Rory Gallagher: Wikis


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Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher, playing in Utrecht, Holland 1987
Background information
Birth name William Rory Gallagher
Also known as Liam Rory Gallagher
Born 2 March 1948(1948-03-02), Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland
Died 14 June 1995 (aged 47), London, England, United Kingdom
Genres Blues, blues-rock, hard rock, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, jazz, folk, skiffle
Occupations Musician, Songwriter, Bandleader, producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass, mandolin, saxophone, sitar, harmonica, banjo, dobro
Years active 1963–1995
Labels Polydor, Chrysalis, Buddah Records, Castle Records
Associated acts Taste
Notable instruments
Fender Stratocaster

Rory Gallagher born William Rory Gallagher[1] (2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995)[2] pronounced /ˈrɔri ˈɡæləhər/ was an Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, and raised in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste during the late 1960s. A talented guitarist known for his charismatic performances and dedication to his craft, Rory Gallagher's albums have sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide.[3][4] Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications in 1995 in London, England aged 47.[5]



Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, however, his family moved, first, to Derry City, where his younger brother Dónal was born, and then to Cork, Ireland, where the two brothers were raised. Their father Daniel played the accordion and sang with the Tir Chonaill Ceile Band in Donegal, and 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 by their parents. At age nine, Gallagher received his first guitar from them, and began to teach himself to play, performing at first at minor functions. After winning a talent contest when he was twelve, Gallagher began performing in his adolescence with both his acoustic guitar, and an electric guitar he bought with his prize money. However, it was his purchase three years later, of a 1961 Fender Stratocaster for £100 that became his primary instrument most associated with him for the span of his lifetime.[6] Initially playing skiffle, after hearing Lonnie Donegan on the radio, who frequently covered blues and folk performers from the United States, Gallagher began experimenting with folk, blues, and rock music. Unable to find or afford record albums, 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, that included Woody Guthrie, Big Bill Broonzy, and Ledbelly. Initially, Gallagher struck out after just an an acoustic sound.[6] Singing and later using a brace for his harmonica, Gallagher learned to play slide guitar, using a plectrum and metal slide on his smallest finger. Several years later he also became proficient on the alto saxophone, bass, mandolin, banjo and the coral sitar, utilizing a glass slide made from an American Coricidian bottle, on his electric guitars (as did many contemporaries, such as Duane Allman), instead of the metal slide.[7] Gallagher stated that his ability to track down the actual original songwriters and performers of blues numbers which he'd first heard performed by others like Lonnie Donegan took time and dedication, and had not been easy. Having no role models in Cork, Ireland, he continued to rely entirely on radio programs and television. Occasionally, the jazz programs from the BBC would play some blues numbers, and he was able to slowly find songbooks 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. By his mid-teens, he began experimenting heavily with different blues styles.[8]

Gallagher began playing after school with Irish showbands, while still a young teenager. In 1963,[9] he joined one named Fontana, a sextet playing the popular hit songs of the day. The band toured Ireland and the United Kingdom, giving him the opportunity to acquire songbooks for the guitar, where he found the names of the actual composers of blues songs, in addition to earning the money for the payments that were due on his Stratocaster guitar. Gallagher began to influence the band's repetoire, beginning its transition from popular music, skirting along some of Chuck Berry's songs and by 1965, he'd successfully molded Fontana into "The Impact", with a change in their lineup into an R&B group which played gigs in Ireland and Spain, finally disbanding in London.[7] Rory left with the bassist and drummer to perform as a trio in Hamburg, Germany.[9] In 1966, Gallagher returned to Ireland and, experimenting with other musicians back home in Cork, decided to form his own band.



Gallagher on acoustic guitar, March, 1976, Breda, Netherlands

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 and R&B trio, in 1966. Initially, the band was composed of Gallagher and two Cork musicians, Norman Damery and Eric Kitteringham, however, by 1967, 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 United Kingdom, 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 At Montreux and Live At The Isle Of Wight. The latter appeared long after the band's break-up, which occurred shortly after their appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.[10]

After the break-up of Taste, Gallagher toured under his own name, hiring former Deep Joy bass player Gerry McAvoy to play on Gallagher's eponymous debut album, Rory Gallagher. 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. 1972 saw the release of his album, Deuce. In the same year he was voted Melody Maker's International Top Musician of the Year, ahead of Eric Clapton.[11]

Gallagher played and recorded what he said was "in me all the time, and not just something I turn on ...". Though he sold over thirty million albums world wide, it was his marathon live performances that won him greatest acclaim.[10] He is documented in the 1974 film Irish Tour '74, directed by Tony Palmer.

Gallagher in the late 1970s.

The line-up which included Rod De'Ath on drums and Lou Martin on keyboards, performed together between 1973 and 1978, 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.[12] Along with Little Feat and Roger McGuinn, Gallagher performed the first Rockpalast live concert at the Grugahalle, Essen, Germany in 1977.[13]

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 which was a band formed in 1983 by former members of The Yardbirds, who released their first album in 1984. Former Yardbirds guitarists Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page also guested on their first and second albums respectively.

Guitars and equipment

Gallagher's Stratocaster

Rory's Stratocaster on display in Dublin in 2007
A life-size bronze sculpture in the shape of Rory Gallagher's Stratocaster at Rory Gallagher Corner in Dublin's Temple Bar.

Gallagher was always associated with his well-worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster (Serial Number 64351), which his brother Donal has officially retired. It was reputedly the first in Ireland, and was ordered from Fender by Jim Connolly, a showband member performing with The Irish Showband. Connolly ordered a cherry red Stratocaster through a music shop in Cork. When Fender shipped a sunburst Stratocaster instead, it went on sale as a second-hand instrument, which Gallagher bought for just shy of £100 at Crowley's Music Store on Cork's McCurtain Street. The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs, for a start, are odd (5 Sperzel pegs and one Gotoh), and all of these have been found to be replacements. Secondly, it is thought[citation needed] that the nut has been replaced and interchanged a number of times. Thirdly, the scratchplate was changed during Gallagher's time with Taste. Another change was made regarding the pickups, of which none are original. The final modification was that of the wiring: Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired it so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He also installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one. The most notable effect that years of touring have had is the almost complete removal of the guitar's original sunburst finish, due to Gallaghers rare blood type which caused his sweat to be unusually acidic.[14] Although the Strat was left abandoned in a ditch, in the rain, for days after being stolen, this isn't believed to have caused any of the effect. All of the wear is caused by playing, not misuse. It also had a period of time of having a replacement neck, with the original bowing due to the amount of moisture it absorbed during continuous touring. The neck was taken off the strat and left to settle, and was eventually reunited with the Strat after returning to its correct shape. Other quirks include a 'hump' in the scratch plate which moves the neck pickup closer to the neck on the bass side and a replacement of all of the pickups, though this replacement was due to damage rather than a perception of a tonal inadequacy. One final point of interest is that one of the clay double-dot inlays at the 12th fret fell out and was replaced with a plastic one, which is why it is whiter than the other clay inlays.

Other instruments

Gallagher playing his Fender Telecaster, in Toronto, 1977

Gallagher owned a number of other instruments, including:

Purchased for $1500 in New Jersey by Donal Gallagher. Used for playing the song "Philby" live. [15]

This guitar was bought for $15 from a pawnshop. It was often used in Gallagher's live set to play "Cradle Rock" and "A Million Miles Away".

This guitar dating to 1959 was heavily modified. It started off as a stock Esquire in cream and ended up as a black Telecaster. At one point in between, Gallagher put a Strat pickup in the middle position and added a 5-way selector.

This was very similar to the Esquire after the Esquire had undergone all of its modifications. It can be seen in action on Gallagher's Live at Rockpalast DVD in the song "Bullfrog Blues".

Dating to the 1960s, this guitar can be seen handed to Rory as a quick replacement after a sudden electrical failure of the Strat at Rockpalast

  • Gretsch Corvette (1963)

Bought in a pawn shop in Los Angeles for $50 by Donal Gallagher. It soon became one of Rory's favourite guitars.

  • Acoustic Guitars

Gallagher's preferred acoustic guitar was a Martin D-35. In his later years, he used an Electro-Acoustic Takamine (a prototype model given to him by Takamine while he was touring Japan) that was much easier to amplify in a live context.

  • Martin Mandolin

This was used most famously in Gallagher's joint effort with Lonnie Donegan, "Goin' To My Hometown".

  • National Resonator (1932)

Gallagher used this to play blues standards and acoustic sets and often used a heavy steel slide with it.

  • Other Instruments

Gallagher also played the saxophone, showcased on the song "On The Boards" by Taste, and harmonica, which can be heard on the songs "I'm Not Surprised", "I Could've Had Religion" and "Banker's Blues".

Amplifiers and effects

Gallagher used various makes and models of amplifiers during his career. In general, however, he preferred smaller 'combo' amplifiers to the larger, more powerful 'stacks' popular with rock and hard rock guitarists. To make up for the relative lack of power on stage, he would often 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. Examples of this sound can be heard on the Taste albums, as well as the album Live in Europe. Brian May, of the band Queen, has admitted in interviews that as a young man, he was inspired to use a Vox AC30 and treble booster setup after meeting Gallagher and asking him how he got his sound. The British company, Flynn Amps, now makes a Rory Gallagher Signature Hawk Treble Booster pedal based on Rory's original unit. Gallagher has also been known to use Ibanez Tube Screamers and various Boss effects.

In the early to mid 1970s, Gallagher began to use Fender amplifiers in conjunction with a Hawk booster, most notably a Bassman and a Twin, both 1950s vintage. An example of this sound can be heard on the Irish Tour '74 album. He also had a Fender Concert amplifier.

In the mid to late 1970s, when Gallagher was moving towards a hard rock sound, he experimented with Ampeg VT40 and VT22 amps. He also began using Marshall combos. During this period and beyond, Gallagher used different combinations of amps on stage to achieve more power and to blend the tonal characteristics of different amps including Orange amplification.


From the late 1980s, he suffered increasingly poor health, yet he continued touring. By the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in the Netherlands, he was visibly unwell. A liver transplant became necessary and was nearly successful, but just before being discharged from the hospital, an MRSA infection developed.[citation needed] His health quickly worsened and he died in London on 14 June 1995. He was unmarried and had no children.

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


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

Many modern day musicians, including The Edge from U2, Slash of Velvet Revolver, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Davy Knowles, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, also Joe Bonamassa, [16] and Brian May of Queen,[17] cite Gallagher as an inspiration in their formative musical years.[citation needed]

Recognition and quotations

Rory is probably the single guitarist who meant the most to me.

Tom Guerra, guitarist of Mambo Sons

It was all about him playing the guitar, it got into your soul.

Cameron Crowe (Writer/Film Director)

In the 70s he built himself a reputation as a live performer of tremendous vitality.
He was even headhunted to join The Rolling Stones.

Niall Stokes (Editor, Hot Press)

One of the things that was crucial for me I got from Rory Gallagher, which was the idea of, like, being a guitar player for life and living it.

Johnny Marr (The Smiths)

Rory's death really upset me. I heard about it just before we went on stage, and it put a damper on the evening. I can't say I knew him that well, but I remember meeting him in our offices once, and we spent an hour talking. He was such a nice guy and a great player.

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin

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.

Brian May (Queen)

Rory's death is a tragic loss of a great musician and a very good friend...

Van Morrison

The man who got me back into the blues.

Eric Clapton

An uncompromisingly serious musician.

The Times, 16 June 1995.



Headstone at St Oliver's Cemetery, Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland.
  • 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 Cork. The sculptor was a childhood friend of Rory, Geraldine Creedon.[19] The two grew up together in the McCurtain Street area of the city. The band who played at the unveiling of the statue was the Dave McHugh band, who formed Ireland's first tribute to Rory, 'Aftertaste' in 1995.
  • Comic book artist Timothy Truman is also a fan, and GrimJack #4: Legacy has a cover and story line utilizing Gallagher's image.
  • There is a Rory Gallagher Exhibition located in Ballyshannon, Ireland, which contains a detailed history of his life and many items of memorabilia.
  • There are a number of Rory Gallagher tribute bands, many of whom perform at the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival in Ballyshannon.
  • A theatre in Ballyshannon has been renamed as the Rory Gallagher Theatre.
  • There is a Rory Gallagher Corner at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, Dublin.
  • A life-size bronze statue in the shape of his Stratocaster has been installed at Rory Gallagher Corner in Dublin's Temple Bar. Some of those who attended the unveiling include The Edge of U2 and the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
  • In 2004 the Rory Gallagher Music Library was opened in Cork.[20]
  • A street in Ris-Orangis, a town in the Paris suburbs, was renamed Rue Rory Gallagher.[21]
  • The French town of Bedoin in Vaucluse at the base of Mont Ventoux has a street named after Rory Gallagher in the old town, "Impasse Rory Gallagher"
  • Irish musician John Spillane released a tribute song "A Song For Rory Gallagher" on his album Hey Dreamer
  • French musician Dan Ar Braz released a tribute song "Gwerz Rory" on his album La Mémoire des Volets Blancs.
  • English rock band The Wave Pictures recorded a song about Gallagher entitled "Live in Europe" on their 2004 album The Airplanes at Brescia.
  • Flynn Amps manufacture a Rory Gallagher signature Hawk pedal cloned from Rory's actual 70s pedal.[22]


See also


  1. ^ " Rory Gallagher birth certificate
  2. ^ Skelly, Richard (2009). "Rory Gallagher Biography". All Music Corp. ID #P 4333. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Prologue: Can't believe it's True, retrieved 26 March, 2008". 1995-06-14. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  4. ^ "Irish Connectionsmag". Irish Connectionsmag. 1995-06-14. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  5. ^ Stanton, Scott (2003). The tombstone tourist: musicians. Simon & Schuster. p. 319. ISBN 0743463307. 
  6. ^ a b Minhinnette, Ray (21 July 2005). "Rory Gallagher A Previously Unpublished Interview". Modern Guitar Magazine. Retrieved 23 December 2009. 
  7. ^ a b 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. 
  8. ^ "Rory Gallagher - 1976 interview, Part 1". WDR Studio Hall L Cologne, Grugahalle, Essen. Germany: The Complete Rockpalast Collection. 1976. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Gallagher, Rory. "Gallagher biography". Official Website. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  10. ^ a b Buckley, Peter (ed.) (2003). The Rough Guide To Rock, pp. 409-10. Rough Guides Ltd. ISBN 1843531054.
  11. ^ "Defender of the blues". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  12. ^ McAvoy, Gerry; Chrisp (3 June 2005) (in English). Riding Shotgun: 35 Years on the Road with Rory Gallagher and Nine Below Zero. Pete. Kent: SPG Triumph. p. 82. ISBN 0955032016. 
  13. ^ "Rockpalast Night 23.-24.July 1977: Rory Gallagher 2.3.1948–14.6.1995". Rockpalast Archiv. September 1977. Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  14. ^ "Rory's Strat". Biography piece. You Tube. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "An Interview with: Vivian Campbell". Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  17. ^ "Rory Gallagher: A Previously Unpublished Interview". Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  18. ^ Essential CD and Book
  19. ^ "Rory Gallagher Tribute to be unveiled in Cork City Ireland". Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  20. ^ "The Rory Gallagher Music Library". Cork City Council. October 2004.,4266,en.html. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  21. ^ Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (2008). Le Petit Futé Paris Spectacles: Edition 2008. Paris: Petit Futé. p. 37. ISBN 9782746919082. 
  22. ^ "Flynn Amps — Rory Gallagher Hawk Booster". Flynn Amps. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 

External links


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