
Other collaborations included a broad range of artists including Trilok Gurtu, Dr. Strangely Strange, Jimmy Nail, Mo Foster, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Jim Capaldi, B.B. King, Vicki Brown, Cozy Powell, Rod Argent, the Beach Boys, Paul Rodgers, Keith Emerson, Roger Daltrey, and Otis Taylor.
In 2003, he bought a five-bedroom detached Edwardian house in Hove, just west of Brighton, Sussex, to be near his sons, Jack and Gus, from his former marriage, which had lasted from 1985 to 1993. Since 1997, he was living with his partner, an artist named Jo, and their daughter Lily (b. 1998). His eldest daughter, Saoirse was born after an earlier relationship while he was with Skid Row. At the time of his death, his residence was reported to be on Vallance Gardens in Hove, East Sussex.
Gary Moore died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 58 during the early hours of 6 February 2011. At the time, he was on holiday with his girlfriend at the Kempinski Hotel in Estepona, Spain. After a quiet dinner, they went for a walk on the beach before going up to their room. His girlfriend raised the alarm at 4:00 am, and tried to give him a heart massage. His death was confirmed by Thin Lizzy's manager, Adam Parsons.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Moore's fatal heart attack was brought on by a massive amount of alcohol he had consumed the evening of his death. Moore had 380 mg of alcohol per decilitre (100 millilitres) of blood (0.38%) in his system, which meant he was five times the legal drink driving limit. Blood alcohol content from 0.40% to 0.50% is considered to be lethal.
Gary Moore's eldest son Jack, alongside his uncle Cliff Moore, performed the traditional song "Danny Boy" at his father's funeral. This was reported in the Belfast Telegraph as a flawless tribute at which some mourners in the church wept openly.
Style and legacy
Moore was known for his highly emotional approach to guitar playing. Despite his technical proficiency and mastery of the guitar, he stood out through his phrasing and dynamic control which was mostly influenced by the melodic blues. Being an avid improviser, in many of his songs he featured an improvised solo section when playing live.
Moore was very popular in Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Japan, but less successful in the US. Throughout his career, Moore was recognised as an influence by many notable guitarists including Martin Barre, Vivian Campbell, Patrick Rondat, John Norum, Paul Gilbert, Gus G, Slash, Orianthi, Joe Bonamassa, Adrian Smith, Phil Collen, George Lynch, Doug Aldrich, Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, John Sykes, Henrik Freischlader, Gary W Suede, and Kirk Hammett.
Since his death, many fellow musicians have commented on Gary Moore's talents including Ozzy Osbourne, Kirk Hammett, Eric Singer, Doug Aldrich, Tony Iommi, Bob Geldof, Roger Taylor, Brian May, Brian Downey, Andy DiGelsomina, Ricky Warwick, Glenn Hughes, Bryan Adams, Henry Rollins, Scott Gorham, Ignacio Garay, and Mikael Åkerfeldt. On 18 April 2011, a number of musicians including Eric Bell and Brian Downey, Thunder rising, Silverbird and The Business blues band gathered for a tribute concert in Whelan's bar in Dublin, Ireland titled 'The Gig For Gary'.
In March 2011 Guitarist produced a tribute special with unreleased footage from 2009. Twitter was flooded with tributes from fans for several days after his death.
A large statue of Moore was erected on a small island outside Skånevik, following his many performances at the Skånevik Blues Festival. The statue still stands as of July 2013.
In April 2017 Henrik Freischlader released a tribute album titled Blues For Gary featuring Pete Rees and Vic Martin.
Jack Moore performed a tribute on a guitar that had belonged to his father, along side Danny Young in the form of a music video around the time of his father's birthday anniversary in 2017. The song was named Phoenix which was written and performed by both Jack Moore and Danny Young.
Gary Moore was associated with many guitar brands over his career but the guitar Gary was most associated with was the Gibson Les Paul. Gary Moore's 1959 Les Paul Standard guitar was famed for its distinctive out-of-phase sound attributed to a possible pickup repair, where by the magnet in the neck pickup had been flipped, causing the out of phase sound when combined with the bridge pickup. The guitar was originally owned by Peter Green. Green sold the guitar to his younger friend Gary Moore in 1969 for the price that Gary got from selling his main guitar at that time, a Gibson SG. Gary used the guitar over the 37 next years on hits such as Parisienne Walkways which was his best-known song. The guitar is now owned by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett who purchased the guitar, a number of years after Gary had sold it, for an undisclosed amount.
Also associated with a 1961 Fender Stratocaster, which was purchased by Gary Moore in 1981. The guitar was almost sold to Greg Lake ex of Emerson, Lake and Palmer  who was originally viewing the guitar, but Gary Moore had tried it out and liked the sound of the guitar acoustically. Gary had his fingers crossed and thinking ‘please don’t buy it, please don’t buy it!’ Greg passed on the guitar as it was not in pristine condition, and so Gary made a deal and the guitar was his. The Red Strat also known as the Pink Strat was extensively used by Gary on Corridors of Power along with others over the years to come. The Red Strat was used on many live performances, most notably at the Fender 50th Anniversary show held at Wembley Arena, north London, in 2004. When Gary performed Red House, by Jimi Hendrix. The Neck pickup was rewound by well known pickup maker Seymour Duncan in 1998. Fender Guitars launched a custom shop tribute replica of the Red Strat, in 2016, which was undertaken by Fender master builder John Cruz.
- Grinding Stone (1973)
- Back on the Streets (1978)
- G-Force (1980)
- Dirty Fingers (1981)
- Corridors of Power (1982)
- Victims of the Future (1983)
- Run for Cover (1985)
- Wild Frontier (1987)
- After the War (1989)
- Still Got the Blues (1990)
- After Hours (1992)
- Blues for Greeny (1995)
- Dark Days in Paradise (1997)
- A Different Beat (1999)
- Back to the Blues (2001)
- Scars (2002)
- Power of the Blues (2004)
- Old New Ballads Blues (2006)
- Close as You Get (2007)
- Bad for You Baby (2008)
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