Gallagher, at the Manchester Apollo in 1982
|Birth name||William Rory Gallagher|
|Also known as||Liam Rory Gallagher|
|Born||2 March 1948|
Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland
|Died||14 June 1995 (aged 47)|
London, United Kingdom
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, bandleader, producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, mandolin, saxophone, sitar, harmonica, banjo, dulcimer, dobro|
|Labels||Polydor, Chrysalis, Buddah, Castle|
William Rory Gallagher (/
Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications later that year in London at the age of 47.
Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal in 1948. His father Daniel was employed by the Irish Electricity Supply Board, who were constructing Cathaleen's Fall hydroelectric power station on the Erne River above the town. The family moved to Derry City, where his younger brother Dónal was born in 1949.
His mother, Monica, and the two boys later moved to Cork, where the brothers were raised. Rory attended North Monastery School. Daniel Gallagher had played the accordion and sang with the Tír Chonaill Céilí Band while in Donegal; their mother Monica was a singer and acted with the Abbey Players in Ballyshannon. The Theatre in Ballyshannon where Monica once acted is now called the Rory Gallagher Theatre.
Both sons were musically inclined and encouraged to pursue music by their parents. At age nine, Gallagher received his first guitar from them. He built on his burgeoning ability on ukulele in teaching himself to play the guitar and perform at minor functions. After winning a cash prize in a talent contest when he was twelve, he bought his first guitar. Gallagher began performing in his adolescence with both his acoustic guitar, and an electric guitar. However, it was a 1961 Fender Stratocaster, which he purchased three years later for £100, that became his primary instrument and was most associated with him during his career.
Gallagher was initially attracted to skiffle after hearing Lonnie Donegan on the radio. Donegan frequently covered blues and folk performers from the United States. He relied entirely on radio programs and television. Occasionally, the BBC would play some blues numbers, and he slowly found some song books for guitar, where he found the names of the actual composers of blues pieces.
While still in school, playing songs by Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, he discovered his greatest influence in Muddy Waters. He began experimenting with folk, blues, and rock music. Unable to find or afford record albums, Gallagher stayed up late to hear Radio Luxembourg and AFN where the radio brought him his only exposure to the actual songwriters and musicians whose music moved him most.
Influences he discovered, and cited as he progressed, included Woody Guthrie, Big Bill Broonzy, and Lead Belly. Initially, Gallagher struck out after just an acoustic sound. Singing and later using a brace for his harmonica, Gallagher taught himself to play slide guitar. Further, throughout the next few years of his musical development, Gallagher began learning to play alto saxophone, bass, mandolin, banjo, and the coral sitar with varying degrees of proficiency. By his mid-teens, he began experimenting heavily with different blues styles.
Gallagher began playing after school with Irish showbands, while still a young teenager. In 1963, he joined one named Fontana, a sextet playing the popular hit songs of the day. The band toured Ireland and the United Kingdom, earning the money for the payments that were due on his Stratocaster guitar. Gallagher began to influence the band's repertoire, beginning its transition from mainstream pop music, skirting along some of Chuck Berry's songs and by 1965, he had successfully moulded Fontana into "The Impact", with a change in their line-up into an R&B group that played gigs in Ireland and Spain until disbanding in London. Gallagher left with the bassist Oliver Tobin and drummer to perform as a trio in Hamburg, Germany. In 1966, Gallagher returned to Ireland and, experimenting with other musicians back home in Cork, decided to form his own band.
Having completed a musical apprenticeship in the showbands, and influenced by the increasing popularity of beat groups during the early 1960s, Gallagher formed "The Taste", which was later renamed simply, "Taste", a blues rock and R&B power trio, in 1966. Initially, the band was composed of Gallagher and two Cork musicians, Eric Kitteringham (died 2013) and Norman Damery. However, by 1968, they were replaced with two musicians from Belfast, featuring Gallagher on guitar and vocals, drummer John Wilson, and bassist Richard McCracken.
Performing extensively in the UK, the group played regularly at the Marquee Club, supporting both Cream at their Royal Albert Hall farewell concert, and the blues supergroup Blind Faith on a tour of North America. Managed by Eddie Kennedy, the trio released the albums Taste and On The Boards, and two live recordings, Live Taste and Live at the Isle of Wight.
It was the beginning of a twenty-year musical relationship between Gallagher and McAvoy; the other band member was drummer Wilgar Campbell. The 1970s were Gallagher's most prolific period. He produced ten albums in that decade, including two live albums, Live in Europe and Irish Tour '74. November 1971 saw the release of the album Deuce.
In the same year he was voted Melody Maker's International Top Guitarist of the Year, ahead of Eric Clapton. However, despite a number of his albums from this period reaching the UK Albums Chart, Gallagher did not attain major star status.
Gallagher played and recorded what he said was "in me all the time, and not just something I turn on ...". Though he sold over thirty million albums worldwide, it was his marathon live performances that won him greatest acclaim. He is documented in Irish Tour '74, a film directed by Tony Palmer.
During the heightened periods of political unrest in Northern Ireland, as other artists were warned not to tour, Gallagher was resolute about touring Ireland at least once a year during his career, winning him the dedication of thousands of fans, and in the process, becoming a role model for other aspiring young Irish musicians.
Gallagher admitted in several interviews that at first there were not any international Irish acts until Van Morrison, Gallagher, and later, Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy grew popular during the 1970s. The line-up which included Rod de'Ath on drums and Lou Martin on keyboards, performed together between 1973-1976. However, he eventually dropped down to just bass, guitar and drums, and his act became a power trio. Other releases from that period include Against the Grain, Calling Card, Photo-Finish, and Top Priority.
Gerry McAvoy has stated that the Gallagher band performed several TV and radio shows across Europe, including Beat-Club in Bremen, Germany and the Old Grey Whistle Test. He recorded two "Peel Sessions" (both February 1973 and containing the same tracks), but only the first was broadcast. Along with Little Feat and Roger McGuinn, Gallagher performed the first Rockpalast live concert at the Grugahalle, Essen, Germany in 1977.
Gallagher collaborated with Jerry Lee Lewis and Muddy Waters on their respective London Sessions in the mid-1970s. He played on Lonnie Donegan's final album. He was David Coverdale's second choice (after Jeff Beck) to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple. Gallagher chose to perform in his own band.
In the 1980s he continued recording, producing Jinx, Defender, and Fresh Evidence. After Fresh Evidence, he embarked on a tour of the United States. In addition he played with Box of Frogs—a band formed in 1983 by former members of The Yardbirds. Becoming obsessive over details and plagued by self-doubt, Gallagher nevertheless retained a loyal fanbase. During this period he stated "I agonize too much".
In addition to Gallagher himself (on guitar and vocals), over the years Gallagher's band included:
- 1971–1972: Gerry McAvoy, bass guitarist, and drummer Wilgar Campbell.
- 1972–1978: Gerry McAvoy (bass), keyboardist Lou Martin, and drummer Rod de'Ath.
- 1978–1981: Gerry McAvoy (bass), Ted McKenna (drums)
- 1981–1991: Gerry McAvoy (bass), Brendan O'Neill (drums) + frequent guest: Mark Feltham (harmonica)
- 1992–1994: David Levy (bass), Jim Leverton (keyboards), John Cooke (keyboards), Richard Newman (drums) and frequent guest Mark Feltham, on harmonica.
Guitars and equipment
Gallagher played a worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster (Serial Number 64351) for some years. It was reputedly the first in Ireland, and was ordered from Fender by Jim Connolly, a member of The Irish Showband. In 1961, Connolly ordered a cherry red Stratocaster through Crowley's music shop of Cork's McCurtain Street. When Fender shipped a sunburst Stratocaster instead, it was put up on sale in 1963 as a second-hand instrument, which Gallagher bought in August 1963 for just under £100. Speaking about Gallagher's purchase, his brother Dónal recalled: "His dream ambition was to have a guitar like Buddy Holly... This Stratocaster was in the store as a used instrument, it was 100 pounds... in today's money you couldn't even compare you might as well say it was a million pounds... my mother was saying we'll be in debt for the rest of our lives and Rory said well actually with a guitar like this I can play both parts, rhythm and lead, we won't need a rhythm player so I can earn more money and pay it off so the Stratocaster became his partner for life if you like."
The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs and the nut were replaced, the latter interchanged a number of times. The pickguard was also changed during Gallagher's time with Taste. Only the middle pick-up is original. The final modification was the wiring: Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired it so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one.
In late October 2011, Rory's brother Dónal brought the guitar out of retirement to allow Joe Bonamassa to perform with it on his two nights at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Bonamassa opened both night's performances with his rendition of "Cradle Rock" using Gallagher's Stratocaster.
Though known for his Stratocaster, Gallagher also used a number of other guitars, including acoustic examples, during his career. In April 2014 one of the last guitars owned by Gallagher, a custom-built Patrick Eggle 'JS Berlin Legend', was sold at auction in England for £25,000.
Gallagher also used a number of models of amplifiers during his career, generally preferring smaller 'combo' amplifiers to more powerful 'stacks' popular with rock and hard rock guitarists. To make up for the relative lack of power on stage, he would link several different combo amps together.
When Gallagher was with Taste, he used a single Vox AC30 with a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster plugged into the 'normal' input. Gallagher also used an Ibanez Tube Screamer, and several Boss effects, including a flanger.
In the 1970s, Gallagher began to use Fender amplifiers with a Hawk booster. Later in the 1970s, when Gallagher was moving towards a hard rock sound, he experimented with Ampeg VT40 and VT22 amplifiers, and also used Marshall combos.
Gallagher was an early adopter of Boss ME-5 all-in-one floor based effects units, and used such a unit for his live work up until his death in the mid-1990s. He also used Stramp 2100a amplifiers, which can be seen in his appearances on the German Beat Club program. Another company that built amplifiers for Gallagher was PCL Vintage Amp.
In the later years of his life, Gallagher developed a phobia of flying. To overcome this, he received a prescription for a powerful sedative. This medication, combined with his alcohol use, resulted in severe liver damage. Despite this, he continued touring. By the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in the Netherlands, he was visibly ill and the tour had to be cancelled. 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 the doctors determined that, in spite of his young age, a liver transplant was the only possible course of action. After thirteen weeks in intensive care, while waiting to be transferred to a convalescent home, his health suddenly worsened when he contracted a staphylococcal (MRSA) infection, and he died on 14 June 1995, at the age of 47. He was unmarried and had no children.
Gallagher's body was buried in St Oliver's Cemetery, on the Clash Road just outside Ballincollig near Cork City, Ireland. The grave's headstone is in the image of an award he received in 1972 for International Guitarist of the Year.
In 2003, Wheels Within Wheels, a collection of acoustic tracks, was released posthumously by Gallagher's brother Donal. Collaborators on this album included Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy, The Dubliners, Spanish flamenco guitarist Juan Martin and Lonnie Donegan.
Many modern day musicians, including The Edge from U2, Slash of Guns N' Roses, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Davy Knowles, Janick Gers of Iron Maiden, James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa, cite Gallagher as an inspiration in their formative musical years.
Brian May, lead guitarist of Queen, relates: "so these couple of kids come up, who's me and my mate, and say 'How do you get your sound Mr. Gallagher?' and he sits and tells us. So I owe Rory Gallagher my sound." In 2010, Gallagher was ranked No. 42 on Gibson.com's List of their Top 50 Guitarists of All Time. Gallagher was also listed on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, ranked at 57th place.
In April 2014, at the time of the auction of Gallagher's Patrick Eggle 'JS Berlin Legend' guitar, the BBC noted: "Eric Clapton credited him with ‘getting me back into the blues’. The Rolling Stones wanted him to replace Mick Taylor and when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the world's greatest guitarist, he is reported to have said: ‘I don't know, go ask Rory Gallagher’" (but this may be a variant of an urban legend ).
- On 25 October 1997 a tribute sculpture to Gallagher was unveiled in the newly renamed Rory Gallagher Place (formerly St. Paul's St. Square) in his hometown of Cork. The sculptor, Geraldine Creedon, was a childhood friend of Gallagher.
- Rory Gallagher Corner, at Meeting House Square in Dublin's Temple Bar, is marked with a full-size bronze statue in the shape of his Stratocaster. Some of those who attended the unveiling included The Edge of U2 and the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
- In 2004 the Rory Gallagher Music Library was opened in Cork.
- In 2006 a plaque was unveiled at the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
- A street in Ris-Orangis, a commune in the southern suburbs of Paris, was renamed Rue Rory Gallagher.
- New York City-based Celtic rock band Black 47 paid tribute to Rory Gallagher on their 1996 release, "Green Suede Shoes". The track titled "Rory" features vocalist and guitarist Larry Kirwan delivering a tribute to Gallagher.
- Flynn Amps manufacture a Rory Gallagher signature Hawk pedal, cloned from Gallagher's 1970s pedal.
- Christy Moore released a song on his 2009 album Listen titled 'Rory is Gone', which pays tribute to Gallagher's life.
- On 2 June 2010, a life-sized bronze statue of Gallagher was unveiled in the town centre of Ballyshannon. An award-winning annual blues festival is held in his honour in the same town.
- In 2015 Fender produced the Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster
- In October 2016 approval was given to put up a statue of Gallagher on Bedford Street, near Ulster Hall in Belfast.
- Rory Gallagher – 1971
- Deuce – 1971
- Live in Europe – 1972
- Blueprint – 1973
- Tattoo – 1973
- Irish Tour '74 – 1974
- Against the Grain – 1975 Rolling Stone review at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 October 2009)
- Calling Card – 1976 Rolling Stone review at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 October 2009)
- Photo-Finish – 1978
- Top Priority – 1979
- Stage Struck – 1980
- Jinx – 1982
- Defender – 1987
- Fresh Evidence – 1990
- "Rory Gallagher's birth certificate". Flickr. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
- "Rory Gallagher". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
- Grossman, Stefan (March 1978). "Rory Gallagher: Irish Guitar Star With Roots in American Blues and Rock". Magazine. Guitar Player magazine. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Extract from Riding Shotgun biography – Prologue: Can't Believe It's True". Ridingshotgun.co.uk. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
- "The A-Z of Irish Music: G — Rory Gallagher Biography". Irish Connections. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
- Stanton, Scott. (2003). The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians. Simon & Schuster. p. 319. ISBN 0-7434-6330-7.
- "RTÉ Archives - Profile - Rory Gallagher". rte.ie. RTÉ. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- "Rory Gallagher's Father Remembered by Ballyshannon Musician". discoverballyshannon.ie. Erne Enterprise Arts, Culture & Tourism. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- "My brother's keeper". irishexaminer.com. Irish Examiner. 4 June 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- "What's the story with Rory?". Donegal Democrat. 29 April 2010. Archived from the original on 16 January 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- Minhinnet, Ray (21 July 2005). "Rory Gallagher: A Previously Unpublished Interview". Modern Guitar Magazine. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
- Gallagher, Rory (1991). "Rory Gallagher 2nd Interview 1991 Audio". Radio interview. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- "Thread: Rory Gallagher – 20th Anniversary". mandolincafe.com. Mandolin Cafe. August 2007. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- Hunter, Stephen (4 January 2000). "Won't See His Like Again". This is a re-print of The Archive – Journal of the Northside Folklore Project, Issue 4, Jan 2000 pp.5–8 converted from PDF to HTML. pp. 5–8. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- "Rory Gallagher – 1976 interview, Part 1". WDR Studio Hall L Cologne, Grugahalle, Essen. Germany: The Complete Rockpalast Collection. 1976. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- "Gallagher biography". RoryGallagher.com official website. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
- francis k. (2001–2010). "Irish Showband & Beat- Group Members List".
- "Rory Gallagher (1948-1995)". irish-showbands.com. Irish Show Bands. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London, UK: Guinness Publishing Ltd. pp. 168–69. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
- Buckley, Peter (ed.; 2003). The Rough Guide To Rock, pp. 409–10. Rough Guides Ltd; ISBN 1-84353-105-4
- Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh, Scotland: Mojo Books. pp. 369–370. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- "Defender of the blues". Innerviews.org. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
- McAvoy, Gerry; Chrisp, Pete (3 June 2005). Riding Shotgun: 35 Years on the Road with Rory Gallagher and Nine Below Zero. Kent: SPG Triumph. p. 82. ISBN 0-9550320-1-6.
- The Peel Sessions BBC Radio 1; retrieved 26 February 2011
- "Rockpalast Night 23.-24.July 1977: Rory Gallagher 2.3.1948–14.6.1995" (in German). Rockpalast Archiv. September 1977. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
- Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London, UK: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 242. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai, UAE: Carlton Books Limited. p. 67. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Horowitz, Hal. "Notes from San Francisco – Rory Gallagher: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
- Dave Hunter (April 2017). Ultimate Star Guitars: The Guitars That Rocked the World, Expanded Edition. Voyageur Press. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-0-7603-5239-7.
- The shop was at 10 Merchants Quay at the time of purchase.
- Thuillier, Ian (Director) (2010). Ghost Blues The Story of Rory Gallagher. Event occurs at 5:35.
- Hal Leonard Corp. (1 August 2014). 25 Top Blues/Rock Songs – Tab. Tone. Technique.: Tab+. Hal Leonard. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-1-4950-0177-2.
- "Joe Bonamassa Plays Rory's Stratocaster". Rorygallagher.com. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "Martin D-35 Rory Gallagher Natural #7 Of 29". guitarvillage.co.uk. Guitar Village Ltd. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
Whilst Gallagher is most noted for his iconic 1961 Stratocaster, when he switched to acoustic the [Martin] D-35 was his go to
- "Interview - The Wearing Of The Blues - August 1991". viviancampbellrocks.com. Vivian Campbell. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- "Rock star Rory Gallagher's guitar up for auction". BBC News. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
- "Royal interest as Rory Gallagher guitar sells for €30k". www.breakingnews.ie. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "International Musician of the Month - Rory Gallagher". www.roryon.com. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- "BEAT Instrumental, March 1979 issue". www.roryon.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "Guitar for the Practicing Musician, August 1991 issue". www.roryon.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "PCL Vintage Amp - Über uns (about us)" (in German). Pcl-vintageamp.de. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- Quigley, Maeve. "Booze didn't kill my brother Rory, it was the drugs to help his fear". Retrieved 19 October 2012.
- Grave of Rory Gallagher, Findagrave website. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5418/rory-gallagher
- Eagle Rock Entertainment (2010). "Slash Discusses Rory Gallagher". Eagle rock web and a video commentary from Slash about Rory Gallagher. World News Entertainment. Archived from the original on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
- "Rory Gallagher – 2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995". Bluesnexus.com. Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- "Davy Knowles". Performing-musician.com. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- "Janick Gers Biography". Angelfire.com. 27 January 1957. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- "Rory Gallagher Biography". Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- "Official Website". Glenn Tipton. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- Richardson, Clyde (September 2005). "An Interview with: Vivian Campbell". Mchicagomusicguide.com. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
- "Guitarists talk about Rory Gallagher". YouTube. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
- "Blues in Britain " Joe Bonamassa Interview". Blueprint-blues.co.uk. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- "Dvdverdict.com". Dvdverdict.com. 15 April 2009. Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
- "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time – 50 to 41". Gibson guitar's list of the 50 greatest guitarists of all time (# 42). Gibson.com. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
- "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Jann S. Wenner. 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- "Phil Keaggy Greatest Guitarist?". Snopes. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- "Rory Gallagher Tribute to be unveiled in Cork City Ireland". www.cork-guide.ie. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
- "The Rory Gallagher Music Library". Cork City Council. October 2004. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- "Belfast to pay tribute to Rory Gallagher". Belfastcity.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- "Plaque Unveiling". Hotpress.com. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (2008). Le Petit Futé Paris Spectacles: Edition 2008. Paris: Petit Futé. p. 37. ISBN 978-2-7469-1908-2.
- "Larry Kirwan of Black 47: Rory Gallagher". Black47theband.blogspot.com. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
- "Flynn Amps – Rory Gallagher Hawk Booster". Flynn Amps. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- Clancy, Paddy (3 June 2010). "Statue of rock icon Rory Gallagher unveiled". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Retrieved 3 June 2010.
- "Electric Picnic tops Irish Festival Awards". RTÉ Ten. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 2 February 2012. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
Best Medium Festival: Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival
- "Rory Gallagher Signature Stratocaster". Fender Custom Shop. 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- "Rory Gallagher: Belfast statue of rock legend gets approval". 19 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Rory Gallagher|
- Official Rory Gallagher website
- Rory Live – using a BOSS ME-5 into a cranked VOX AC30
- Rory Gallagher at Curlie
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rory Gallagher.|