Cariappa interviews Donal Gallagher on the making of 'Wheels Within
Wheels', the job of dealing with the record companies and other
involved parties and on his plans to release more of Rory's material in
the untimely passing of his older brother, the legendary Irish
guitarist Rory Gallagher, in 1994, Donal Gallagher continues to oversee
his sibling's musical legacy by ensuring that Rory’s music remains as
relevant today as it did during the guitarist's abbreviated career.
Donal spoke by phone
from London in March 2003 following the release of
“Wheels Within Wheels”, having carried out his brother's long held
desire to release an acoustic album.
Donal began the
conversation giving an update on his dealings with
record company representatives who would be handling posthumous
releases of Rory’s music. I've taken some editorial license to remove
some passages from our talk and tighten up several sentences for
Thanks to Valerie
Barr in England for lending a second
pair of eyes to this transcript of the interview.
Cariappa: Did you have a meeting with BMG (record company) yesterday?
Wheels Within Wheels
Gallagher: Yes I did. Yeah, we are located very close. So I try to
stand on their toes always. Again, it is trying to explain to people
how difficult some things can be with all the musical chairs in the
executive world. The chairman here in London left this month, and now
there is a new chairman. So there was no head of the department to deal
with, and no one to make major decisions. The new person came in to
place Monday and I had a meeting with him yesterday. And the proof of
the pudding is in the eating they say (laughs).
Right! It seems like every six months they have new personnel (for you)
to deal with.
Yes! I can understand the corporate world. Still, at the end of the
day, it does not relate to what we are doing in many ways. And the
whole process starts all over in educating them (about Rory) and
especially when you do something that is not the norm concerning their
catalog division. If you do a ‘best of’ or a reissue they can
understand. They don't quite understand when you tell them this (Wheels
Within Wheels) is not a re-issue or a compilation album, but a
brand-new album. There aren't too many models with what I have done,
which makes it very difficult for them to get their heads around it and
say it is a brand-new album. I can understand their quandary. It is a
little bit of a hybrid of an album.
You mentioned in your e-mail yesterday that the licenses in the
U.S. expire after a year – does it mean that you are free to
re-issue all (Rory’s catalog) the albums with a new label if necessary?
Yes, if necessary that's the way it is done. But I would not like to
think so, that we have to change homes again. There is a built-in
‘fail-safe’ mechanism in these (contracts) to put it that way – to
quote one of Rory’s songs (laughs).
(laughs) I like that song “Fail Safe Day” from “Defender.”
Yeah, from Defender. It seems very appropriate (laughs).
Say, on the album (Wheels Within Wheels), on the track “Flight to
Paradise,” who is playing the lead on that? Like the opening riffs, you
know the high notes.
It is shared between Juan Martin and Rory. It is one song and it would
be Juan opening the lines on that. It was a number he was doing on
stage and Rory starts to back him on that and they worked out the
arrangement themselves. They played close quite close to each other and
distinguishing it between them is sometimes hard. The Flamenco thing
with Rory, people would know him playing live particularly with
“Tattoo'd Lady.” Rory would play an overture.
Yes, right at the beginning of the song.
Yes, into the beginning, he would stretch it out into a Flamenco piece
or Spanish piece. Rory admired that style particularly a guy Manitas De
Plato he started to listen to in the ‘60s - a godfather of Flamenco. I
remember he dragged me along to see him play
Well, my first experience with Rory was “Deuce” when my brother,
visiting from the U.S., brought the album home quite some time ago in
India. And I think later the first song that really cemented me as a
fan later was “Tattoo'd Lady.” And that whole album “Tattoo” I thought
was Rory coming across as a versatile songwriter. I just love that song
and every version (live) that I've heard.
I was just listening to a version of that song (Tattoo'd Lady) live in
Dublin a gig from (Temple Bar) 1993. It is a great track you know.
“Deuce it seems is a fundamental album to many people. I was just
reading a book about Bill Hicks the comedian who is perhaps bigger in
Europe than the States. There is a passage in there where it refers to
what he was listening to and it says he got a copy of the “Deuce” album
that he played it so much that he wore it out.
Especially that song where he uses a 12-string guitar “I'm not awake
yet.” It is simply a lovely song.
Yes, it has a very Celtic feel to it.
Getting to “Walking Blues” on the album (Wheels), had Rory met Bela
Fleck before the concert?
Not to my knowledge. Of course I don't have Rory to verify that. Even
when Bela Fleck was playing on stage, what occurred was that Bob Dylan,
Bela, and Rory were on the same bill at Montreaux. Dylan decided he
would go on first and kicked off that night about 7:30. He did his set
and that was through 9-9:30, and then Bela followed Dylan. And when
Bela was on stage, Dylan came to see Rory in the dressing room. And in
the afternoon, Rory did not do a sound check that day because of the
amount of equipment that was on stage from Dylan. It was not like a big
rock festival, but it was an indoor auditorium. And we had traveled
somewhere up from Southern Italy. So we skipped the sound check and
there was no opportunity to meet. Dylan had much security around him
that particular day. Knowing that Rory being a huge music fan, he would
have known of Bela who interestingly enough is married to an Irish
artist and oddly enough residents in Nashville. Rory would have read up
So the whole thing was an impromptu session?
Oh totally. They didn't even do a sound check. They didn't even meet up
in the afternoon to get a balance in the system.
Have you been working on DVD releases?
Yes, I have been.
Are these the Rockpalast series?
Yes. The producer of the series is now semi-retired. The problem up to
now was getting access to the material. The producer Peter Ruchel -- it
is very much his thing. It is his show. I went to Germany the week
before and we went through everything. It is trying to cut a deal now
and keep everyone happy.
Is it a question of everybody and his uncle signing off on it?
Not necessarily. It is more composition of the tapes and the way they
come across. And it is a difference of opinion on the way they see it
and I see it. Once you get into the jam sessions (with guest artistes),
they felt they did not have to sign off on the people who were on the
sessions, and I felt they did have to. In a band situation, it is
different where the original agreements takes care of that issue. It is
one of those things where we obviously would like to retain control.
The TV companies often sell their rights to a third-party manufacturer
who basically holds the interest of the TV company. It is not
straightforward as dealing with someone like BMG.
Are you happy with the quality?
Very happy. We did some tests. We have got the finished product as yet.
I am conscious of viewer fatigue. Sometimes it is better to keep the
original concert instead of cramming all the programs everything into a
double DVD. I've seen that happen with the “Old Grey Whistle Test.” It
is a little bit like going back to the album. You could put in 70
minutes of acoustic material and you don't create an album but a
library piece. It is a bit of an art putting an album together. I'd
hate to put together an album, and have someone think ‘Great! I will
listen to the second half tomorrow.’ I think you can absorb an album or
a DVD in one session.
Do you have access to the 1979 show in Montreaux, the one Rory does
“Shadow Play” where he drags the guitar on the floor?
We've got that one. We have the rights to that particular performance.
Montreaux is entirely separate from Rockpalast. Then we bought the
rights up front. In fact, it was the night before the very first
Rockpalast night. We took a decision to buy that program to use for
clips or whatever for Rory’s use. We do have the Master (tapes) of that
Is that something you might think of releasing?
Yes. I mean we are talking to Montreaux at the same time because Rory
made several appearances at the Montreaux (Jazz Festival), and they
have a very good library there, and my talks with them were in relation
to the Bela track on the album (Wheels Within Wheels). I had to get
obviously from Bela, and accommodate Montreaux in that respect. And
that opened a dialog with them. Claude Knobs, the director of the
Montreaux Festivals has been a good friend over the years and has been
very much in favor of Rory. Where the logjam appears is that with BMG,
you have a set schedule of items you deliver per contract. Above and
beyond the contract the release of “Irish Tour” (DVD) is a bonus. The
Cork Opera House (Live at Cork 1987) is also a bonus to BMG.
it is waiting on them to find their center to be honest. When it comes
to doing agreements, you don't give them a blank check and give them
the entire Rory collection of everything he has done. You have to
specifically set out to give them (projects) like the back catalog, or
that you give them two new albums like the “BBC Sessions,” and the
acoustic album (Wheels).
How long did it take you to put this one (Wheels) together -- like
listen to the tapes?
Saying how long it took is difficult. Because the first job to tackle
was going back to the original back catalog and spooling all those
particular sessions from Rory Gallagher (first solo album after Taste),
“Deuce,” “Live in Europe.” So we were effectively going through all the
tapes listening for bonus tracks. In the course, we did start to spot a
lot of material. And a lot of boxes (of tapes) were not properly marked
(for identification). And we would come across tracks that were not
necessarily from the early sessions. It was a process we started
looking for bonus tracks for the reissues. I was mentally aware of the
Juan Martin track for instance (Flight to Paradise). We had a cassette
of that, and we went to Juan Martin to see if he had further material,
which he did. He had tapes of the live performances. So there were
other tracks we looked at such as the Lindley and Richard Thompson.
track (Flight) was done one afternoon in a recording environment, than
one done of the (sound) board at the gig.
Have you gone through all the tapes – I mean through an entire career
of thirty years worth, or are you still discovering tapes?
We are still discovering. There are many tapes. I have cassette tapes
of Taste live on stage. That's how far back, but things turn up out of
the blue. We put the current album to bed and suddenly Tom (O'Driscoll
- Rory road engineer) suddenly found a tape, and we played it. It was
an instrumental that Rory had done in the studio, but it was too late
to put in the album. That came from a recent session. When I say
recent, I mean the late 80s early 90s. It turned out that Rory had gone
down to check out a studio himself and he had brought his acoustic
guitar and got the guy (studio engineer) to turn on the tapes and
record him. It came back unmarked. Rory would do that because he
had a good relationship with the engineers. The guy might mention check
this out, and they would go out on a Saturday afternoon, and Rory would
not necessarily log in everything he was doing. Rory may not have
wanted a band and crew along, but just himself to check out the
(studio) with his acoustic guitar. Then we would have to trace the tape
back to the studio, which by then may have gone out of business, and we
are on a merry chase. We would often have a good recording, but we
would like to get the original. That was the process. We have to go to
the engineer to see if they have a copy or if they can remember the guy
who sold the studio and the library with the studio.
You know, a few years ago I spoke with Mark Feltham (Rory harmonica
sideman), and he mentioned that one night they were at Redan Recorders
and had some amazing tapes and he wondered if you had those, what I
understand to be, jam sessions.
Yeah! Those were jam sessions, and there's a lot of context how you can
use them. I mean there is a lot of stuff die-hard fans could get in to,
and that would satisfy fan's expectations, but then we have to market
them. And you have to find something that gels together. I was
conscious of say a track like “As the Crow Flies.” Well that was on
“Irish Tour.” I had set out on an agenda that I would not use any of
the alternative versions. It just seemed right on that session in
particular in France. You spot a box tapes and you play and find a
superb studio version.
I thought it worked real well following “Flight to Paradise.” In terms
of the order of track selection.
It is like “Lonesome Highway.” At first I set it aside and said ‘no.’
That track is electric. But knowing Rory’s taste like the band
(Pentangle) in the folk world. It had all the hallmarks of Pentangle --
the direction they would have gone in respect to the music they were
doing. To me it was like Pentangle. We could have taken out the
electric and just completely worked on acoustic. Initially when I
decided to use the track, I tampered with the idea of using that as the
opening track because I thought it was a lovely blossoming effect on
the album. Well than I thought if I used that as the opening track,
than everyone would say that is not an acoustic album. Where it is
(track placement) it is more acceptable.
It really ends well I thought with the acoustic ending (Lonesome
Yes, the refrain.
It could have been the opening track.
Yeah! We were playing around with that one. It was a completely
different session to where Rory recorded it at – Air Studios. The
“Lonesome Highway” was done at Wessex during, I believe, at the time of
“Against the Grain.” Then later on he did this at Air during the “Photo
Finish -Top Priority” time. I think he was building it in a different
way. It was marked “It is only raining,” as were a lot of boxes. It was
Rory’s definitive title. I made a play on words - “Refrain” as in “Its
To go off topic a bit. It seems things eventually caught up with Rory
playing 250 days a year for 30 years. I mean, you were on the road with
him as well for most of that time. How did you manage personally?
Yes, I was with him.
I mean night after night, sometime three hours on stage. It takes its
Well, I didn't have to do the physical part of three hours on stage.
For me, it was like being a coach to a football team. You can remain
the coach where the players burn out. I had different sorts of
pressures. Where as Rory could lie on in the morning after a late night
(performance), I was often up late in the night conducting business and
making arrangements for the next (gig). Rory gave more than 100 percent
of his attention to a single vocation and career and nothing else. I
would tell Rory to do ninety-minute sets, some encores, and Rory would
get upset even if I suggested a set list. I mean a lot of the shows
evolved and remained quite similar a lot of times. Rory would not allow
a set list, and he wouldn't even tell the rest of the musicians on
stage what the opening number was. He wanted to keep the spontaneity in
that situation. He wanted an electric feel and keep everyone on their
toes including himself. A lot time it was on the hoof. Saying this
seems odd, but it was (his shows) can be compared to making love. I
mean like making love to his audience. He would take it (his music) in
one direction and then suddenly switch directions. Just like leading to
his (mid-set) acoustic set. He would build things to a feverish pitch
and hold it, and then go cold to an acoustic, and then build it up
I had spoken to Rory on his last tour of the U.S. in ’91, just before
he got on stage in Boston, and asked him if he had written anything new
since “Fresh Evidence.” He said he had written quite a few pieces, but
mostly on tape at the hotel and on the road. What happened to those are
they so undeveloped that you cannot use them?
They are a little bit too raw. The problem is we have lyric sheets, but
no notes or music notations to go with them. They would be in Rory’s
head. So you would have a situation where you had a set of lyrics and
nothing else. I know he wrote a tribute to John Lee Hooker called ‘The
Detroit Lion.” There's a great set of lyrics, but we don't have the
tapes. We are sifting through a lot of material. We did start to look
at some of the tapes at the hotel, but they weren't the best. We
couldn't use those tapes. But what I did in that respect was that I was
chatting with Peter Green and gave him access to a couple of songs
because I felt that Peter was full of admiration for Rory and still is,
as far as I know. He is still interested in covering one of Rory’s
songs. I just knew Peter's frame of mind that he was not writing
material, that perhaps he could do the guitar structure to the lyrics.
It could be a co-write. That was some time ago, but I did not get a
response through his managers. But they have since changed. It is
something I will follow through with. Again that was a little bit of an
experiment to see if that would bring anything forward.
I was reading up on a couple of articles and I've got two different
numbers that Rory sold more than 14 million albums, and another 30
million. Do you have any kind of estimate?
DG: Thirty million is inaccurate. It
is close to 20 million if you take in to account re-issues. Those
numbers came from I.R.S Records when they put out “Blue Day for the
Blues.” I was actually upset about the release because they did not
have the rights to put out a compilation and they went ahead without my
authority. I.R.S. was going down under at that time and were desperate
to put anything out that would sell for them. And they had those
figures in the sleeve notes. It is very hard to know if you include
everything including Taste, Bootleg albums, then may be you could
arrive at 30 million.
It seems kind of funny, but it appears every show of Rory’s was somehow
Well, yeah! It used to be quite funny because Rory would be quite
intrigued when he would meet fans backstage and they would arrive with
copies of “Blue Print” or “Deuce” or whatever to sign and they would
have a whole range of bootlegs, and Rory would be like a (vinyl) record
fan (laughs) and ask ‘where did you get this one? This is great, I
haven't seen this one.’ He would then go out and get copies of his own
bootleg. I found that kind of amusing and perhaps he found that some
kind of honor system.
What's next on tap after all this is done?
I need to clear up the DVDs. I need to resolve this with Germany. It
falls outside the current scope and agreement with BMG. I would like to
keep everything under one roof. The Capo label is a mark of distinction
even if has different distributors, it will have the Capo tag to it.
What's the difference between Strange Music and Capo?
DG: They are two different companies
in one respect. Strange Music was set up in the early 70s to
accommodate the publishing (lyrics) aspect of the music. Capo was only
formed in the 80s. When we got back music rights to the Chrysalis and
Polydor catalogs, we were looking for an identity for the labels. I was
urging Rory to do it. We were dealing with companies who wanted us to
do what they wanted to and what Rory would not do. And for me as the
Manager, it was easier to talk with record companies easier as a
Manager of Capo than Manager of an artiste. It was an identity. I had
asked Rory for a name and he said “Capo” as in his interest in crime
novels and then the guitar has a Capo.
On the collection “Lets Go to Work” (2001), regarding the fourth album,
which is the bootleg album, why was the thinking behind that, why did
you choose that one?
There were different reasons. Mainly, I wanted to show the different
(band) lineups. The last lineup Rory had was an excellent lineup.
How happy was Rory with that lineup?
He was very happy. Initially he thought in terms of a three-piece.
Richard Newman on drums and David Levy on bass was the nucleus of the
three-piece. And of course Mark Feltham (Harmonica) and Rory were quite
close friends. We didn't have Taste in that box set. In “Live in
Europe” you had Wilgar Campbell (Drums) and Gerry (McAvoy).
I remember speaking with Rory in 1991 and at that time he was in the
process of auditioning people after Gerry and Brendan left.
It took him quite a while. On one hand I felt he should have struck out
and done the acoustic thing. Because a lot of his music tastes were
changing and he didn't seem to like the traveling element. Because with
a band set up, you are taking a larger road crew, a larger PA system,
lighting and catering. He felt he was beginning to loose the plot a
I thought that last band had a bit of a harder edge to it live.
Yeah! It is a shame when Rory left because the band would have matured
as things got along. It was one of the better recording bands. You had
Richard (Newman) who was only 22-23 (years old) with all the energy of
that age. His father is Tony Newman who played with the Jeff Beck Band
and others, and is now in Nashville where he was playing with the
Everly Brothers. I spoke with Richard recently and he has been playing
with a guitarist called Paul Rose who, during a promotion for “Fresh
Evidence,” won a contest. They had hooked up on some tracks. David Levy
was mostly a sessions player. Jim Leverton plays keyboard on the box
set (Let's Go To Work). He was a bass player previously and a friend of
Rory. What Rory usually wanted with keyboards was a bit of coloring to
And Mark Feltham is back with Nine Below Zero.
That's right. I also had a commitment with BMG to give them a bootleg –
well actually I couldn't say “bootleg” on the contract. This is a
problem with a change of personnel with record companies. The chap who
I signed with a BMG was Ray Jenks, and he used to be with Castle
Records and he was most impressed with the G-Men series. In effect he
wanted me to revive that series.
Is that something you would consider?
Yeah, I would. The problem is with his replacements at BMG would not be
familiar with that and then you have to start from scratch with them.
It looks like you've got plenty of work left for the rest of your life.
Yeah, hopefully! We are working with a lot of different things and you
can't publicize them. We have to strike a good business contract with a
major (label) and once they settle all their personnel changes than you
have a little bit more freedom opening up the sluice gates and get a
lot of material out there.
Are you thinking next of a blues album?
That is certainly one (option). I met someone the other night and he
asked what do you have for us heavy-rock fans when I mentioned idea of
a blues album. In a way when I was working on the acoustic album was to
mark Rory’s credentials as a folk musician if you like. I thought it
was also time to establish his blues credentials. I am also conscious
of the young people and those coming from the folk world who were
unaware of Rory’s material. I know of the resistance of the radio
people who were afraid to play Rory’s tracks because they were afraid
his music would blow their speakers because he played so loud. You
would have radio Djs and program producers who would attend Rory’s gigs
and dig it. But they would carry that image to the radio and say they
can't play something like this. This album serves a purpose where they
can play “Wheels Within Wheels” on the middle of the road stations
without impairing someone's hearing. The album blossoms everything and
is somewhat an educational process opening things up for Rory’s music.
Suddenly people are hearing Rory (for the first time) on stations he
hadn't been heard before. So one step forward could be to do a blues
album and bring a few of those folk fans into Rory’s blues because folk
in a way is a partner to the Blues.
I know it is early, but how has the album (Wheels Within Wheels) been
received so far?
The reaction on this side of the waters is excellent. Mojo, one of the
important music magazines has given it a four goldstar review saying it
is a splendid album, one of the best of its kind. It is reviewed by
Colin Harper. Colin is very much a folk guy. He wrote Bert Jansch’s
biography and shows how respected he is in the folk world and to get a
good review from an authority like that is great.
To change the subject, were you pleased with the “BBC Sessions” in
terms of sales?
No, not in terms of sales. No! I really felt a lot more could have been
done with that. I've learnt a few lessons, and also that time we were
the victim of the musical chairs at the (record) company, because Roy
Jenks the guy I signed with left the department just as the album came
When you come out with a new album such as the “BBC Sessions,” at the
end of the day, do you at least break even with costs, with all the
efforts you have put in, and paid off everybody?
Well, as much as I obviously keep an eye out on the books and figures,
I don't think about it until after the event. Otherwise, you would be
prevented from doing a lot of things. And you have a situation with the
BBC where you have to pay them up front in advance of an estimate of
sales. That can be difficult. It is not like having kids in the family
where you can say you are not getting a pair of shoes this time. There
are a whole lot of factors. At least here, the catalog itself generates
income and you have the support of a major record company. You have to
go forward with plans. In my view, that (BBC Sessions from Rory) was
one of the best BBC records of its kind. In a way, I used the (Led)
Zeppelin album as a benchmark the year before since they had a similar
set. I did not want to put out a whole lot of live tracks together. I
was focusing on “Irish Tour,” so that in my judgment, the album would
come out with that standard in mind. To a great degree, it also told me
something about a lesson in listener fatigue. By putting out too much
material on a set like that. I mean it would be a great library piece
and would be great for the fans. I am very happy with that live set. I
deliberately switched it around. If Rory were coming out with a live
album, he would begin the album with a “Shinkicker-”like track to begin
the album. So with that we went the opposite way with “Calling Card.” A
soft way to build it through the blues, and like a freight train
picking up steam.
Was “Wheels within Wheels” supposed to be on “Torch?”
There is a total misconception about “Torch.” “Torch” was “Defender.”
There was no album in between (“Jinx” and “Defender”). “Torch” was the
working title for “Defender,” and “Wheels” would have been on the San
Francisco album before “Photofinish.” The concerns with putting out
that album in its entirety were many other reasons, but not least was
that Rory recorded again with a new lineup that included Ted McKenna.
Most of the material in that album, about half the songs, was on
“Photofinish.” Now with time gone, it is something to take another look
and putting it out as a particular set of sessions. To me “Wheels” was
such a beautiful, melancholic song that could have been a turning point
perhaps in Rory’s life. The sadness that checked in there. He wouldn't
perform the song. He did attempt it back in Germany, but it wasn't a
song with which he wanted to get involved. From a spiritual standpoint,
Rory also probably knew of his own destiny. He refers to it often about
fading away, about being taken away by depression. And “Wheels Within
Wheels” is no exception in that case.
“Torch” was a working title, and
he referred to that title to a journalist. And the next thing it was
taken away by a band associated with that journalist called Torch. It
was like any album with a several working titles. At one point, it was
slated as “Loanshark Blues”. “Defender” was presented as “Defender of
the Blues.” “Defender” comes from a newspaper in Chicago called “The
Defender.” From tracks like “The Loop,” Rory had a fondness for Chicago
and the culture of that city and its blues. The “Defender” newspaper
was a magazine sold by many of the Blues guys who came up from the
south and had no work, and they were paper boys selling it in the
street corners between sessions for Chess records or for whomever they
did. That's how they made a living selling the “Defender.” And that's
how the title came about.
To switch subjects, you were with Rory throughout his career and
especially on the road you saw him on a day-to-day basis. At what point
did you realize that something was amiss with him?
Since I knew him as a child. He was very different from the norm right
from his early formative years. He seemed to have more wisdom than my
pals or his pals. Rory seemed to have a destiny about him. Rory seemed
to harbor a terrible depression hidden inside him. I first became
concerned was during the split up of Taste - as far back as then, when
he returned from the UK to Cork. He went in to retreat. It took a while
to get him out of a shell to which he seemed to get himself in. He was
somebody who could hide his feelings. Even with alcohol, the rest of us
would get super silly and do stupid things, Rory would be still very
together. He wasn't overtly falling over. And illness-wise, I suppose
in the (19)80s. Even with so many days on the road, we would take some
long gaps like six months. Rory would go back to Ireland and write. The
difficulty with that was that Rory off the road was a totally different
person because he would become very insular. He would become very
depressed. Yeah, it was great to take a break (from touring), but he
wasn't a person I felt who was doing anything constructive on his time
off. He wouldn't go off on holiday. He didn't have a hobby he would
pursue or other interests. Then we realized that this was the wrong
thing to do with his languishing till we got back on the road. He
didn't have a set of friends to hook up with. His friends were
musicians on the road. It was a gypsy lifestyle.
I think when I became
most concerned was when it dawned on me at the time of the London “Town
and Country” gig (1992) when his medication hit us in the face - that
the medication was seriously effecting him. We had been at Dorset the
night before. We had done a warm-up gig and taken a night off there and
we came to London. And I thought we were going to have a great gig
because the following night he was opening a new venue at Leeds and at
the “Town and Country”. The show was getting a lot television
interest in the north of England. It was a very high profile gig to get
involved with. But that morning Rory had gone to the doctor, and he
would listen to his doctors (advice), but they put him on tranquilizers
and he was drowsy all day. We thought he was just exhausted from
the first gig. The first few numbers were fantastic - I mean he really
lashed on to it. But then suddenly, the concoction of taking a couple
of brandies, to wake up before getting on stage, counteracted with his
medicine he had taken. And then suddenly you realize that you have a
battle on your hands.
As close I was to my brother, I wasn't rude
enough to look at his medicines. I knew some of the medicines he was
taking were for flying. And I thought fair enough if it helped him with
flying, travel and stresses. It was from that moment on, I was very
concerned. Then we went out on the European tour. In fact, we were
about to cancel the European tour, but then we thought if we do that,
he will crawl back in a shell and he will probably not work at all.
Then I felt the best thing to do was get him back on tour and that way
we can monitor that he eats during the day and that he sleeps during
the night, and that him being on his own is probably the wrong thing to
During the last tour, I realized that we really had a serious
medical problem. I also realized the tablets he was taking seemed to be
causing him illness rather than helping him. In fact, I broke into his
dressing room and stole his baggage on the second night of his tour in
Vienna so that he couldn't have the medication. And of course that had
another effect of all the insecurities that relate to a person having
that medication. I later went to a German chemist and had him explain
to me what he was taking - and certainly in Germany you couldn't get a
prescription to a lot of his medication unless you were in a supervised
situation in a hospital. So it was then that we began to tackle his
doctors as to what he was taking. The problem was not one doctor, but a
couple of doctors, and we had to break in to confidential information.
And that led to tensions between Rory and me over my trying to cut down
(medicines) what he was taking. You know, I also noticed that after
that night in Vienna, when I stole his baggage, the following day Rory
stopped drinking alcohol voluntarily.
Note: This interview was
done in preparation for an article Shiv wrote.
See Article #274
(click here) Rory Gallagher's Acoustic
Collaboration:Wheels Within Wheels
Photos were provided by Donal for that article
Many thanks to Shiv Cariappa for
sharing this interview and for great effort needed to transcribe the
interview from a recording. Thanks to Valerie Barr for her help in
breaking down the recording.
reformatted by roryfan