I had the great fortune to see Rory play in my home town of Ayr (south
west Scotland) on the 27th of February 1973 - my God ! I've just
realised that that was almost exactly 34 years ago !
It's a huge tribute to the man that the gig
still runs through in my mind so clearly. I made a point of
seeing all (or at least the vast majority) of my rock heroes while I
was 'footloose and fancy-free' but few were as great an experience as
seeing Rory live.
The gig was in the basement ballroom of what was the Caledonian
Hotel in Ayr - now the Ramada Jarvis hotel. My mates and I
arrived early for the gig because we knew if we wanted to get a good
viewing position we would have to dig in - right in front of the
stage. We went to the bar first to stock up with beer and fell into
conversation with a soft spoken Irishman after joining in his protest
of having Guinness served in plastic glasses !! The gentleman turned
out to be Rory's brother Donal.
The gig itself was amazing. I didn't think it would be possible
to top 'Live in Europe' live, if you get what I mean - it's still my
favourite live album by any artist ever - but Rory and the band just
ripped the place up. I can't think of a musician who could play
so many styles with such honesty and virtuosity. The man's warm
personality shone throughout (except when a vicious security ape stood
on a female fan's fingers when she tried to haul herself up on stage -
if guitars were axes, not just in name, that neanderthal would have be
cut in two!)
The venue is now a gymnasium which I sometimes use and I have
calculated that the deep end of the swimming pool is where the stage
was. I have, on more one occasion, dived to the bottom and
sent up a good thought for that good man.
Like everyone who came across the man - I feel the loss but there is a
great deal of comfort to be had from his great body of work and those
fans who actively go out of their way to keep his memory rockin'