|"got to thinking about the
recluse in the Conrad Hotel. Irish guy named Gallagher, Rory Gallagher.
Word was he used to play guitar real good. The French named a street after
him. Liked a drink. Wouldn't give out his phone number."
by Colin Harper
HE SUFFERED A LOT. HIS HEALTH WAS BAD. HE HAD A PROBLEM WITH DRINK. His relationships with women were all messed up because of his work. And he got a lot of hassle from the authorities and the establishment. But still, he stayed true to what he wanted to do. .." Describing his admiration for crime writer Dashiell Hammett in 1992, Rory Gallagher was all but dictating his own epitaph. His once lean figure bloated through medication for liver disease, dark glasses shielding the light from his eyes, yet typically honest in recounting his own increasing "ragbag of neuroses" - obsessive picture-straightening among them -it was as if he knew that he was reaching the place where life runs out.
Rory Gallagher died aged 47 from complications following a liver transplant at London's King's College Hospital on Wednesday, June 14, 1995. Strangely for someone so long on the margins of media favour, the worldwide obituary machine went into overdrive, and nowhere more so than Ireland. Devastatingly sincere tributes flowed into Hot Press, the island's premier music publication, not only from fans, but broadcasters, journalists and fellow musicians. Several had only met him in passing, but were clearly as impressed with his soft-spoken, generous character and unquenchable enthusiasm for music as they were by his playing. Jimmy Page, Paul Rodgers and Slash lined up with Gary Moore, U2 and The Dubliners to praise the guitarist and his work. Bono described him as "one of the Top 10 guitar players of all time, but more importantly one of the Top 10 good guys"; even Van Morrison issued a statement. But the truth was, as a columnist for the Irish Times noted under the stark headline "Lest We Forget", that Rory may have been on many people's minds on that Wednesday, but how many had been thinking about him on the Tuesday?
WILLIAM RORY GALLAGHER WAS BORN ON MARCH 2,1948 IN BALLYSHANNON, A SLEEPY LITTLE TOWN IN DONEGAL. His father Danny, from Derry, was working on a hydroelectric project in the area. Rory was bought his first guitar at nine, although his brother Donal (later his manager) remembers him tuning into American radio in search of blues music aged only six. Seeing Elvis on TV was an inspiration; other enduring musical heroes included Chuck Berry and Lonnie Donegan. When Rory was eight, the family moved to McCurtain Street in the cosmopolitan centre of Cork City, his mother Monica's home town. Still at school, he was determined to play. "I had tried to get a group together at school, which lasted one night!" he recalled. "I was still doing the odd show on my own -talent shows and charity shows, pioneer rallies. So when I saw an ad in a paper -'Showband needs guitar player' -I said, Well, I'll give it a bash. These fellas were doing two or three gigs a week and I could plug into an AC30 — the amplifier I had at home was a four-watt Selmer! I handled the rock’n’roll department, basically. The two years I had with them was fun — at the age of 16, I was playing the showband gigs in England in Lent [six weeks when the Irish dance halls were closed] — which gave me the chance on nights off to go down to the Marquee and see The Yardbirds or Spencer Davis.”
The showband era has its own mythology in Ireland today. At its peak, there were said to be around 600 matching-suited acts shuttling up and down the island, packing them in on a vast circuit of rural ballrooms (14 of which were owned by future Irish premier Albert Reynolds) with grueling five-hour shows encompassing UK chart covers, comedy songs, Elvis and Jim Reeves favourites. Genuine beat groups were the poor relation. Joining The Fontana, who later became The Impact, Rory — now armed with his famous Stratocaster — was one of many creative souls learning their craft in a mohair suit. “We were the first to break the showband dress code, wearing more Beatlesy clothes. The name change too —Fontana was too showbandy. I thought we could break in England. But the others weren't convinced, so eventually I just gave up.”
Rory and The Impact's rhythm section agreed to fulfill one last commitment, a residency in Hamburg. The promoter had insisted upon a four-piece, so Rory sent him a picture of his new trio with a tone-deaf acquaintance posing by a Vox Continental. “We went over there in a van, didn't even have a key for the ignition, just a screwdriver,” he recalled. “No locks on the door either — we had to tie ropes around it! For three weeks the trio played seven sets a night, 15 minutes off every hour. Hamburg was a steep learning curve, but already long past its heyday: “I could still see people hanging around the Star Club, like Lee Curtis & The All Stars — completely dressed in black leather. Lots of Liverpool hangover bands. Still a strong atmosphere. The Top Ten club was still going. We auditioned for it and failed — too loud!”
The trio fizzled out on their return to Cork, but when local showband The Axills dissolved the following year (1966), Rory teamed up with their bassist Eric Kitteringham and drummer Norman D’Amery. They called themselves Taste, and it was this band which made Rory not just a guitar hero, but the First Irish Rock Star. “There wasn't anybody in that period of Irish music for younger folk to revere, apart from the likes of Dickie Rock or Brendan Bowyer,” recalls fellow Irish rock pioneer Henry McCullough. “Rory was the first to get out there and do it properly He became a hero to a whole load of people who didn't know anything about the blues.”
While the beat group scene in Dublin had the thrill of a real underground, the market elsewhere in Ireland was patchy. The early Taste did play occasional gigs in the ballrooms, conforming to the bizarre union rules about band sizes by simply bringing in extra people to stand at the back and bang tambourines But for all the adulation in Dublin, Taste Mark 1 were touring Ireland for a flyer a night, while any showband could offer a musician £70 to £100 a week. But if Taste were getting used to being outsiders, they found themselves among friends in Belfast.
Attracted by the British mainland success of Van Morrison’s Them, the group arrived in Belfast in early 1967 at the tail-end of a vibrant R&B scene centered on the Maritime Hotel. For a while Rory actually lived at the Seamen’s Mission next door and often hoped that Van — in a lean post-Them period — would come back and play at the venue he had all but made. “I only actually saw him once then, in a boutique!” Rory recalled. “I was expecting everyone to be carrying rosettes for him, but he'd come back and found it difficult to get work there. It was only in the ‘70s that they realised who they had.”
In Rory’s era, a band could play three nights a week in Belfast with other gigs around the province. “One of the happiest times of my life,” Rory recalled. “It's always very exciting when a band is on the edge of breaking — the friends, the atmosphere. We weren't too fussed about how big we were, how much money we were ....... Anywhere that was anti-showband we would play!”
By the time Taste arrived in Belfast, the Maritime's original promoters had been ousted by a professional ballroom dancer called Eddie Kennedy. By July, Taste were causing such a sensation at the club that Kennedy, repeating the moves which had led to Them’s record deal three years earlier, rang the only guy in Belfast with any real music business contacts in London, record wholesaler Mervyn Solomon, who had his own studio and label, Major Minor (who'd scored with David McWilliams’s The Days Of Pearly Spencer). By the time their first single, Born On The Wrong Side Of Time / Blister On The Moon, made its debut on Major Minor in late ‘68, Taste had evolved from a Beck-era Yardbirds-influenced band to a Belfast Cream.
Kennedy as manager, took his new charges to England in May ’68, where they played their first mainland gig supporting Captain Beefheart in Nottingham. Some time between their first and second sessions for John Peel's Top Gear that August and October, Taste's line-up changed. Kennedy replaced Norman and Eric with John Wilson and bassist Richard ‘Charlie’ McCracken (both formerly of Cream-inspired outfit Cheese), apparently on the insistence of Polydor, with whom Taste were about to sign. “I now don't believe that was the case,” says Wilson. So after Taste Mark 1’s final gig at Romano’s, Belfast, the outgoing rhythm section said farewell and returned to Cork. “The next night we were in Scotland doing a gig and that's the way it went on. Playing live was what the band was all about. During that whole period we never rehearsed. I've never experienced that dynamic again, and I don't believe Rory did either.”
Taste released two albums — the pile-driving Taste from 1969 and 1970’s more elaborate On The Boards, which, inspired by Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman, featured Rory improvising memorably on sax. Recorded fast, on 8-track — giving an explosive sound that Gallagher still admired years later — the first album's material had been in the set for months, stylistically doffing a cap to Cream, Hendrix and, tellingly, to folk-baroque pioneer Davy Graham, whose earlier arrangement of Leadbelly’s Leaving Blues was easily adapted for power trio. Gallagher would often say that his favourite guitarists were Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy, and during his solo years he would periodically yearn to play as an acoustic artist, free of bandleading responsibility.
By autumn 1970, Taste were huge all over Europe and had toured America as guests of Blind Faith. (At one show in Los Angeles, the members of Led Zeppelin turned up — Taste included a riff-heavy version of Willie Dixon’s I Need Love in their set at the time. Some years later Rory was asked, but politely declined, to appear as a witness for the defense in a court case surrounding ownership of Whole Lotta Love.)
Following a fraught performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival in August 1970, Taste embarked on their final tour of Britain and Ireland. Though there had been problems in the band for months, as late as mid-September Rory was still talking about the next album as if it was imminent, with all the numbers already written. Melody Maker’s Roy Hollingworth was astonished at the situation he encountered at Newry Town Hall: “I found Rory in the changing room and he succeeded in talking about everything except the split. You can't help liking the guy because he's so nice. It wasn't a case of him making no comment. He just smiled at questions. If the fact be known, he will not discuss it because he does not like putting people down. He just talks about music... Throughout the whole of the evening not a word passed between Rory and the others. The atmosphere was, to say the least, unnatural.”
Over the course of two years, the rhythm section's inexperience and Gallagher’s gentle, uncritical nature had created friction within the group. This internal discord deflected their attention from the fact that they were still using a clapped-out showband PA and never received more than rent money. Subsequent rumours told of Kennedy's lavish lifestyle and gambling habit; but, after 14 years of litigation concluding in 1988, all that could be reclaimed were the rights to future, inevitably unsubstantial, Taste royalties.
“Rory did have a strange personality,” Wilson says. “People would see the band on-stage and imagine Rory was some sort of real wild guy. But he wasn't like that. For the two hours we gigged he was Rory; for the other 22 hours of the day he was some other bloke. Didn't have a lot of close friends. Did his own thing. Didn't really mix with other people bar saying hello and shaking hands. In fact, during our whole period together there was never any association with women. It sounds stupid, but he was just a really nice guy and very, very shy.”
MOST PEOPLE'S RECOLLECTION OF RORY GALLAGHER today is of a lean, frenetic figure storming around festival and city hall stages, shirt checked, Strat battered, and flanked by Gerry McAvoy, splay-legged, head-banging and writing the rulebook for the school of pummeling bass guitar. “It would start with the encore — that's what it was like,” says Rory fan club organiser Dino McGartland. “We'd go home shattered.”
“A lot of groups get annoyed with audiences that are too rowdy, but I think I know where the line is,” Rory vouchsafed just prior to his debut solo tour in 1971. “You don't see the old greats on the blues scene preaching about sitting still.” Away from the stage, however, Rory’s sensitive, more musically eclectic side could breathe. Recorded in February 1971, with new players Gerry McAvoy and Wilgar Campbell (from Belfast band Deep Joy), and Atomic Rooster's Vincent Crane guesting on piano, his self-titled solo debut is a beautiful, subtle album of virtually end-to-end highlights. Not quite as macho as Led Zeppelin nor as willfully quirky as Jethro Tull, Gallagher had created his own sound drawing from modern jazz chordings and octave soloing, urban and Delta blues, heads-down rock and Celtic folk. “It had a nice atmosphere,” Rory recalled, years later, “a tight little sound — all live vocals and live lead guitar. Recorded very quietly with one little Fender amp and a 12-inch speaker.”
The new trio pursued a gruelling touring schedule, which eventually caused Campbell to quit. They cut two more albums, Deuce and the similarly splendid Live! In Europe. Gallagher’s songwriting — something he always worked hard at, however formulaic the sound of later albums — was richly flowing, his playing now adding a dash of Doc Watson flat-picking and Townshend-ish sweeps on unresolved chords. The Smiths’ Johnny Marr has acknowledged that playing along to Deuce as a kid was a particular inspiration.
When Campbell opted out, Rory drafted in McAvoy’s London flat-mate, Rod De’Ath, and Belfast-born pianist Lou Martin. The showband promoters would have been pleased: now Rory had a proper line-up. Two so-so albums, Blueprint and Tattoo were recorded during 1973, though their highlights are heard to much better effect on Irish Tour ‘74. When virtually no other international rock artist would take the risk, Gallagher would continue to play in Belfast throughout the troubled ‘70s, and his consequent influence in the province speaks for itself. Ulster Television were the first to assemble a posthumous Gallagher documentary tribute (just three weeks after his death), and it's no surprise that his official Website is run from Belfast and that tribute concerts take place annually in the city.
In 1972/3 Rory was at his critical and commercial peak. He turned down serious invitations to join The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple, and did sessions for Chris Barber, Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis. “There was a strange sense of violence and madness around when Jerry Lee was in the room,” Rory recalled. “Whenever anyone annoyed him he'd immediately pull up his left trouser leg and go for his sock as if he had a gun in it. There was always a borderline of danger about him which I think is necessary for real rock’n’roll.” He recalled Muddy’s The London Sessions more fondly: “Muddy taught me an awful lot during those sessions and I came out a much better player than I went in. After the recordings I drove him back to the hotel a few times. I've kept the car ever since as a sort of shrine. It's falling apart at the seams now, but I can still see Muddy in the front seat, smoking his cigars.”
Even for so dedicated a musician as Rory, living in London offered distractions as well as opportunities. “You get wrapped up in the most absurd situations that you never intended to be in,” he told Sounds. “You get talking to someone and the next thing you're agreeing to write some pop opera or play on Mantovani’s next session — things like that are totally out of context.”
Tony Palmer’s film, Irish Tour, was a beautifully shot documentary of a valedictory jaunt around Ireland in 1973, also recorded for a live album of the same name. Young girls with lank hair reach out their arms to the stage, someone in a suit roves among the young men motioning them vainly to sit down, and a backdrop of waves crashing into the rugged coast bleeds into Walk On Hot Coals — a crescendo of live noise and the face of an ecstatic 25-year-old with sharp sidies and a wrecked guitar.
Rambling around the faded streets of Cork and its rural fringes, Rory described his simple lifestyle and ambitions: “I don't regard myself as a Top 20 Musician at all,” he says, his brogue typically gentle. “I just want to continue playing. I just want to be able to walk into a shop and buy a bar of chocolate or go into a bar and have a pint without being besieged all the time... I don't want to get into the Rolls-Royce and the mansion and the cloak-and-dagger sort of living.”
It is both sad and ironic that the cloak-and-dagger lifestyle Rory so casually denounced would become his own way of life towards the end. Tour followed tour, album followed album, and even in later years, troubled by self-doubt and barely concealing his fear of the future, Rory would revel in those good times. Times such as when his faithful roadie and bodyguard, Tom O’Driscoll, dealt so ruthlessly with a stage invasion he actually threw his employer off-stage with the melee. The time Donal turned an unrecognised Bob Dylan away from the dressing room door. The time Rory, guarded by Tom, was trying to soothe Jerry Lee's furrowed brow in an LA dressing room after John Lennon had walked into The Killer's auditorium and stolen all the attention. That particular night, Rory’s gentle manner had a pacifying effect on Jerry Lee — until, that is, Lennon appeared in the room and O’Driscoll dropped to the floor begging for the autograph of “the King Of Rock’n’Rolll”. The Killer went for his sock. “Lennon could see all this,” said Rory, “so he quickly signed Tom's piece of paper and then went across the room to Jerry Lee. He did exactly what Tom had done to him. He went down on his knees, kissed Jerry Lee's hand and said, ‘I've been waiting 20 years to get the autograph of the real King Of Rock’n’Roll.’ Jerry Lee was delighted. He signed the scrap of paper, and everything was fine. A wonderful moment.”
Rory ousted Eric Clapton as Best Guitarist in Melody Maker’s 1972 readers poll, a big deal at the time. The following year the title was won by another non- Brit, Jan Akkerman from Dutch band Focus, an act that Rory admired. But then he admired so many musicians— Ornette Coleman, Waylon Jennings, Bob Dylan, any number of up-and-coming and now mostly long-forgotten bands. He just loved music.
The touring continued throughout the ‘80s, but the young man who'd started the ‘70s with the world at his feet was fading to the margins. Henry McCullough once told me, “I think he had the amount of success that he really wanted, then rode the rest of it out.” His attempt to crack America over the course of 25 tours up to 1990 never quite worked. His experiences with Taste had coloured his judgment of new opportunities, while protracted litigation against Eddie Kennedy and his heirs was both demoralising and a drain on resources. “I don't like to think about it because it upsets me,” he said. “The whole thing has made me very wary of music business people. I don't give a damn about the money — it's people who let you down that bothers me most. I don't think I’d have stuck with it for so long if it wasn't for Donal. He's a superb character, a gift from God..”
Donal had set up an independent label, Capo, retaining ownership of Rory’s material while licensing it to Demon Records. Rory’s only albums after 1982 —Defender (1987) and Fresh Evidence (1990), both darkly tinged, but supremely powerful works — were products of this arrangement. Because of careful worldwide licensing, they were also his most commercially successful releases. Donal painstakingly reclaimed control of Rory’s back catalogue, and took over the business affairs, touring arrangements and personal foibles of an increasing whimsical individual.
A 1990 interview revealed a man apparently obsessed with superstition, astrology and unattainable perfectionism in the studio. Fresh Evidence had taken years, one scrapping, two remixes and three attempts at mastering before Rory was satisfied. He seemed wracked with self-doubt. There was a blues revival going on all around him, with Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker and Gary Moore shifting units by the truckload, but Gallagher himself somehow failed to catch the bandwagon. A couple of years later an unsatisfactory self-compiled set, Edged In Blue, belatedly tried to re-establish him as a commercial force. Did Gallagher intend go to on forever like the old blues greats? “That was my ambition,” he replied, “but over these last four or five years I've wondered if I can keep it going. I'll go for about 60. That would be a fair time to retire.”
More worryingly, Gallagher now looked bloated and unwell, with bad skin and watery eyes. He brushed it off as simply lack of sleep and fresh air after so much time in the studio. Seeing his photograph in a magazine, one old friend, Martin Carthy, recognised the truth: “I remember thinking, Jesus Christ, he's put on a lot of weight, and then seeing the pock marks on his face and thinking, Why on earth is he taking steroids? It's a very distinctive blemish. I've had family members who've had to take them and it's very depressing — one of the things they prescribe to build up your resistance.”
Donal confirms that Rory had developed a drink problem during the ‘80s, but is adamant that this was not the major cause of the damage to his health. Donal would bet his last penny that “Rory never even smoked a joint in his life”; nevertheless, twice a week Rory was seeing private medical practitioners concerning fatigue, insomnia, fear of flying, and all manner of phobias. “He was on a lot of prescription drugs by different doctors,” says Mark Feltham, a member of Rory’s band from 1984 to the end. “I think they were confusing his mind. Rory had an anxiety problem and always had. He was extremely sensitive and I think sensitivity leads to drink, to calm the nerves.”
The one notorious show that has sadly coloured many people’s views on Rory took place at London’s Town & Country Club on October 29, 1992. A single brandy reacted tragically with his medication and Rory simply fell apart on-stage. It would be his final London gig. “People accused him of being drunk,” says old friend Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention, “and I got upset about that. He wasn't that sort of person. He wouldn't do it to himself, let alone an audience that had paid to see him. He was one of the few people you meet in the music business where the punter is the prime concern. He may have appeared to be drunk, but he was seriously ill.”
It had been the debut of Rory’s new band with David Leavey on bass, Richard Newman on drums, and Jim Leverton and John Cooke alternating on keyboards. Mark Feltham remained on harmonica, and still believes this to have been Rory’s best band. Rory himself was dressing in black now, eschewing the image that had become his trademark: “It's a psychological thing,” he said mournfully. “The denim jacket and check shirt have become like a stigmata to me.”
The new band played a series of mostly festival dates in America and Europe, ending on a tour of Holland in February 1995, where Rory’s illness became really serious. The last Irish show was in August 1992, on Dublin's College Green. It had been heralded with an interview in the Irish Times, with Rory denying the rumours about his alcohol intake that were reaching his family back in Cork “The idea that you can't play the blues unless you're an alcoholic is nonsense,” he pounded the table, “and potentially a lethal notion to be selling to young musicians... Sure I drink, but not to excess. And the key reason is the absolute fear of the darkness taking over. [But] you have to step over a certain line, not necessarily to connect with evil, but to take yourself as close to the brink as you can to give the music that essential edge. It's a dangerous balance.”
A last feature that same year in Hot Press could barely paper over the cracks. Rory was becoming maudlin and increasingly homesick. In London, he bought Irish papers, listened to Irish radio on long wave, kept up with Irish music releases. “I’d love to go back and live there if I could get myself together,” he said. “It could be good for me. I have one or two friends in Ireland and I’d like to get up to Donegal as well and get the old mind sorted out. It's probably what I really need right now.
“I've toured too much for my own good. It hasn't left time for very much else, unfortunately. You don't develop any family life and it makes relationships very difficult. There's always a certain percentage missing from your life. As a human being you only have so much to give, not just in terms of your physical body, but in how you deal with people.”
THE ABIDING IMPRESSION OF RORY IN HIS FINAL years is of a lonely, shy man who had simply lost confidence in what he did. He had a house in Earls Court, but never lived there. Instead, he lived alone, albeit close to Donal’s house, at the nearby Conrad Hotel under an assumed name. His phone number was closely guarded. His material had long reflected a fascination with the hard-boiled mystery fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and now it was encroaching on real life.
He never did get back to live among friends in Ireland, but made appearances on albums by any number of Irish artists — The Dubliners, Phil Coulter, Samuel Eddy and Davy Spillane among them. But he was turning down numerous gigs, even cancelling tours at the last minute, and seemed to have few close friends. Occasionally he'd visit the nearby Troubadour Club, to see the folk music he loved, particularly Martin Carthy. “He was always Mr. Positive,” says Martin. “‘Look on the bright side,’ he'd say ‘Things are never as bad as they seem.’ He was a great help to me at one point, encouraging and counseling. It was nice that I was able to do the same for him later on.”
After a career in hard rock and blues, the music Rory wanted to record at the very end of his life was something akin to the gentler sounds he was enjoying at the Troubadour. Donal has uncovered demos with scribbled notes relating to having Bert Jansch or Martin on certain tracks. Rory had got as far as sending demos to Jansch, hoping to arrange a collaboration with the reclusive English traditional singer, Anne Briggs. “He contacted Anne and sent a tape up, but she thought he was a pop star and rejected it out of hand. She just wouldn't have it,” sighs Jansch. “I then suggested Maggie Boyle, and myself and Maggie worked on a couple of numbers. He wanted to do stuff like She Moved Through The Fair — close to Davy Graham's version — and he had a few Clannad songs in mind. Maggie lived in Yorkshire and came down to London to meet Rory and record the stuff we'd arranged, but he didn't show up. He couldn't remember having arranged it. I grew disheartened. It was such a palaver to get through to him it was just off-putting.” Terri Hooley had braved the “palaver” of canceled meetings a short while earlier, finally getting access to Rory in a hotel room for what was to be the guitarist's last TV interview, for an Ulster Television series documenting the history of rock in Northern Ireland. Rory warmed to the subject at once, speaking fondly of his days in Belfast and with Taste. The happiest days of his life. He name-checked Davy Graham, Carthy and Jansch, describing the relationship of Irish music to the blues and playing a splendid ‘Celtic’ arrangement of That’s All Right Mama. Right back to Elvis, where it had all begun.
IN THE CENTRE OF CORK CITY, pedestrianised and bustling with activity, there is a pleasant little square called Rory Gallagher Place. Off to one side is a stone and copper sculpture in memory of the city's 20th century hero; just around the corner is the art college where he took night classes in painting, fitting it in around the showband. On the corner of McCurtain Street, where he lived, there's a bar called Gallagher’s, referred to in Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments. Doyle had even wanted him in Alan Parker’s movie, in the Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan role of the philosophical trumpeter (which would have been changed to guitarist) who had toured the world with the greats, but no one remembered or believed him. Next year Cork City Library will open its Rory Gallagher wing; a few miles up the road in Midleton, a popular gig venue called the Meeting Place has walls strewn with memorabilia and Gallagher’s name on the door. Even in Paris he has a street — Rue De Rory Gallagher. (A federation of music promoters has its offices in the street; they simply had to have Rory Gallagher’s name on their stationery) Around Europe there are any number of tribute nights. How many other musicians are so honoured?
He had been unwell for years, but there were still numerous unfulfilled projects in the air when Rory Gallagher died. A Taste reunion for a peace concert in Belfast; and Bob Dylan wanted to record Rory’s Could Have Had Religion with the main man on guitar. Dylan was his songwriting hero and it would have overwhelmed him to find, as Donal did subsequently, that Dylan already owned all of Rory’s albums.
In time, Rory’s place among the
rock legends will be confirmed. His place as a paragon of decency already
is. “His sort of character just doesn't exist in the music business,” says
Mark Feltham. “In fact, it doesn't exist in any industry. He was just a
wonderful human being.”
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