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Rory Gallagher (1949 - 1995):
Musician


Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher was a rock and blues guitarist and singer/songwriter, and one of the first Irish rock acts to enjoy major international success.

He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal though the family moved to Cork city when he was very young. By the age of nine he was learning the guitar and at 15 he left school to join Impact, a showband. In 1965 he formed his own blues-based rock band, Taste, which later included Richard McCracken and John Wilson. They made three albums, Taste, Live Taste, Live at the Isle of Wight, and On The Boards, which reached the Top Ten in Britain. They also appeared at the Belfast Maritime Club. Two of their notable landmarks were a residency at the Marquee Club, and supporting the group Cream at their Royal Albert Hall farewell concert. The group broke up the same year, 1970, shortly after their Isle of Wight appearance. Gallagher then formed another group, called simply Rory Gallagher, and they performed throughout Britain. Their third album, Live in Europe, reached the British top ten, and the leading British rock music magazine Melody Maker named Gallagher the Top Musician of the Year, ahead of even Eric Clapton. They also toured in the United States to audiences of thousands.

During the 1970s, he released 10 albums including two recorded live; aficionados often prefer these for their raw dynamic energy, and they tended to sell slightly better. Gallagher declined an offer to join, "the Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band in the World", The Rolling Stones, after the departure of Mick Taylor in 1973, although he recorded with them for a few nights. Later there were recordings with boyhood idols Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jerry Lee Lewis and Lonnie Donegan.

While he continued touring and recording in the 1980s, it was a slightly lesser pace. Three albums were released, one live. But he refused to alter his style, as record companies wanted. He remained loyal to his guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, and consistently went on stage dressed in his familiar garb of jeans and tartan shirt. Fewer record companies recorded him, so he recorded himself. Things began to deteriorate from the later 1980s. Gallagher's health and his ability to perform were increasingly compromised by (some say) excessive use of alcohol, combined with drugs that had been prescribed to alleviate his anxiety about flying. He continued touring and releasing albums. But by the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in the Netherlands, his health was deteriorating clearly and a liver transplant became necessary. At first this seemed to have been successful, but an MRSA infection set in and he died in London on 14 June 1995.

It was said of him: "The one particular trait that personified Rory Gallagher was his single- mindedness and sense of purpose. Throughout his distinguished career he never veered from his pursuit of distilling the purest blues into an expression of the form of this music which will always set him apart." Though more effective on stage, his albums sold over 30,000,000 copies worldwide. Musicians including The Edge from U2, Slash of Velvet Revolver, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, Joe Bonamassa, and Brian May of Queen, have cited Gallagher as an inspiration in their formative musical years.

Gallagher, who never married and had no children, was buried in St Oliver's Cemetery, Ballincollig, Cork. His headstone is a reproduction of the award he received in 1972 for International Guitarist of The Year.



Born: 2 March 1949
Died: 14 June 1995
Richard Froggatt
Acknowledgements:

Wesley McCann

Bibliography:

Dictionary of Irish Biography; http://www.rory.de/cork/shunter/article.html; www.lyricsfreak.com; http://www.softshoe-slim.com/lists/g/gallagher.html