In Signals #2, there was an interview Jip Golsteijn, of the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, had with Rory in London, December 1994. Till this summer, I thought that was the last recorded/documented interview with Rory when a fan informed me about an interview Rory had done after his concert in Enschede on January 6, 1995. It was given for Radio Hengelo, a town adjacent to Enschede and broadcast for the first time on Wednesday, January 11, 1995 and re‑broadcast in June 1995 when Rory died. Here's a complete transcript of the broadcast, including the announcements made in the radio‑progamme. At the end there's a comment of Jan Akkerman, who also tells about his collaboration with Samuel Eddy on "Strangers On The Run” an album Rory also played on.
Last Friday, Rory Gallagher appeared at the Vrijhof in Enschede. After the show we met an extremely tired, but also awfully friendly Rory Gallagher. In his dressing room we talked around 1:00 a.m. Topic of discussion, among other things, was his Dutch tour as part of an extensive European tour, which had started in May 1994 and is nearly coming to an end.
Making & releasing hit singles and video clips, the necessity of which he is not convinced, the various artists Rory Gallagher has worked with and whom he would like to work with were also topics of discussion. After we had accepted his offer to have a drink with him, we let the tape recorder start rolling and asked him how it was to be back in the Netherlands.
It feels great. I think we've played some festivals in Holland in the last couple of years, but a proper Dutch tour as such, this is the first Dutch tour we've done. That we are doing 7 shows in 8 days, so it's a real proper tour and we're hitting not the usual big cities, but quite a span of places and that's very important eh…I think.
You've never followed a trend in the pop music, I
think. You've never released a single, for example. Your name &
music is not often heard on the Dutch radio, however your concert here
was already sold out last week. Do you have an explanation for
Eh..ehm..I don't like blues musicians, real rock & roll musicians making, I don't MIND them making singles or videos if they want to. I might even do it, who knows, but I haven't done it so far. I don't like the system that was run from London, New York and Los Angeles for so long. It's quite hard to explain, the Irish attitude is..it's, I don't mean that in a nationalistic way, eh... the point is I think that the musicians that I have got as heroes, I don't care whether they are #1 in the charts or #101 or not in the charts. I think that real music fans know if it's good or if it's not good.
In the past you've worked with Albert King, with Jerry Lee Lewis, Willie Dixon and the Muddy Waters London Sessions in 1973, I guess it was. Did you learn a lot from them?
Oh yeah, yes, in particular, eh actually I did not work with Willie Dixon as it happens, I worked with Champion Jack Dupree, Albert Collins, Albert King, Freddie King eh.
Also with Bob Dylan?
I met Bob Dylan. I had the pleasure meeting him 2 times. I met him only 2 months ago in Montreux in Switzerland. Eh..I would LOVE to work with him. It's one of my biggest dreams, but I worked with Muddy Waters, which then, what I've got the most information from. The energy I got, I worked with Jerry Lee Lewis and he's a dangerous man to be in the same room with, you know, eh, he's fabulous, he's the best rock 'n roller, eh, well who's the best rock 'n roller? Little Richard, Chuck Berry or Elvis? I don't know. Eddie Cochran maybe. I don't know, it depends. But the blues guys, I like the country blues guys that's gone slightly electric. It's complicated you know. The blues is a very broad spectrum and the radio doesn't represent it. They go from Buddy Guy to Robert Cray. So occasionally they go back to John Lee Hooker, then occasions they go back to Robert Johnson just because it's a kind of necrophilia.
Interview stops and on the radio “Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" is played.
You're listening to an l.p. from Rory Gallagher, an l.p. called Portrait of Rory Gallagher and the song "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time". After we had given Rory a well‑meant compliment with his fabulous guitar technique and with his nice & raw blues sound Rory reacted as follows:
Eh, people forget that there's women singer blues and the piano blues. Everyone is…what would you call it, concentrating on the guitar blues all the time, which is fine, but there are other instruments, it's like the harmonica players you know?
The first time I saw you in concert was about 20 years ago. What has changed in your opinion, speaking of making albums and doing a tour like this?
Eh..not so much at the moment, but 5 years ago it was eh. Things got very airy, the blues is now fashionable again and raw rock 'n roll is kind of fashionable. Eh..when we toured Holland then Europe in the 80's it was like, well okay, I like the Clash, I liked eh..who else?..
U2 for example, from Ireland, U2?
Pardon me? (apparently Rory had understood "You too", j.m.)
U2 from Ireland for example. Also music from Ireland?
Yeah, I like some of their stuff. I worked with them. They are good. I mean it's..and I like Van and so on and Sinead, but I mean..
You mean Van Morrison and Sinead O'Connor?
Yes, yeah. but I don't, unfortunately, I don't think..I would love Van to do a real rhythm and blues album, eh..I cover a territory of music that not many Irish people cover, because eh..which is sad, because the Irish history of music is very, eh..has parallels with world music and American music and blues music, because of the minor chords and the form of writing and so on. (as is shown well in the documentary 'My Wild Irish Rose") And eh, but I don't like the modern production that is used, which some of the people you've mentioned use. They are very good artists, but I like really very, very..I like demo sound recordings.
You're still listening to Radio Hengelo and the Progamme "Aerial in the Area", which can be listened to every Wednesday night from 21:00 to 23:00 and this time we pay much attention to Rory Gallagher who played in Enschede last Friday and we had a talk with him. You were listening to "Eat My Words" by the way, also a self penned song. Despite the loud sound on stage, Rory's hearing is more than excellent, for instance he is able to hear a telephone ring 2 rooms away, so he told us, in his hotel. In addition to that he has an absolute hearing/recognition and therefore is able to copy songs easily and quickly, but we also wanted to talk about his guitar‑techniques and we once more made him a compliment with his guitar playing.
You play the electric guitar very well.
To me it seems it is a part of your body. As well as the finger picking sound of the acoustic set. The audience was very enthusiastic tonight. In the past you also played the mandolin as well. Who has taught you to play all these instruments?
Never had lessons?
No. I went to the School of Music and Art. The only...they would not allow a guitar. They said if you would like to learn to play like Segovia we will teach you. And I said: "No I want to learn to play like....”
John Lee Hooker.
Yes, or whoever, you know. Simple, you know. They more or less told me to get out of the building. So I taught myself from a book of Skiffle songs, which is American folk music and it was called "Lonnie Donegan's book of skiffle songs or skiffle hits." And..but....well the secret was that it were Leadbelly songs and Woody Guthrie songs. So it had quite an effect on me and I taught myself in, I won't say 24 hours, but in 1 day I could actually sing a song and play 3 chords. I mean since that I've learned a little bit more I hope..I hope.
I can hear telephones ring in 2 buildings away. It's a temper. I am the opposite to what, Pete Townsend, Gary Moore and Jeff Beck have. They have a tympanitis (i.e. eardrum: inflammation of the membrane separating the external ear from the middle ear causing an inability to hear certain sound waves as they can't be transmitted to the cochlea, the spiral tube that forms part of the internal ear) from listening to cymbals and very loud Marshalls. In my case, I can hear eh..I can hear something moving from the corridor. I can hear a telephone ring in a hotel, 2 rooms away. Which is, it sounds very ..big and clever, but it's actually, when you're trying to get a night's sleep, it's not that much fun for you. My hearing is too acute, if you know what I mean, you know, acute.
"I Can't Believe It's True"(!) is played.
That was the song "I Can't Believe It's True" from Rory Gallagher, recorded in the 70's. His old Fender Stratocaster guitar, writing songs and making music, something Rory is not doing on Sundays as he's going to Church then, he joked, were the reasons time had clicked to half past one already. In the meantime I wanted to know how many hours a day he was playing the guitar.
How many hours a day do actually play the guitar?
On a day off you mean? Probably about 2 hours maximum, minimum 45 minutes.
At once, at a stretch or?
Yeah, and I play the acoustic, the mandolin, I play eh..depends if I am trying to write a song or just hanging around, playing, but I play 6 days a week. Sundays I go to Church (laughs!)
You still play on your old Fender Stratocaster isn't it? I heard a rumour you bought it when you were 15 years old and were still at school and you still got that same instrument?
Yeah, in fact I was younger than that. I got it when I was 12, 13..eh see. I was 12.
You are nearly 47 now?
No, no no! 45! To boost confidence.
I am sorry!
No, it doesn't matter. No, no it's the same one. The frets have changed, the bridges are changed, the machine head, the rest, the pick-ups have been re-wrung, because I have worn them out, what else? The 5-way switch, eh, it's electronically, naturally at this point. I had to renovate it, but basically it's as I bought it really. When I bought it, it wasn't scratched like this, it did pick up the scratches.
Since you've become famous and that was at the end of the 60's playing with Taste. You were one of the greatest, to my opinion, one of the greatest rock and blues composers. Is composing a natural thing for you to do? Or, tell me the secret how you fix it?
I don't fix it. I LOVE writing and eh, if I were not a guitar player I would, or a singer, love to write songs anyway. And I hope, in the future, to write for the cinema and maybe you know. It always sounds like a cliché and it sounds very corny when you say, "I'd like to write a novel, a play, etcetera,” but in the meantime I LOVE writing songs. It's not a..I write..the songs I write are the songs I would love to hear from someone else, if you understand me. I don't claim to be Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell or somebody, but I can write some pretty good stuff sometimes yeah.
Songs like "Railway And Gun","Can't Believe It's True", "Hands Off” how long does it take to write such a song?
Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes 3 hours, sometimes it takes 2 days or in the case of a song like "Philby," about the British spy Kim Philby, that took about 2 years to write, because the track was recorded, but I just couldn't..it was a complex subject matter.
The interview is stopped and "Going To My Hometown"(!) is played.
That great old track was "Going To My Hometown," recorded in 1974 and is to be found on the double l.p. Live in Ireland, Live in '74. And we are still listening to Aerial in the area and an interview we had with Rory last Friday after the concert in De Vrijhof. We did talk with him about making albums and which records by himself he liked best and the 2 new albums he will be recording this year.
You are working on 2 new albums about this time? 1 acoustic and an electric one. How is it going until now?
Do you have the material already or are you working in the studio?
I have the material already. But, there was a time that I could record and tour, but at the moment I..the older I get the more intense my performances become, really! And I can't record, like I can go, for instance. Can you imagine me going to a studio now for a 12 o'clock session or 1 o'clock, whatever time it is? No, after the Dutch tour I'm taking a little break in Ireland and then start the albums, but I have them written, both of them written and it's, yes I'm really looking forward doing them.
Will they be released in 1995 you think?
Oh yes, yeah. I won't say quickly, but they will be recorded without too many gimmicks or.. I've collected the..a bunch of people that I, or I've asked a number of people that are of the same mind as myself. Something like that, were..It's a terrible world right now, language is becoming complicated. No, but they will be both out in 1995.
Which of your albums is your own favourite one? You made more heavy stuff like "Top Priority," you have songs with a mandolin, "Going To My Hometown" for example. Which one do you prefer yourself?
I think 'Tattoo" is the best album and "Defender". They are my favourites.
Defender is from 88 isn't it?
Yes. That's a very good album, I think. Eh..I'm not expecting people to agree. I like the 1st solo album, after The Taste, as well. The black album as I call it. Eh..Tat...
The album that's called Rory Gallagher?
Yes. I mean, like every album. If you record yourself you understand yourself. I could re‑mix every album over and over again. I can redo this, I can redo that. "Tattoo" was pretty complete and I think that "Defender" was pretty complete. If that's…that's not to say that certain other albums, certain other songs, certain other things weren't good you know, so..
After "Defender" you released another album. I guess it was in 1991, isn't it? Fresh Evidence. Now it's 1995, how does it come..
that it took a few years before you make another 2 albums at a time?
I don't know. It's...I was touring you know. I'm not a machine you know. It takes time to write things and it takes time to feel that the moment is right to record, you know? That's all. Sometimes..I have done albums like..I did have 6 albums in 3 years, once for instance. What's the point in just, you know, being just a bread‑factory. It's..
"Tattoo'd Lady" is being played.
That was a song from "Irish Tour '74" called "Tattoo'd Lady." And we played an old l.p. and you could hear the scratches. Tonight attention for Rory Gallagher with whom we talked after his concert at De Vrijhof. Finally Rory told us about the art of entertaining the audience.
It's a dimension that people don't always understand. It's quite...It's the X‑Factor, you know. It's not just gonna up and play…a million notes on the guitar is one thing, it's, it's to perform and to absorb the feelings of the people in the crowd and the audience is another thing you know. Rock 'n Roll and blues, and what a lot of people forget about blues music is that in the early days in the 50's..eh..people used to dance at Muddy Waters concerts. At clubs I should say. You didn't play concerts then. And the same with B.B. King. Howlin' Wolf used to crawl up curtains to get a reaction eh..the blues is not all academic you know. It is about hip movement, like Slim Harpo said. It's..You had to play good guitar and sing well and ..it's got to have depth, but I don't..the idea of someone dancing to music..eh..is..even to blues..I don't know..I could never understand and particularly in England eh..eh..with the blues movement down the 60's with all those great musicians. They were SO academic or, what's the word, like University prejudice about “Thou shalt not dance," you know. Which is ridiculous. If you look at any of the old books..eh..most of the blues artists..the crowds are dancing and drinking and just having a good time, but they know damn well that the guys who are playing the music are dead serious about what they are doing you know?
That's..even Robert Johnson used to play to get people dancing. He used to play German polka's and…
The interview is stopped and a thank you from Rory's Live In Europe is played. On June 21, 1995 the interview is re‑broadcast starting with a newsflash reporting Rory's death and ending with a comment from Jan Akkerman, which follows:
Interviewer: This week it got known that Rory Gallagher died after an operation so I read in the newspapers. You've recently done something with him on somebody's album?
Jan Akkerman: Samuel Eddy. And that's an Irishman too. He played in Zaandam 2 days ago and then I played with him and then I was told by Niall McCormick, Sam's manager, that on that same night Rory had died. That had been broadcast on the English radio. So that was a strange thing. A few weeks before that I had worked with him in a studio in England, in Ripley of all places, the village of birth of my Archvictor Eric Clapton, I just think it's strange, just strange. I'm playing a very beautiful song with him called “Mystica.”
I: That was recorded?
J.A.: It was. It's on Sam Eddy's latest album.
I: And that c.d. was released by any means?
J.A.: Yes, I think it has just been released in Germany, I'm not sure. I just drove to it and did record that piece of music with Rory and that was 3 days just having a good time and I thought “now I am going back home, before it founders of conviviality” and it did for Rory.
I: He was not too ill for making music then?
J.A.: He looked very puffed out I thought. Well alright, that's a fact, that man probably was not to be stopped anyway. An Irishman who doesn't drink is crazy, but an Irishman who drinks too much also is.
This article was posted to the fanzine SIGNALS in December 1997. The other article refered to at the top of the article is #214 on RoryON!!
Thanks to Stefanos Tsiopanos for passing it along and to Brenda O'Brien for editing & typing
reformatted by roryfan
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