Wheeling and Dealing

Shiv 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 future.

Since 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 greater clarity.

Thanks to Valerie Barr in England for lending a second pair of eyes to this transcript of the interview.

Shiv Cariappa

Wheels Within Wheels

Shiv Cariappa: Did you have a meeting with BMG (record company) yesterday?
Donal 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).

SC: Right! It seems like every six months they have new personnel (for you) to deal with.
DG: 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.

SC: 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?
DG: 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).

SC: (laughs) I like that song “Fail Safe Day” from “Defender.”
DG: Yeah, from Defender. It seems very appropriate (laughs).

SC:  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.
DG: 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.

SC: Yes, right at the beginning of the song.
DG: 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 (laughs).   

SC: 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.
DG: 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.
SC: Especially that song where he uses a 12-string guitar “I'm not awake yet.” It is simply a lovely song. shivrory1.jpg
DG: Yes, it has a very Celtic feel to it.

SC: Getting to “Walking Blues” on the album (Wheels), had Rory met Bela Fleck before the concert?
DG: 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 on him.

SC: So the whole thing was an impromptu session?
DG: 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.

SC: Have you been working on DVD releases?
DG: Yes, I have been.

SC: Are these the Rockpalast series?
DG: 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.

SC: Is it a question of everybody and his uncle signing off on it?
DG: 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.

SC: Are you happy with the quality?
DG: 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.

SC: Do you have access to the 1979 show in Montreaux, the one Rory does “Shadow Play” where he drags the guitar on the floor?
DG: 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 show.

SC: Is that something you might think of releasing?
DG: 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 clearances, 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.

So really 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).

SC: How long did it take you to put this one (Wheels) together -- like listen to the tapes?
DG: 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. That track (Flight) was done one afternoon in a recording environment, than one done of the (sound) board at the gig.

SC: Have you gone through all the tapes – I mean through an entire career of thirty years worth, or are you still discovering tapes?
DG: 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.

SC: 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.
DG: 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.

shivrory3.jpgSC: I thought it worked real well following “Flight to Paradise.” In terms of the order of track selection.
DG: 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.

SC: It really ends well I thought with the acoustic ending (Lonesome Highway).
DG: Yes, the refrain.

SC: It could have been the opening track.
DG: 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 only Raining.”

SC: 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?
DG: Yes, I was with him.

SC: I mean night after night, sometime three hours on stage. It takes its toll.
DG: 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 again.

SC: 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?
DG: 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.

SC: 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.

SC: It seems kind of funny, but it appears every show of Rory’s was somehow bootlegged.shivrory4.jpg
DG: 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.

SC: What's next on tap after all this is done?
DG: 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.

SC: 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.

SC: 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?
DG. There were different reasons. Mainly, I wanted to show the different (band) lineups. The last lineup Rory had was an excellent lineup.

SC: How happy was Rory with that lineup?
DG: 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).

SC: I remember speaking with Rory in 1991 and at that time he was in the process of auditioning people after Gerry and Brendan left.
DG: 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 little bit.

SC: I thought that last band had a bit of a harder edge to it live.
DG: 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 his music.

SC: And Mark Feltham is back with Nine Below Zero.
DG: 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.

SC. Is that something you would consider?
DG: 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.

SC: It looks like you've got plenty of work left for the rest of your life.
DG: 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.

SC: Are you thinking next of a blues album?
DG: 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.

SC: I know it is early, but how has the album (Wheels Within Wheels) been received so far?
DG: 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.

SC: To change the subject, were you pleased with the “BBC Sessions” in terms of sales?
DG: 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 out.

SC: 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?
DG: 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.

SC: Was “Wheels within Wheels” supposed to be on “Torch?”
DG: 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. shivrory5.jpg

“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.

SC: 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?
DG: 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 do.

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
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added 4/1/07