Rory Gallagher
Durable Irish guitar virtuoso. Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, but was raised from an early age in Cork, South East Eire, which he regards as his home town. He had toyed around with guitars as a child - his first "real" instrument cost £4.50 and was gifted to him at nine - and he played with and formed various bands up to leaving school at 15.

Gallagher's roots even then were firmly into blues and rock - but the Irish music scene being dominated as it is by that particularly Irish phenomenon, the show-band, his first post-school gig was with The Fontana Showband (later renamed The Impact).  ATGbackcover.JPG

The guitarist has recalled: "I wasn't fond of showbands, but promoters thought you had to have 15 members before you were a proper group, which meant that my own groups didn't get any work."

Gallagher played with the showband for two and a half years until their disbandment in 1965, at which point he recruited the bass player, Charlie McCracken, and the drummer, John Wilson, to form the blues trio Taste. This outfit commuted between Hamburg and Ireland, working up a solidly blues-based repertoire, until they came to London in an attempt to break into the U.K. market in 1969.

Outside of Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream, though they never climbed similar heights of virtuosity and mass acclaim, Taste were one of the pioneering, bluesbased power trios, specialising in interpretations of blues standards such as Sugar Mama. But Taste were strictly Rory Gallagher's band, with McCracken and Wilson often relegated to roles of backup musicians, and it was the internal friction over this arrangement that precipitated break-up of the band in early 1971. (McCracken and Wilson went on to form shortlived Stud with guitarist Jim Cregan, later of Family.)

By this time, Taste had accrued a steady U.K. following - their four albums racked up healthy sales without denting the Top 30 lists and Gallagher was able to retain the group's audience when he subsequently formed his own new band with fellow Irishmen Wilgar Cambell (drums) and Gerry McAvoy (bs). This time, with a working name of The Rory Gallagher Band, there would be no doubts as to who was the boss.

This line-up played on Rory Gallagher (1971), which also had Atomic Rooster's Vincent Crane guesting on piano, Deuce (1971) and Live In Europe (1972), the last-named giving Gallagher his first major bite at the U.K. albums charts.

The same year saw a personnel reshuffle: Wilgar Cambell was replaced by Rod de' Ath and, just before an American tour, keyboards player Lou Martin was recruited to boost line-up to present four-piece. Both new members were previously with Irish outfit Killing Floor.
With Martin's keyboards giving the band a wider range, Blueprint was released early 1973, following which album Gallagher completed his most successful British and American tours.

At Christmas 1973 the band returned to Ireland to play a series of sell-out gigs in Belfast, Cork and Dublin, the results being recorded on the double-set live album Irish Tour '74 and in the 90-minute documentary movie "Rory Gallagher - Irish Tour '74", directed by Tony Palmer, which was premiered at the Cork Film Festival in June 1974.

A soft-spoken, gentle-mannered Irishman (despite a reputation for toughness acquired in stormy last days of Taste), Gallagher is one of the most accomplished guitarists in rock. His playing is heavily influenced by B.B., Freddie and Albert King, and his band's music is a mixture of urban blues and Gallagher's own material.

The very antithesis of glitter rock, he has been described variously as "the hardest gigging musician in the business" and as "the people's guitarist" - the latter tag deriving from Gallagher's shunning of show business trappings. Hanging on to his battered guitars and equally battered Levis, always seemingly attired in the same checked lumberjack shirt, Gallagher has long been the butt of cynicism and jokes. Nevertheless he has survived all trends the aforementioned glitter/rock, the decline of the guitar hero as a rock force - and now that the latter is showing signs of going into reverse, he could be on the brink of a major breakthrough in the U.S.

To this end, he should be helped by his 1975 signing to Chrysalis Records, whose roster of acts also includes that other nascent guitar hero Robin Trower. 

Album notes: the first listing below was not released until 1974 but comprises tracks recorded in Ireland circa 1967, around time of Taste's embryonic period.

In The Beginning (-/Emerald Gem)  Rory Gallagher (Polydor) Deuce (Polydor) Live In Europe (Polydor) Blueprint (Polydor) Tattoo (Polydor) Irish Tour '74 (Polydor) Against The Grain (Chrysalis) With Taste: Taste (Polydor) On The Boards (Polydor) Live Taste (Polydor) Taste At The Isle Of Wight (Polydor)

An article from 1975. NEED HELP WITH THE SOURCE
reformatted by roryfan
To Join
The Loop
Mailing & Discussion List 
email roryfan at
Back to main RoryON!! page
 Back to Articles page
Back to previous article
Forward to next article
added 1/6/08