A SOUNDS profile of a musician who made it on his own terms

FIRST TIME I interviewed Rory Gallagher we met in a music store in Charing Cross Road and hiked off to the nearest Wimpey for coffee. He was polite, seemed dedicated and boundlessly enthusiastic about his music, and he was dressed in denims and a plaid jacket.

This week I interviewed Rory Gallag­her: we met in Polydor’s office, did the interview in the boss's office suite. Rory was polite, seemed dedicated and boundlessly enthusiastic, and was dressed in denims and a plaid jacket.

Five years and a great deal of success seem to have made very little change in the essential Rory Gallagher. He's got a few more quid in the bank these days, his hair's cut neater, he sells more records and plays to bigger audiences. That's happened to a lot of the people who started out when he did, but what's unusual is that while his music's developed along logical and identifiable lines, it seems to have developed naturally, along his lines.

When you've seen people turning away from their music towards the golden calf of 'The Charts' in the past few years, especially people who's music and ideas you'd respected, it does you a lot of good to meet a man who doesn't evade your questions, who doesn't talk about giving the people what they want, and who patently lives out a way of doing things that he decided was right when it seemed both comfortable and fashionable to do so, and then stuck to it as fashions changed. It's even better to know that he's been successful, more so than others who've been more malleable in their ideals. Rory Gallagher's one of the few who's made it on his own terms.

But again, he seems almost unconscious that there's anything particularly special about it: you get the feeling that as far as he's concerned there's no other way to behave. Though he's retained a kind of fierce purity, he doesn't talk like a puritan. Though, innocence can be counted as one of his virtues, he is by no means naive.

Sitting in a record company office surrounded by posters of the Osmonds and silver discs bysoundsside.jpg god knows who, it's quite obvious that he's not exactly in his natural habitat, yet he accepts it with equanimity. During the interview I asked him if he was aware of a conflict between being a musician and being part of an industry that could be as ruthless as the music business. Or rather, accepting that the conflict exists, how he reconciles the two.

He said words to the effect that it didn't bother him. Perhaps he's been lucky, but he doesn't feel he's had to make compromises, beyond those that everyone accepts, and he's forged ahead making Rory Gallagher music, kept his eye on business and hasn't been interfered with.

Then there's the question of singles: He's never released one, not here anyway, and when you mention that he shrugs it off. “It hasn't been me saying NO SINGLES! And anyway I haven't the power to stop them releasing singles if they really wanted to,” he says. “But I've never seen the point of putting one out, and I would never go in and record specifically for a single. It's just that if you have a good relationship with a company and they know you don't want singles released…”

Anyway, he said, he doesn't like to make that much of a point of it, because then it becomes kind of a reverse hype: “You start getting known for ‘no singles’ ” which isn't the point either. Suffice it to say you're unlikely to see Rory Gallagher on Top Of The Pops.

He started off the interview by talking about the way everything seems to have got back to a kind of pre 1967 flavour, with the media keeping it's eyes firmly glued to charts and selling points. His attitude was, I suppose, mild mannered, a kind of ‘well, there's room for everyone’, but on the other hand you can see he's none too happy that things seem to have returned to the state he and his contemporaries fought to break away from.

Coming over from Ireland, he had to scratch around for a few years “and it's still the same for young Irish musicians,” he says, “you have to be prepared to starve", but the start of his success coincided with the end of the blues boom and the birth of what we used to call the Underground, progressive music era. Considering that he's carried the then fashionable attitude through, did he still - or ever - consider himself Underground?

“No, I never really knew what it meant. I suppose if you put me up against the wall with a gun and ask me to chose between underground and showbiz, then I`d identify more with underground.”

Not showbiz then, and in fact, as little biz as possible. When he disbanded Taste, he made the decision to go his own way musically going out as Rory Gallagher and finding musicians who were happy with that situation and his own way as far as he could control his 'career'.

Since then he hasn't employed a manager. “I have a very good agent to handle all that side of it, and I've got good people working with me - I just don't need a manager. Most people seem to have managers to ring them up in the morning to get them to sessions and things like that. I don't need that. I suppose if the right person came along, who I liked and trusted, then he could maybe take over some of the things I have to look after. But I'm not desperate for anyone.”

How is it then that almost all other musicians seem to need managers? “Oh – I think there are a lot of lazy musicians.”     
Article and photos from SOUNDS  December 15, 1973
Thanks to Brenda O'Brien for finding, typing and sharing this article!
reformatted by roryfan
To Join The Loop
Mailing & Discussion List 
email roryfan at
Back to main RoryON!! page
 Back to Articles page
Back to previous article
Forward to next article