Taste – the split and the future


RORY GALLAGHER: “I'm doing a bit of writing and I'm developing an itch for playing again.”

JOHN WILSON: "Rory didn't seem to realize how Richie and myself felt about things" 

ROCK MUSIC today is schizophrenic. It's trying to be creative, an art form breaking through the barriers that have limited it for so long and yet it's still totally involved with the old show business hype, the myths, heroes and images.

Taste, like Blind Faith and others, was a classic example of what happens to a group caught up in the middle of it all. During the past year they failed to find a compromise and it was that, rather than any simple argument over money, that made it impossible for them to stay together.

Towards the end of their existence, they'd stopped creating and became what John Wilson, the drummer, aptly calls “a circus act.”

“In the end, it was the audience who dictated what Taste played. We were doing the same sort of numbers every night, it was like a pop group doing its hits, you know. At a certain point we'd do ‘Morning Sun’ and then ‘Sugar Mamma.’ And the audience had come to see Rory freak, the hair flying and him jumping across the stage.”

It was too. From an unknown trio of Irishmen earning £12 a night that even executives at Polydor, their recording company, used to view with doubt, Gallagher, Wilson and McCracken became one of the most successful groups of the last two years.

And they weren't hyped into that position either. Manager Eddie Kennedy always pushed them, he always claimed that they were the greatest, he really hustled to make them the greatest, but when it came down to it, it was the group that made it.

They built up a fanatical following not through any media hype, but through sheer hard work, the endless motorway slog up and down to the clubs both here and on the continent. They built it with a dynamic stage act centered around the principal figure of Gallagher, the quietly spoken Irish guitarist who transformed on stage, and some driving blues rock.

And whether they meant to or not, they also built an image. It was an image, a natural one, of genuine nice guys. I remember seeing them in Birmingham and in the bar before the show Rory was being asked where he got his baseball boots from and he explained where, how much and how long they lasted.

They had that sort of image on stage too. There were no supergroup announcements. It was simply “Richie McCrack­en, John Wilson, Rory Gallagh­er   Taste!” and the audience would be up clapping and stomping before they got through their first four bars of “What's Going On.” There were no sequined suits like Emerson, Lake and Palmer either, it was old Levi's and cheerful thumbs ups.

Basically though, it was the music that made them and in the end it was the music that led to the unrest in the group. It wasn't straight blues that they played, they rocked and they went further into jam-creating on stage with Richie on bass and John on drums answering whatever Rory got out on guitar.

“Before ‘On The Boards’ was recorded, we had a definite musical direction. We used to hire a ballet school in Earls Court and blow, but then Rory's whole musical attitude changed and he went back to playing blues again, pretty straightforward.”

And that was Rory's particular forte. He always said he'd never let a night go by without picking up the bottleneck and that left John and Richie out in the cold as, to the audiences’ delight, Rory would play solos.

“I wish more people had seen Cheese to see what direction we were going in,” said John. “Rory didn't seem to realize how Richie and myself felt about things.”

Cheese was the group John and Richie left to join up with Rory, who led the original Taste, another three piece. John feels that they all had a definite direction when Taste first started, but that it was lost about a year ago.

With musical unrest in the group, there was talk of the group breaking up before they went on their last tour and before the news first reached the newspapers.

“I thought for a long time that the group would break up, but I never thought it would be like this. We've always split the money three ways, but Rory wanted to take all the money and pay Richie and myself a wage. I couldn't work for a wage now, it would be like being a bus conductor, in fact I`d be happier being a bus conductor than being in Taste in those circumstances. I didn't like the other implications of that either. It wasn't saying much for Eddie and Eddie worked so hard in the early days, he laid the foundations.”

The row over money blew up before the group went on tour and at one time the tour was canceled. A meeting took place and the group went ahead with the tour knowing that they would finish at the end of it.

Rory Gallagher has stayed in Ireland since the tour finished and he hasn't commented on the split which John Wilson described as “a load off my chest.” I spoke to Rory by phone at his home in Cork at the weekend where he says he's “just relaxing and taking it easy.”

“I'm doing a bit of writing and I'm developing an itch for playing again, but nothing's planned and I'll wait until I get back to London in a week or two.”

He says he's looking forward to getting back on the road and playing again, but at the moment is not sure of the format of his new group and he hasn't spoken of the situation with the other members of Taste and he'll wait until he returns to London, before talking about it.

Both Rory's new group and that of John and Richie, to be known as Stud, are likely to be bigger than Taste and both are expected to be on the road by the New Year.

“I doubt if there'll be more than four people in Stud,” said John. “We're clear in our minds about the direction we're going in, it's just a matter of getting the musicians Richie and I want. I can't mention names at the moment, as you'll understand. We want to get a very good singer and we will be going for the charts. We've been writing songs for the last two years, but we were unable to use them in Taste.”

Both Richie and John have strong jazz leanings and Stud will have two highly talented, thoughtful and creative young musicians leading it.

“I think I've paid my dues in England what with playing with Van (Morrison) and with Taste. I'm looking forward to getting on my own two feet and starting to play.”

Wilson, McCracken and Gallagher have all paid their dues. Whatever comes out of the split, sad though it was, should be worthwhile with all three musicians capable of going on to even better things.
From SOUNDS magazine of
October 31, 1970
Thanks to Brenda O'Brien for sharing & typing this article
background mutated from a photo in the article
reformatted by roryfan

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