When i was in my teens I lived in London England and way back then, in
the early 1970s, I got heavily into jazz/blues guitarists.
Not many rock guitarists really impressed me much. They tended to sound
I used to listen to late night radio, usually on Radio One or
Capitol. One night I heard an artist who sounded rather
different. The song was " Laundromat"..the artist was Rory Gallagher.
The first thing that struck me was that Rory was using unorthodox
riffs, quite different from the cliches being used by most rock
players. A lot of Eastern scale patterns which made me assume he had
been listening to sax players alot like John Coltrane/Eric Dolphy.
I bought Rorys album, then
his next one called "Deuce". I read his interviews/ statements of
advice in music papers like "The Melody Maker/Sounds/Record
Mirror" ---I also was curious to see him so I got a ticket to his
gig at The Greyhound, Croydon (around March 1972). The venue was very
small, the stage was cramped. Hell Angels had filtered in and had taken
the front rows. (there were no seats, just plain floor).
Rory bounced onto stage
looking fresh and young. Very good looking guy with no pretense or
pride whatsoever. He proceeded to plug into a battered Vox AC30 amp,
his Fender Strat looked liked it had be baked at 500 degrees in a
He struck a note, turned it into a harmonic and then bent the
string at the nut...then launched into "Messin' with the kid". I
was totally awestruck.....for an hour and half he played his heart out.
Each song was ended with humble expressions of appreciation and a
cheerful smile. On the slow blues songs like Junior Well's
"Hoodoo Man" his Strat cried in agony. Never before had I heard
anyone coax that sound from a Fender Strat!! ( and that goes right up
His command of the Blues was
one that can't be equalled. He had the totally raw approach that had
been seen first with the likes of Buddy Guy/Hubert Sumlin. But the
thing that impressed me the most was Gallagher's stage presence and his
ability to give 200% every time! I saw him again shortly after this gig
and he went even further in terms of musical generosity and sincerity.
At that time there were
ostentacious rock stars who thrived on compliments 'stardom ' and
"glitter"..we had Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Mott the Hoople.
Here was a guy who was the absolute opposite, but looked a helluva lot
better than them. I'd have to say this memory will stay with me
for life and so will my undying respect for Rory Gallagher.