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).
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. Recordings:
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.
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reformatted by roryfan